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by Matt Slater
27 August 2018
If you've dealt with Chinese companies in recent years there is a good chance you will have come across the term "Unified Social Credit Code".
This unique 18-digit number is issued to all companies and organizations in Mainland China and serves a variety of purposes.
In this article we provide practical information about the Unified Social Credit Code and explain how you can find each Chinese company's unique number.
This term is used in Mainland China to describe each Chinese company or organization's unique registration number.
In Chinese it is called:
统一社会信用代码Tǒngyī shèhuì xìnyòng dàimǎ
The name "Unified Social Credit Code" is simply a direct translation of the Chinese term into English and is often abbreviated as "USCC".
Because it is a translation however, we have also seen it translated in many other ways, including:
On our website and in our verification services however, we usually refer to it as simply the "Business Registration Number" as, despite its elaborate name, that is the main purpose it holds.
All companies and organizations registered in Mainland China must have a unified social credit code.
This includes all types of Chinese companies, even sole traders, as well as organizations such as schools, hospitals and charities.
Note that organizations registered in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan do not have this code as, when it comes to registration, they are each separate jurisdictions.
It is always an 18-digit code comprised mainly of numbers, but can also include some letters.
To give you a clearer idea, here are some examples of the Unified Social Credit Code for some famous Chinese companies:
9144030071526726XG - Tencent Technology (Shenzhen) Co., Ltd.
91110000710926094P - China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation
91310000631696382C - Baoshan Iron and Steel Co., Ltd.
Despite being a Chinese system there are no Chinese characters used. Each of the digits contained within the Unified Social Credit Code are derived from a combination of various systems, hence the word "unified".
For more technical details about how the code read this article, but in basic form, this table shows how the 18-digit code is created:
This code can be issued by a wide range of Chinese authorities, depending on the type of organization being registered.
As you can see from the table above, the very first number of an organization's Unified Social Credit Code actually indicates which authority they were registered by.
For companies, i.e. the majority of cases, the code is issued by the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (AIC) who are represented by the number 9 - and this is why most Chinese companies' Unified Social Credit Code starts with "9".
In recent years, Chinese authorities have made great progress in streamlining their services to reduce red tape and make the process of company registration more efficient.
Whereas previously each company had a separate business license number, tax registration number, organization code and statistical registration number etc. (plus certificates for each), these days a single certificate displaying the Unified Social Credit Code is sufficient.
Given the astonishing number of companies in China, we found that the roll-out of this system was handled very competently.
Based on our experience, the majority of Chinese companies are now familiar with the Unified Social Credit Code, although some confusion exists in how to explain it to clients in English.
Here are a number of ways to identify a Chinese company's Unified Social Credit Code:
The easiest way to find a Chinese supplier's code is simply to ask. In most cases a Chinese company should be more than happy to provide their registration number to current or potential clients.
The Unified Social Credit Code is prominently displayed on a Mainland China company's business license besides the characters "统一社会信用代码".
Take a look at the image below - here the code has been blurred out, but this is where it can be found.
In China, use of the Unified Social Credit Code has become almost universal, and we are finding the code being displayed on a wider and wider range of company certificates.
The most striking example is on China's system of legal receipts, "Fapiao", which requires the code to be displayed along with the official company name.
Other examples we have seen include some Chinese ISO9001 certificates and on newer versions of the Chinese Foreign Trade Registration Certificate.
Here are a few options for searching for the code online:
The Unified Social Credit Code can be found by searching China's National Enterprise Credit Information Publicity System if you enter the company's name in Chinese.
Chinese companies who have undergone "Online Check" display the Unified Social Credit Code here:
This is one of the alternative China sourcing websites to Alibaba. The code is displayed in their "Independently Verified Information" section:
Our range of China company verification reports make verifying a Chinese company quick and easy.
Each of our reports include identification of the company's Unified Social Credit Code, alongside a wide range of other vital company information.
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Hi there, I'm Matt, the Founder & CEO of China Checkup. Originally from the UK, I am now based in Brisbane, Australia.
Frustrated by the scarcity of concise, high-quality and timely information about Chinese companies, I setup China Checkup whilst living in Shanghai in 2013.
My team are proud that China Checkup's company verification reports have now helped thousands of clients from all corners of the world to do business in China more safely.
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These podcasts cover business in China from a range of angles - including tech startups, importing/sourcing, economics and more - so if you are interested in learning more about China business you are sure to find quality material here.
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