ICP licence (abbreviation for Internet Content Provider; Chinese: ICP备案; pinyin: ICP bèi'àn; literally: 'ICP registration/filing') is a permit issued by the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology to permit China-based websites to operate in China. The ICP license numbers for Chinese websites can often be found on the bottom of the front webpage.
This licence regime was instated by the Telecommunications Regulations of the People's Republic of China (中华人民共和国电信条例) that was promulgated in September 2000. All websites with their own domain name that operate inside China are required to obtain a licence (whether hosted on a server in mainland China or provided into China via a CDN), and China-based Internet service providers are required to block the site if a licence is not acquired within a grace period. Licences are issued at the provincial level.
Operating from China is also a prerequisite for acquiring a licence. Foreign companies such as Google, unable to acquire an ICP licence on their own, often partner with Chinese Internet companies to use the licences of the Chinese company.
The Chinese government divides ICP related business activities into two categories: Basic telecommunication services (BTS) and Value-added telecommunication services (VATS). In the “Classification Catalogue of Telecommunication Services” (Chinese: 电信业务分类目录) BTS refers to providing a public network infrastructure, public data transmission and basic voice communication services. Whereas, VATS refers to public network infrastructure to provide telecommunications and information services. Details of the services requiring an ICP license are regulated in the section “B25 Information Services”.
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issues two different types of ICP numbers, which are managed at the provincial level:
- ICP licence for commercial websites, which cover any website offering goods or services to customers. These numbers follow the format 京ICP证12345678号 (in this example, "京" represents Beijing).
- ICP filing for non-commercial websites which are purely informational and are not involved in direct sales. These numbers follow the format 京ICP备12345678号 (in this example, "京" represents Beijing).
Obtaining an ICP number takes an average span of 20 business days after submission of documents to a hosting provider. If the documents are deemed valid upon review by the provider, they are forwarded onto the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology for further review. If at either stage the documents are rejected, the applicant is required to submit additional documents.
- State Council of the People's Republic of China (2005-12-10). 中华人民共和国电信条例 (in Chinese). Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. Archived from the original on 2008-07-31. Retrieved 2008-06-27.
- Bishop, John; Chris Myrick (2006-02-23). "Google licence issue seized by China to make political statement". Focus. Forbes. Archived from the original on May 29, 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-27.
- Lemon, Sumner (2006-02-21). "Nothing unusual about Google borrowing ICP". InfoWorld. Retrieved 2008-06-27.
- Tian, Ashley. "ICP License: How to provide online services in China". Ecovis Beijing. Archived from the original on 2019-06-26. Retrieved 2019-06-26.
- Get an Internet Content Provider (ICP) number for your public website, Microsoft Corporation
- Ministry of Information Industry Records (in Chinese)
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