On July 21st 2023, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issued the “Notice of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology on the Record-filing of Mobile Internet Apps” (hereinafter referred to as the “App Filing Notice”). This webpage provides a detailed summary of this notice and of how you can obtain an app filing for your app or WeChat Miniprogram.
The app filing notice was issued in order to build a strong and safe internet environment in China, combat online fraud and other crimes, and implement the requirements of Article 23 of the “People’s Republic of China Anti-Telecommunications and Internet Fraud Law” that “the establishment of mobile internet applications should go through the procedures of licensing or filing with the telecommunications regulatory authorities in accordance with relevant national regulations”.
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) conducted a comprehensive investigation into the situation of mobile internet applications (hereinafter referred to as “apps”) in China. Based on the collection of opinions from various parties, including app developers, internet information service providers, network access service providers and application distribution platforms, MIIT issued the app filing notice in order to enhance regulatory efficiency, promote the high-quality development of the internet industry, and contribute to building a strong and safe internet environment in China.
Since 2000, according to the “Measures for the Administration of Internet Information Services” (State Council Decree No. 292), the telecommunications regulatory authorities have conducted filing and approval work for websites engaged in internet information services, this is usually known as the ICP Filing.
With the rapid development of the mobile internet, apps have become an important carrier of internet information services. As a result, apps must now also complete filing procedures with the telecommunications regulatory authorities in a manner similar to the ICP Filing. This involves registering real names, internet resources, and business-related information.
To facilitate the filing process for app developers, after filling out the relevant filing materials and undergoing real-name verification, the network access service provider or application distribution platform on behalf of the app developer can submit the filing application online to the local Communication Administration Bureau in the province where the app developer is located through the “National Internet Basic Resource Management System” ICP/IP address/domain name information filing management system, hereinafter referred to as the “Filing System”).
Additionally, to reduce the burden on developers and minimize information reporting, the app filing information utilizes existing website filing information. For developers who have completed website filing procedures, only additional information related to the app needs to be provided.
The key requirements to obtain an app filing are as follows:
1. A Chinese legal entity that holds all of the licenses that are required to operate an app or miniprogram in China. This includes the Commercial ICP License which can only be held by a majority Chinese-owned entity. This means that international app developers must work with a local partner such as AppInChina to publish and operate their apps in China on their behalf.
2. The entire backend of the app must be hosted in Mainland China. This requires migration of the app’s backend to a Mainland Chinese cloud service provider account (e.g. AWS China, Azure China, Alibaba Cloud China, or Tencent Cloud China) under the Chinese legal entity that is listed as the official publisher of the app.
Additional information about each app must also be submitted as listed below:
1. App Name. The name of your app in English and/or Chinese.
2. Declaration of Restricted Category. If your app falls into one of the following categories then you will be required to upload proof that the Chinese legal entity holds the licenses that are required to operate this category of app.
3. App Type. You’ll be required to select your category from a long list of options that are divided into the following categories: Domestic Services, Food, Leisure & Entertainment, Travel, Transportation, Car Services, Education, Warehousing & Courier Services, Medical Services, Government Services, Financial Services, Information Transmission, Software & IT Services, Wholesale & Retail Trade, Safety, Industrial Internet Software, Other.
4. App Language. Confirmation of all languages that are used within the app (Mandarin Chinese, English, etc.).
5. App Icon. The image must be in .jpeg format and be smaller than 100KB.
6. SDK Declaration. You are required to confirm what SDKs are being used within the app. It is currently only possible to declare SDKs from a limited list of Chinese SDK developers, so international SDKs do not need to be declared.
7. Platform Type. You must select all of the platforms upon which your app is available: Android, iOS, BlackBerry, Harmony, Linux, Other Platforms.
8. Details of the App on Each Platform. You must provide the app details for each platform. For Android, for example, you must provide the app package name, signature MD5 value, platform public key, and all domain names associated with the app.
9. Basic Information of the Person in Charge of the App: Chinese ID Number, Name, Mobile Number, Office Phone Number, Email, Instant Messaging Account ID (e.g. WeChat ID).
10. ICP Filing Information: internet service provider name, website access method (dedicated line, hosting, virtual host, or other cloud access methods), website IP address, domain name, and server location (must be in Mainland China).
After receiving the filing materials submitted by the app developer, the provincial-level Communication Administration Bureau will complete the filing within twenty (20) working days, issue a filing number, and inform the developer via SMS or email. Developers can also self-check through the filing system website at http://beian.miit.gov.cn.
If the materials are incomplete or inaccurate, the provincial-level Communication Administration Bureau will reject the filing and will provide reasons for the decision.
Once the app filing has been obtained, the app developer must display their app filing number clearly inside their app.
The App Filing Notice provides a transition period for the app filing to be obtained. From September 1st, 2023 to March 31st, 2024, apps that were conducting business in China before the publication of the App Filing Notice should complete filing procedures with the provincial-level Communication Administration Bureau in their place of residence. From April 1st, 2024 to June 30th, 2024, the telecommunications regulatory authorities will organize supervision and inspection of the app filing status, and will take legal measures to deal with apps that have not completed filing procedures.
For apps that plan to start operating after the publication of the App Filing Notice, filing procedures must be completed before the app can be published in China.
In the absence of special circumstances, the application filing is valid indefinitely.
Failing to obtain an App Filing may lead to the following:
App developers, network access service providers and application distribution platforms should establish sound mechanisms for monitoring and handling illegal and irregular information. If information prohibited from being published or transmitted by laws and regulations is discovered, immediate measures such as stopping transmission and removing the information should be taken to prevent its dissemination. Relevant records should be kept, and reports should be made to the telecommunications regulatory authorities, with actions taken according to the authorities’ requirements.
Providers of internet information services for apps in fields such as news, publishing, education, film, television, and religion shall obtain additional licenses, submit relevant information regarding the licenses and the business to the provincial-level communications authority where their domicile is located in order to obtain an app filing.
If you have any more questions regarding the app filing, please do not hesitate to contact us for more information.