China Launches New “Three-in-One” Business License

Posted by Reading Time: 4 minutes

By Dezan Shira & Associates
Editor: Alexander Chipman Koty

The Chinese government has recently instituted administrative reforms simplifying the country’s business establishment and registration procedures. As of October 1, 2015, newly established companies in China must apply for a single integrated business license in place of three separate certificates when registering with authorities.

The new integrated business license, sometimes referred to as the “Three-in-One” business license, combines the old business license, the organization code certificate, and the tax registration certificate into a single document with one social credit code. This reform is part of Beijing’s broader effort to develop a market-based economy by simplifying and streamlining administrative procedures and reducing bureaucratic hurdles.

Under the old system, companies had to submit similar sets of documents to all three of the Administration of Industry and Commerce Office (AIC), the Administration of Quality and Technology Supervision Office, and the Tax Bureau. This process sometimes required the submission of dozens of supporting documents, multiple trips to the three offices, and a turnaround time that could span several weeks. Now, companies only need to submit one set of approximately 13 documents to the AIC and can receive the license in three days, while paying administrative fees just once.

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Companies established before October 1, 2015, have until the end of the transition period, namely December 31, 2017, to obtain the integrated business license. If a company applies for a change to any of its certificates during the transition period, they must be returned to the AIC and an integrated business license will be issued in their place. The new license is mandatory for all business entities including wholly foreign owned enterprises, branch offices, and representative offices, except for self-employed individuals.

Although mostly uniform, there are some regional discrepancies in registration practices. For example, the reform broadens to a “Five-in-One” business license in Shenzhen and Zhejiang Province, which also replaces the social security registration certificate and the statistics registration certificate in these areas. In Shanghai and Guangzhou, the statistics registration certificate has been eliminated altogether. In certain administrative regions, exceptions apply for what types of entities require registration. While it is generally obligatory for representative offices of foreign enterprises to apply for the new integrated business license, they are not expressly required to do so in Guangdong Province. Additionally, businesses established in Beijing and others operating in special industries enjoy a longer transitional period that extends to December 31, 2020. Due to the variety of regional practices, business owners should seek professional expertise when establishing and registering a business in China to ensure compliance with local authorities.

business license three in one



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10 thoughts on “China Launches New “Three-in-One” Business License

    Jani Jalkala says:

    “The new license is mandatory for all business entities including wholly foreign owned enterprises, branch offices, and representative offices, except for self-employed individuals.”

    What about (foreign invested) partnership enterprises? These do not fall under regular company law in Chinese jurisdiction, and contain many features closer to self-employment.

    Rainy Yao says:

    @Jani: Thanks for your question.Yes, the reform also covers foreign-invested partnership enterprises.

    Ирина says:

    China is launching three new free-trade zones, building on a project that began in Shanghai to much fanfare but has so far undershot expectations.

    Thanks for this interested article. I would like to ask if there have been changes in the export license because I have been in touch with some chinese enterprises which show me a new version of the export license. They told me “According to the government policy, the Import and Export Enterprise Code & Organization Code & Industrial and Commercial Registration Number are all the same since october 2015.

    kristy cheong says:

    Hi, I am facing a query about the renewing business license for foreign rep office in china where they are requested to fill in a new form for foreign investor particular.. shall we compulsory to fill instead to give a person in charge in china?
    Your immediate reply is highly appreciated. Thank you.

    Jake Liddle says:

    Hi @Kristy, thank you for your question. Our team will reach out to you shortly.

    Artem says:

    Am i correct saying that business license include or replaces registration number of a company?

    China Briefing says:

    Hello Artem,

    The business license integrates the registration number of a company with four other codes. Read more about the Five in One Business License here:

    Vitaly says:

    Dear Sir or Madam,

    A company I work for is about to conclude an agreement with a Chinese company. Our accountants demand a Chinese Tax Residence Certificate, but our Chinese colleagues claim it is impossible to get a separate Certificate in Beijing, only a 3-in-1 document.

    Is it so? Is it really impossible to get any separate certificate which would confirm residency for tax purposes?

    Thank you in advance for your answer!

    China Briefing says:

    Hello Vitaly,

    The Chinese tax residency certificate is different from the tax certificate, which is now integrated into the 3-in-1 or 5-in-1 business license. For more info, please contact our tax specialists here:

Comments are closed.