On January 1, 2017, the Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Administration of Domestic Activities of Overseas Non-Governmental Organizations (also known as: the NGO Law) came into effect. In the years since, it has become the most important guiding document for stakeholders in the NGO sector.
Recently, in order to facilitate compliance for foreign NGOs carrying out activities in China, Guangdong Provincial Public Security Department has issued an operational manual:
What counts as an “Overseas NGO” as mentioned in the NGO law?
Overseas NGOs refer to foundations, associations, think tanks and other non-profit, non-governmental social organizations legally established outside China.
How can a foreign NGO carry out activities in China?
A foreign NGO is legally protected to carry out activities that are beneficial to China’s development in the fields of commerce, education, science & technology, culture, health, sports, poverty alleviation, and disaster relief.
How can an NGO carry out activities in China?
To carry out activities in China, an NGO should register and establish representative offices in accordance with the law; To carry out temporary activities in China without a registered representative office, an NGO needs to cooperate with a local entity legally registered in China, and its activities should be filed by its Chinese partner in accordance with the law.
What facilities and services can an NGO use in accordance with the law?
After registering and establishing a representative office, an NGO must submit to an annual inspection; it will be able to open bank accounts and enjoy tax incentives.
Establishment and registration of representative offices (using Guangdong Province as an example):
To carry out activities in China, an NGO should:
- obtain written consent from the corresponding professional supervisory unit (PSU) in accordance with the Catalogue of Activities and Projects of Overseas NGOs in China, and the Directory of Business Supervisors (2017) (Guangdong);
- and submit registration application materials to the Overseas NGOs Management Office of Guangdong Provincial Public Security Department within 30 days of obtaining consent.
Application materials required:
Application for the Establishment of Representative Office of Overseas NGO;
- Registration Form for Representative Office of Overseas NGO;
- Registration Form of Chief Representative of the Representative Office;
- Authorization letter issued by the overseas NGO for the establishment of representative office;
- Documents and materials proving that the overseas NGO is legally established in its own country;
- Articles of Association of the overseas NGO;
- Documents proving that the overseas NGO has existed for more than two years and has carried out a substantial number of activities in its own country;
- The identity certificate and resume of the chief representative of the representative office to be established;
- The chief representative’s personal non-criminal record certificate or statement;
- The domicile certificate of the representative office to be established;
- Proof of the source of funds;
- Consent document from the professional supervisory unit (PSU).
- Submit materials to the Overseas NGO Management Office of Guangdong Provincial Public Security Department through the online service platform;
- After passing the preliminary online examination, submit the materials on site;
- The registration management authority will make a decision to approve or deny registration within 60 days from the date of accepting the application.
If the registration is approved:
The registration management authority shall issue a registration certificate and announce it to the public;
With the registration certificate, an NGO needs to:
- complete the tax registration;
- engrave official seal;
- open a bank account with a bank in China;
- fill in the Relevant Matters Recording Form for Representative Offices of Overseas Non-Governmental Organizations;
- submit the following to the registration management authority: a copy of the tax registration certificate, the official seal, the bank account, and the information of the staff employed.
If a registration request is denied the NGO will be notified by the registration management authority.
Filing the record for temporary activities (taking Guangdong Province as an example):
- To carry out temporary activities in China, an NGO should cooperate with an organization legally registered in China, and its activities should be filed by its Chinese partner in accordance with the law;
- Your Chinese partner should file with the Overseas NGO Management Office of Guangdong Provincial Public Security Department 15 days before the temporary activity starts. It should submit the filing materials through the official website.
Required submission materials:
- Record Form for the Overseas NGO Temporary Activities;
- Documents and materials proving the legitimacy of the overseas NGO in its own country;
- Agreement between the overseas NGO and its Chinese partner;
- Project budget, proof of the source of funds for the temporary activity;
- Documents that allow the Chinese partner to participate in the activity.
- The registration management authority will review the filing of the temporary activity. If the temporary activity is deemed to be inconsistent with the NGO Law, the Chinese partner will be notified in time to stop the activity.
After the temporary activity:
- Within 30 days following the end of the activity, the Chinese partner will fill in the Report Form for the Overseas NGO Temporary Activities, and submit in writing to the registration management authority, the status and use of funds of the temporary activity.
The duration of temporary activities:
- The period of temporary activities shall not exceed one year;
- Where it is necessary to extend the period, the record needs to be re-filed.
- All required forms can be downloaded and printed from the official website;
- All submitted materials shall be in A4 size;
- All materials not written in Chinese shall be accompanied by certified Chinese translations.
Foreign NGOs without a registered representative office, or without filing the record to carry out temporary activities,
- shall not carry out activities in any direct or indirect way in China;
- shall not entrust or finance any entity or individual to carry out activities in any direct or indirect way in China.
No entity or individual in China shall accept the entrustment, funding, or act as an agent or disguised agent for unregistered foreign NGOs or activities.
Foreign NGOs, Chinese domestic entities or individuals that violate the above requirements will be banned or ordered to stop the violations by the relevant public security organ; Their illegal property and income will be confiscated; The person directly responsible will be given a warning, or be detained for less than 10 days, depending on the level of the violation.