Tag: registration

China’s Foreign NGO Law Update: 242 Offices Register Successfully

Reported by Maria Tong, Director Association Management & Consulting, MCI China




As of October 31, 2017, a total of 242 foreign NGO (FNGO) offices have registered  successfully in China.  In figure 1 below, shows the leading registration areas and where FNGO’s are based.    

  • Beijing 80
  • Shanghai 57
  • Yunnan 19
  • Guangdong 15
  • Tianjin 8
  • Liaoning 8
  • Other areas 55

Most of these registrations have existed in some capacity and for some period in China who registered under another license, e.g. WOFE, a representative office for a foreign company, or a team in partner’s office.   Beijing and Shanghai are the most popular registration areas.  The number of offices registered in other Chinese cities grew slower than Beijing and Shanghai.

So far the top five “countries of origin” representing FNGO registrants come from the following countries (figure 2):

  • US 62 
  • Hong Kong 51
  • Japan 33
  • South Korea 19
  • Germany 15


Forty four percent of associations are from US and Hong Kong.   More Japanese trade promotion organizations registered successfully in Shanghai and number of offices grew faster than other regions of China.

The leading fields or industry sectors include (figure 3):

  • Trade 111   
  • Livelihood (Professional) 33
  • Education 22
  • Healthcare 19
  • Culture 15
  • Other 41


Organizations in fields of livelihood and trade represent 60% of FNGO registrants and the rate is higher in last two months.  More organizations in the field of trade have successfully registered and the growing rate is higher than organizations like chamber of commerce and charity organizations.

Registering with the Chinese government requires the FNGO applicant to register with a specific Chinese government authority, “the Organization in charge of their Operation“.   The above FNGO registrants have applied to the following government authorities (figure 4):

  • Commercial department 102    
  • Department of civil affairs 29
  • Health and family planning department 22
  • Education department 19
  • People’s organization 13
  • Other 57


Seventy six percent of successfully registered offices are approved by “the Organizations in charge of their Operations” in China, such as the commercial department, department of civil affairs, health and family planning department, education department and people’s organization.  People’s organization  is the type of organization that is  directed by the Chinese Communist Party, such as CAST, Labor Union, Women’s Federation, etc.

China’s Foreign NGO Law allows for two major categories of activity for Foreign NGOs who wish to operate in the mainland. Groups can either register an office in China, or they can file paperwork to notify the authorities of what the law calls “temporary activities.” Among these 242 FNGO registrants, they combined to register 344 temporary activities in the last 10 months of 2017.

Suggestions for Associations Seeking to Organize 2018 Activities in China

If you have not begun the process and are not already established under another license such as a WOFE, you may consider the following:

  • If an association does not intend to register in China but wishes to organize a conference in 2018, finding a Chinese partner for temporary activity registration is essential.
  • If an association plans to register as a foreign NGO in China, we suggest that the association prepares all the government documents in 2017, and finish registration in early 2018.
  • According to our experience, it is more efficient to find a department which an association has previous contact and cooperation to serve as the “Organization in charge of their Operations” or provide referral.