Change of company address
All companies registered in China must provide a physical address in mainland China that meets the registration requirements. If a business needs to change its registered address, there are a number of specific requirements that must be met for a smooth change. A company’s business address is part of its core registered information (along with its business scope, registered capital and company name), so any changes to this information are a complex process comparable to a newly registered company.
In addition, there are some restrictions on what constitutes a compliant physical address in China, and violation of these requirements may significantly delay the application process and may even affect company operations.
How do I request a change of address?
To change the registered address of an enterprise in China, the enterprise must first obtain a relocation certificate from the Administration for Industry and Commerce in the jurisdiction where the enterprise was originally registered.
After obtaining the relocation certificate, the business must renew the company business license, which includes new address information and supporting documents.
Before making a change of address, it is important to first consider the requirements that the new address must meet when submitting an application for a business license. After changing the license, it is still necessary to change all company documents involved in other departments, such as taxation, banking, foreign exchange, customs…etc.
What are the requirements for the new address?
The standard requirements to keep in mind when considering a change of address are:
- Different from Europe, America, or Taiwan, only one company can be registered at any address in China.
- The address must conform to the business type and purpose of the enterprise, that is, a commercial trading company needs a commercial address, a manufacturing factory needs a production address, etc. Generally speaking, the landlord must provide a copy of the landlord’s certificate of title, which clearly includes the category of “use” or “purpose of use.”
- The use of co-working space as a registered address, although gradually accepted in some business jurisdictions, is still practically restricted and may result in abrupt rejection during the application process.
- A minimum 12-month lease period is required when submitting a new change of address application.
These requirements may be confirmed by on-site visits to the company’s registered address. Before taking steps to apply for a certificate of relocation, it is important to ensure that the intended new registered address fully complies with local government requirements.
Notes on address change:
If the company relocates to the district, it only needs to obtain the relocation certificate from the administration for industry and commerce, and then it can apply for an updated business license in the new district. However, if you want to apply across provinces and regions, you need to issue additional documents from the old industrial and commercial bureau to confirm that the original regional address change has been approved.
In this case, the biggest operational risk a business faces when changing addresses is the approval of the original district. Often, businesses wishing to leave a province are subject to onerous tax investigations and other checks before obtaining a certificate of relocation. This is ostensibly done to ensure that the business is fully compliant and doesn’t owe money, but it also has the effect of delaying the change of address. In this case, the business may choose to deregister the original company and register a brand-new company in the new jurisdiction.
Businesses are no longer required to conduct an audit as a condition of changing their registered address. There is now an internal inspection between the local industry and commerce bureau and the China Taxation Bureau, and applicants are only notified when they are found to have outstanding tax obligations; this significantly shortens the application time for foreign investors.
However, investors with outstanding tax obligations or penalties can still find their application to change the registered business address delayed. In this case, investors can choose to simply close a business in one region and open a brand new business in another. In this case, all existing business contracts must be transferred from the original business, and the debt associated with the original business still exists and must be repaid.
Although the process is getting easier, changing your registered address in China can still be complicated. It is suggested that if you want to confirm the change, you need to sign and confirm the relevant documents in advance or entrust an experienced agency that can better understand local differences and potential problems that may arise.
Also because of the uncertainty of the change procedure, in China’s first-tier cities such as Shanghai, Shenzhen, and other places, more and more companies gradually choose to use the registered address as a secretarial company and separate the registered address from the actual office. Offices may need to be relocated due to factors such as location, traffic, or rental costs, and investors’ registered addresses will not need to be changed, avoiding these lengthy and unpredictable change procedures.