B23 Store-and-forward Services License for China

Chinese Name: B23 存储转发类业务

Summary

The B23 license is defined under the VATS (Value-Added Telecommunications Services) licensing scheme in China. This license allows you to store and forward messages from one party to another. If your app, game or device uses email, voicemail, voice messaging, or faxing between two or more users, you will need this license.

Laws

The B23 license is defined in Announcement of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology on Promulgating the Classification Catalogue of Telecommunication Services (2015) as follows:

Store-and-forward services refer to the message sending services provided for users by utilizing the store-and-forward mechanism. Store-and-forward services include the voice mail, e-mail, fax store-and-forward, etc.

Voice mail services refer to the storage, extraction, and use of voice messages and other auxiliary functions provided for users by utilizing a voice mail system which is connected with the public communication network, public data transmission network or the Internet. Each voice mail has a special mail number, and the user may deliver, receive, store, delete, forward or inform the message through a telephone, a computer or any other terminal equipment.

E-mail services refer to the services of one-to-one-point or one-to-multi-point e-mail editing, sending, transmission, storage, forwarding and receipt provided for users by adopting various kinds of e-mail transmission protocols through the Internet. Meanwhile, users are provided with various types of information exchange in a store-and-forward manner, by combining an intelligent terminal, computer, etc. with the public communication network.

Fax store-and-forward services refer to the unreal-time sending of faxes at the other end, with such faxes being controlled by the store-and-forward system set up between fax machines and between fax machines and computers of users.

The fax store-and-forward system is mainly composed of a fax work station and a fax store-and-forward mailbox, which are connected through a packet network, a digital private line or the Internet. Fax store-and-forward services include the multi-site delivery, on-time delivery, fax mail, designated receiver communication, message filing and other supporting functions.

Who needs one?

Any app, game or device in China that has voice mail, email, or fax functionality between two or more people needs a B23 license. See the law above for clearer definitions.

Requirements to apply for a B23 License

To apply for a B23 license, your company must fulfill these requirements:

  • A 100% Chinese-owned company can obtain a B23 license for any of the above-listed business scopes; or a foreign-funded telecommunications enterprise established in China, operating within a province, autonomous region, or centrally located municipality.
  • The business operator is a company established pursuant to the law;
  • Have the requisite funding and staff for its business activities;
  • Have the reputation or capability to provide long-term services for the users;
  • The minimum registered capital of an operator operating within a province, an autonomous region or centrally-administered municipality shall be RMB1 million; the minimum registered capital of an operator operating nationwide or across provinces, autonomous regions or centrally-administered municipalities shall be RMB10 million;
  • Have the premises, facilities and technical plans;
  • The company and its key investors and key management personnel cannot be included in the list of dishonest telecommunications business operators; and
  • any other criteria stipulated by the State.

Special requirements for foreign-funded enterprises

According to the Special Administrative Measures (Negative List) for Foreign Investment Access (Edition 2020), since June 2020 it is now possible for a WFOE (wholly foreign-owned enterprise) to obtain a B23 License.

Businesses registered in Hong Kong, Macau, or free-trade zones may enjoy additional advantages and have additional application requirements.

How do I apply for a B23 License?

File online with the local MIIT authorities. In the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, file with the Shanghai Communications Administration (SCA). All document and filing requirements vary by region. See Administrative Measures on Telecommunications Business Permits for a list of basic filing materials required.

Receiving the license generally takes three months or less.

Fines and Penalties

Operating these services without the B23 License may result in a fine of up to 3 to 5 times amount earned until that point, as well as the shutting down and blacklisting of that entity. You cannot carry out your business while applying, or both you and the approval agency will be punished. (article 69 of Telecommunications Regulations of the People’s Republic of China)

Validity Time

The B23 License must be renewed every 3 years.

Get your B23 license the easy way.

App and game publishers in China must adhere to a set of laws and regulations that can seem opaque and confusing to foreign developers and companies. AppInChina simplifies and demystifies this process for our clients.

AppInChina will analyze your app, determine which licenses are needed, and apply on your behalf. See this page for other licenses that may be required for features in specialized categories, such as video conferencing and education. Contact us today for a consultation.

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