China has set out plans to implement a ‘One Window, One Form’ policy for registering Foreign-Invested Enterprises (FIE). The circular, which was issued jointly by the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) and State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC), will be implemented nationally from 30 June 2018.

The ‘One Window, One Form’ policy is designed to simplify business registration. After 30 June, FIEs will be able to submit a single form to a single office, rather than having to deal with multiple forms and government offices. The new procedure should reduce the time required to prepare forms and liaise with different bureaus.

The reform will also strengthen data exchange and information sharing between relevant government departments. This will increase the importance of maintaining compliance with rules and regulations in business operations. It will also increase the risks of non-compliance.

Foreign firms currently waiting to set up in China should be aware that there may regional differences in implementation of the new circular on a nationwide basis. Local government bureaus may need additional time to implement the new processes and train staff.

The ‘One Window, One Form’ principle has already been trialled in certain locations. The Shanghai Free Trade Zone (FTZ) has been operating a ‘single window’ registration system under the administration of the State Administration of Industry and Commerce (SAIC).

The new system forms a part of a wider reform agenda to consolidate bureaucratic procedures and make setting up a business in China faster and easier for foreign investors. The deadline for converting to a ‘Five-in-One’ certification – which combines the business tax registration, organisation code, business licence, social security and statistical registration certificate into a single document with one social credit code – expired on 31 December 2017.

Despite these efforts to reform the business environment, China still ranks, according to the World Bank, as 78 out of 190 economies for ease of doing business in 2018 and there are many other obstacles to be overcome. For further information or assistance with your China entry, please contact Sovereign China.