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Compliance Requirements for Foreign Non-Governmental Organizations in China

On January 1, 2017, Law of the People's Republic of China on the Administration of Activities of Overseas Non-Governmental Organizations within the Territory of China (hereinafter “Overseas NGO law”)came into effect. Under Chinese relevant law and regulations, what should overseas NGOs pay attention to when they operate in China?

Any overseas NGO in China should be not-for-profit, non-governmental, legally formed abroad with tax exempt status in the host country, like the foundations, social groups, etc.

In China, there are two legal ways for overseas NGOs conducting activities: setting up a representative office or conducting temporary activities with recordation formalities. Specifically, one is to set up a permanent office in China that can independently run projects. The other way is for the overseas NGOs conducting short-term projects in cooperation with local Chinese NGOs.

Regarding setting up a representative office by overseas NGOs, there are more requirements and procedures in accordance with the Overseas NGO law. To prove overseas NGO’s legal existence, it must have its registration documents notarized by the home country's notary office, authenticated by Chinese Consulate, and then submitted to the Chinese government together with a registration form, relevant documents proving its Chinese registered address and overseas funds.

In addition, Chinese law sets limits on the contents of representative offices' activities and the scope of their venues. After establishing representative offices, overseas NGOs are required to participate in the annual review every year.

If any overseas NGO merely plans a temporary activity in China, it should work with one Chinese organization, such as one state organ or social organization. Before carrying out activity, the NGO shall undergo recordation formalities for activity, which can not exceed one year. Otherwise, the formalities shall be undergone again.

Last but not least, any overseas NGO shall abide by Chinese laws when conducting activities within the territory of China, and especially:

  1. may neither endanger China's national unity, security and ethnic solidarity nor damage China's national interests, public interests and the lawful rights and interests of others.

  2. shall not engage in or fund for-profit activities or political activities in China, or illegally engage in or fund religious activities.

  3. should be subject to the supervision and management of relevant departments.

If you want to know more about the laws, regulations and precautions of overseas NGOs conducting activities in China, please feel free to contact us.

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Larry Zhou, Partner

Landing Law Offices China

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