How can you check whether a Chinese company exists?

Do you run or plan to start importing from China but do not know whether your Chinese business partner is a legally registered company? This is a common problem when doing business with Chinese companies, especially when you do it through the Internet and use B2B marketplaces like Surely it would possibly avoid a lot of scams if the importer had access to this apparently trivial information about a supplier from China. So how can you check if a Chinese company exists?

Is the company in China real?

Entrepreneurs frequently ask for the company’s references, certificates, or financial statements. In the beginning, it is good to start by checking if you are dealing with a legally registered company or with a scammer. The problem is that the importer believes that if a company has a website or an account on a B2B website, then it certainly exists and runs a legal business. Unfortunately, scammers frequently create invented names to give themselves credibility. It works. If you see that, on the website or in the e-mail signature, a name with the appendage “Co., Ltd.,” you assume that this Chinese company must be legally registered. This assumption can cost your company a lot of money. And unfortunately, you cannot do much about it.

Issues with “registered company”

In many cases, even if the company is registered, there may be other issues:

  • but the registration has expired
  • the business license has expired
  • the company had a business license, but it was not renewed
  • scammers use the license of another company that is no longer registered.

You should not only check whether the company has a business license but also whether it is valid. If not, then you should really reconsider whether you want to source from this particular supplier. It is worth adding that the risk of fraud, in this case, increases drastically.

What can we do to protect the company from untrustworthy suppliers?

First of all, ask your business partner to show a copy of the business license. With this document, you can check if it is valid and whether it actually belongs to the company. Transferring other companies’ licenses does happen. You also must be sure that the document has not been fabricated in a graphics program (for example, in Photoshop). Every legally registered Chinese company has a business license, so do not believe in excuses (the most common are: the license is lost or the license is in a locked drawer and the person who has the keys is on vacation). For Chinese companies, the business license is the most important document!

Make sure to check if your supplier is reliable!