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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.