Practical Guide to the ONGO Law (Registration and Filing)
2018-11-07 1700

Practical Guide to the ONGO Law (Registration and Filing)


It has been more than four months since the “Law of the People’s Republic of China on Administration of Activities of Overseas Nongovernmental Organizations in the Mainland of China” came into force. Many ONGOs still face practical challenges, however, when trying to establish ROs and file records of temporary activities etc. This post answers 30 common questions that have arisen in the registration and record-filing processes. Information is summarized from seminar content, participant feedback, and our own practical experience.

The below information is for reference only and has no legal validity. For more specific information, please refer to the official interpretations issued by registration management organs.

In the event of any inconsistency between the Chinese and English text, the Chinese text shall prevail to the extent of the inconsistency.


《境外非政府组织境内活动管理法》实施4月有余,而关于设立代表机构和临时活动备案等方面的实操问题依然困扰着不少境外非政府组织。本期善见通过梳理调研会的会议纪要和总结日常的实务经验,对实践中较为常见的30个问题进行释疑,以期与同行交流。

注:本文已根据最新的法律规定和实践对先前推送的内容进行了更新。


释疑内容仅供参考,不具备法律效力,具体释义以登记管理机关权威解释为准。


Section 1: The Establishment of Representative Offices (ROs)

关于设立代表机构


01


How should an organization prove that it is an "overseas non-governmental organization (ONGO)"? What are the requirements for documents and other materials proving that the ONGO is legally established?


The prerequisite for applying to establish an RO is to prove that the headquarters of an organization is a legally established ONGO. Two sets of documents need to be submitted: 1) Evidence of legal establishment outside Mainland China; and 2) Documentary evidence of its non-profit nature.


Evidence of legal establishment outside Mainland China refers to evidence that an organization has been registered overseas with relevant government agencies, and is an independent legal person able to bear civil liability. Documents and other materials that prove that the ONGO is legally established overseas must be issued by official foreign agencies.


Documents demonstrating the non-profit nature of an organization will vary depending on country and region. Whether such documents sufficiently demonstrate this status will depend on the relevant laws and regulations of that specific country or region. In the United States, for example, an organization would be considered to be non-profit in nature if it meets the requirements of the Internal Revenue Code 501 (C) (3), 501 (C) (4) or other provisions and is exempt from certain federal taxes. A U.S.-based ONGO would only need to submit documents proving its registration, and would not be required to submit its tax documents. For ONGOs from the United Kingdom, proof of registration at the Charity Commission for England and Wales would be sufficient.


机构应当如何证明自己是境外非政府组织?对于境外非政府组织合法注册成立的证明文件有什么要求?


申请设立代表机构的前提是证明机构的总部是一家合法在境外成立的非政府组织。这需要从两个方面证明,一是境外合法成立证明,二是组织非营利性的证明文件。


所谓在境外合法成立,是指该组织已在境外相关职能部门登记,是能够依法承担法律责任的独立法人。境外非政府组织合法注册成立的证明文件必须由国外官方机构出具。


对于非营利性的证明文件,各地情况不同,需要根据所在国家和地区相应的法律法规来判断。比如在美国,如果符合美国国内税法中501(C)(3)501(C)(4)等条款获得相关免税资格的组织即视为具有非营利性,提交成立文件,不需要提交税务材料;在英国则有专门的慈善组织登记机关。


02

If an ONGO’s proof of legal establishment outside Mainland China is its business license, will it be necessary to submit the original copy of the business license from its headquarters?


This is not necessary. Taking into account that the original copy of the business license is of great importance, it will not be necessary to produce the original license; instead, documentary evidence demonstrating legal establishment of the ONGO should be requested from authorities. If the foreign government departments in the country where the ONGO is based cannot issue such documentary evidence, copies of the original business license as well as other relevant documents may be submitted after being notarized and authenticated in-country. Materials written in foreign languages should be translated into Chinese.


如果注册证明文件是营业执照,是否必须从总部带营业执照原件过来认证?


不需要。由于营业执照原件十分重要,所以并不要求提供原件,而是请官方出具证明文件。如果机构所在国的官方部门不能出具证明文件,可以复印营业执照等相关的文件,并在当地做好公证认证。外文材料须翻译成中文。


03


What are the requirements for the “articles of association” of an ONGO?


 “Articles of association are internally drafted NGO documents. Typical NGOs will note their non-profit nature within these articles of association. Complete versions of the articles of association must be submitted; partial or non-contextualized articles of association may not be submitted.


对于境外非政府组织的章程有什么要求?


章程是非政府组织制定的内部性文件。比较规范的非政府组织会在章程内标注非营利性。章程需要提交完整版,不可以断章取义只提交一部分。


04


What should be included in the contents of the “Letter of Authorization for Registration of the Representative Office of the ONGO”?


Some organizations have raised the issue that public security organs in different locations have different requirements regarding the letter of authorization. Since the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) has not yet issued specific guidelines, the respective standards of each local public security organ must be followed.

For example, in Beijing, the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau requires the approval document to be issued by the headquarters of the ONGO, and should contain two parts.


First, the document must show that the ONGO headquarters have authorized the establishment of a Beijing RO. This authorization must indicate that the headquarters agree to set up a Beijing RO and authorize the Beijing RO to exercise part of its authority on its behalf. This authorization should state as clearly as possible the exact location of the RO. Terms such as "in China" or "nationwide" are not sufficient.


Second, the document must list the names of the chief representative and other representatives. There is no need to submit a list of employees. The authorization document needs to be signed or stamped by the head of the headquarters.The authorization document does not need to be notarized or authenticated. If the document is in a foreign language, it needs to be translated by a qualified translation agency.


The two parts of this authorization can be submitted in the form of two separate documents; however, when submitting them to the registration website, they need to be merged into a single PDF document before being uploaded.


 “境外非政府组织办理设立代表机构登记授权书应当包括哪些内容?


有机构提出,全国各地公安机关对登记授权书的要求不一样。由于目前公安部还没有颁布具体文件,因而按各地公安部门标准来执行。以北京市公安局的要求为例,登记授权书由境外非政府组织总部出具,包括两部分内容。


第一,总部授权成立北京代表处。表明总部同意设立北京代表处,给北京代表处授权行使总部的部分权力。尽量写清楚代表处所在地,而不要写“In China ”或者全国


第二,拟任首席代表以及代表人员姓名。不需要写雇员名单。授权书需要总部负责人签字或者盖章。授权书无需公证认证,如果是外文,需要由有资质的翻译机构进行翻译。


授权书的这两部分内容可以做成两份文件;但是在相关网站上提交时要合并成一个PDF文档再上传。

05


What evidentiary materials must be submitted to demonstrate that the “ONGO existed and engaged in substantive activities overseas for more than two years”?


ONGOs will have to submit two types of evidence: “internal documentation + third-party verification”. 


First, ONGOs have to submit financial audit reports of the past two years issued by a third party and satisfying the requirements of the host country.


Second, ONGOs have to submit an annual activity report of the past two years, signed by the head of the ONGO. The financial audit report is to prove that the ONGO has a cash flow and it is not merely an“empty shell”; if there is no financial report, relevant financial statements can be submitted in replacement. If the annual activity report is too long, NGOs can provide summaries of the year's activities that are representative, have practical significance, and reflect the characteristics of the organization, so long as they are sure to include the names and brief descriptions of these activities. The audited materials and activity reports should be issued by ONGO headquarters. If it is currently impossible to submit materials relevant to activities held in 2016 (for example, the annual report on activities held in 2016 will not be issued until June 2017), reports for 2014 and 2015 may first be submitted, along with an attachment from the ONGO headquarters indicating that“the report for 2016 is currently under preparation according to the law, and it is temporarily unavailable” or similar content. Public security organs will take this into consideration.


境外非政府组织在境外存续二年以上并实质性开展活动的证明材料包括哪些?


包括他证+自证两份证明材料:


第一,符合境外非政府组织所在国要求的、由第三方出具的近两年财务审计报告;


第二,境外非政府组织负责人签字的近两年的活动年报。财务审计报告是为了证明境外非政府组织有经济流水,并非空壳;如果没有财务报告,至少提交相关财务报表。年报过长的,境外非政府组织可以对有代表性和实际意义的、体现非政府组织开展活动特点的内容进行总结,注明活动名称,简单描述。审计材料和活动年报均由境外非政府组织总部出具。如果目前无法提供2016年相关材料,比如总部20176月份才能出具2016年活动报告,可以先提交20142015年的报告,然后由总部在材料后附加说明“2016年报告目前正在依法准备,暂时无法提供或类似内容,公安部门会酌情考虑。

06


What do ONGOs need to submit to satisfy the requirement for “Identity document and Curriculum Vitae (CV) of the chief representative of the Proposed Representative Office"? What types of ID meet the requirements? What are the requirements for the CV? Are there any requirements for the duration of employment?


“Identity document” refers to identification such as a PRC Resident Identity Card, foreign ID card, passports, Exit-Entry Permit for Travelling to and from Hong Kong and Macau, etc. Foreign documents need to be notarized and authenticated. A CV needs to show clearly every period of previous employment, and indicate clearly each employment period from a certain month in a certain year up to another certain month in a certain year. It also needs to indicate clearly a certain type of employment in a certain place. It is best that the CV timeline be continuous, with no time gaps. The CV should be in chronological format, indicating experience from university up to current employment. The CV does not require notarization or authentication, but it requires the signature of the chief representative of the RO.


The validity of the documents of the chief representative and other representatives of the ONGO will be determined in accordance with the duration of their employment. The maximum duration shall not exceed 5 years. The representatives will enjoy special visa privileges for foreigners of high talent. Detailed policies will be introduced in the near future.


申请设立代表机构需要提交拟设代表机构首席代表身份证明和简历,身份证明包括哪些证件?对于简历有什么要求?任职期限有无要求?


身份证明证件包括中国大陆身份证、外国身份证、护照和港澳台往来大陆相关证件等。境外证件需要公证认证。简历上个人经历部分需要写清楚时间段而不是时间点,即从某年某月到某年某月在何处从事什么工作,注明职务。简历时间最好连续,不要有时间空档。简历上的时间顺序按照由远及近的原则(从大学时期往现在写),以方便审阅。简历不需要公证认证,但需要首席代表签名。


境外非政府组织首席代表和代表的证件有效期将以总部授权书中的任职时限为参考,最长不超过5年,并将享受高端外籍人员就业签证优惠政策,具体政策近期会出台。


07


Is it necessary to approach local public security organs to obtain documentation for “Certificate / Statement of No Criminal Record of the Chief Representative”?


No. The chief representative can sign a standard clean criminal record statement, and no notarization or authentication is needed if it is issued in China. The chief representative is responsible for the authenticity of the signature. Evidence of no criminal record issued in other countries where the chief representative is a citizen needs to be notarized and authenticated.


首席代表无犯罪记录证明材料或者声明必须去公安机关开具吗?


不是。首席代表也可以签署固定格式的无犯罪记录声明,不需要公证认证。首席代表对签字的真实性负责。在首代本国开具的无犯罪记录证明,需要进行公证认证。


08


What does “Proof of Location of the RO of the ONGO” include?


This includes two documents: a property rights certificate of the RO, and a lease between the RO and its landlord. The property rights certificate is to prove the existence of the actual office location, and the lease is to prove a lease relationship. ONGOs who cannot sign a lease contract before registering as an RO can first sign the lease in the name of its headquarters, and modify the lease once the RO is established.


拟设代表机构的住所证明材料包括哪些?


包括两份文件:代表机构办公场所的产权证明、双方租赁合同。产权证明用以证明房屋存在;租赁合同用以证明租赁关系。境外非政府组织在还未设立代表处的情况下,可以先以总部名义签署合同,等代表机构成立后再办理变更手续。


09


What are the specific requirements for the "Letter of Approval from Organizations in Charge of Operations (OICO) (also known as Professional Supervisory Units - PSUs)"?


First, the letter must be an official regulatory document. For registration in Beijing, the letter should be written to either the ONGO Management Office of Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau or the ONGO that is applying to establish an RO.


Second, the letter issued by the OICO must contain content that shows that the OICO agrees to become the OICO of the ONGO's Beijing RO. The letter cannot say that it approves the establishment of an RO of the ONGO. The OICO does not have the authority to approve the establishment of an RO. This power lies with public security organs.


In addition, the name and contact information of the contact person from an OICO must be stated for verification purposes. On the letter, there should also be an official seal from a ministry-level administrative unit, or a department-level administrative unit that has the authority to approve activities involving foreign entities (for example, the International Cooperation Department of the Ministry of Civil Affairs). For municipal-level administrative units, the official seal needs to be provided rather than a stamp from branch offices.


对于业务主管单位的同意文件的具体要求有哪些?


首先必须是官方红头文件。以向北京市公安局申请为例,行文对象可以是北京市公安局境外非政府组织管理办公室,也可以是申请设立代表机构的境外非政府组织。


其次,必须有同意作为某某组织北京代表处的业务主管单位内容或类似表述,而不能是同意设立代表机构,因为同意设立代表机构并非由业务主管单位负责,而是公安机关的职权。


另外,需要附上业务主管单位的联系人和联系电话,以便核实;还需加盖部委级单位或者具有涉外审批权的司局级单位(比如民政部国际合作司)的公章。对于市级单位,必须是单位公章,不能是个别处室的章。


10


Among all the documents that need to be submitted, which of them require notarization and authentication?


Materials requiring notification and authorization include “three sets of documentary evidence and one set of articles of association”: 1) Documents and other materials that prove that an ONGO is legally established overseas; 2) Documents and other materials that prove an ONGO existed and engaged in

substantive activities overseas for more than two years; 3) The identity document of the chief representative of the proposed RO; and 4) The articles of association of the ONGO.


The procedures for notarization and authentication vary from place to place, but all of the documents must be authenticated by the Consulates General of the People's Republic of China in their locations in different countries and regions. In the United States, ONGOs must take relevant documents and find a local lawyer to obtain notarization, and then obtain authentication from the state authorities, the Department of State, and finally from the Consulate-General of the PRC. The requirements for Hong Kong differ in that documents need to be approved by notaries recognized by the Ministry of Justice of the People's Republic of China and qualified to notarize documents in Mainland China. The notaries that are qualified to notarize the documents can be identified on the Ministry of Justice's website. In general, notarization and authentication are the responsibilities of ONGO applicants. The registration authorities for ONGOs should be receiving documents that have been authenticated by the Consulates General and translated into Chinese by qualified translation agencies.


申请代表机构所需提交的材料中,有哪些需要办理公证认证?


需要公证认证的材料包括三份证明、一个章程:境外非政府组织在境外合法成立的证明文件和材料、境外非政府组织在境外存续二年以上并实质性开展活动的证明材料、外籍首席代表的身份证明以及境外非政府组织章程。


公证认证的具体程序因地而异,但都必须有中华人民共和国驻各国使领馆的认证。在美国,境外非政府组织持相关文件找当地律师开具公证书,然后到州级部门认证,再到国务院认证,最后到中国驻美国使领馆认证。香港地区较为特殊,需要由中华人民共和国司法部依法认可的、拥有内地公证资质的公证人进行公证;具有公证资质的公证人可以通过司法部网站进行查询。总之,进行公证和认证是相关申请人的职责,境外非政府组织登记管理部门接收的是中国使领馆认证后经过有资质翻译公司翻译为中文的文件。


11


Do all foreign language materials need to be translated?


When authenticating documents with consulates in different countries, there are two types of situations that will determine whether or not translations need to be provided.


In the first situation, if the consulate in a certain country (including the United States) does not require Chinese translation during authentication processes, ONGOs will need to find a qualified translation agency in Mainland China to translate all the documents, including the notarial certificates after notarization. Qualified translation agencies refer to those agencies that are eligible to affix record numbers onto the documents. It is recommended that ONGOs ask domestic notary institutions to designate a qualified translation agency to translate relevant materials to facilitate the notarization process.


In the second situation, if the consulate requires the submission of a Chinese translation when authenticating documents, and recognizes the Chinese translation submitted and authenticates it, registration authorities will also recognize these translated documents.


In either situation, the notarial certificates must be translated, because consulates generally do not require ONGOs to submit notarial certificates that are translated into Chinese. If consulates in the country only refer to the Chinese translation when authenticating and do not certify the translation, then the documents need to be translated once again in Mainland China. Materials written in traditional Chinese need to be converted into simplified Chinese and signed by the responsible party, but do not need to undergo notarization and authentication. Cantonese or Hokkien materials need to be translated into Mandarin, and undergo notarization and authentication.


所有外文材料均需要翻译吗?


按照驻各国使领馆认证时是否要求提交翻译件可以分成两类情况。


第一种,对于驻美国等国家的使领馆认证材料时不要求提供中文翻译件的情形,境外非政府组织获得使领馆认证后,需要在中国境内找一家具有翻译资质的机构对所有材料(包括公证书)进行翻译。具有翻译资质的机构指能加盖备案号方章的翻译机构。公安机关建议境外非政府组织请境内公证机构指定一家有资质的翻译公司翻译相关材料,以便公证机构随时进行公证。


第二种情况,如果驻外使领馆认证材料时要求提交中文翻译件,使领馆认可翻译件并进行了认证,那么登记管理机关同样认可。


无论哪种情况,公证书必须翻译,因为使领馆一般不要求提交公证书的中文翻译件。如果驻各国使领馆只是参考翻译件,并未对翻译进行认证,则需要在境内重新翻译。繁体中文材料需要附简体中文,由负责人签字,无需公证认证。闽南语、粤语材料需要附普通话版本材料,并进行公证认证。


12


The RO registration website does not allow an organization to create more than one account. If an ONGO would like to establish multiple ROs in Beijing and other places, what should it do?


Each organization, including the Chinese partner, can only have one account. Applications for multiple ROs need to be submitted via the same account. The mobile phone number used to register the account is very important. When proceeding to follow-up procedures after online submission of documents, the appointment times and other notifications will be sent to the registered mobile phone number. Changes to mobile phone numbers should be promptly updated on the website.


同时在北京和其他地方设立代表机构,在网上填写北京办公室的资料后,其他地区的代表机构因为账号已被使用而无法注册,如何处理?


各个机构,包括中方合作单位,只能有一个账号。申请多个代表机构需要用同一个帐号依次申请。需要注意的是,帐号注册时使用的手机号十分重要,办理后续手续时预约时间等通知都会发送到登记的手机号上,手机号发生变化应当及时在网站上办理变更。


13


 Are ONGOs eligible to organize events and activities in other places? Can the “Area of Activities” be indicated as "nationwide"?


The events and activities must be located within the registered “Area of Activities.” Plans for organizing events and activities must be indicated in the annual plans of the ONGOs. If the RO is established in Beijing while the “Area of Activities” is indicated as “nationwide”, ONGOs will not be eligible to establish ROs in other places. Therefore, ONGOs need be cautious when choosing “nationwide” for “Area of Activities” as public security organs will examine this indication closely.


代表机构可以在外地开展活动吗?活动地域是否可以是全国


活动的开展需要符合所登记的活动地域范围。在外地开展活动的需要将活动地域体现在年度计划里。需要注意的是,在北京设立代表机构时将活动地域登记为全国的,不得再在其他地方申请设立代表机构,所以申请设立代表机构时,活动地域应谨慎登记为全国。申请登记全国为活动地域范围的,公安部门会严格而审慎地审核。



Section 2: Submitting documents to file a record to conduct temporary activities

关于临时活动备案

01


Does the “record filing management organ” for a temporary activity refer to the public security organ in the location where the temporary activity takes place?


No, the record filing management organ refers to the public security organ where the Chinese partner is located. According to the law, “Chinese partners of ONGOs conducting temporary activities shall handle examination and approval procedures in accordance with State regulations and submit to local registration authorities the following documentation and information for their records 15 days before temporary activities commence”.


备案主管机关是临时活动开展地的公安机关吗?


不是,是中方合作单位所在地的公安机关。境外非政府组织开展临时活动,中方合作单位应当在开展临时活动十五日前向其所在地的省级人民政府公安机关境外非政府组织管理办公室(登记管理机关)备案。


02


How can a temporary activity record be filed if there is more than one ONGO or more than one Chinese partner participating?


Activities should be filed on record in accordance with project division. Each project should be put on record separately.


如果一项活动有多个境外非政府组织或多个中方合作单位参与,如何备案?


按照项目来备案,每个项目单独备案。


03


What materials are required for the record of temporary activities?

 "Form for Record of Temporary Activities by ONGOs" (This form can be completed either online or in writing);

1.  Documentary and material evidence of the legal establishment of the ONGO;

2.  A written agreement between the ONGO and its Chinese partner (similar to a contract);

3.  Evidence of costs and funding sources as well as the bank account details of the Chinese partner;