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According to new e-commerce regulations adopted at the fifth meeting of the Standing Committee of the 13th National People's Congress, effective today, January 1st, 2019, people selling goods and services online must be legally registered to do so or face prosecution. Below is a translation of some of the key points in the new law:

Article 2

This Law applies to e-commerce activities within the territory of the People's Republic of China.

The term "e-commerce" as used in this Law refers to the business activities of selling goods or providing services through information networks such as the Internet.

Where laws and administrative regulations provide for the sale of goods or the provision of services, the provisions shall apply.

Article 9

  • The term "e-commerce operators" as used in this Law refers to natural persons, legal persons and unincorporated organizations engaged in the business activities of selling goods or providing services through information networks such as the Internet, including e-commerce platform operators, operators within the platform, and Self-built websites, other online services that sell goods or provide e-commerce operators.
  • The term "e-commerce platform operator" as used in this Law refers to a legal person or unincorporated organization that provides services such as network business premises, transaction matching, and information release for two or more parties in the e-commerce for the parties to the transaction or multiple parties to conduct trading activities independently.
  • The term “operator in the platform” as used in this Law refers to an e-commerce operator who sells goods or provides services through an e-commerce platform.

Article 10

E-commerce operators shall handle the registration of market entities in accordance with the law. However, individuals who sell self-produced agricultural and sideline products, household handicraft products, and individuals who use their own skills to engage in convenient labor services and sporadic small-scale trading activities without legal permission, and those that do not need to be registered in accordance with laws and administrative regulations.

Article 11

E-commerce operators shall perform their tax payment obligations in accordance with the law and enjoy tax benefits in accordance with the law. E-commerce operators who do not need to apply for registration of market entities in accordance with the provisions of the preceding article shall apply for tax registration in accordance with the provisions of tax collection management laws and administrative regulations after the occurrence of the first tax liability, and truthfully declare tax payment.

Article 14

E-commerce operators who sell goods or provide services shall issue paper-based invoices or electronic invoices and other purchase vouchers or service documents. Electronic invoices have the same legal effect as paper invoices.

Article 15

An e-commerce operator shall keep a prominent position on its front page, continuously disclose business license information, administrative license information related to its business operations, information that does not require registration of market entities in accordance with Article 10 of this Law, or The link identifier for the above information.

Although not explicitly stated in the articles, various articles published recently have stated that fines for violating the new rules will range from RMB10,000 to 2 million.

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