Key Points:

  • Market entry restrictions for express delivery business remain
  • Foreign companies prohibited from providing domestic mail delivery services
  • Public comments sought by November 30, 2008

The draft amendment to China’s Postal Law was posted on the official website of the PRC National People's Congress (NPC) on October 30, 2008 for public comment. Any individual or entity may contribute a suggestion before November 30, 2008.  

The draft amendment covers a broad range of areas relating to the postal sector including postal facilities, postal services, service fees, compensation for lost mail and express services. Laws related to the market-entry system for express services and the strengthening of security administration have drawn the most attention.  

I. Market-Entry System of Express Services

According to the draft amendment, strict requirements will be set for express delivery businesses wishing to enter the Chinese market. First, because of security concerns, foreign companies are prohibited from providing domestic mail delivery services. For purposes of the draft amendment, “domestic mail” refers to mail for which the entire delivery process takes place within China.  

Second, the draft requires enterprises applying for express delivery licenses to have a minimum registered capital of RMB500,000 to operate their businesses within provinces, autonomous regions or municipalities. If they conduct business in districts covering multiple provinces, autonomous regions and/or municipalities, they are required to have a minimum registered capital of RMB1 million. Enterprises engaged in international express delivery service must have a minimum registered capital of RMB2 million. Authorities are required to make operation licensing decisions within 45 days following acceptance of application documentation.  

Under the terms of the draft, enterprises that obtained an approval certificate and business license for engaging in international express delivery service before official promulgation of the new Postal Law may go directly to the national postal administration bureau to receive an international express service operation license without undergoing further examination.  

II. Security Administration

Under the draft amendment, postal agencies are authorized to examine items prior to delivery for security reasons. They are required to open packages other than envelopes to examine the items to be delivered. They may open envelopes if necessary, but are not permitted to read their contents.

Postal administration authorities are also required to consider security factors when reviewing and approving applications for express delivery operation licenses.

State and public security bureaus and agencies may also examine and retain mail or delivery service packages connected to a criminal investigation. In addition, courier service providers are required to offer client information if security bureaus deem it necessary. Finally, no individual or entity is permitted to use the mails or a delivery service to distribute information that may threaten national security.

In summary, the draft urges postal bureaus at both the national and provincial levels to tighten monitoring and management measures over postal service in a just, fair and transparent manner.