How to Open a Chinese Bank Account

Michael MicheliniBanking, Blog, Corporate5 Comments

So, you want to open a bank account in China. In case you are a foreigner or a resident of the country and needs to open either a personal or business account, the process is not that difficult. Generally speaking, you must bring your passport, visa (if separated from passport), your working certification, certificate of your addressand some money. As different banks and cities may have different regulations, there may be some other documents that are requirednot being mentioned above

To open a Chinese bank account as a foreigner is a good way to do some business or shop online. Moreover, you may need a Chinese account to link with your Alipay or WeChat pay, which are very popular mobile payment methods in Mainland China. The process is not complex, and the accommodating banking staff will be happy to serve you. There are simple steps, however, that you need to follow in opening a personal savings account or a multi-currency savings account.

Prepare the needed documents

Passport. As mentioned earlier, the most important thing that you need to provide is your passport. It is the most important ID in China. In order to avoid unnecessary problems, we recommend that your passport should be valid at least 6 months into the future.

Visa. Make sure that your visa is unexpired and it matches your purpose in China. If you are holding a tourist visa, you may not be able to open an account in China.

Your working certification. If you are working in China, a certificate which can prove your working position provided by your company is necessary. Your work card may not be recognized as a “certificate”.

Certificate of your address. Some banks may request the evidence which can prove your address. Lease contract, certificate from your neighborhood committee or certificate from police department may be acceptable. In China, bank statements or electricity, gas and water bills can not be used as address certification.

Certificate from local police department. Some banks may ask foreign customers to provide certificate from local police department. Don’t worry, it does not mean you have any criminal record. Some cities just have the regulation that your identity has to be approved by police before opening an account. It is not common in most cities, so do not panic.

Some money (RMB). Aside from the documents above, you also need some money that will serve as an initial deposit. The amount is usually from 10 to 20 renminbi (RMB), but some banks will require you to pay for the card that will be given to you, so bring a total of 40 RMB just to make sure. Renminbi is the legal tender used in the country, according to the Western Union Business Solutions Vice President of Corporate Development and Strategy, Alfred Nader.

Which bank should I choose?

Also, you need to choose wisely which bank should you open an account with and prioritize convenience. It would be better if you choose the bank or banks that are nearest to where you live and they should be at least district-level sub-branches (In some middle or small cities, you may have to go to a city-level branch),for not all of branches are familiar with foreign business. You can receive better services in a high-level branch, including foreign languages services as well if possible. (I’m not sure whether it is true. For Chinese citizens, we do not have to go to other branches to change pin number or report losses.)

Opening a new account at the bank

Getting the most out of your new bank account in China

This is it. Once you have completed the necessary documents and have cash in your pocket, go to the branch nearest you. Having a local friend to accompany you might speed up the process but since the application is not complicated, that may not be really necessary. To open a Chinese bank account is as easy as 1-2-3, and you can do it yourself with confidence.

Go directly to the information desk to speak with the banking staff and get your wait number. Inform them that you are interested in opening a bank account with them. Most of the time, they will assist you in filling out the form. There are times when they provide a form written in English for your convenience and process a duplicate of your passport and visa for your later use.

After your number is called, hand them over the filled out form and your passport as well. You will need to sign other documents, and you will be informed of how much the deposit is going to be. While processing your application, you will be required to enter a password which is usually a 6-digit number. At the same time, you will be provided with a new UnionPay Bank Card.

Now that you have your UnionPay Bank Card, there are a lot of things that you can do with it. You can use it to withdraw money from an ATM or make some deposits. You can also use it to purchase items online such as in Taobao or Alibaba. Just don’t forget to request activation of your internet banking to avoid the hassle.

It is also possible to wire money from your bank account in China to your hometown bank or any other banks around the world. Approach your bank in China for specific instructions on how to send and receive money internationally.

Tips from the community for opening a bank account in China

“As a foreigner, China banking staffs do not expect that you will be speaking their language. And if you do, pretend that you don’t because you will need to wait for your turn until your wait number is called. If you cannot speak Chinese, the staff will be eager to accommodate you all throughout the process of opening a bank account with them.”
“It is worth noting that when you open a bank account in China, expect that the interest rate is quite low.If you want your account to earn better and have higher interest, ask the banking staff regarding “wealth management” products. They could explain to you all types of preferences about fixed-term deposits that could accrue high interest.”
“You will be accompanied to the VIP section and at times to the office of the branch manager. More so, if you are opening a VIP account, there will be a maintaining minimum balance of 50,000 yuan and 500,000 yuan for silver and gold VIP, respectively. If your VIP status is higher, then that would be better, because it means that you will spend less time waiting in line before you will be entertained.”
“When in China and is to make some banking or payments online, remember to use Internet Explorer instead. Generally, payments and banking done online, use an exclusive Microsoft technology called ActiveX and is available only in the said operating system.”

Readers’ Questions

Dear Sir, Madam, I just read your article on opening a bank account in China. Do you know by any chance whether some banks in Shenzhen may allow foreigners living in Hong Kong to open a Mainland bank account with a visit visa? Many thanks.Raphael

Hi Raphael, we don’t know if there are banks in Shenzhen that may allow that. As far as we know, a Mainland China address is a pre-requisite in opening a bank account there.

Main banks in China to open a new account

China has four main banks where you can open an account. These include the Bank of China, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, China Construction Bank, and the Agricultural Bank of China. According to CEO Export, Frank Lavin, these banks are now universal with capabilities to cater personal savings accounts and even venture capitalist banking for substantial loans. For more banks in China you can check our list here.

Residents or foreigners who opened a bank account with any of the major banks in China will gain access and take advantage of the UnionPay system. It is China’s only bank card organization as well as internet bank linkage with ATMs across the country. This is essential because only a handful of businesses accept payments via MasterCard, Visa, or American Express. Due to the increase in Chinese tourism, Union Pay which is once limited to China, is now accepted in many parts of the world especially in Southeast Asian countries.

Check our New China Bank Directory

GFA now has a growing directory of Chinese bank accounts for you to browse, check it out today!

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Tags: asia, bank, banking, business, career, china, corporate, guide, law, legal, tips

5 Comments on “How to Open a Chinese Bank Account”

  1. Eelin

    I would like to know if I’m on Business Visa, would I be able to open a bank account?

    1. nicholasandrea

      Sure , and this one of the most secure and famous online Chinese banks ever

    2. Leslie Marshall

      Try China Construction Bank. They seemed very Accommodating. I was told that it is because they are not considered the best bank and desire customers. In any regard be aware you account will be cancelled at the same time your passport expires.

  2. L. Jones

    I have a corporation in America. I want to open a business account under the same name in China. I’ll be living here for one year. What’s the process to open up a business account and which documents do I need?

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