How to open a bank account in China

How to open a bank account in China

With over 600 thousand expats and plenty of growth in the horizon, business opportunity will continue to make China one of the world’s foremost magnets for foreigners. Cities display enormous growth spurts in short periods of time and the influx of foreigners is seen far beyond the city limits of Shanghai and Beijing.

With a highly diverse culture and - for westerners - a different take on how business, family and politics work, it can be a challenge to relocate to China. It is an adventure that. If you are up for the challenge and practice some patience, there will be rewards.

If you are thinking of making a move there, we believe opening a bank account should be one of your top priorities as it will help you establish a local presence and give you a sense of stability. Here is our guide on how to open a bank account in China.

Documents needed to open a bank account in China

China is one of the world's easiest places to open a bank account as an individual. Understandably it is a bit more difficult of a process if you need an investment or business account. Bear in mind that accounts opened for foreigners will have special rates and operational restrictions albeit not much.

Here are the documents you need:

  • Passport
  • Proof of residence (only for correspondence, a bank may accept an email address or a temporary address)
  • Initial deposit

Exact documentation will vary from bank to bank and there is a range of additional requirements and checks a bank staffer may request of you depending on the case. Be aware that this is possible. Credit cards are difficult to obtain as a foreigner but debit cards are easy to get.

You will notice that you can approach a help desk and get an application in English and staff will speak some English especially if you are at a region with a large number of expats. It means that banking relationship managers are likely to have experience working with foreigners and have special protocols to handle requests like yours.

Can I open a bank account as a non-resident?

It is super easy to open a bank account as a non-resident. Your passport is all you need to get started. You may even open an account from your home country if your home country has banks with RMB accounts which are rather common in the EU.

Best Banks in China

With over a billion people, it is no surprise that has an enormous number of banks operating within its borders, from small to large, from national to international, from retail to specialist. We recommend you get a bank that is convenient for you since as you know, it could be difficult to get around and convenience is of utmost importance.

  • ICBC: This is one of the largest banks in the country - with award winning products and services - ICBC also has extensive presence abroad. It has a large network of ATMs and branches and a nice website in English. Accounts can include international debit cards free of charge.
  • Bank Of China: in most of the world's main cities, there will be a branch of BOC which means you can open an account even before you land in the country. Their product and service offers are extensive, customer service in English is exceptional and their network is extensive.
  • HSBC: this is China's most widely known bank with presence all over the globe. You can expect to be well served, in English, and get the full HSBC line of products including modern perks such as online banking, credit and debit cards and plenty of ATMs across china.
  • CCB: China Construction Bank is one of the world's largest banks by market cap. With over 13 thousand branches in China alone and an ATM network that beggars belief, you won't be short on convenience with CCB. Website is in English and online banking is easy to use.

Remember that when you visit a branch to open an account, you do not go straight to the normal counter, but instead you go to the service desk. It is likely that you will be able to schedule a special appointment with an English speaking team member if you do so require. Always double that that the information is available in English.

It will be possible to open a bank account in the documentation is not in English, but in that case it is best to let the staff member help you fill out the forms.

Charges: when it comes to fees, these will vary but they tend not to be expensive. It is always good advice to read the fine print so you aren't surprised when you see charges in your bank statement. Fees are likely to be found on the website, but if they are not ask your relationship manager or bank staffer. Check fees like early termination fees, monthly fees, special fees for specific countries, high currency conversion fees and moving money between currencies.

The virtual bank account alternative

It is expensive to do international money transfers from China

Transferring money abroad from China is expensive with a bank because banks charge above the mid market rate in order to cover their high operational costs. This means that if you transfer 10 thousand dollars to China you will only get about 9400 dollars worth of renminbi back home and that is not a good deal.

We do better. The same transfer will get you 9900 worth of renminbi back to your home. You also get a virtual bank account with an European IBAN number that you can use to send and receive money within the EU for free and send money abroad to 33 countries in 200 currencies for - always - low fees.

How to open a bank account in Europe

We have a few guides to guide you through the process of opening a bank account in multiple European countries and explaining why a virtual bank account with B2B Pay may be a better alternative if you are transferring money outside of Europe and taking advantage of a better rate.



How to open a bank account overseas

We have a few guides to guide you through the process of opening a bank account in multiple countries all over the world and explaining why a virtual bank account with B2B Pay may be a better alternative if you are transferring money outside of Europe and taking advantage of a better rate.


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