Opening a Bank Account in China
China has hundreds of thousands of citizens from other countries living in the country, and there are so many business and cultural opportunities around. China is a beautiful country with a lot to enjoy and if you intended on living in the country long-term, at some point you’ll need a bank account.
That’s where this guide comes in, as we’ll help give you a starting point and figure our where to go and how to open a bank account in China.
What documents do I need?
If you want to open just a regular consumer bank account, it isn’t too difficult as a non-citizen, but the real complication comes in when you’re looking to open a business or investment account. Credit cards can be difficult to attain too, as you have no history in the company or guarantee to stay for the credit card companies and lenders. But, for the everyday bank account you’ll need some important documents including a valid passport, proof of residence, initial deposit and for some banks a work permit, employment pass or student pass. Check with the exact bank you’ve chosen for their requirements.
You’ll want to go in branch, with all your documents, as you want to make sure everything is done properly. With the larger banks, most will have English accommodations and have better knowledge and resources to help foreigners open a bank account.
Can I open a bank account abroad?
While it is possible to open a bank account abroad, the ease is dependent on where you live and whether or not your home country has a presence from one of the major Chinese banks. For those in the UK, an RMB account with Bank of China is an option for you, and HSBC has account options as well. In Asia there are more options available as well, as Chinese banks will have more a presence, or banks may have an RMB account available. So, while it is possible, it is a much more difficult and complicated process.
Can I open a bank account as a non-resident?
In some cases it is possible, but there are a lot of hoops to jump through to open a bank account as a non-resident. If you intend on moving to China, but haven’t yet, it may be easier to just wait it out until you have yourself established in the country.
Which bank should I choose?
China has a plethora of different banks available, and choosing the right one for you can be a daunting task. That’s why we’ve broken it down to the four major banks to look at. You’ll want to do more in-depth research on each to really decide what’s best for you (or look at other options we haven’t explored.
-ICBC: The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) is one of the largest not just in the country, but in the world as it is the fourth largest financial service company in the world based on revenue. As one of the biggest in the country, it may be a great option for you to choose.
-Bank of China: Bank of China is a state owned bank, and one of the big four companies in China. They have a global presence as well, meaning they are well-equipped to help foreigners open a bank account and get setup with a financial presence.
-HSBC: HSBC is the 7th largest bank in the world, and has a massive global presence. They operate in 67 countries around the world, and are more than well-equipped to handle foreigners. They may also be the best option for those interested in opening an account before landing in China.
-China Construction Bank (CCB): China Construction Bank is the last of the big four, and is another major company in the world. In 2015 it was the world’s 2nd largest bank by and 6th largest overall company in the world. They are also ready to handle any foreigners who need help opening an account.
All of these banks are great options, as they’re most likely to have an English presence and the resources needed to help you open your account and get setup properly.
Other banks in China include: People’s Bank of China, Agricultural Development Bank of China, China Development Bank, Exim Bank of China, Bank of Communications, China CITIC Bank, China Everbright Bank, Hua Xia Bank, Postal Savings Bank of China, Bank of Dallan, China Bohai Bank, Shengjing Bank, Bank of Changsha, Bank of Jinzhou, Bank of Jilin, Harbin Bank, Bank of Ningbo, Shanghai Pudong Development Bank, Shenzhen City Commercial Bank and many more! Most of these banks are owned by a different level of government, making some more prominent in a particular region of the country than others.
Banking fees and charges
Another aspect in which using one of the major Chinese banks with English resources is so important comes in reading the fine print and meticulous details. You’ll want to know all the potential charges and fees that come with your new account so you don’t find yourself in trouble later on.
Banks are all businesses, and make a lot of money off fees and charges and aren’t afraid to let your fees continue to add up without you realizing. That’s why it’s so important to know them all and be sure you stay on top of all the costs coming from having your bank account.
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