There is a growing tendency of many expats and foreign workers choosing to work in China with attractive salaries and more work opportunities in China. Expecially in recent years, many foreigners work as ESL teachers, which is a job in high demand with great pay. However, being unfamiliar with China sometimes causes foreigners to have some hard times at the beginning. For example, many foreingers may have questions about opeing a bank account in China. Unless you are just visiting, it is hard to live in China without a bank account since it is widely accpted and has more advantages compared to a foreign bank accounts in the mainland.

So, Below there are some steps of how to open a bank account in China:-


1. Choose a bank

There are many banks in China. Here some of the preferred banks for foreigners:

- Bank of China

- ICBC (Industrial and Commercial Bank of China)

- ABC (Agricultural Bank of China)

- China Construction Bank

- China Merchant’s Bank

For day to day usage by foreigners, these banks do not differ hugely and most of them are easily found in China. I recommend opening a Bank of China account if you are looking to transfer money overseas as this is the only bank permitted to perform foreign currency transactions for foreigners in RMB. It is recommanded that you should find out which branch is the nearest to you and open your account there for convenience. You can also look for the reviews of them since some of them may be crowded at times and affect your banking experience,  in additional some branches may provide more international banking services than others.


2. Preparation

You need to bring you passport to open your bank account in China. Most banks will require a residency visa to open an account, some will also want to see your work permit card if you are on a working visa. Normally, a payment of 20 RMB to 30 RMB is needed to open the account and you cannot pay it by card. So bring 50 RMB cash along with you.


3. Opening an account

After choosing the right bank you can go to the bank directly. It is suggested that you arrive at the bank a little bit earlier since there may be a lot of people dealing with banking and queue times in most banks are long, I recommend going to the bank around 11am-12pm or 1pm-2pm in order to avoid queues. When you get there, go directly to the information desk and ask the staff there for help. He/She will assist you to complete the required forms to take to the counter and open the account. They will give you a form to fill (which is usually in English), and make a copy of your passport for later use. Nearly all banks will give you a ticket with a number, then you should wait until your number is called. If you are not confident on how to fill the form out yourself, you should ask the staff for help immedialy.

Fortunately, the whole process of opening acount will not take you too long. During the process, you are required to sign a few documents and asked to input a password. The pin number for bank accounts in China are 6 digits and you will be asked to input a few times for reconfirmation. Then you will get a new union card. Remember, if you need extra service like internet banking or other services, ask at the counter. Moreover, it is recommanded to link your phone number with your bank account. This service is free of charge and you can observe all your trasactions of your account.


4.Using your bank account


It is the most common way to use your bank account and bank card. Find the ATM nearby and do the banking as normal. You can withdraw money from all the machines across different banks and in any location in China. If you want to deposit money, you can also use the ATM for this, you should look for the right machine since some machines do not provide this service though.


-Online purchase

If you want to purchase things from online mechants like TMall, JD or Amazon China, you have to ask the staff in the bank to open the internet banking service. They will offer a USB or small device to use with your computer.


-Wire transfer

Each bank or each branch has its own instruction of how to wire money, you should ask them about it and they will help you with warm welcome. If you're wiring RMB you must use Bank of China and are limited to $500USD of RMB currency transaction for each entry into China. If you are on a working visa you must take along records of your income tax payments (obtain these from your employer).


-Use of card

The unionpay (China's Visa or Mastercard equivalent) card is wildly accepted in all of the places in China and acts exactly like a Debit card back home. Normally you will have to swipe the card (the staff will do this for you) and input your password and sign at the receipt.



I recommend avoide using your card in some small stores since they may use a card copier to copy your card or steal your password. If this happens, advise the bank immediately (although is quite rare).

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