If you’re looking to open a Chinese bank account online, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, we’re going to share the available options, what’s really possible, and whether or not you should even consider banking in China.
We’ll also take a look at how opening a Chinese bank account stacks up against alternative options, such as opening a bank account in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan.
Feel free to use the table of contents to jump ahead to the sections most relevant to you.
Table of Contents
- Open a Chinese Bank Account for Foreigners
- Can a Foreigner Open a Bank Account in China Online?
- How to Open a Chinese Bank Account
- Challenges of Opening With a Bank in China
- Global Alternatives to Consider Instead
Open a Chinese Bank Account for Foreigners
Foreigners can open a local bank account in China. In fact, if you’re able to show up in person it can be a relatively straightforward process.
Opening a local account would give you a Chinese Renminbi (RMB) account, which is the most common requirement for handling day-to-day transactions locally.
That said, there is another type of account that can sometimes be accessed by foreigner. It’s known as an offshore account (OSA), which is designated for foreign currencies. However opening these accounts is not as straightforward as opening an RMB account and there are only four banks that offer them.
With this in mind, we’re going to be focusing on opening RMB accounts as a foreigner and not opening an OSA account.
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Can a Foreigner Open a Bank Account in China Online?
Generally speaking, bank account opening is considered to be an in-person activity in China. So, online account opening options are limited.
However, it may be possible to initiate the process online. Additionally, online video calls have started to emerge as a possible solution but (unlike other countries) it isn’t being offered as a consistent account opening option just yet.
As is the case elsewhere, if you have an existing relationship with a local bank (e.g. in another jurisdiction), you may have a wider range of options available to you for online account opening.
How to Open a Chinese Bank Account
If you are willing to show up in person, you can open a bank account and receive a debit card on the spot at most major banks in China.
In fact, opening an account with a major Chinese bank was one of the fastest and most streamlined account opening experiences our team has ever encountered.
That said, there are account opening requirements, including:
- Completed account opening application
- Valid foreign passport
- Tax identification number (not always required)
- Local phone number
- Minimum deposit requirement (varies by bank)
Additionally, depending on your status in the country, the bank may also ask you to submit one of the following:
- Valid entry stamp
- Valid long-term visa or residence permit
- Student enrollment details
- Work permit or employer recommendation
- Registration with local police station
However, it’s entirely possible for a foreign tourist to open accounts in China if they approach the right bank and are able to show up in person.
Challenges of Opening With a Bank in China
Banking in China is very different from banking in established Western banking jurisdictions and offshore financial centers. And, no, we’re not talking about culture – though that is certainly worth considering.
Customer service is limited, English language support is unlikely, and banking services (especially at the retail level) leave a lot to be desired.
So, we typically only suggest that anyone considering a local Chinese bank account think carefully about whether or not they really need one. Often times, if the individual does not live, work, do business in, or regularly travel to China – it’s best to consider other alternatives like Singapore, possibly Hong Kong, and other jurisdictions.
Of course, if you are living, working, studying, or doing business in China, opening a local Chinese bank account can be a requirement.
If that’s you, then our only suggestion is to maintain your international accounts and keep the majority of your savings and investments with reputable banks elsewhere. For example, in a jurisdiction without foreign exchange controls and restrictions.
Global Alternatives to Consider Instead
The specific alternatives that you might want to consider will largely depend on your reasons for considering a Chinese bank account in the first place.
For example, most people looking to open in China are seeking access to Renminbi banking. If that’s you, then you could consider opening multi-currency accounts that offer access to RMB instead.
Alternatively, if you are simply looking for banking in Asia and thought that China might be a suitable option, you may want to consider banking in Singapore, Taiwan, or Hong Kong.
Note: now that Hong Kong is a part of China, it is viewed as a less secure banking jurisdiction by most foreigners and companies. This is because it’s possible that China could impose new restrictions and foreign exchange controls in the future.
Ready to Open Accounts?
If you would like assistance navigating your account opening options and the jurisdictions that you can realistically access, we can help.
You can access GlobalBanks IQ, our international banking intelligence platform, in just a few clicks. Unlock our bank database, individual bank profiles, account opening strategies and reports, banker scripts, and more.
But, if you want a 100% personalized account opening service that taps into our team’s expertise and provides direct banker introductions, you can get started with GlobalBanks Insider.
Of course, if you have any questions before deciding which solution is best for you, don’t hesitate to contact us directly!