Step 1. Know the different types of bank accounts in China
Step 2. Prepare the necessary documents for the application process
Step 3. Be ready to pay an application fee
Step 4. Get familiar with the banks in China
Are you planning to move to China to start a business or for work?
Whether you are relocating because of new business opportunities, sourcing products from China, or importing products, it is beneficial to have a local bank account in China. But how troublesome or easy is it to open a bank account in China as a foreigner or non-resident?
In this article, we have composed a detailed step-by-step guide on how to open a bank account in China as a foreigner. Furthermore, it will cover everything from the required documents to the banking institutions and the different types of accounts available. Let’s begin with the different types of bank accounts in China.
Different Types of Bank Accounts in China
It’s crucial to understand the different types of bank accounts available to you when opening a bank account in China, as each type has unique features and benefits.
Having an understanding of the differences can help you determine which bank is best for your personal usage or business purposes. Here’s a list of the 4 types of accounts that non-resident foreigners can open in China and their advantages:
- Free Trade Non-Resident (FTN): FTN accounts are made for overseas companies and are only offered in the Hainan and Shanghai free trade zones. This type of account allows the holders to enjoy convenient investment options and great currency exchange tools.
- Hong Kong Bank Account: HKBAs facilitate businesses between Hong Kong and mainland China, allowing companies to transfer money overseas somewhat freely. HKBAs are also known for their outstanding Internet banking network. However, the process to open this type of account could be complicated, especially if you’re holding an American passport.
- Non-Resident Account (NRA): An NRA can be opened with any Chinese bank. They are available in both Renminbi (RMB) and foreign currencies, preventing you from foreign exchange risk exposure. Keep in mind that NRAs are not available for individuals but only for overseas corporations. NRAs are used primarily for capital investment from overseas corporations in China.
- Offshore Accounts (OSA): OSA is a rare form of a Chinese bank account. They are used for conducting operations in foreign currencies, not RMB, and the funds can only be sourced from and used for businesses outside China. Only four banks in China are legally permitted to open these types of accounts.
If you want to set up a bank account in China to manage your personal funding, you must be a Chinese resident, as a non-resident foreign customer can open a bank account only for overseas business or currency exchange purposes.
Tourists are able to open limited bank accounts for the purpose of converting their currency to RMB for convenience.
What Documents Are Required for Opening a Bank Account in China?
When opening a bank account anywhere in the world, you will be required to provide the necessary supporting document(s) to proceed.
In order to open a bank account in China, applicants will need to prepare the following list of supporting documents:
- The completed application form with your personal particulars
- A valid passport
- Proof of address
- A Chinese phone number
- A valid work permit or business license (if applicable)
As a foreigner, you might have to present a letter of employment or an employer’s note as a part of the KYC process.
In some cases, you may also be required to meet the bank representative in person in order to open a bank account in China.
How Much Do I Need to Open a Bank Account in China?
The prerequisites and minimum deposit amount for opening a bank account in China may differ based on the bank you choose and the type of account you determine to open.
However, most Chinese banks require an initial deposit of 1,000 RMB (about $150 USD) to create a basic savings account.
💡Tips: Knowing how to use your RMB deposits outside China is essential once you have your Chinese bank account.
The “Big-Four” Banks in China
Now that you know the different types of accounts and the required documents, let’s take a deep dive into the banks you could open an account with.
China is the home to some of the world’s largest banks, mainly because they are all owned by the government and centralized accordingly.
🔎 Fact: In 2022, the Chinese banking industry as a whole held a value exceeding 23 trillion USD, according to Statista.
There are currently 184 registered commercial banks in China, and 4 of these are listed as the world’s largest bank by assets.
The following banks are regarded as China’s “big-four” state-owned banks:
Bank of China
The Bank of China is the largest state-owned commercial bank in China that provides various financial services to individuals and enterprises. The Bank of China also has branches in multiple countries and regions.
As one of the largest banks in China, ICBC has a substantial network of branches and subsidiaries in China and worldwide. ICBC has been renowned for its measures in digital transformation and financial inclusion.
Agricultural Bank of China (ABC)
ABC is another central Chinese bank with branches across China and a few overseas, including in the US, Australia, and Canada. It is a bank that provides a wide array of financial products and services. ABC is commended for playing a vital role in supporting China’s agricultural sector and rural development.
China Construction Bank (CCB)
CCB is a large state-owned commercial bank in China, and it is recognized for its efforts in fintech and sustainable development. CCB has almost 15,000 branches across China alone and many more worldwide. Due to its expertise in asset management, CCB is a good option for companies in the manufacturing and construction business.
You can also consider the regional banks in China, international banks, or banking alternatives if these options are unsuitable for your needs.
🔍Discover: Want to learn more? We have also compiled information about the biggest banks in China, including details on their assets and services.
Even though you could open an account with a bank in China as a foreigner, the process is quite complex and time-consuming. Starting a business in China does not mean you have to rely solely on Chinese banks for your business.
Statrys can be an alternative option as a virtual business account provider based in Hong Kong that offers a different option to traditional banking.
Statrys offers versatile services such as the following:
✅ A multi-currency business account in Hong Kong
✅ Virtual and physical payment cards for more flexibility in making payments
✅ FX services at competitive exchange rates (spot and forward contracts)
✅ A dedicated account manager for every client
With Statrys, you have the ability to hold 11 currencies to make and receive global and local payments at cheaper rates compared to other traditional banks.
If you are a business incorporated in Hong Kong, Singapore, or the BVI, and you frequently make international payments, Statrys is an excellent option to streamline your financial processes.
What documents do I need to open a bank account in China?
You'll need a passport, proof of residence, employer note, work permit or student pass, and an initial deposit.
What are the types of bank account foreigners can get in China?
Which bank is best for foreigners in China?
How much do I need to open a bank account in China?