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How to Open a Bank Account in China [2023]

An illustrated man holding a piggy bank with China's flag

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 pondering the idea of moving to China? You may be in plans of starting a business or residing there for work.

It's essential to have a local bank account in China but just how troublesome or easy is it to open a Chinese bank account as a foreigner or non-local in China?

In this step-by-step article, we have composed a detailed guide on how to open a bank account in China.

We will cover everything from the required documents to the different types of accounts available in China.

First things first, let's get a deeper understanding of 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.

Each type of bank account has its own unique features and benefits therefore it's important to know to determine which is bank best for your personal usage or business purposes.

There are four different types of bank accounts that non-resident foreigners can open in China:

Here is a list of account types available to foreigners, the requirements for each, and their advantages.

  1. Free Trade Non-Resident (FTN): This type of account is made for overseas companies and is only offered in the Hainan or Shanghai free trade zone. Users of this account type enjoy convenient investment options and some great currency exchange tools.
  2. Honk Kong Bank Account: HKBAs were created to facilitate business between the free trade zone of Hong Kong and mainland China. HKBAs allow business people to transfer money overseas somewhat freely. Hong Kong Bank Accounts are known for their stellar Internet banking network. These accounts are complicated to open, especially if you come into the process with an American passport, as these are heavily regulated accounts. 
  3. Non-Resident Account (NRA): An NRA can be opened in any Chinese bank. NRA accounts can be opened with Chinese Renminbi (RMB) or foreign currencies, limiting your foreign exchange risk exposure. Keep in mind that these accounts are not available for individuals but for overseas corporations. They are used primarily for capital investment from overseas corporations in China.
  4. Offshore Accounts (OSA): OSAs are a rare form of a Chinese bank account. They are used for conducting operations with foreign currencies, not RMB, and the funds can only be sourced from and used for businesses foreign to China. Only four banks in China are legally permitted to open these types of accounts.

📖 Thinking about starting a sourcing business in China? Here's a detailed guide to the basics of sourcing in China.

If you’re looking for a more personal bank account in China, you must be a resident of the Country.

Non-resident foreigners looking to open a Chinese bank account need to do so in the context of an overseas business or currency exchange.

Tourists are able to open limited bank accounts for the purpose of converting their currency to RMB for convenience.

Additionally, it is much simpler for Chinese expatriates to open bank accounts even if they don’t primarily live in China.

What documents are required for opening a bank account in China?

When it comes to opening a bank account worldwide, you will need to provide the necessary document(s) in order to proceed.

For the bank account opening process in China, applicants will need to prepare the following list of supporting documentation:

  • 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)

With the trend of mobile banking, you will also be required to provide your email address as part of the registration process as well.

You may also be required to provide an employer's note as part of the application process as some banks have this part of their KYC process.

In some cases, you may also be required to meet the bank representative in person in order to open an account.

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.

📖 Learn more about how to pay in RMB outside China once you have access to a Chinese bank account.

Different types of banks in China

Now that you are aware of the different types of accounts and the types of documents required, let's take deep dive into the different types of Chinese banks available.

China is the home to some of the world’s largest banks, mostly because they are all owned by the government and centralized accordingly.

🔎 According to Statista, the value of the Chinese banking industry as a whole exceeded 46 trillion U.S. dollars in 2021.

There are 4 large banks in China that are majority-owned by the Chinese government but don't let this discourage you, they are quite consumer and business-friendly for China-based customers.

Often regarded as the "big-fours" state-owned banks in China, here are the following banks:

  • Bank of China: Bank of China is the largest state-owned commercial bank in China that provides a variety of financial services to individuals, enterprises, and many more. Bank of China is the most visibly present retail bank in China, plus they have branches in over 50 countries and regions.
  • ICBC: 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): Another Chinese megabank, ABC has a variety of bank branches spread across China as well as a few overseas branches in the US, Australia, and Canada. They are a worldwide network of banks with 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 also another large state-owned commercial bank in China and they are 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, it is often friendly to manufacturers and construction-type companies.

📖 Want to learn more? If you want a deeper understanding of the biggest banks in China, here's a detailed overview we have compiled.

It's best to keep a mental note that if these banks do not meet your needs, there are smaller and regional banks in China that you might consider doing business with, as well as international banks.

Final Thoughts

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 being a virtual business account provider based in Hong Kong, offering a different option to traditional payment gateways.

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 send transfers, at cheaper rates compared to other traditional banks.

If you are a business incorporated in Hong Kong, Singapore, or the BVI, that frequently needs to make international payments, discover how Statrys can help streamline your finances.

open a virtual business account in hong kong

FAQs

What documents do I need to open a bank account in China?

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