Open Bank Account In China

Expat Guide to Chinese BankingOpening a bank account in China as a foreigner is not as difficult a process as you might first assume. There are various benefits for an expat should they choose to open a bank account at a Chinese bank. As an expat, having an account at a Chinese bank can allow for cheaper banking as well as the ability to purchase certain goods and services online that cannot be purchased with foreign debit and credit cards. If you decide to open an account as an expat at a Chinese bank I believe that you should make sure to do the proper prep work, bring the proper documentation, and make sure you sign up to receive a Union Pay Card. Also, it is important to be aware of several implications to having a bank account in a country like China.The BIG FOURThere are four banks in China, often referred as "The Big Four", that are significantly larger than others in terms of size and scale of operation. They are Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), China Construction Bank (CCB), Bank of China (BOC) and Agricultural Bank of China, respectively. These four banks offer reliable, and convenient services within all regions of China. Especially, if you are looking for English services, these banks are also likely to have English speaking employees. But to be safe, it is advised that you make a call first to make an appointment. What’s more, the Big Four all have English websites which make online banking easier. PROPER PREPARATIONFirst, I would not recommend opening a bank account in China to a foreigner that is only staying in China temporarily; it is primarily beneficial to those that are going to be residing in China for a relatively long period of time.The language barrier will be the biggest obstacle that a foreigner will face when trying to open an account at a bank in China. The best way to combat this obstacle is to bring a trusted friend that can speak and read Chinese fluently. However, this is not necessarily a possibility for many people. So if you do not have a Chinese speaking friend, I would recommend that an expat open a bank account at one of the "Big Four Banks."PROPER DOCUMENTATIONThere is not much needed paperwork wise. The only thing that you will need to bring with you when you open up a bank account is your passport. This is essential and you will not be able to open up a bank account in China without your passport. You should not need any other documents besides your passport but I would bring another form of identification with you just in case. There should be no reason for you to leave your passport or any other identification documentation at the bank for an extended period of time.UNION PAYAnyone that has spent time in China would notice that credit and debit cards are not accepted at most businesses. However, in recent years as the economy has rapidly expanded, bank debit cards are being accepted at more and more places. Most places that do accept cards, only accept Union Pay, not Visa or MasterCard.Union Pay is a Chinese bank card network company that is run by the state. Union Pay in China is only available through Chinese banks and a few select international banks. It is the only card that is accepted at many business locations and web sites. That is why I believe that if you are opening a bank account as an expat it is highly advantageous for you to get a Union Pay card.


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