How to Open Chinese Bank Account for Foreigner?

2015-08-26 dalianlaowai dalianlaowai

When you're in China, using Chinese Bank is a must to help you go through your daily life. There are many things that you need to consider in order to choose which bank that might suit your need. Sometimes, if you're working or in the school, they will decide for you which bank that suitable for you.

China’s four biggest banks are the Agricultural Bank of China (ABC), the Bank of China (BOC), China Construction Bank (CCB) and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC).

The “Big Four” are not necessarily the best four banks for you – each has their strengths and weaknesses, and their popularity can mean their branches are very busy.

However, they do share one important advantage. Choosing one of the “Big Four” means better access to branches and ATMs around China. This is helpful, since there’s a small charge for withdrawing from any ATM which is not owned by your “home” bank.

For reference, ABC has over 23,000 branches throughout China, BOC has over 11,000, CCB has about 13,000 and ICBC around 18,000.

Step by Step

1. Go to your bank of your choice (for this example, Dalian Laowai choose Agricultural Bank of China/ ABC) with your passport. You will need to take the originals. It's not necessary, but it's better to bring your housing registration form, your student card, or your employment book.

2. Take a queue number and tell a member of staff that you want to open account. If there are a lot of other customers before you the staff will give yout the application form beforehand for you to write down your information to speed up the process.

3. Go to the counter that showed your number.

4. Application forms in Chinese banks can look quite difficult, with lots of information requested. In fact, you don't usually need to do much more than fill in a few personal details, your address, and tick a few boxes to indicate what type of account you wish to open. If you get stuck, ask somebody to help. The teller also able to help you fill in all the information if you have your passport and residence permit with you.

5. Minimum deposits vary depending on the bank, but begin from one yuan. Banks may also charge a small fee for opening the account (often five yuan) as well as an annual fee (often ten yuan).

6. When filling in the application form, be sure to write your name exactly as it appears on your passport. Since your passport verifies your identity for the bank, it’s important for bank staff (not all of whom can read English) to be able to take a quick glance and easily match the name on your passport with the name on your bank records. This will save you a lot of hassle. The teller may also prefer to record your name following the Chinese convention of writing family names first. This will not affect you or your account.

7. Ask the teller to help you activate e-banking services for your new account. Depending on the bank, the teller may give you an e-banking password card (usually around two yuan), or you could buy a USB key (usually ranging 30 to 80 yuan).

8. The teller will process your application, copying and stamping a staggering number of documents. This is normal for any transaction in a Chinese bank. The teller will ask you to choose a PIN number (usually six digits) for yourself by punching in numbers on a keypad. You’ll do this once more to confirm your PIN.

9. The teller will give you your new ATM card, e-banking password card or USB key, and a copy of the forms you have completed (keep these in a safe place – if you ever lose your passport, these will help to prove that you are the owner of this bank account). You can use your new account for deposit or withdrawal immediately.

Usefull Chinese Phrases


kāi hù

Open an account


hù zhào



yuán jiàn

Original piece


fù yìn jiàn



dì zhǐ



gè rén wǎng yín

Personal E-banking


shōu fèi



rén mín bì

(RMB), the currency of China, also known as yuan and kuai

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