The internet is crowded with lots of information for expats living in China on every topic, including vital information about how to transfer our hard earned money out of China and back home to pay our bills and fund our vacations.
Unfortunately the ability to relocate to China and work is still a relatively new luxury and policies are still constantly changing. You can tell that the Chinese Government airs on the side of caution and suspects fraud on every side, so getting precious RMB (Chinese currency) out of China is difficult.
Because the policies keep changing, information online is very quickly made wrong. There’s also lots of information written based on speculation or using examples from other communist countries or recommending companies that have been shut down.
So here below is my honest to God, written from within China, personal account of how to transfer money out of China in January of 2018.
Once you’ve got your bank account opened with a reputable bank (I’m with China Construction Bank) and your brand new job has paid RMB into this account, you might want to send some of that money home.
The only way I know of sending money is via telephonic transfer and that’s done in person at an approved branch of an approved bank.
Not all branches are authorised by the Government to do to currency conversion, but you can go to your local bank and check. If they aren’t authorised they’ll direct you to a branch that is.
As an Australian with accounts in Australia and New Zealand the closest currency I can buy is US dollars. You aren’t allowed to send RMB out of China, you must buy a currency that the bank is able to sell to you and send that money out. It’s this money exchange that’s the difficult part.
To convince your authorised branch to sell you an approved currency (US dollars in my case) you must present the following.
1. Your Passport
2. Your working permit
3. A filled out application
4. Your work contract with your company
5. A statement from your company providing your salary information
6. A statement from your company proving how much tax you’ve paid up until this point to the Chinese government. (Very important).
This is the part you don’t hear much about and is very aggravating when your new to China.
The amount of money that you are allowed to convert and send overseas is dependent on how much tax you’ve paid China up until this point.
If your new to China and have been paid very little your tax contribution will be too small to send much.
Proving everything can be difficult, and it can take your company a long time to provide you with all the proof that you need.
To make this worse what they’ve given you often doesn’t satisfy the bank and they send you away, especially if your company is new at dealing with these issues.
There is a work-around, a way to send money out using just your passport and a lot of patience.
Currently there is a maximum amount you can convert without authorising your account for currency conversion and it’s $500USD per day.
So while my company took its time working out what information to give me, I went back to the bank day after day converting the maximum amount with my passport and a lot of patience.
The fees for actually sending the money are too high for it to be worth it just to send $500, but you can store the dollars in your account each day and once you’ve built up enough send them all at once.
Sending the money is easy, once you’ve gone to the bank several days and have built up a decent amount of dollars in your account it’s simple to send them.
Turn up at any branch with the necessary information from your home bank such as account number, regional numbers (BSB for Australians and Kiwis, routing numbers elsewhere) swift code and bank name and address.
*Check your home banks website for their own specific instructions for receiving your transfer and their fee’s.*
With that and a good deal of waiting the bank will send your stored dollars overseas.
This most recent experience is my only successful experience sending money out of China, and I know no other way that I’ve tried that’s worked.
If you know any other way that works in January 2018 please leave it in the comments and I’ll try it out and report back here.
Fingers crossed I’ll return in the near future with an update of how easy it’s become… I doubt it though