How to open a bank account in China?


China Tips

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Lots of exchange students and newcomers arrived recently in Shanghai. To help you know the whole process to open a bank account in China, our volunteer visited several branches of banks and shared her experience in this article.

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Basic Background of Volunteer

Nationality: Thailand. 

Background: Currently a part-time Chinese Language student in SJTU

Visa: Student Visa, X2.

Why you need a bank account?

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Before I am going to guide you through the process of opening a bank account in China, I would like to share with you my experience which convinced me to get an account asap. I’ve personally experienced ordering food from a restaurant, then being informed at the cashier they do not accept cash nor cards. Fortunately, a friendly lady behind helped me solved this matter by paying for my meals via her phone payment while I returned her the amount by cash. 

Most importantly, you need a bank account to activate your wechat pay! China’s Cashless Revolution: Opening a bank account in China has many benefits


Opening a bank account in China can be time consuming, but it will definitely provide you with the convenience in the long run. Whether you want to order food delivery or make an online purchase via Taobao (China’s Amazon-like shopping website), you must have a local bank account.

Step 1: Which China Bank Should I Choose?

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There’s not a huge difference between banks, so I recommend choosing the bank based on your convenience. Your best choice should be the bank that you are most familiar with and has several branches and ATMs in your city or neighborhood. 


There are several banks in China, such as BOC (Bank of China), ICBC (Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, ABC (Agricultural Bank of China), China Construction Bank, China Merchant’s Bank, to name a few. But I am not here to recommend one bank over the other, so just go with the one most convenient for you.


Also, do not get discouraged when you are turned down by some bank or branch of the Chinese bank. Not every bank in China will allow a non-Chinese person to open an account, and the understanding of each personnel may be different for an account with credit/debit card. Be reminded that you only need a debit card for the account and try asking several branches/banks until you find one that will allow you to get one.

debit card = "储蓄卡" (chǔ xù kǎ) or "借记卡" (jiè jì kǎ)

Step 2: What documents do I need to open a Chinese Bank Account?

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1. A Passport - Your passport will replace the personal ID needed throughout the process. I am carrying the student visa (X2) so I provided the student offer letter from the university as well.

2. A Chinese Phone Number - All Chinese bank accounts has to be tied to a Chinese phone number. During the process to open an account, the codes to verify your account will be send to your Chinese mobile number by text messages.

3. Work Permit/Student ID - The bank will ask you for your work permit (your company should provide) or student offer letter from your school as proof of intention of stay in China.

4. Proof of Residency - Being a student, I was provided the Off-Campus accommodation record from the university which I use to hand it to the bank officer. 

Step 3: Opening the account at a Chinese Bank

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Approach the information desk and prepare your passport. They will ask to see your passport in order to give you the queue ticket. Wait until you’re called and you can tell them you are opening a new account.


The bank account application form has both Chinese and English language, and the staffs will help you fill out the form so don’t worry. The bank will need your documents to make copies. They will prepare you your card and another small remote-like gadget for your online banking process. When you fill out the application form and sign a few other documents, there will be a small keypad infront of you to input a 6-digit password. You will repeat the input of this 6-digit password a few times, and please remember the numbers as well. Voila! Your account is opened and you will receive some printed papers along with your debit card and it’s all set.

However, different branches have different rules. But if you have a work visa, entrepreneurship visa or x1 visa, definitely you can get a bank account easily. If you need visa solution, contact us by folllowing contact  info.