How to Open a Bank Account in China

Publisher:刘琪Published:2017-10-09Times :20

Not sure if you need to open a bank account in China? Consider this: if you want to use the on-campus laundry that only accepts WeChat or Alipay, or buy train tickets online or do any sort of online shopping on Taobao (China’s online marketplace), you must have a local mobile phone number and local bank account.


3 Easy Steps to Open a China Bank Account

Step #1: Proper Preparation

Preparation can be broken down into two simple categories: choosing your bank and gathering the appropriate documents.


Which Bank Should I Choose?

As I mentioned earlier, the most important factor to consider when choosing your bank is convenience. Bank of China is the largest in China, has the highest priority in exchanging foreign currency and there is a Fangshan branch near our Jiangning Campus. China Construction Bank works with CPU Financial Office best for the Online Payment system. Huaxia Bank Hunanlu sub-branch works for embargoed or sanctioned countries. 

Transportation Guidance to the Banks Near Jiangning Campus


Also, your account is tied to the specific sub-branch (支行) in which you open it. So if you need to change your PIN, report a stolen card or something of this sort you’ll need to go back to that exact branch. Another reason to pick one near you.


What Materials Do I Need?

A. Passport. 

B. Some cash (RMB) They may ask you for a small deposit of 10-20 RMB and some banks might make you pay for the card they give you, so bring about 40 RMB as a precaution.

C. A local mobile phone number. 

What if my country is embargoed or sanctioned?

To receive CPU scholarship, a student from embargoed or sanctioned country may go to Huaxia Bank Hunanlu Branch (available at Metro Line 1 Xuanwumen Station) with: Letter of Attendance and original passport. 


Step #2: Opening the Account at the Bank

Once you’ve picked the bank and put your passport and cash and mobile phone in your pocket, set aside an hour or two and head over to the nearest bank branch.


If you have a local friend that can accompany you it might speed up the process, but it’s not necessary. You should be able to do this by yourself if you’re adventurous enough.


The first place you need to stop is the information desk to speak with the staff near the entrance and get a number (or click "个人业务" personal business at the number machine at the entrance). Tell them that you are opening a new account and often they can help you fill out the form.


Say: “我想开一个银行账户” – Wǒ xiǎng kāi yīgè yínháng zhànghù


Inside a China Bank where you will open a new account. Sometimes the form they give you has English as well, but unless you’re confident can write your address and information in Chinese characters, let the staff do the work. They’ll also likely go make a copy of your passport that you’ll need later.

Tick the options that enable online transaction in the bank forms. You need to provide a local mobile phone number in order to receive a SMS (text message) verification code each time for online transaction. Fill the number in the bank forms and keep your mobile phone always available, otherwise you won't be able to do online shopping or book tickets online. 


When it's your turn, provide the bank counter staff with your passport and the form. They’ll have you sign a few other documents, tell you how much money is required for deposit and hand a new UnionPay Bank Card.


At some point during the process a small keypad next to you will light up and asks you to input a password. All China bank passwords are 6 digits long and you’ll probably have to input it a few times while you’re there.


That’s it! Keep the paperwork they give you and enjoy your new UnionPay debit card!


Step #3: Using Your Bank Account

There are a few different ways you might find yourself using your new China bank account and your UnionPay card, and each might require specific actions.


Using the ATM: This is the easiest way to utilize your account. You can withdrawal cash from the ATM and even deposit cash in some of them.

Making Purchases Online: if you think you’ll be buying things on Taobao or another China merchant, you’re going to need to specifically ask for them to turn on Internet banking. Otherwise, the card simply won’t work to purchase. (note: some shopping sites like are not accessible in China without a VPN). 

Read the article on how to open an Alipay account. 

Wire Money: each branch has its own wire instructions, so specifically ask your bank what you need. Mine provided me with a printout (in English!) describing exactly what needed to happen, including a specific intermediary bank. To learn more about moving money internationally, read our Guide to Sending Money to/from China.