How to Open a Bank Account in China

Publisher:刘琪Published:2017-10-09Times :359

If you want to pay tuition online, or 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 Bank Account in China

Step #1: Proper Preparation

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


In Which Bank Should I Open an Account?

There are different banks and each has its specialized area. Find the one(s) that is most necessary and convenient for you.  

Transportation Guidance to the Banks Near Jiangning Campus


Notice that your bank 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, change passport number or mobile phone number 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. Original passport. No photocopy.  

B. A local mobile phone number to receive text message. 

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

D. Papers including your residence information in China (On-campus: the university address. Off-campus: see your leasing contract)

What if my country is embargoed or sanctioned?

Generally if you are able to enter China you can open an account at any bank. But if your application got rejected, 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 the staff that you are opening a new account and often they ask you to fill out some forms.


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


When it's your turn, provide the bank counter staff with your passport and the form. 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 banking. 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. 


They’ll have you sign a few other documents. All foreigners must fill in some tax statements no matter your salary/stipend is taxed or not. Then they'll tell you how much money is required for deposit and hand a new 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 Chinese bank passwords are 6 digits long and you’ll probably have to input it 3 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. Enter the PIN and don't forget to take your card back within the time countdown otherwise the card will be swallowed by the ATM. 

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.