How to Send Money Out of China in 2019
The ability to relocate to China and work is a comparatively new luxury, so policies that govern our relocation are still constantly in flux.
The Chinese Government seems to err 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Because the policies keep changing, information available online is very quickly outdated, sometimes mere months after publication. There’s also a lot of information written based on speculation or using examples from other communist countries that perhaps feel similar from a distance.
So here below is my honest to God, written from within China, personal account of how to transfer money out of China written in May of 2019.
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 (by yourself and not through a Chinese friend) is via telephonic transfer, and that’s done in person at an approved branch of an approved bank.
I’ve heard stories from years gone by that PayPal is a viable option, but try as I might I haven’t succeeded whether by mistake on my part, or possibly changed policies.
Not all branches are authorised by the Government to do to currency conversion, but you can go to your local bank and check. If you bank with China Construction bank and live in Shanghai, don’t waste time looking around; just head straight to Jing’an Temple station and go to the enormous bank across the road. A general rule of thumb is that if the bank is enormous, they’ll do your transformous. Is that memorable enough?
Moving forward, if the bank you stumble into isn’t authorised to do it, they’ll direct you to a branch that is.
As a tax resident of New Zealand, I’m in the business of purchasing New Zealand dollars and sending them back home. You aren’t allowed to send RMB out of China, so you must buy a currency that the bank is able to sell to you and send out. It’s this currency exchange that’s the difficult part.
To convince your authorised branch to sell you an approved currency you must present the following to the approved bank member of staff.
- Your Passport (with work visa inside)
- Your working permit (different to your work visa)
- A filled out application (they can help you write one via electronic questionnaire on one of their fancy ATM’s).
- Your work contract with your company
- A statement from your company providing your salary information
- A statement from the tax office proving how much tax you’ve paid up until this point to the Chinese government. (Very important).
The tax statement is the part you don’t hear much about and is very aggravating when you’re 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 to China up until this point.
If your new to China and have paid very little tax, your tax contribution will be too small to be approved for sending much money.
You’ll need to go to the tax office yourself and ask them to print your statement for you.
Proving everything can be difficult, and it can sometimes take your company a while to provide you with all the proof that you need.
To make matters worse, if your company is new at this, they may give you incorrect or outdated forms. I can’t read any Chinese, so spotting an error is a real challenge. In these moments the frustration can become all too real.
There is a small 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 to justify sending $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 dollars you’ve bought is easy, once you’ve either bought them “properly” or through the trickle method.
Turn up at any branch with the necessary bank account information from your home country such as account number, regional branch numbers, SWIFT code and bank name and address.
Just to be safe, check the website of your home country bank for their specific instructions for receiving international transfers and their fee’s.
While it’s not easy, it’s possible to send your hard earned Chinese RMB back home. Just remember to bring all the right paperwork each time and keep your cool when things take a while or mess up. The system is improving and I believe that one day it’ll be as simple as flicking open an app and pressing send. I can dream can’t I?