How Foreign Companies Can Seamlessly Open a Bank Account in China

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China’s robust economy and immense market size present an alluring opportunity for foreign companies seeking global expansion. However, navigating the intricacies of establishing a business presence in China can be complex, especially when it comes to banking requirements. A fundamental step in this journey involves setting up a bank account, a process that can seem daunting given the unique dynamics of China’s banking system. 

In this article, we’ll walk you through the process of foreigner open bank account in China for foreign companies, detail how TopFDI simplifies this process, and explore the additional services that we provide to ensure your expansion into the Chinese market is seamless and successful.

foreigner open bank account in china

Understanding China’s Banking System

China’s banking system is an integral part of its economy and has played a pivotal role in facilitating its phenomenal growth. The banking sector is dominated by state-owned commercial banks, but a variety of other banking institutions also exist, making the system diverse. For a foreign company seeking to open a bank account in China, a basic understanding of this complex system is crucial. You can find more details in our article: “An Overview of the Banking System in China

Types of Banks in China

The Big Four At the core of China’s banking system are the “Big Four” state-owned commercial banks. These include the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), China Construction Bank (CCB), Agricultural Bank of China (ABC), and Bank of China (BOC). These banks have the most extensive networks across China and handle a large portion of the country’s banking transactions. They have also started to globalize, making them a viable option for foreign companies looking to expand their operations into China.

Joint-Stock Commercial Banks In addition to the Big Four, China has numerous joint-stock commercial banks. They operate on a smaller scale but still play a significant role in China’s banking landscape. These banks include the Bank of Communications, China Merchants Bank, and Shanghai Pudong Development Bank, among others. 

Foreign Banks Several foreign banks have been permitted to establish a presence in China, albeit with certain restrictions. These banks often serve foreign companies operating in China and Chinese companies with foreign dealings. Notable foreign banks in China include HSBC, Citibank, and Standard Chartered.

City and Rural Commercial Banks City commercial banks and rural commercial banks serve local communities, primarily in urban and rural areas respectively. While they may lack the extensive networks of larger banks, they often have a deep understanding of their local markets.

Regulatory Environment

China’s banking system is regulated by the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC). The CBIRC supervises all banking institutions in China, ensuring the stability and integrity of the financial system. Chinese banks offer a wide range of services that foreign businesses can utilize. These include deposits, loans, foreign exchange transactions, international settlements, and more. 

While the Chinese banking system is vast and offers numerous opportunities, foreign companies often face hurdles when trying to navigate it. Challenges can include language barriers, regulatory complexities, and the need for a thorough understanding of local business and banking practices. 

foreigner open bank account in china

What Types of Bank Accounts do Foreigners Need

In China, there are several types of bank accounts that a foreign company may need for various business operations. However, two types are particularly important:

  • RMB Basic Deposit Account: This is the main account used by a foreign company for their operations in China. It’s typically used for daily business transactions including payment of salaries, supplier invoices, and receiving payments from customers. One important feature of the RMB Basic Deposit Account is that all funds can be freely remitted to other bank accounts, except in cases where capital funds are deposited (which requires pre-approval from the bank).
  • Foreign Currency Capital Contribution Account: This account is necessary for foreign companies who have made a capital contribution in foreign currency. The capital contribution is then converted to RMB for use in China. This account is used to receive foreign currency capital contributions, convert foreign currency into RMB, and pay for the registered capital verification report.

Aside from these, there are other specialized accounts that a foreign company might need depending on its business activities. These include:

  • RMB General Deposit Account: An account that can be used for transactions that do not need to go through the basic account. There are more restrictions on transactions from a general account compared to a basic account.
  • Temporary Bank Account: As the name suggests, this account is temporary and is often used for short-term purposes such as handling the funds raised from issuing shares during a company’s establishment phase.
  • Offshore Account: This account is used by foreign companies to receive funds in foreign currencies and make overseas payments directly.

Remember that China has strict foreign exchange controls. As such, it’s important to understand how these controls may affect your company’s operations and to seek professional guidance to navigate these regulations efficiently.

How Foreigner Open Bank Account in China

Navigating the process of opening a bank account in China can be complex due to the unique regulatory environment and banking practices. However, understanding the steps involved can make the process more manageable. Here is a step-by-step guide to the process:

Step 1: Choose the Right Bank Choosing the right bank is the first and one of the most crucial steps. Factors to consider include the bank’s reputation, its network in China, the services it offers, and its experience with foreign businesses. Foreign companies can apply for an account with a number of banks in China, which can be divided into two categories: state-owned banks and foreign banks operating in China.  Here’s a list of some of the major banks in both categories:

State-Owned Banks

  • Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) – The largest bank in the world by assets, ICBC has an extensive domestic and international network.
  • China Construction Bank (CCB) – One of China’s “big four” banks, CCB offers a range of corporate banking services.
  • Bank of China (BOC) – BOC has a long history of servicing foreign companies and is particularly strong in forex services.
  • Agricultural Bank of China (ABC) – While its roots are in the agricultural sector, ABC now offers comprehensive banking services to businesses of all types.
  • Bank of Communications (BoCom) – One of the leading joint-stock banks, BoCom has a robust network across China.

Foreign Banks Operating in China

  • HSBC – HSBC has a significant presence in China and is experienced in serving foreign companies operating in the country.
  • Standard Chartered – Standard Chartered offers a wide range of corporate banking services and has a substantial presence in Asia.
  • Citibank – Part of the global Citigroup conglomerate, Citibank provides a variety of services to foreign businesses in China.
  • DBS Bank – DBS, based in Singapore, has a growing presence in China and offers a full suite of corporate banking services.
  • Deutsche Bank – Deutsche Bank offers corporate banking services in China and has considerable experience with European companies in particular.

Step 2: Prepare Necessary Documents Foreign companies need to prepare a set of documents to open a bank account. These usually include:

  • Business license or certificate of registration of the company
  • Identification documents of the legal representative
  • Identification documents of the directors, shareholders, and beneficial owners
  • Bank application form
  • Board resolution authorizing the opening of the bank account

These requirements may vary slightly between banks, so it is crucial to confirm with the specific bank.

Step 3: Submit Application Once the documents are ready, they need to be submitted to the bank. In most cases, the legal representative of the company or an authorized person should be present to sign necessary documents.

Step 4: Review and Verification The bank will review the application and may request additional information or documents. They will also conduct due diligence to verify the company and its representatives’ identities.

Step 5: Account Activation Once the bank approves the application, the account can be activated. The company will receive bank account details, and online banking services can be set up at this stage.

Simplifying the Banking Process in China with TopFDI

Opening a bank account in China as a foreign company is a critical step towards doing business in one of the world’s largest economies. It can, however, be a complex process filled with challenges, from language barriers to stringent regulatory requirements. This is where TopFDI comes in, leveraging its vast experience and local knowledge to simplify the process and assist foreign businesses in their expansion into the Chinese market.

Navigating the banking landscape in China requires a deep understanding of its unique characteristics and dynamics. TopFDI’s team boasts a wealth of knowledge about China’s banking system, gained through years of on-the-ground experience. We understand the regulatory requirements, banking practices, and cultural nuances that play a role in opening and maintaining a bank account.

Tailed Solutions Every company is unique, and so are their banking needs. TopFDI understands this and offers tailored guidance to foreign companies. Whether you need to set up an RMB Basic Deposit Account, Foreign Currency Capital Contribution Account, or a more specialized account, TopFDI can guide you in choosing the right bank and account type that suits your business needs.

Seamless Document Handling Preparing and submitting the necessary documentation can be a daunting task, especially considering the language barrier and the exactness required by Chinese banks. TopFDI’s bilingual team ensures that your documents are accurately prepared, translated, and submitted, helping to avoid any delays or rejections.

Overcoming Regulatory Hurdles China’s banking regulations can be complex and ever-changing. TopFDI stays abreast of these changes and ensures that your company stays compliant, saving you from any potential legal complications.

Post-Opening Support TopFDI’s support doesn’t stop once the bank account is open. We continue to offer assistance in managing your bank account, facilitating smooth transactions, and helping you understand your monthly bank statements.

Beyond Banking: Comprehensive Business Solutions by TopFDI

While TopFDI’s banking assistance is invaluable for foreign companies looking to establish their presence in China, our range of services extends far beyond that. We offer comprehensive business solutions that cater to the diverse needs of companies navigating China’s complex business landscape. From company formation and tax filing to providing company secretaries, TopFDI is committed to supporting businesses at every step of their expansion journey.

Company Formation Starting a business in China involves a multitude of steps, each with its own set of regulatory requirements and potential challenges. TopFDI simplifies this process by providing guidance and assistance throughout. We help with choosing the right business structure, preparing necessary documents, filing applications, and more, ensuring a seamless company formation process.

Tax Filing Understanding and adhering to a foreign country’s tax regulations can be challenging. TopFDI’s tax experts assist foreign businesses in navigating China’s tax system. We provide assistance with tax registration, tax planning, compliance, and filing tax returns, making sure businesses stay in line with all tax regulations and avoid any potential pitfalls.

Company Secretary Services In China, having a company secretary plays a crucial role in ensuring compliance with corporate governance and legal regulations. TopFDI provides professional company secretary services to help businesses stay compliant, manage corporate records, facilitate communication with shareholders, and coordinate with Chinese authorities.

Comprehensive Business Solutions At TopFDI, we understand that each business has unique needs and challenges when expanding into a new market like China. Our comprehensive services are designed to cater to these diverse needs. Whether it’s handling legal and regulatory requirements, managing financial affairs, or providing administrative support, TopFDI has the expertise and resources to provide effective solutions.


Entering the Chinese market presents numerous opportunities for foreign businesses. Yet, the complexity of the business environment, coupled with unique regulatory requirements, can pose significant challenges. One such critical step is opening a bank account in China, which is crucial for a company’s operations but can prove to be a complex endeavor.

This is where TopFDI shines. We simplify the process of opening a bank account, guiding businesses through every step – from choosing the right bank to handling document submission and post-opening support. Our expertise in China’s banking landscape, coupled with a comprehensive understanding of its regulatory environment, ensures a smoother transition for businesses making their foray into China.

But TopFDI’s support extends far beyond banking. We provide a comprehensive suite of services designed to facilitate smooth business operations. From company formation and tax filing to providing company secretaries, our team is well-equipped to navigate the complexities of doing business in China. With our continued support, businesses can focus on growth and expansion, while we take care of the rest.

TopFDI is more than just a service provider – we are a committed partner, dedicated to making your business expansion in China successful. Let us navigate the complexities, so you can focus on seizing the opportunities in one of the world’s largest and most dynamic markets. With TopFDI by your side, the path to business success in China becomes a whole lot smoother.