You will need a personal bank account in China, and once your business is set-up, a business bank account will also be needed. Again, take you passport and visa with you. They also asked if I had any other documents with me so I got out my folder, they took a business card and some other stuff, so it can’t hurt to do the same, though it’s not completely necessary. Go to pretty much any bank, I use ICBC (Industrial Commercial Bank of China), Merchants Bank, and Bank of China for my personal accounts. I will probably use ICBC for my business bank account. In the branch, next to the door will be a small touch screen podium, click on the screen then press the top button, this will print out a ticket with your number on it (e.g. A000063), sit down and wait for your number to be called.

At any branch you can set-up your bank account, the queue may take some time, but once you get to the desk, they can get everything set-up there and then, you can ask around if you can get the forms for setting up a bank account early on so that you can fill them out whilst in the queue. 我想要新的银行卡. You don’t need to wait for the postman to deliver your card next week, everything will be done in store. Connect your bank card with your mobile phone, and then get your We Chat linked to your bank card so you can start using the Wallet function to its fullest (paying at shops, taxis, rent-a-bikes, transferring to friends, paying rent, paying utilities, everything.) You will also get a secure key card for using the online banking on their website.

Inside most banks will be a range of different ATMs to use, each have different functions, like converting currencies, paying utility bills, ordinary ATM functions, etc. Most ATM’s have a button to switch to English. Mostly I prefer to wait in the queue and get a face-to-face chat, just because that way I feel they are doing what I need properly, rather than assuming the robot knows what it’s doing. For transferring money from UK to China, I would transfer as GBP and convert once in your Chinese account, as I have almost always had a better rate on the Chinese side, by as much as 0.5 more.

ICBC and Merchants bank are my favourites, though I’m sure the others are fine. Bank of China, Bank of East Asia, and ICBC all have branches in the UK (though separate from their Chinese cousins so not all that useful). ICBC is apparently the largest bank in the world.

Banking is separated by cities, so my original ICBC account from Guangzhou was difficult to get organised in Shenzhen (needed to change my address, linked passport, and phone number etc.) They suggested I travel to Guangzhou to get this changed, though a quick phone call got it all sorted. Just you can avoid trouble if you keep everything local to where you are.

Chinese banks also have something called “Premium Service”, don’t bother. The only real difference is they play music in the waiting area. Last time they were playing the Titanic OST. They also bow to you etc.


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