Open a Bank Account with a Bank in China
May 12, 2013

Open a Bank Account with a Bank in China

I am referring to foreign exchange accounts not RMB account (foreigners in China are facing more difficulty in opening accounts with China banks). If you wish to know about opening NRA RMB account, please go to another post.

How to Open a China Bank Account - Easy China - Your better life in China

Currently, there are two options for foreign entities or legal persons (body corporates) when they wish to open a foreign exchange account in China.

1.  Offshore Account

Back in 1998, China has started its offshore banking business with some designated banks in China by allowing these banks to open forex accounts for foreign enterprises and individuals. Such accounts are called “OSA” accounts in China’s banking administration.

Currently, there are only four banks eligible to open OSA accounts for foreign entities and individuals, and they are not those state-owned mega banks (such as the Big Four). They are China Merchants Bank, China Bank of Communication, Pudong Development Bank and Shenzhen Development Bank (now merged into Ping’an Bank).

OSA accounts are treated in the same way as accounts opened in foreign banks. The eligible banks have independent OSA departments, separate from onshore banking business.

2. Non-Resident Account

In 2009, China State Administration of Foreign Exchange issued new rules allowing all banks in China (domestic or foreign-invested) to open foreign exchange accounts for foreign entities, facilitating  foreign investors and Chinese investors to manage their foreign exchange fund.

In SAFE’s 2009 rules, it made it clear that such non-resident account (called “NRA”) are not OSA accounts, creating now another option for foreign investors to open forex accounts in China.

Now, the thing you want to know most is the difference between OSA accounts and NRA accounts. However it shall be noted that in most aspects, there are really similar from the perspective of account holders.

Some brief summaries here:

(1) OSA can only be opened with the four designated banks as listed above, but you can open NRA accounts with any banks in China;

(2) the money in NRA accounts is counted in calculating the short-term foreign debt balance of their opening banks, but fund in OSA accounts is not so counted. This will give OSA banks unlimited power to open as many foreign exchange accounts as they wish and are not restricted by foreign debt balance limitation.

(3) foreign individuals can open OSA accounts but cannot open NRA accounts.

Contact the author if you want to know more.


  1. Alexander says:

    Hello ,

    Dear sir / madam ,

    Our company kirmir limited rig from hong kong want to opening non resident account bank in shangahi , pls tell us how we can work with your company and open an account in ( chines bank ) shanghai ,

    Best regard’s


    Email : [email protected]

  2. Jason Tian says:

    Opening bank account in China has been exceedingly difficult in recent years as part of international and China national efforts to combat international money laundering.

    Right now, almost no banks will be ready to open bank accounts for foreigners remotely, except for a couple of banks that impose strict conditions on account opening for foreigners that are not present in China. We have helped a couple of clients in opening China bank accounts remotely for purpose of selling their properties in China.

  3. Atik says:

    Thanks your for nice and helpful article !
    I want to know something
    1. Do u have any idea about the receiving or transfer charge or others any fee by offshore account?
    2. May I receive LC and can submit lc documents against offshore account ?
    3. I have resident permit visa in China, so what’s the easy way for withdraw money? Thanks

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Hi Atik, i guess you need to talk to the bank that opens the offshore bank accounts for you.

  4. mr Blikman says:

    I have send you already

    1. Jason Tian says:

      what are you talking about? I don’t understand. I don’t want any easy money. thanks.

  5. Sim Jia Xian says:

    Hi, Mr tian. Can I open a current offshore account (used for online transaction) in China when I am put on a tourist visa to China?Is it possible to withdraw cash when I am not in China?Also, does the local bank require initial deposits to open an account? Thank you.

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Hi there, it is not easy to open an offshore bank account here in China. You need to reach out the banks and ask for more information on the requirements on documentation.

  6. Md. Khorshad Alam says:

    Hi I Want to open account in China Domestic Bank ” Offshore Account “. i have not registered my Company in HK & China, Can i open My Bank account in China?

    Can i take do all types of Trading business in China through my account ?

  7. Anna says:

    Dear Jason,
    I represent company registered in EU Lithuania. Can my company open and NRA account, transfer EUR from Lithuania, buy CNY and pay via CIPS to Chinese sellers without any restrictions and limitations?
    Can we also do the same on behalf of our own clients from the same our NRA account?

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Hi Anna, there is a misunderstanding about NRA accounts. It is RMB account which cannot receive foreign currency fund such as USA or Eur. So you cannot open this account to receive EUR to purchase RMB and pay the RMB to your Chinese business partners.

      China has a very complicated and sophisticated bank account system esp when it comes to foreign exchange.

      If you do trade with Chinese sellers, you can only pay USD or EUR to them or pay RMB if you have.

      1. Anna says:

        Thank you, Jason.
        As I understood RMB accounts in China can open only a foreign Bank, not the foreign company . So the foreign company may open only USD or EUR account in Chinese bank? How to buy yuan (RMB or CNY) to pay Chinese seller?

  8. Lea-Anne says:


    I am Australian. I have an Australian company and I would like to open a business bank account in China so I can pay the local suppliers small amounts of money because some local suppliers don’t accept international money transfers. I would like to pay the Chinese suppliers using the money I send to my business Chinese bank account. I have heard that if transfer money from my Australia business bank account to the Chinese business bank account the money that I transfer into the Chinese bank account is looked at as income and my business will be taxed on that income? Is this correct? How do I set up a business bank account in China, what paperwork do I need and what are the legal ramifications? I have also heard that it may be better to set up a bank account in Hong Kong and I can use the bank account in Hong Kong to pay the small Chinese suppliers. Is this another option? Is there another country that I can set up a bank account in that will allow me to make small transfers from my bank account to a local Chinese supplier? Thanking you in advance. Kind regards, Lea-Anne

  9. Sam says:

    Hi Jason ,
    Is there any way to open OSA or bank account in any Chinese bank without visiting china ?


    1. Jason Tian says:

      No, you will have to come over bringing all documents.

  10. Jan says:

    Dear Jason,

    Thanks for sharing very good knowledge!

    I, owned a company registered in other country, would like to know if my company uses RMB to buy anything in China, what type of bank account should I open? is it NRA type? and am I able to open with CCB?

    Thank you very much

  11. Neeraj says:

    Hi Jason
    This is neeraj, I live in china from about 7 years. And I do have a hk based offshore company, with OSA account with ping an bank. Around a week ago I sent an advance amount to a new supplier whom I met in trade fair, and ping an freezed my account giving reason that as this company is black listed with their intermediary bank, they only can give me excess to my account, if I provide them enough proofs that I do legal business. So as per they required I did provided them all past shipping documents of my cargos which were bought from china and shipped to other countries, but they say they need time to have check of it.
    So plZ suggest what may I do?

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Neeraj, if you are running out of your patience, you should send a formal demand letter asking them to lift any restriction on your account and claiming possible damages arising therefrom.

      Better to have your lawyer to do the job. Otherwise, they don’t really give it much attention to your personal letter. Banks care about their image and may not wish to run into lawsuit with clients unless they feel they are really safe.

  12. RONY KIT says:

    I Have Australian registered company , I need to open bank account in Hong Kong with Chinese bank , preferably in AUD or other currency, can we have hire an agent to open account for us ?

    and what documentation bank requires ?

    Thank you
    R. Kit

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Ask a Hong Kong lawyer then.

  13. Dana says:

    Hi, one of our clients had already send us a swift type (MT103) to one of our partner via his OSA account in HK and he send us a copy of related swift.
    Our partner claimed that sender withdraw related amount immediately from his account, would you please advise officially send allowed to withdraw the same and how we can verify it.

    Looking forward for your reply.

  14. samson says:

    as a non-resident foreign individua can i open bank account online in china while am in Nigeria, and what type of card will been given to me. it unionpay, MasterCard, visa card.

  15. Alina Pascale says:

    Dear Jason,

    Can OSA accounts in China have a card related so that we can buy online different products from China with this card? How else can we buy from Tao Bao or other online shops from overseas?
    Thank you very much in advance. Your advice is highly appreciated.
    Kind regards,

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Alina, I have no real experience operating OSA but I believe as every account in China, there should be a card which you are used wit POS machine to pay for goods. You should be able to set up online banking service with the bank with which you open account. With this online banking service, you would be able to purchase goods from China from overseas. Jason

      1. Alina Pascale says:

        Thank you very much indeed,

    2. Max says:

      Alina, OSA accounts cannot have cards to withdraw money from this account. I have been talking about this with every of FIVE banks. (there is also one more bank which can work with OSA accounts).

      1. Jason Tian says:

        thanks for sharing the hand-on experience with visitors of this blog.

  16. MARIANNA KAK says:

    dear Jason,

    if a chinese person owns an offshore company 100% and this person agrees that we will be the only bank account operator of this company

    is there a formal agreement in the bank between me, the chinese person and the bank director that i will be the only bank account operator?

    i would appreciate if you could help.


    Marianna Kak

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Hi Mariana, if the bank account is opened with a bank outside of China, you need to talk with a local attorney there. I cannot help with offshore legal issues. I am a Chinese lawyer.

  17. Sonia says:

    I am currently in UK. I am from Hong Kong and recently, I need a Chinese bank account for something. Can I open a Chinese local bank account in UK?

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Hi Sonia, most banks require that you come to China to appear before them in order to open a bank account.

  18. Bob Ramos says:

    I’m about to start a China based job from USA (most of it is online) and would like to know if instead of having this new company send me money to my US bank account which is Citibank, is it better to open a Chinese bank account and then I transfer money when I need it.. Can You help with this question please?

    Bob Ramos

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Bob, you have no problem open a bank account in either RMB or USD. But you’d have to come to China to open the bank account.

      1. Bob Ramos says:

        I got a call from an HSBC agent yesterday.. I t looks like I need to have 100K US dollars to keep a free account and or if I don;t they charge $50 US dollars as a monthly service fee.

        Does this sound about right?

        Let me know Jason

        Bob Ramos

        1. Jason Tian says:

          I heard of that before, but it is HSBC, the big player. If you open an account with a Chinese domestic bank, there won’t be such a requirement. Please do your own homework to search more information on this.

  19. Daniel says:

    Hello Jason,

    I am looking to establish a Joint Venture company with a business partner in China.

    If our company is registered in Hong Kong, can we set up an OSA account in China or can we also set up a NRA account?

    Will the money(sales/earnings) under China bank accounts be subjected to China or Hong Kong tax?

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Yes, you can but your management shall have to come to China bank to open the bank account. At the moment, they don’t accept opening by agent on client’s behalf. Strictly speaking, the interests accruing on the bank deposit is subject to Chinese enterprise income tax. In practice, due to the weak administration by China tax authority, in many cases, the taxes are not duly levied.

  20. Bahram says:

    would like to open a account in china for my new business in UAE to buy parts and also sell goods to china,so I like to convert chiness currency to UAE currency in our account in my bank account in UAE.what type of account we could open?

  21. Marco says:

    Dear Jason,

    two points:

    [1] as a non-resident foreign individual, am I allowed to open a OSA account in China ?

    [2] When you say “foreigners are allowed to open RMB accounts in China just as Chinese citizens”, this means that as a non-resident foreign individual I am allowed to open a RMB account ?

    Thanks for your help !

    1. Jason Tian says:

      (1) yes, you are allowed to open OSA account with those four banks. So far as I know, the banks are more willing to help foreign entities (opposite to individuals) to open OSA account. The rules do allow foreign individuals to open OSA accounts. (2) as a foreigner in China, you can always open RMB account with any bank in China.

  22. Khan says:


    I would like to open a account in china for my new business in uk to buy parts from china and ship back to uk, but i am confused to which bank to open the new account with also what type of account i should use.

    I would appreciate if you could help thanks.

    1. Jason Tian says:

      hi, do you want to open the account in your personal name or corporate name?

      1. Jason Tian says:

        also, my understanding is that you open an OSA account in China because you are working here in China so it is easier for you to operate this account in China. Otherwise, i don’t see why you need such an account after all.