Guide to sending money to China

China, with a population of 35 million residing outside their home country, is the second highest remittance receiving nation.

$64 billion was transferred to China during 2015. Being a relatively closed economy, there are some basic guidelines you should be aware of when sending money to China, and these differ depending on whether you're an individual or business. In general, the process is slower than other countries, and the best way to protect your money is to use an online provider that can track your transactions.

Chinese authorities maintain a database of all inflows and outflows of currency to the country. Any individual residing in China cannot receive more than $50,000 (approximately £40,000) per annum through international sources. Furthermore, any amount more than $2,000 (approximately £1,600) must be declared as “International Income” and is applicable to the relevant taxation rules. Individuals may be required to answer questions regarding the purpose and source of the remittance when completing the required formalities of declaration.

Businesses, which tend to receive larger amounts of money through international sources, must obtain permission from the authorities and complete relevant paperwork before they can freely receive and exchange currency.

While sending money to China, you have the flexibility to choose your payment method (debit or credit card, cash, bank transfer), and receipt method (bank transfer or cash pick-up) according to which the cost and duration would vary. In China, sending money directly to an individual’s bank account is the most preferable method, and is supported by most specialist agents.

Furthermore, in the case of business transactions, it is always recommended to send money to a bank account registered in the name of the business, as opposed to cash or an individual’s account, in order to protect yourself against fraud. 

Sending £100 from the UK to China would cost an average of 7-7.5%, with the variation ranging from less than 1% to over 15%! This difference in cost highlights the need to do thorough research when selecting the service provider through which you wish to transfer funds.

There are a variety of specialist agents and online service providers available who offer great rates, and flexibility in terms of payment method. Paying through cash or debit card is preferable versus credit card, as there are often additional fees associated with cash withdrawal on a credit card. Transferring money to a bank account using an online provider is often cheaper than sending money through an agent for cash pick-up in China. Keeping the transaction online makes bank-to-bank, or cash-to-bank the cheapest and safest mode of transfer.

Transfer of money to China is slightly slower than transferring money to most other countries. The process can take anywhere from a within a day, to up to 5 working days, depending on the method and provider selected. Most bank transfers are completed within 2-5 days, while cash pickup can take place the same day. 

  • Your own ID
  • Recipient’s full name and address (English characters only)
  • Purpose of fund transfer
  • Recipient IBAN (International Bank Account Number) and SWIFT Code if being sent via bank deposit
  • Shop’s/agent’s name and location if money is being sent for cash pickup

Businesses require further documentation! Depending on your company, this will include ID documents for significant shareholders, plus further details on the company.

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