In order to open a bank account, customers should bring ID (passport) and their residence permit to the bank. Pick a branch in the business district to open your account if you do not have a translator with you. This will help ensure a smoother process since these branches have plenty of experience with foreigners needing new accounts. Once you enter the bank, take a number at the ticket dispensing machine. Then ask the information desk where to pick up an application form to open a bank account so that you can start filling in the form while you wait. Once your number is called, bring your documents to the teller.

Each bank has different types of accounts but most people stick with the basic ones. A basic savings deposit account, which is one of the more popular accounts with no fees and even a very small interest rate return, is easy to open and maintain. Minimum balances and first deposit are often just a few RMB. In return you will receive a bank debit card along with your account passbook on the spot which you can start to use right away.

Personal checking accounts are extremely rare in China—only business accounts have and use checks. Bills are paid in cash or with bank debit cards.

You may also be eligible to open a foreign currency account at the bank which will have different minimum balances and rules. This will allow you to deposit and withdraw foreign currency.

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