Remittance of Salary Outside of China
Expatriates can send their salaries overseas, but there are limitations and conditions. If you have worked in China for more than six months, then you are obligated to report all of your income to the Chinese tax authorities. If you send more than $500 outside of China, you must give proof that you paid Chinese taxes on this (a certificate of income tax payment provided by your company). If you transfer less than $500, then you will not need to present the tax certificate.
If you use the bank where your salary is deposited, you are able to send up to $10,000 a day of your salary income generated in China. (How long you stayed in China doesn’t matter for this case.) If you stayed in China less than six months in a row, you are able to remit up to $10,000 a day out of the balance that you had received from abroad.
Companies that wish to repatriate their Chinese profits must follow the corporate procedures for such action. Your Chinese accountant or bank can instruct you on those procedures.
If you are paid in Chinese currency, then you must convert those into dollars, Euros, or some other major foreign currency. Expats can certainly ask their local employers to pay them outside of China in their preferred foreign currency, but you will still be liable for Chinese taxes on this salary. This transaction is fairly easy if you use a Hong Kong bank or a major American, Japanese, or European bank that has branches in China. The Chinese regulations are subject to change, so we advise you to consult your company’s accountants on this matter.
The most important banks have their online service also available in English, but for doing any operation, especially sending money overseas, it is better if you visit a bank office, since the online English version tends to give frequent errors.
Transferring Money through Private Companies
In addition to sending money outside of China through banks, expats can also avail themselves of the services of several private companies, such as western Union or MoneyGram, the two largest such service providers.
Western Union: The recipient can collect the funds a few minutes after the transaction is complete. Funds can be picked up in person, or delivered by courier to the recipient at the address provided by the sender. At present, only US dollars or Chinese Renminbi can by transferred through this service. Western Union charges a 0.5% service fee. See their website in China for more details: http://www.westernunion.cn/en/index.php
Expats need to go to the nearest Western Union service provider location in China at Agricultural Bank of China, China Everbright Bank and Postal Savings Bank of China, fill in your details and the rest of the process is very easy. They have over 25,000 locations across China. The Chinese phone number is 800 820 8668 (toll-free, valid for calls within China only; not valid for calls made from mobile phones) or 6866 4610 (local Shanghai call).
MoneyGram: Similar to Western Union, MoneyGram transfers funds electronically through its network of over 50,000 international agents. However, unlike Western Union who charges a flat fee, MoneyGram’s fee is based on the origination and destination cities, amount of money sent, and the desired speed of transaction completion. MoneyGram has six locations in Shanghai. Most CITIC Industrial Banks are MoneyGram Agents. http://www.moneygram.com/