An Expert Overview of Account Setup and Management
Navigating China’s extensive yet restrictive banking system presents foreign entities with unique complexities. As the world’s second largest economy, China boasts over 4,000 domestic banks—however, full RMB convertibility remains constrained by foreign exchange controls.
Wholly foreign-owned enterprises (WFOEs) can open corporate accounts at major state-owned banks like ICBC and Bank of China. Approval timeframes are typically 4-6 weeks. Alternatively, international banks like HSBC offer services closer to Western standards but can have lengthy due diligence.
Foreign entities must appoint an in-country legal representative to open their first primary settlement account, into which capital contributions are deposited. Additional accounts for payroll, foreign currency, etc. can then be opened.
While historically lax, China’s Know Your Customer (KYC) protocols have grown stricter. Banks now scrutinize account activities and compliance closely, freezing suspicious transactions. Staying abreast of evolving regulations is key.
An Overview of Account Types for Foreign Entities
When establishing banking for your China entity, you will need to open a primary RMB settlement account. This foundational account facilitates day-to-day transactions and cash flows.
Beyond the primary account, you may need specialized accounts based on your operational needs and regulatory requirements:
General Deposit Account – For loan purposes or other settlement needs. Not required but useful in some cases.
Special Deposit Account – Holds funds earmarked for specific regulated purposes per Chinese banking rules.
Foreign Exchange Account – Enables depositing foreign currency and international transfers. Requires SAFE approval.
Temporary USD Account – Initial option for foreign currency prior to securing SAFE approval.
Capital Account – Allows capital inflows like investor contributions; subject to strict controls.
As your trusted partner, we advise on optimal account selection and setup based on your China entity type, activities, and objectives. Our experts stay on top of the regulatory environment to ensure full compliance. Get in touch today to determine the ideal banking mix for your business.
Why Choose Us for Your China Bank Account Needs
With decades of experience, Corporation China is the premier partner for foreign entities seeking to establish compliant banking in China. We offer three key advantages:
Our relationships with top banks like BOC and ICBC allow us to fast-track account opening. We facilitate remote options to avoid delays. New accounts often within 1 week.
We advise on optimal account types and banking institutions to match your WFOE, JV or other entity. Ongoing support to adapt as needs evolve.
Peace of Mind
Our experts monitor China’s strict and changing regulations to ensure your continual compliance. We liaise with banks to avoid frozen accounts or other issues.
Meeting China’s Bank Account Opening Requirements
Key Documents and Protocols for Compliant Setup
To open a corporate bank account in China, foreign entities must comply with various requirements from the bank and regulatory authorities. Typical documents needed include:
- Business license and articles of association
- ID documents for legal representative
- Letter of authorization if representative can’t be present
- Evidence of registered address
- Capital verification report showing investor contributions
The legal representative or authorized signatory generally must appear in person at least once, often with original passport. Some banks allow remote video onboarding if travel is impossible.
Banks also now conduct stricter Know Your Customer (KYC) checks, reviewing identity information, company operations, account uses and sources of funds. Onsite verification at the registered address is also standard.
Top 10 FAQs on China Corporate Bank Accounts
What documents are required to open a company account?
Typical documents include business license, articles of association, legal representative's ID, authorization letters, capital verification report, etc.
Does the legal representative need to be physically present?
In most cases, yes - at least once for identity verification. Some banks allow remote video onboarding.
How long does it take to open an account?
Typically 1-6 weeks depending on bank and readiness of company documents. We can often expedite the process.
What are the main types of accounts available?
Primary RMB settlement account, foreign exchange account, capital account, and specialized purpose accounts.
Can I open multiple accounts for my WFOE?
Yes, you can open additional accounts once the primary settlement account is active.
Is capital contribution required before opening the account?
Yes, banks require capital verification reports showing funds have been contributed.
Can a non-Chinese citizen open an account remotely?
It is challenging but possible with the right bank relationships and thorough documentation.
Do banks perform background checks on companies?
Yes, Chinese banks now implement stringent know-your-customer (KYC) protocols.
What happens if I don't comply with account regulations?
Non-compliance risks account suspension or freezing by the bank.
Can a personal account be used for business transactions?
No, companies must open dedicated corporate accounts registered to the business.
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