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How to: Receive money in China from abroad

While living in China, the ability to transfer money into the country is an extremely important piece of knowledge. You may find yourself needing to top up your local bank balance, or you may even need to soon make a costly emergency purchase.

In cases of large transfers, you will need to have first set up a Chinese Bank account – please see How to: Open a Chinese bank account

If you need to transfer money out of China – please see How to: Send money from China to abroad


Receiving Money from Abroad

You will be happy to know that having money coming in is much easier than money going out. However, the government will monitor anything over 10,000 RMB coming into China. The sender must make sure that the money sent is clearly tied to your identification and bank details, exactly as laid out in your identification documents.

Unlike sending money out from China, there is no limit to sending money to China. There is a limit, however, on how much foreign currency you can convert while in China, which is $50,000 USD per year. This is an extremely important piece of information as it basically controls how much RMB is available to you from foreign transfers.


TransferWise – (recommended)
This is an online platform that allows transfers online using computer or mobile. Maximum limits for CNY transfers to private individuals – 5,000 USD (or equivalent) per transaction, 10,000 USD (or equivalent) per day, 50,000 USD (or equivalent) per year as above. If you have previously received international transfers, via any provider, this will count towards this limit (for example, if you have received 20,000 USD already this year, your limit is 30,000 USD).

Just have the sender transfer the money to your Chinese bank account, then go to a branch or ATM to withdraw this in cash.

Extremely simple to use, just follow the steps online
Low fees, uses mid-market rates
Transparent processes
Android and Apple apps

– Needs to have opened a Chinese bank account with online baking set up
– Transfers will require 1-5 business days, depending on your location – even a few hours
– Only countries from this list are eligible to make payments to China (includes USA, UK, Canada)


PayPal –
Have a foreign PayPal account transfer to your Chinese PayPal account which would be linked to your Chinese bank account. Move the funds from your Chinese PayPal account into your linked Chinese bank account. You can then withdraw cash at a branch or ATM as required.

Not recommended due to high fees, see

– Needs to have opened a Chinese bank account with online baking set up
– You must set up a Chinese PayPal account which is different from usual PayPal accounts outside of China, and link this to your Chinese bank account (cannot send Chinese RMB from non-Chinese PayPal account)


Bank wire
The most traditional method. The sender will need your name, address, account number, your bank’s name, address, IBAN and SWIFT or BIC.

After the processing time, take your passport to your branch where you can confirm and withdraw the deposit. Be mindful that many bank employees are still unaccustomed to serving foreigners, therefore it is advisable to go to a larger branch, bring a Chinese speaking friend with you or call in advance and see if you can book service in English.

– Have a local Chinese bank account set up
– Takes up to a working week to process
– Bank wires may require your bank details to be in Chinese, be careful of making sure the sender has accurately written down your details


Western Union and MoneyGram
Great way to transfer money quickly and in person. Fees are better than PayPal, but TransferWise reigns supreme. Both Western Union and MoneyGram have a representative at most big four bank branches. With MoneyGram, the funds are available immediately on the other side, with almost no waiting time.

Either have the sender transfer funds into your bank account (no further action required!) or to a MoneyGram agent near you – find locations here
The sender should follow the instructions here

Western Union
Similar process to MoneyGram, you must inform an agent of your sender’s details as well as the Money Transfer Control Number (MTCN) you would have received. See here for detailed instructions and a list of bank service providers in China

After funds are sent, all you have to do is collect the money from an agent.

– Bring your identification documents (usually passport) with you when you go to collect the funds from either MoneyGram or Western Union agents.


Useful Chinese Phrases

Money has been sent to me from abroad to my local account, I would like to access it
wo you yī bi wài huì xū yào jié huì

I would like to convert the foreign currency to RMB
Wo yào duì huàn wài bì

These are my documents
Zhè xiē shì wo de wén jiàn

Hù zhào

Yín háng

Maxxelli has years of experience in dealing with banking processes for our clients. Please do not hesitate to contact us for any banking or money related inquiries.

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