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Whether it is for your student loans and credit card debt or you're just looking to buy some gift going back home for Christmas, every expat will have a day the need to transfer money abroad. It seems like a hassle but www.tianjinexpats.com team hope this memo will help you a lot.

28/07/2017 Update: New S.A.F.E. regulations about international UnionPay payment: Starting the 22 of September Chinese banks may report to taxes bureau any transaction over 1000, (including cash withdrawal abroad and shop payment abroad). If you regularly use your UnionPay card abroad for payment and withdrawal of more than 1000, you may get under a stricter investigation for money laundering. 

What the law says: if after investigation an individual is guilty of money laundering, and bank didn’t report that individual, bank will be held guilty for it.
What we do read: banks do not have obligation to report, but they have the right to trigger an alarm. We don’t think buying a brand-new surface 4 with your UnionPay card for Xmas will put you at risk, they have bigger cats to catch, but still better to be informed than sorry.

23/07/2015 Update: That article is written for USD but will work the same with EUR, AUS, or any major currency. With their equivalent in USD.

Please understand that China has two types of foreign money:
S.A.F.E. has divided foreign currencies in two types:
现汇 xianhui and 现钞 xianchao.

-S.A.F.E.: State Administration of Foreign Exchange.

-FX Foreign Money (现汇 xianhui): Electronic foreign money that can be wired-out of China.

-Foreign Money (现钞 xianchao): Paper bills are always xianchao. Some electronic money can be xianchao too, and received/sent in China as it.

-xianchao to xianhui conversion: this conversion involves sending physically the money out of China then resending it back to China from abroad as xianhui. In fact, nothing is sent nowhere, but it explains the fees involved.


Please keep in mind that double foreign money system in the rest of the article 

1 Changing rmb into USD & FX-USD
2 Bank wire (FX-USD)

3 Western Union/Money gram (Need USD)

4 Paypal (Need union card with rmb)

5 Alipay (Need Chinese friend)
6 Union Pay (Need union rmb card)

 Add us on WeChat for any question : tianjinexpats

Changing into USD and FX-USD

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Amount that you can process:

1) China will allow any foreigners to change a daily maximum of 500$, or the equivalent in other currency. With an annual limit of 50 000$ per passport. Without having to provide any other paper than their passport. After crossing the border at international airport, the limit is 1000$ per day per passport, but you will have to find a bank!!!

2) You can get back the amount of USD that you have converted in the past into rmb. Your change slips are valid for 24 months, keep them.

3) If you pay taxes in China, you may exchange more than the 500 USD daily limit. You need to provide your bank with:
-passport,
-working permit,
-resident permit,
-taxes bill,
-labor contract,
-a reason,
The bank will fill on your behind a S.A.F.E. approval form. The amount that will be granted is at the discretion of S.A.F.E.

4) If you need more than your S.A.F.E. allowance, two solutions:  
 
4.1 ask for a Chinese friend to do it for you (with the limit of 50 000 USD per year) - using his Chinese ID card:
Most Chinese banks won't like the "Chinese friend move", so be ready for enquiries and to offer a good explanatio. Best move could be to not go with your friend to the bank, and let him handle alone the process, you could prefill the form before. Keep in mind that your Chinese friend is putting himself under risk of investigation for money laundering, so don't forget to be thankful, and try to keep the amount in accordance with your friend revenues.
Limited to 50 000 USD / Year / Id Card

  4.2 ask the Golden Cows:
These are men who work for companies who have large quantities of USD or other foreign currency, who want to buy as much RMB as possible without the tax implications of legally changing the money over. In Tianjin, they hang out at the entrance to the Bank of China’s main branch on Jiefang Bei Lu. (中国银行 -解放北路与大同道– Zhōngguó Yínháng – Jiěfàng Běi Lù yǔ Dàtóng Dào – Bank of China at the intersection of Jiefang North Road and Datong Street). They will change for you any amount of RMB to USD at the day rate or even better. The process is to go to the bank of china main entrance, they will spot you and ask you if you want to change money. Then you go to the bank, show them the money in RMB, they will withdraw the amount in USD and the exchange of cash happened in front of the cashier!! This is the way that most of fellow expats will follow for their western union needs. Once you have the money, you can send it back home via western union, but you cannot use USD xianchao cash to wire it abroad.
 

5) Important: xianhui 现汇 and xianchao 现钞
-When changing don't forget to change for FX-USD xianhui, if you want to send it abroad.
-Paper cash USD is xianchao, you cannot wire it abroad, but you can Western Union it or banks can mail it 
-You can cumulate your daily 500 FX-USD of xianhui allowance into your bank account then wire when you are ready.
-If you come to bank with i.e. 2000 USD in cash (xianchao), making a wire will mean: mailing "physically" the cash abroad, then wire it back to China in form of xianhui, then wire the xianhui to your bank abroad. That explain the very high fees, use Western Union in that case.
-If you have i.e. 2000 USD in cash (xianchao) and can't use Western Union, and are not in a hurry, you may convert everyday 500 USD back to rmb, then back to 500 FX-USD.

 

Bank wire  

Prepare depending on your case:  
-FX-USD (xianhui)*
-Passport with valid Visa (and sometimes Residency Permit)
-SWIFT code of your bank back home (e.g. BARCGB22 for Barclays UK)
-Bank account information for both sending and receiving parties (name, address etc.)
-Most of the bank will require you to have an account with them, this is not the regulation, but bank managment get rewarded depending on the account opening rate. So, most of them will insist for you to open a bank account

*FX-USD Memo:
-Every day you can convert rmb up to 500 FXUSD (xianhui,) oeven more if SAFE allow it (basically depending on your taxes record and salaries)
-If for any reason you have less than 500 USD xianchao (paper bill, or wired), you will have to convert it to rmb, then reconvert to FX-USD(xianhui) or Western Union it
-If for any reason you have more than 500 USD xianchao (paper bill, or wired), you will have to convert 500 USD first into rmb then into FX-USD xianhui (cheaper), then the rest of the money has to be mailed out of china, transformed in FX-USD xianhui, then wire back to your chinese account!!!! then wire abroad --> highest fees. Better go to Western Union.
-If you have more than 500 USD xianchao (paper bill, or wired), and you have time and don't want to use Western Union, you can go few days in a row to convert them first into RMB then back into 500 FX-USD xianhui and store them into your account.

 

 

Western Union

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Western Union will send xianchao(paper or electro) USD out of China

List of the western union agency in Tianjin
(all of them are in a bank, so you can make your USD conversion at the same place)

Prepare:
The receiver’s name, country, address, passport/ID, phone number
The sender name, passport, country, address, phone number (in Chinese characters)
You could ask a few forms in advance so you can fulfill them at home

Transfer is supposed to be available in the minute

Fee
$15 when sending $1-500,

$20 when sending $501-1,000,
$25 when sending $1,001-2,000,
$30 when sending $2,001-9,000.
Maximum transfer is 9000$

 

 

PayPal

67630 paypal box

We have tested with success the transfer from China rmb account to Spain-Italy-France-USA account in EUR and USD

The trick here is you will have to open a new paypal account, only Chinese accounts can accept your UnionPay card.
When opening the new account choose: country: China, language: English.
BOC of China card seems not to work in Paypal, use ICBC or ABC instead.

Then you will be able to pay USD bills with your local account in rmb, and you will be able to send money to other PayPal accounts abroad. Take care of daily limitations depending on your bank. (5000 rmb in ICBC) 

 

 

AliPay

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AliPay is offering international wire too, but only on account registered with a Chinese ID card. Please go to more... ->International Wire then follow the extremely simple instructions. You will need same info as for a bank wire. The process may be like finding a Chinese friend that you trust and trust you!! Ask him to do the wire, and repay him with the exact amount of the transaction.

Keep in mind that your Chinese friend is putting himself under risk of investigation for money laundering, so don't forget to be thankful, and try to keep the amount in accordance with your friend revenues Limited to 50 000 USD / Year / Id Card

 

Union Pay

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You can deposit some rmb on a UnionPay bank card, send it back home by express mail. Or take it with you on your next trip. After good reception from your partner/wife/friend, communicate them the passcode. Money could be retrieved from ATM, with a limit of 10 000 rmb per day or use to purchases goods with no limits. And even better you will enjoy 10% discount in a lot of airport shops and luxury shops

28/07/2017 Update: New S.A.F.E. regulations about international UnionPay payment: Starting the 22 of September Chinese banks may report to taxes bureau any transaction over 1000, (including cash withdrawal abroad and shop payment abroad). If you regularly use your UnionPay card abroad for payment and withdrawal of more than 1000, you may get under a stricter investigation for money laundering. 

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