Expat opening-up policies

By Trevor Nichols (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-05-12 08:57

  An expat pauses at signs of various Chinese banks.

A whopping big salary may not be the main reason for relocating to China, but no matter what your deal, opening a Chinese bank account seems to be a challenge for everybody.

But it "really is a simple process", says Colin Dixon, an Irish expat who has been living in Beijing for three years. "Although the process itself may be simple, indeed the longest part of the process is sitting in the queue."

To open an account, an expat needs a local phone number, a local address, a passport and an application form. A Chinese friend comes in handy because the application form is in Chinese.

"In China, cash is still king," says Dixon. Many expats opt to open local bank accounts so they don't have to pay high transaction fees with an international bank. Also, some of these overseas accounts may not be accepted everywhere.

Dixon advises opening two accounts because most ATMs have a maximum withdrawal of 5,000 yuan ($714) per day per account.

Having two accounts enables you to double the withdrawal amount, in order to afford those big-ticket items, such as last-minute air tickets and electrical goods.

He also says it is wise to withdraw money from an ATM before major holidays because the machines often run out of cash in the lead up and are not restocked during the holiday period.

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