Today I will discuss how to legally send money home from China. For this to occur you must acquire these five items as well as a have Chinese bank account (preferably a big bank such as BoC):
- Foreign Expert Certificate (known as FEC)
- tax certificate (printed and stamped from the tax office)
- Employment contract
- Address of your home bank, plus IBAN (international bank account number)
The first two on this list should be very easy to obtain. If you are working her legally you should already have an FEC and your passport, if you are not working in China legally, then there are other methods.
This one requires more effort on your behalf. You need to prove to the Chinese bank that you have been paying all of your tax in full during your time in China. For this you will need to find your local tax bureau, take your passport and FEC. Your place of employment should be able to point you in the right direction. Taxation has shifted to an online system in recent years, so your records should be relatively well kept by the state. When they print these documents for you, you must get it stamped by them. Stamping of this kind is still a very common method of authenticating documents in China.
This work contract needs to be sent to the “head office” of your organization and stamped by them. Again this method of authentication is very common and absolutely essential if you want to legally send money home.
One of the biggest problems most foreigners face in China is the difficulty in dealing with banks. The problem stems from the fact that most front counter employees are interns, thrown in the deep end without proper training (the paddle). This issue is then further compounded by the language barrier and the complicated nature of the money transfer.
This means that even if you have 100% correct documentation, you may hear the classic phrase “mei ban fa” (没办法). This generally means the person does not know how to do what you are requesting, or they cannot be bothered to do it, so to save face they claim it is not possible. In this situation you must stick to your guns. Insist the documentation is correct, and ask for a higher up to come and deal with it. If you can brave this storm, you will be able to send money home.
The sending money home process
The process is relatively simple. First using your current account you must setup a new foreign exchange account. You then convert your money to whatever currency you like and put it in the foreign exchange account. Then you transfer this money from your foreign exchange account to your home account. This transaction can take up to two working days and depending on how large the sum can cost up to 250RMB to transfer. ( I was charged 250RMB for 200,000RMB)
Your home bank may also charge you, I was charged 70RMB by TSB in the UK for receiving this amount of money. Bringing the grand total expenditure to 320RMB for legal peace of mind.
Alternative methods of sending money home
If you follow all these steps and have everything stamped and sealed there should be no problem. Although I recommend doing everything legally, if you keep encountering issues there is a very simple way to achieve your goals.
You can take a Chinese friend you trust with you to the bank. Chinese citizens are legally allowed to send $50,000 USD abroad each year. Once you take them to the bank and transfer everything to them, they can follow the same steps as above. They are able to send money direct to your bank account using their 身份证 (Chinese ID card) with a great deal less hassle, and a lot less “mei ban fa”.
You could also go to moneygram or another money sending company, which is very quick and effective but the fees are much higher. A final method would simply be taking cash on the plane; there are limits to the amount you can take in different countries, and it carries with it a great deal of risk. You will however be able to keep all of your hard earned golden coins.
Follow these steps to get your money home safe and sound.