A common question on WeChat, expat forums and other online platforms is how do I legally transfer money from the People’s Republic of China to my home country? Unfortunately, it is often accompanied by well-intended but misguided advice such as using Alipay, Western Union or having a PRC national transfer it for you.
This brief article explains how to transfer money in a safe, reliable and independent manner.
One important “alternative method” to mention is the notorious idea of transferring money through a PRC national friend. Whenever I hear such a proposal, I cannot help but to think of the typical story of the foreign national who bought a house under his girlfriend’s name, only to be kicked out when the deal was complete. The principle is the same, once the money is received there are no obligations for the PRC national to do a transaction, and trying to circumvent the law will rarely end in your favor.
So how do you send money home safely and legally?
Documents required for international money transfer
The tax report can be acquired at the local Tax Bureau. Simply bring your passport and request it. It is my understanding there are other ways to do this, however this is the most accessible option if you wish to manage your finances without the assistance of a Mandarin speaker.
Shanghai Tax Bureau
Gather your documents and go to the bank, but don't expect this to be quick
Once all the documents are gathered, go to the bank and wait… for an hour or two. An international transfer is a two-step process with some paperwork: buying the foreign currency and the actual transfer.
Note, if you want to perform multiple international money transfers throughout the year, you’ll need to bring all the same documents every time, even if it’s at the same bank and branch.
Why do we often hear about illegal methods?
It is because the transfer process is limited to your legitimate income (and becomes more complex beyond USD 50,000 in a calendar year). The bank will use the lowest amount between the tax paid and the wage received to determine the legitimate income, with some banks having stricter criteria. With the prevalence of individual income tax fraud by unscrupulous employers, this may cause problems, which highlights the importance of due diligence during the recruitment process and why you should walk away if there are any illegal proposals.
Other factors may bring additional hardship, such as your level of Mandarin, the clerk’s level of English, their experience dealing with such transactions, etc.
Ask the bank for their list of requirements ahead of time and be prepared with an understanding of the process, as ultimately, it is your money.
River Delta Law Firm http://en.jsjlawyer.com/
River Delta Law Firm is a Chinese law firm specialized in Labor & Employment Law. River Delta was founded 15 years ago and has over 200 labor professionals, making it the biggest and one of the oldest employment law firms in the People’s Republic of China. We support our clients in every matter related to employment law, including immigration and expatriate management services. We provide clear and transparent immigration services so your company and its expatriate employees can focus on work without worrying about immigration status.
This article is a vulgarization of laws and regulations and does not constitute legal advice. The author is not responsible for any loss caused by using any information provided in this article. For more information please contact us at Normand@Laodongfa.com.
(By: Normand Gauthier)