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Yes, Foreigners Can Use AliPay -- This Is How
The easiest way to order McDonald's delivery. And transfer money and everything else.
By May 28, 2015 Shopping
Updated on Feb 20, 2017 for Version 10.0.3

Alipay, a.k.a. Zhi Fu Bao 支付宝 lets you pay for airline tickets instantly, transfer money to your landlord without leaving your couch, pay for cabs and utility bills, or buy a street beer at Family Mart with just your phone. To join the magical wonderland of mobile payments, check the in-depth guide below on setting up Alipay and connecting a Chinese bank account. (For WeChat Pay, click here.)

Step 1: Download Alipay and Sign Up with Your Phone Number

Get the latest version of the app from Alipay's website. Sign up with a valid mobile phone number. Alipay will send a text message with a confirmation code to the number, which you will have to input. Set a password on the next screen and the app will log you in automatically.

Next, let's add a bank card.

Step 2: Find The "My Cards" Screen

Tap "Me" on the bottom right corner, then tap "My Account". If you haven't added a card before, it'll say "Add Card" next to the "My Cards" box. Otherwise, it'll display the number of cards you have. Tap it to add a debit card. The page after this will be empty if you don't have any cards linked yet. Tap the plus sign to begin the process.

Step 3: Enter Your Bank Card Info

If this is your first time, you'll need to set a six digit code as your payment password. You'll be using this password anytime you pay online. After that you'll enter your Chinese bank card number. Hit next, and Alipay will display the name of your bank beside "Card Type". Fill in your name and other information.

Step 4: Confirm Your Phone Number and Other Info Registered With Your Bank

Be sure to select the type of ID you have and enter in your personal information exactly the way it is registered at the bank. This is super important. If you run into any errors after completing the information, it means that your bank records are somehow different from what you have entered.

Try spelling your name in all caps and make sure that you are using the same special characters and phone number that your bank has on file. If none of this works, you can try going to your bank and setting up your Alipay account with the assistance of the bank's staff.

Alipay will send a text message containing a confirmation code to the phone number you've entered for your bank account. Enter this code to finish linking your bank card to Alipay.

Step 5: Make Payments!

Your bank card will now appear in the "My Cards" tab. With that, you can make purchases with your phone just about anywhere in China. For on location payments, just tap the "Pay" button to load your personal QR code that can be scanned by friends and retailers.

Tap the scan button to make payments online at sites like, oh, let's say Alipay will also now be an automatic option for payments within mobile apps like Didi, Meituan, and of course, Taobao.

As for credit cards, an Alipay representative told us, "Users can add international Visa/Master credit cards and can make Taobao payments, do mobile top-ups and use Fliggy (train ticket booking) through Alipay."


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  • 3 years ago theannoyingtick

    You suggest using Safari however not every one uses Apple products ;)...just saying :P

  • 3 years ago handoogies

    This is making it more difficult and confusing than it needs to be. Don't click on the button that says you are a foreigner, just enter your card number and cellphone and you receive an activation code, set your password and you have zhifubao. I figured it out with mediocre Chinese reading skills while on scotch.

  • 3 years ago kelgia

    Handoogies, does that automatically link your card to your zhifubao (meaning whenever you purchase sthg, the amount is deducted directly from your card) or does it require you to have to top off your zhifubao account via your bank's e-banking platform before you can pay with zhifubao? Just wondering cuz I was never to pay directly bc everytime I got to the enter card number area, they would ask for an ID number and had no passport option.

  • 3 years ago SmartShanghai

    @handoogies: No. Creating a Zhifubao account is simple -- linking it to your bank account and going through the verification process is not.

    You'll automatically get a Zhifubao account when you sign up for Taobao, but you won't be able to do anything with it until you're verified. You can't even accept money transfers from friends.

  • 3 years ago leisa

    I'm at Part 3 and I'm having trouble linking my card. The app only allows for cards with 14-16 numerals while mine has 17 (it's a china construction card). Any solutions for this?

  • 3 years ago mikele84

    Yes, that is exactly what I had to do!

  • 3 years ago Duce

    Rad, nice one guys. Really useful.

  • 3 years ago smoteshanghai

    So you have to use a credit card for this method? There's an option to add a regular bank card on the user profile page of the app (lower right), but even copying and pasting my passport info (has letters but no letter input in app) I can't get it to behave.

  • 3 years ago Hakala.K

    I still say that this is incorrect for all the nationalities. If your country is not on the list of countries that you can choose from the registering list. You cannot register alipay account. I called last month to their customer service and they told me that. Unfortunately I am one of those ppl who cannot.

  • 3 years ago Woaizhongguo

    Actually Safari isn't specifically for Apple products, it works on Windows. Just saying :p

  • 3 years ago Owen89

    First Thanks for your effort, Second when you click on the blue one you don't get that page, i cannot find a registration page when you can put you Passport number as ID number, I am stuck at the Chinese ID number which I don't have :S

  • 3 years ago GanMa

    I completely agree with @handoogies, I've been using Alipay for over 2 or 3 years and quickly figured out not to do the "foreigner" option.

    All you need to know is the ID number you signed up to the bank with, and yes yes for us foreigners this will be your passport number but when i opened my account they added zero's to pad it out, so when i signed up to Alipay and thought the foreigner thing was way too long and ridiculous, i just entered my ID number exactly as my bank had it, with all the zeros added on and hey presto it worked. It didn't work just on it's own, as my passport number.

    Then when i pay for stuff it directly comes off my card not my alipay balance. As it stands, i can't use my card for online shopping on it's own as it's one of the crappy ones you get.

    Unless it's changed, which it doesn't look like it has, it's by far the quickest way to sign up. Technically, alipay doesn't know i'm a foreigner.

  • 3 years ago GanMa

    Also you can pay for things in convenience stores, buy movie tickets (including selecting seats) etc and of course lets not forget the hongbao games at Chinese New Year!

  • 3 years ago *Audrey*

    Very useful article, thanks a lot! I had an issue with completing the step 1, when I input my bank card number, it is said that this card number is already used (no idea why as I've never had an alipay account before), and apparently, the only way is to use another bank card, if your don't have another bank card, then you will have to go to the bank and ask for one or replace the previous one.

  • 3 years ago GanMa

    Me again! @Audrey, that sounds super dodgy, i'd get on to your bank about that one! If you defo didn't sign up before, it could be the card they gave you had a previous owner and after a period was reactivated and given back out.

    Also worth mentioning, El Fresh online now accepts Alipay as payment. Just have to navigate their terrible new site layout. #justsaying

  • 3 years ago kelgia

    @ you beat the system ;)

  • 3 years ago kelgia

    btw.. having the same issue as @leisa. the field only allows for up to 16 digits and mine has 19 (icbc).... does anyone have a solution for this?

  • 3 years ago GanMa

    @kelgia Trying linking the bank card on the web version - there is no limit there to how many digits the card has. My ICBC card also has more numbers than the app would allow nowadays, when i signed up the app wasn't around so it must be possible how - definitely log into alipay on the desktop, it's this link when you sign in:

    Google Chrome is easy enough to follow, but it's on the right hand side of the first menu bar, under "其他账户" you should see a little card sign, and then hover over the end part and the link for "management" comes up then go from there with adding a card.

  • 3 years ago Outofstep

    Another option is not to link your bank card but just top up your account through e-banking. Not as convenient but infinitely safer as they don't have your bank account on file. Worst case if your account gets hacked is that you lose your unused balance only.

  • 3 years ago calatrava

    I've had an unverified alipay account for several years and have been able to make purchases just fine. When checking out, I just do the thing where I select my bank, enter the login info I set at my bank, then a PIN is sent to my phone. I enter the PIN online to complete the payment. This works just fine unless you want to make purchases over 1,000rmb per day.

    I've also had friends transfer me money just fine. There's a cap on incoming transfers for unverified users and I guess I haven't reached it yet.

  • 3 years ago cindylyq

    Thanks @SmartShanghai! I have the same problem as @Owen89. Any way around this?

  • 3 years ago kelgia

    it worked!!!! after alipay staff verifies your account, you can enter as many digits as you please in alipay's mobile app @ganma :) icbc, merchants, you name it, they all work. I got a linked card lalalala oh happiness!

    i know it is easy to top up the account through e-banking, but for me that required a web browser.. now i do not need to keep a balance in my alipay and can very easily purchase a movie ticket when i am away from a web browser.

    obs: remember to upload the pic of your visa + the customs stamp or else they write you back saying it is missing the official stamp...

  • 3 years ago calatrava

    Very odd. My partner had no difficulty in getting his Alipay account real-name verified using his China Merchants Bank account, but after his account was verified he was unable to link the same CMB account to Alipay wallet. He has his name and card # correct. He went to CMB to ask if they might know what the problem is and the response was that foreigners can't use CMB with Alipay. Man, sometimes bank employees are so misinformed and unhelpful.

  • 3 years ago abrdenim

    Just got it guys!!!
    forget about linking your card through the app. you have to do it on the web. it works.

  • 3 years ago Ewen

    Ive got the same problem! registered on the alipay website.. but in the app I cannot seem to link my card with the same info..

  • 3 years ago chris**

    Ok, bit of a catch 22 here.....cannot link a card with more than 16 digits using the phone app, but when you use the website it wants an ID card number with 18 digits. My passport doesn't have this many, and as I'm not Chinese I obviously don't have a local ID card.

    @kelgia, how did you get "Alipay staff to verify your account" to allow more digits on the phone app?

  • 3 years ago woofdine

    Part 3: Link a card only seems to be relevant for people with Merchant's bank credit cards. These are difficult to get for those not on residence permits. Has anyone had any luck linking a debit card as a foreigner?

  • 3 years ago kayybeeee

    What kind of China Merchants Bank account are you using? I went to go get one specially for this but it's saying it doesn't accept cards with the first four digits of what this is. . . it's just a standard debit card you walk out of the bank with. Is this wrong?

  • 3 years ago slouch

    I can set up an Alipay account verify the account successfully using my China Merchants Bank (CMB) account. However, when I try to top up the account using the Alipay app (US English version), it requires I input a "Chinese ID" - no other choice. Since I'm not a Chinese citizen, there's no way to link my CMB account with my Alipay account, and I can't add money. Any help?

  • 3 years ago Heaton

    everything went fine
    now when i try to enter my name (same as on my bank account )while recharging alipay account
    it says max 32 characters are allowed
    so is there any options to change that ?
    Thnx & Regards in advance :)

  • 3 years ago Consilium

    Are foreigners still unable to invest in the Alibaba money market through alipay?

  • 3 years ago Gougou Unverified User

    Does it apply to foreigners living outside China or only apply to foreigners living in China?

  • 3 years ago projectasia

    this is great. i feel so secure with the high technology of chinese banking. chinese are smart. amazon could learn something about the 87 step process above. thanks.

  • 3 years ago flocire Unverified User

    This article really helped me, its clear and easy to understand. I have limited ability reading chinese characters, this really saved me a lot of time (and stress). Thanks a lot.

  • 3 years ago Gredhine

    I was able to create an account, following these article
    The problem is, I cannot use it to pay for international transactions. I asked a friend; the reason was- I did not register a Chinese ID. Inputs to solve these are appreciated.

  • 2 years ago DebinBJ Unverified User

    Alipay has told me to add a second bankcard to my existing/verified Alipay account in order to continue using the service... (I've triggered a check because of regular use)...

    How do I add another bankcard and get it verified using a passport number?
    It does not give me the option to nominate an ID type when adding a second bankcard and says the ID must be 15-18 characters...

    Any help would be appreciated.

  • 2 years ago ARK1975

    "GanMa" user i want to ask you some thing. Please forward me your e-mail address.

  • 2 years ago Benjamec

    Same as DebinBJ, it's now asking to add another bank card.
    What's the workaround here? Is it expected to have more than one bank card?

  • 2 years ago HazelH* Unverified User

    hi there may i know do we need to have china bank account for this?

  • 2 years ago Alex2334 Unverified User

    It seems you need to be a foreigner who lives in China. Is it possible to use Alipay if you do not live in China, you do not have Chinese bank account and you do not have Chinese bank/credit card?
    If I live in USA, can I use my card issued by US bank, or link my US bank account to Alipay? So far I did not have any success.

  • 2 years ago tochukwu Unverified User

    I am in Africa , Nigeria . Left China last year , i want o know if it’s possible to link my Nigerian bank account card ( visa / master card ) to my WeChat ? . How to do it ?

  • 2 years ago Jcak4878 Unverified User

    What if I dont own a China Bank Account, can I get one while residing in the United States?

  • 2 years ago jest Unverified User

    Tap "Bank Card Add" and you'll be prompted to enter in your bank card number. credit card icbc number or icbc bank account number?

  • 2 years ago adrlljh Unverified User

    i can't seem to verify my alipay account. there's no foreign nationality option anymore :(

  • 2 years ago JELMy

    I have started by installing the latest app version 10.0.0 from 22nd Dec 2016. It is all in Chinese only. Will try to go through as the field information should be more or less the same.

  • 2 years ago Houten Unverified User

    I no longer see the option to register as someone from out of China

  • 2 years ago Greebbean Unverified User

    If I from overseas and don't have any China bank account, how do I receive payment?

  • 1 year ago Derek6666666666 Unverified User

    I don't have a Chinese bank account or Chinese ID. How can I at least verify myself so that a friend can send me money?

  • 1 year ago FTP Unverified User

    Be careful, if your phone number is not Chinese.
    In the "Mobil" field type your country code + "-" + your phone number.
    Like for a French mobile number: 33-612345678
    It's not said anywhere but if you don't do so, it doesn't work.

  • 9 months ago isabellab

    But can I use an international credit card or do I have to have a chinese bank account?

  • 9 months ago sunsetlover

    Are there any limits to the amount you can transfer/withdraw to your linked bank debit card? Like Wechat has?

    For the people overseas, who don't have a Chinese bank account, who don't have a Chinese phone number, have very little to do with China other than sending/receiving payments from merchants, keep in mind two things: a) A Chinese who says can pay you only on Alipay is simply lying (it's very easy for them to do wire transfers ONLINE, with the cheapest transfer fees globally, plus Paypal is available in China), b) the fewer Chinese apps you use, the better (especially true for payment apps).

  • 29 days ago Wasiu Jimoh Unverified User

    Please, is alipay only available for Chinese banks or foreign banks with master card holders can also use it?

  • 7 days ago Upadhyay Unverified User

    Sir/ma'am... Can I use alipay if I don't have account in any Chinese Bank.. I'm going their soon..

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