Sign In


[How To]: Send Money Overseas

Sifting through the ways and sorting out the legalities.
By May 27, 2019 Shanghai Life
China does not like money flowing out of the country. Despite what you may think, there is only ONE totally legal way for expats to send large sums of money out of the country: the way we give below.

But first, like you, we have read advice from all over the internet, some from law firms or law-type people, who espouse all kinds of other ways to send money out of the country. Asking a “Chinese friend”. Illegal! Alipay. Illegal! Paypal. Illegal! Sending a Chinese bank card overseas and withdrawing from a foreign country. Illegal, illegal, illegal! Will you end up in prison for the rest of your life if you use any of these channels? Probably not. But let’s make clear: for personal amounts of money, like your salary, China has a perfectly workable system for you to take that money out of the country. All they want is proof you’ve paid tax on it. Reasonable. Anything else is tax evasion.


We talked to a lawyer. Can you tell?

The Way the Government Wants: Prove It, Then Wire It


Basically, you need to prove that you earned the money legally and that you have paid tax on it. That means you need to bring your work contract (the legal proof part) and the yearly income tax statement from the tax office (the tax payment part). How do you get that? You ask the HR or finance person at your totally legal job, who has been filing your payments for you, for a copy. (These days, this can even be done through Alipay.)

You will also need your passport, your foreign account details and the money, which cannot exceed the amount that the tax office document covers.

The bank teller will absolutely love it if you forget one of these things, so be diligent and make sure you go in prepared.

If you have paid tax on your income and done everything above board, you can normally send up to 50,000usd per year, though it will require a conversion fee because China doesn’t want rmb leaving China. This limit has also been known to change from bank to bank, and sometimes just not exist at all. If you are using the same bank in both China and abroad (like HSBC), the transfer may even be instant.

What If I Don’t Have Tax Office Records?


Now here’s a technical detail. China does not actually limit the amount of money non-residents can send abroad — what it limits is the amount of rmb you can convert into other currencies. This is capped at 500usd per day.

What this means — you can walk into a bank in mainland China and exchange up to but not more than 500usd a day without proof of where it came from or that it has been taxed.

So, easy! To get your 30,000rmb out of China, you just go to the bank 10 days in a row, until you convert all money to a foreign currency and then send that out, right? No.

No, no, no.

They’ve thought of that.

Theoretically, you could do this four days in a row without legal repercussions, but in reality, someone at the bank is going to notice and the manager is going take an interest in where all this money is coming from. Is it legal? Was it taxed? You could bank-hop, but then this is starting to sound a lot like tax evasion, WHICH IS ILLEGAL.

See disclaimer above.

Take Cash on the Plane


Finally, there is cash-in-the-bag. The rules here are clear. Both Chinese and non-Chinese citizens are allowed to take up to 5,000usd or the equivalent in foreign currency out of China each time they leave. Unless you leave twice within 15 days, triggering a new limit of just 1,000usd or foreign currency equivalent. Any more, and it’s got to be declared at customs.

So, to recap. If you want to get money out of mainland China, you’ve got to prove how you earned it and show you’ve paid tax on it. Anything else is considered tax evasion and is illegal.

Happy documenting!


Updated to clarify the annual transfer maximum.


  • Tags:


Please register to reserve a user name.
  • 1 year ago laowai123 Unverified User

    providing above documents to the bank will not guarantee you can take out as much money as you want, my personal experience and what banks have told me is that can only take out 50k a year if you have all above documents.

  • 1 year ago The voice of reason Unverified User

    CCB have told me before that despite being able to prove tax paid, USD 50k is the annual maximum. This after transferring significantly more than this the previous year, and with ICBC. They also may ask for a letter from the employer stating that you really do earn the amount displayed on your payslip.

  • 1 year ago imokyoureok

    additional protips for all the sweet summer children out there: you should also take along a 'checkmate, bitch!' packet, 'cause the person on the other side of the glass is gonna move mountians to shut you down. 'cause you two are adversaries, see. This packet includes 1. clear and centered photocopies of your passport's picture page and 2. visa page, 3. a clear and centered photocopy of your work permit (front and back), 4. a letter from your company with company chop and relevant FO's phone number, indicating your annual base, 5. "pays stubs" with company chop showing the amount paid and taxed and that has a timeframe sufficient enought to cover the amount you are trying to transfer; this can also be an ad hoc excel document with company chop, and 6. a signed personal statement, in the local language, indicating the amount and reason for the money transfer.

    also have your recieving account information at the ready: exact name of account holder, account number, full address of bank where account is held, phone number of bank where account is held, bank SWIFT number

    The packet should also include full copies of the documents listed in the article.

    the documents and photocopies in your packet are to be used 'just-in-case'. for the love of pete, don't ever volunteer any document unless its been specifically requested. that would be about the dumbest thing you can do.

    You're also maybe going to have to write certian parts of the application form in han zi, depending on your bank: your residental address and company address and company name and other small things like the hanzi for USdollar or euros and you're country's name: just screen cap that shizz from google translate and chicken scratch it out on the form if you can't write the zhong wenz too good.


  • 1 year ago Donny Who Loved Bowling Unverified User

    Articles about leaving with all the money you can......that speaks volumes on the current state of expat life in China....

  • 1 year ago jackooo124872 Unverified User

    well, just made a large transfer to Europe at ICBC in Shanghai, and no issue at all. And it was above the 50k threshold. As long as you have the papers from the tax office and from your employer, it's all good.
    Just expect to spend some time at the bank, at least 1 hour....

  • 11 months ago Jimkuka1

    Our liason officee (HR) stated that the procedure has changed. You are required to download the Tax Bureau's official App which then allows you to generate a tax certificate. The certificate then allows you to transfer money legally (for whatever amount within your earnings from date started to current). Has anyone got the tax certificate this way?

  • Recent Articles
  • Popular