There are two proven, safe methods for transferring money out of China:
- Wire transfer from bank to bank
- Western Union
A wire transfer is often preferable because you can send it directly to your bank account in another country. With Western Union, you must send it to a person, who will pick it up at a Western Union center and can then deposit it into your account.
Keep in mind that the maximum limit you can send overseas each year is the equivalent of $50,000 USD.
*Amounts are shown in USD but can be done in different currencies - just be sure you're sending the proper amount*
For both options there are two steps in the process:
- Convert your RMB to the destination's currency
- Send it to the destination country
Once you have completed step 1, step 2 is very easy. There are a few options for completing step 1:
- As a foreigner, you can convert the equivalent of $500 USD from RMB to foreign currency, each day, without showing tax paperwork. This is usually the simplest way to go about it. Every time you have around that amount in your account, go to the bank and ask for the RMB to be exchanged to USD. You can take it in cash, or some banks will open a USD account you can keep it in.
- As a foreigner, to exchange more than the equivalent of $500 USD at one time you will need to show proof that you paid income tax on the money you are exchanging. Required documents are your working contract and statement from the tax bureau showing the taxes you have paid. Your employer's HR person should be able to help you obtain this.
- A Chinese person can exchange up to the equivalent of $50,000 USD without showing any paperwork. So, if necessary, you could ask a Chinese friend to help you do this.
Step 2, sending the money:
- In most cases, your Chinese bank can wire the money to your overseas account. If the money you have exchanged is being held in a USD account, they will simply send it from that account. If you have cash, you give them the cash and they will wire it. You can expect the wire transfer fee to be around $20 USD.
- To use Western Union, take your foreign currency, in cash, to a China Postal bank. These banks are part of the Western Union network and can complete the transfer. The costs and sending limits will depend on which country you are sending the money to.
Hopefully, this article will demystify the process of sending money from China to the U.S. or to any other country. It may seem complicated but once you have done it a couple of times, you will see that it is really quite simple. Keep in mind that not all banks have English speaking tellers and so even if you are exchanging the money yourself, it may be useful to bring a bilingual friend.