How to get money out of China (2019)

If you’re a foreigner living in China, you probably have had a hell of a time sending money you earn here back home. Unless you can get a financially savvy Chinese speaking friend to help you in dealing with the bank, you may have to find other ways of doing it. They don’t make it too easy, and that’s by design of course. It’s one of the more annoying parts about being a laowai.

Here I will give you step-by-step instructions on how to send your money home by yourself, without needing to speak Chinese, and totally legally. This method works for ICBC, Bank of Beijing, or any account linked to a UnionPay card.


Firstly, you’ll need to enable online banking if you haven’t already. Unfortunately this means a trip to your bank, but as long as you can communicate what you want, the process is fairly straightforward.

Print out this text, and then show it to the bank assistant

提示信息:您的银行卡尚未注册我行网银,请您携带本人有效身份证件、银行卡到我行柜面开通网银后重新操作。点击详情
Tip Message: Your bank card has not been registered with our online banking, please bring your valid ID and bank card to our branch to open the network after the re-operation. Click for Details.

It’s an error message that pops up when you try to make an online transaction when online banking has not yet been enabled for your account. They’ll know what your problem is.

If you want to be extra-clear, you can also combine it with something like:

请帮助我启用网上银行
Please help me to enable online banking.

The clerk will take you through the process. It takes a long time, and don’t forget to bring your passport and your phone.


Once you have enabled online banking, you should sign up to uphold.com. On this site, you can make deposits in 35+ currencies including Chinese Yuan, and withdrawals in most major word currencies including cryptocurrencies.

Uphold stores your assets in digital “Cards”, and you have a card for each currency you use. You’ll probably have USD, EUR and BTC as defaults, but you can add RMB manually. You can do this from your dashboard.

Add a virtual card for your RMB deposits from the user dashboard

Click on your newly created card, and then on the “Add funds” tab on the top right of the screen.

You’ll see a list of all the different methods you can use to fund your virtual card, including China UnionPay. When you click that option, you’ll specify the amount, then follow the steps on the next screen (particular to your bank). This may or may not involve installing the banks browser extension, and receiving an SMS verification code.

Once you have deposited the funds, it’s quite simple to withdraw. From the “Use Funds” tab, select where you’d like to withdraw to.

Transfer to Bank Account or buy Cryptocurrency with your RMB

Unfortunately, there is a pretty low daily funding limit which you can read about here- so that will make it impossible to make large deposits when you first open your account. You can apply for increased limits here.

And it’s as simple as that. Easy once you know how.