It is advisable to bring some cash with you to get you started once you arrive in China. Shop around in your home country to compare which of the various money exchange companies can offer you the best rate (in the UK, Money Saving Expert’s currency comparison is a good website!).
China is a more cash-based society than you may be used to, and you will get used to carrying around more cash than you would have back at home. Bear in mind that the largest bank note available is 100 Yuan, so if you exchange a few hundred pounds you will be given a sizeable chunk of notes in return!
Plan for Costs During Your First Month in China
Plan for your first month in China. Remember that unless your accommodation will be provided by the school, you will likely need to pay your first month’s rent, plus a deposit equal to another one or two months’ worth of rent.
Even if your accommodation will be provided, you should consider living costs until your first pay check, plus an emergency fund. A credit card, for emergencies, can come in handy for this.
Setting up a Bank Account
When you come to China, life will be far more convenient if you open a Chinese bank account. The majority of schools have a member of staff who will be happy to assist you. Opening a Chinese bank account is actually not the nightmare you might expect. If you head to a branch located in the city’s business or university district, they are more likely to have a bilingual member of staff to help.
The only document required for a basic account is your passport; you need neither proof of address nor proof of income. When you enter the bank, head for an information desk and ask to open an account. They will give you a bilingual form.
One thing you should pay attention to is the name; ensure that your name on the form matches the name on your passport exactly, otherwise there’s a small chance that money won’t get through for the computer system will regard the wrong name as another account. Remember to request internet or mobile banking if you’d like these services. Your first deposit only needs to be small; 10 RMB for minimum. Some banks charge 15 RMB for the cost of the ATM card. Whenever you get the card, you will be asked to set a six digit pin.
It is not hard to find an ATM machine in Chinese cities but in mountain villages and other remote areas ATMs are few and far between.
Major banks will take your international ATM card from back home, but not all local banks. When you first get here, be prepared to go to a few banks before you can withdraw money from your home bank account.
As long as your ATM card has the Cirrus or Plus sign on it and the ATM machine in China also displays the same symbol you should be able to withdraw money from your home account. You will receive funds in RMB, of course!
Please check with your bank before you leave home to find out how much they will charge you for withdrawing money. It is generally cheaper (and sometimes free) to take out money from an ATM using a credit card rather than a debit card, so this may also be something you wish to consider and research before your departure.
Most international credit cards are accepted in China. However, credit cards are only accepted at large hotels, department stores, large chain restaurants, etc. The most readily accepted credit cards in China are Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Diner’s Club, and the JCB card of Japan.
Websites of the 4 Main Banks in China:
Agricultural Bank of China
Bank of China
China Construction Bank
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China
Tax Rate Chart (translated from http://www.tax.sh.gov.cn/pub/ssxc/zlzy/zcgll/grsds/200903/t20090331_283354.html)
Income Tax for Foreigners in China
Taxable Income = ( Total Income – Initial Deduction* – Tax Deductible Allowance** )
Tax Payable = ( Taxable Income x Tax Rate ) – Deduction
* Initial deduction is RMB 4,800 for foreigners.
** Tax Deductible Allowance includes rental, food and travel expenses, etc. as determined by your company’s Finance/HR department. You will need to get fapiao (发票) (official invoices) for these figures to qualify as your Tax Deductible Allowance.