WFOEs conduct financial services in China on a daily basis. To do this, they need a bank account. There are many options in China regarding banks and bank account types. This article delves into the details.
WFOE’s Bank Accounts
Every entity with a business license in China is legally obligated to open a bank account. Yet possessing a bank account in China has several advantages:
- It delivers a message of business legitimacy and authenticity
- It makes it easier for companies to track expenses and business flow
- Foreign companies are able to make local transactions
- It is necessary for conducting certain financial services in China, such as refund claims (including VAT deductions)
Opening a bank account
After WFOE registration, there is a variety of account types WFOEs in China can choose from, but two are mandatory:
- The Basic RMB Account – this is the account used for daily transactions, money withdrawals and salary payments. Obtaining the opening permit takes approx. 5 business days. Some of the financial transactions in the account can now be performed online.
- The Foreign Capital Account – this is the account to which foreign capital is injected (the capital is converted to RMB so the money is to be used through E-banking in the future). Obtaining the certificates takes approx. 10 business days.
The documents a WFOE must present in order to open a bank account vary between banks and in accordance with entity type. However, the documents most often required are:
- Business license / tax registration certificate / article of association – to prove the company is registered legally.
- The legal representative’s original passport
- Names of the company’s directors and the legal rep (sometimes the legal rep has to be physically present to confirm his or her identification)
- Personal information or a passport copy of the two top-level shareholders (based on the company structure)
- The name and information of the authorized person in the E-banking system (assuming this role is not filled by the legal representative)
- The Company and the Legal Rep Chops (a handwritten signature is less acceptable, as it is easier to forge)
- Information regarding the company’s structure
Local vs. international banks
Bank accounts in China can be opened either in local Chinese banks (such as the Bank of China), or in international banks with branches in China (such as HSBC, Citibank, etc.). Naturally, foreign companies doing business in China usually opt for international banks, although local Chinese banks have three distinct advantages:
- A shorter and easier application process.
- More Chinese companies have local accounts. The considerably larger number of local banks in China enables faster RMB transactions.
- China hasn’t yet granted whole banking transactions rights to foreign banks. In other words, foreign banks may have limited authority.
Canceling a bank account
The biggest challenge of canceling a bank account when closing a company in China is the cancelation process during the continuation of business operation – since business activity has to keep going until the final deregistration.
In order to do that, the first account to be canceled is the foreign capital account. If there are any remaining funds in the account, they can be transferred to the shareholders or the investors.
Only then can the basic RMB account be canceled. Until then, as long as the business activity continues, the bank account remains active.
The bank balance will eventually be returned to the investors, according to the information on the liquidation audit report.
Last updated: May 2021
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