top of page

SOP for Foreigners to Obtain a Debit Card in China

China, with its flourishing economy and rapid technological advancement, has become a major hub for expatriates, tourists, and business professionals. As a foreigner in China, having access to a local banking system can greatly enhance the ease of your stay. One of the fundamental banking services to consider is acquiring a debit card. This article lays down a clear and concise Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for foreigners to obtain a debit card in China.

1. Required Materials

  1. Valid passport with a valid Chinese visa or residence permit.

  2. Your residence address (either in Chinese or in English)

  3. Contact details, a local Chinese phone number (verified with your passport)

  4. TIN: Tax identification number in your home country (if you have the tax card, take it with you)

2. Procedure: (usually takes 2-3 hours)

  1. Select a bank: We highly recommend Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, ICBC. It is nearby the Mandarin school in Shanghai. Other Popular banks for foreigners include Bank of China (BOC), China Construction Bank (CCB), and China Merchants Bank (CMB).

  2. Go to the branch and present your passport

  3. Fill out application forms: Information needs:

    1. Basic information: surname, given name, date of birth, place of birth, passport number and etc (should be the same as your passport stated)

    2. Your TIN number and TIN country

    3. Home address: usually on your contract (fill in English or just show the clerk about the Chinese address and ask them to help you fill in it)

Ask the staff for help, especially if the forms are in Chinese.

  1. Set your Password number (6 digits) and will ask you repeat it again.

  2. Some banks may require an initial deposit to open the account. This amount varies by bank. ICBC requires 10 RMB in cash.

  3. Sign on the e-pad

  4. Set Up Mobile Banking (Optional)

  5. Sign documents for security notifications (the document is in Chinese)

  6. Receive the Debit Card

After completing the process, you will receive your debit card. Some banks issue and validate it immediately, while ICBC issues it immediately but validate it later. You will receive a phone call from the bank within the 10 days after you open the account. The bank will help you validate your account through the phone number. DON’T MISS IT!!! or you need go to bank once again.

3. Post-Procedure Considerations

  1. ATM Usage: Ensure you are aware of any fees associated with using ATMs, especially those not belonging to your bank.

  2. Online Transactions: Ask the bank if your card is enabled for online transactions. Some may require additional setup or activation for online shopping.

  3. Lost or Stolen Cards: Report immediately to your bank if your card is lost or stolen.Familiarize yourself with the bank's helpline or emergency contact numbers.

  4. Account Maintenance: Some banks might require a minimum balance or might have fees associated with low balances. Stay informed about these conditions to avoid unexpected fees.

  5. Validity and Renewal: Be aware of the expiration date on your debit card and the process for renewal.

4. Notifications

  1. Some bank may say you cannot get your bank card because you are short-term visa. Just let them know you will extend your visa and you need it for pocket money

  2. The purpose of getting a card is: daily expense, consuming and etc.

  3. Sometimes the name on the visa is reversed. For example, the name on the passport is Tom Hay but the name on the visa is Hay Tom. When you combine the bank card with your WeChat Pay/Alipay, maybe you need to put the name as the visa stated.

  4. If you have some specific letter in your name like Ö, the name on your visa maybe OE. When you combine the bank card with your WeChat Pay/Alipay, maybe you need to put the name as the visa stated.

  5. Sometimes the phone number may show Not Valid by Passport in the bank system. It would be better for you to take the invoice you get from where you get your phone number.

This SOP provides a structured process for foreigners to obtain a debit card in China. Always adhere to the requirements set by individual banks and consult with bank representatives for any queries or clarifications. Regulations, and procedures can change over time. Make sure to stay updated with any new requirements or processes by checking with your chosen bank or the local Chinese banking authorities.

With the above steps, obtaining a debit card in China should be a straightforward process for foreigners. The key is to be well-prepared with necessary documents and to select a bank that aligns with your needs. Remember, having a local debit card not only eases transactions but also integrates you more into the local culture and lifestyle.

If you're interested in learning more about Chinese culture and experiencing it firsthand by coming to China, please don't hesitate to reach out to Wanderlust. We're here to help you embark on your own incredible journey of cultural exchange and discovery.


Wanderlust Exchange encourages the exploration of self-awareness and personal development , and fostering of global understanding. We desire to bridge cultural divide and contribute to build the world with more trust, understanding and diversity among all.

76 views0 comments


bottom of page