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Brian US

I try to open a bank account because I hate myself

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Brian US

I now find myself living in the harmonious city of Hefei, Anhui. It's been 4 years since I've lived in China and never planned on coming back, so I naturally closed my Bank of China and Construction Bank accounts.

 

I believe Bank of America still has a fee waiver withdrawing cash from China Construction Bank, so I try them first.

 

Round 1 - We can't find your old account information, but you can open a new account. We need you to provide your company expat contract with a pretty red stamp.

Round 2 - That Shanghai SIM card and number you got 2 years ago? No good, you need a local Hefei number.

Round 3 - You are all set, come back in 30 minutes while your application goes through...I'm glad you came back, because now we need your US equivalent of your parents' Hukou and home residence information stating their relationship with you.

 

I try to get around that I am a strong independent man that don't need no parental information, and what if they are dead anyways? No luck, this is a recent requirement that we need from you.

 

Round 4 - Will try another bank and then probably ask my company to help if that doesn't work. At least I'm not turned away for being American and having additional tax requirements.

 

Anyone get by with just their passport recently?

 

 

 

 

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DavyJonesLocker

The parents information I don't understand unless your 8 years old.

 

Same trouble opening an account here in Beijing. Back and forwards several times over idiotic reasons. For example: when I signed my name it wasn't exactly above the horizontal line so form had to be redone . 

During summer I wanted to collect my new credit card from HSBC bank in Beijing. They are a British bank in China. They wouldn't give my card because they said my signature wasn't 100% matching what they had in file. I mean it was ridiculous. They said one letter was sightly angled. I showed them my passport Chinese and British drivers license and I even logged on to my accounts in front of them.

 

After demanding to see the branch manager I finally got it. Zero ability to think for themselves, just blatantly follow a rule. 

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Lu

Now I know why I emptied but didn't close my Bank of China account...

 

Yes, banks are a pest. My guess would be that the bank you tried has little experience dealing with foreigners, hence the 'hukou equivalent': they probably don't even know what it is they need, but are trying to cover all eventualities. On the other hand, my latest experience with a bank was with one that does have a lot of experience dealing with foreigners, but it was probably for that reason that the wait was four hours.

 

My advice:

- Bring all the paperwork, with as many stamps as you can. Bring copies of your parents' passports if you can get them, I guess.

- Plan to spend at least half a day in the bank, possibly more. Bring water, snacks, a book and a fully charged phone.

- Stay polite: the staff can't help it. They are not encouraged to think for themselves and may be badly trained or badly supported.

- But insist. It can often work to just go 那怎么办呢? until a solution is found. Ask for higher-ups. Ask for someone who has more experience with foreigners. Ask politely but do not leave. But be flexible about solutions: keep your end goal in mind, don't try to make a point on principle.

 

Good luck, I'm confident you will succeed eventually!

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roddy

Brian! Good to see you posting! Hope you have many more minor annoyances to share with us!

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yueni

@Brian US If it helps you any, banks in China aren't linked. So accounts opened in Beijing are accounts opened in Beijing and are unrelated to accounts opened elsewhere in the country, even if it's within the same Bank. I still have an open bank account with ICBC and Bank of China... in Beijing. Fat lot of good that did me down here in Shenzhen. The bank reps pretty much just looked at me, and were like "those are Beijing accounts, we don't have access to them". Yeah, I know. I was speechless too.

 

I ended up opening a brand new bank account with a different bank here.

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vellocet

@yueni What did you have to do to open a bank account?  Was this recently, with all the new restrictions? 

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yueni

Holy god, I don't even remember. It was almost 3 years ago. I had my passport, and a bunch of documents furnished by Work to prove that I was legitimately working in China and required a bank account. I might have needed to show my work permit, but I'm not 100% sure, because I don't think the visa-to-work-permit conversion process had completed yet. I didn't need any parental information, but that was back then. Who knows wtf kind of laws they've been passing since then. Also, seems like the process might differ from city to city. I think it's a lot easier in a larger city like Shanghai which has many more foreigners passing through than a city like Hefei which has relatively fewer.

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Brian US

@yueni I didn't know that about bank branches in different cities, and it seems so dated when everyone has a dozen apps on their phone to instantly pay/transfer money.

 

@roddy Good to be back, and it's refreshing (at the same time overwhelming) being in the suburbs of a tier 2/3 city where I get the shocked look from locals on a daily basis.

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Xiao Kui

I feel like "because I hate myself" should be a subforum... 😜

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Brian US

Happy ending with this that I now have a Bank of China account!

 

I had even brought my original birth certificate for Construction Bank's intimate background check into my parents. In the end, all I needed was my passport and a stamped letter from my company confirming my employment.

 

I assume this account is linked to my company, because they said I'd need my company's approval for bank transfers? I didn't quite follow that, because that afternoon I transferred money for rent with the app.

 

Now that's done, my true plan can finally come to fruition. That is to open an account in my parents' names to facilitate my side business of exporting knock-off karaoke machines you can install in your car. Long commute? Get ready to rock out to Bon Jovi's greatest hits!

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Publius
2 hours ago, Brian US said:

I assume this account is linked to my company, because they said I'd need my company's approval for bank transfers? I didn't quite follow that, because that afternoon I transferred money for rent with the app.

Obviously they meant the transfer of the account itself (change of account holder) rather than the money in it.

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imron
4 hours ago, Brian US said:

Long commute?

Whoooaaah you're halfway there.....

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roddy
5 hours ago, Brian US said:

Long commute? Get ready to rock out to Bon Jovi's greatest hits!

With the ability to synchronise across adjacent cars. That's not a traffic jam! It's the massed ranks of the Beijing Taxi Drivers' 邦·乔维 Choir.

 

4 hours ago, Publius said:

Obviously they meant the transfer of the account itself (change of account holder) rather than the money in it.

Would you do that, rather than just open a new account and shift the money across though? I'd imagine its approval needed for larger / international transfers (anything that sets off their money-laundering flags, whatever they are). 

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Lu
1 hour ago, imron said:

Whoooaaah you're halfway there.....

This made me literally laugh out loud 😄

 

And yes to the synchonisation function!! Why has nobody thought of that before?

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ChTTay

Wow, Bank of construction sounds tough! 

 

It can vary A LOT between branches of the same bank and who you get on the day. 

 

It took me 1 hour with a clerk in a Bank of China to change my address. Then a few weeks later I went to a different branch to change my number (I could hack doing it the first time after I’d been there 90 minutes already) and it took 2 minutes. 

 

My friend and colleague tried to transfer money from our work account to an with another bank using an ATM. He couldn’t do it as it kept saying some error message. We went to ask and they gave him a form to fill in to enable that function. I went back a month later and wanted the exact same thing. I was told it’s not possible to do that. I asked why and was told that it isn’t possible. You cannot do it. This thing doesn’t exist! I said I’d done it before with a friend in that very bank. I asked why the ATM even has that option... “it’s not possible”. 

 

Another friend wanted to transfer money abroad. For that you need some proof of tax stuff, letter confirming you work at your place of employment, a contract, passport. The bank he chose told him they couldn’t do it as his contract was in English. However, he had done it before in that exact bank using his contract. Despite that they said another branch of their bank may be able to. He went to another branch and they said They couldn’t do it but their main branch could. He went there a week or so later and they said they cannot do it. They even called someone to check (so they say) and they would need a Chinese contract. We went to ICBC and checked if they could do a transfer. The very helpful chap took the documents away and, 5 minutes later, came back and confirmed t was fine. Forms were filled and amounts confirmed. All was ready to go with the transfer until my friend realised he didn’t have his ICBC card with him. 

 

A friend’s apartment ran out of electricity. He couldn’t find the card (it was too dark!). He went down to the bank that he usually goes to to “top Up” to see if there was any way they could help. They just said there isn’t anyway they can help him, he must have the card. He tried various ways of asking but no dice. He eventually just said...  is there anyway I can pay for electricity? Not in this bank, but generally. They just kept barking on about needing the card. This dance went on for 15 enraging minutes. Eventually he walked outside and saw his original letting agent. He vented at him for a minute before the agent just pulled out his phone and helped him top up on Alipay. This just made my friend even more exasperated as no one in the bank could think to just suggest this as an available method. 

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DavyJonesLocker
34 minutes ago, ChTTay said:

A friend’s apartment ran out of electricity. He couldn’t find the card (it was too dark!). He went down to the bank that he usually goes to to “top Up” to see if there was any way they could help.

 

I made the mistake of running out of water during the first few months when I came to China. The 物业 was closed at 5pm and this was around 7. No water until the next day. Not so bad ..... until you want to use the toilet🙈

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ChTTay

I live fairly far out of the centre of Beijing. We needed water as well but hadn’t run out completely. I was told only I could only go to this one bank to do it. I looked online and there were 3 branches nearby. I had to ask for leave from work to go. The first branch told me they couldn’t do it as the system was down and they had no idea when it would be back. The second branch didn’t exist anymore. I happened to pass by another branch one day within the centre of Beijing. They told me only branches near my apartment could do it. I finally went to the one remaining branch that was an option and bought a shed load of water. 

 

Ugh. 

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imron
7 hours ago, DavyJonesLocker said:

No water until the next day.

This is why you need to keep buckets in your sink under the taps :mrgreen:

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大肚男

I don't Chinese banks are horrible to foreigners only.

 

Last time we were in China,and my wife wanted to get a replacement card for her bank account that she opened before leaving China, so she can link it to her WeChat accpunt.

 

She had everything with here, her Chinese I'd, her passport, and even the red book that shows your balance and transaction.

 

It took over 2 hours to finally get it done. What a nightmare.

 

I can only imagine what would have happened if she didn't have all the required documents.

 

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dtcamero

i remember going to the bank in ireland with my grandfather as a child 30 years ago, and all the banks were basically the same.

you would plan to spend 30 minutes minimum, no matter what had to be done.

similarly it was tons of gov't bureaucratic meddling that made the experience into a purgatory.

i think china will get past this eventually too, but it is really like a time warp using mainland banks, sitting in those waiting rooms endlessly watching pixellated red letter/number combinations, listening to the creaky robotic voice. 

 

I never had more than a tourist visa, which may be why my experience is different... but I created two bank accounts in Nanjing and Shanghai with 招商银行 and they never asked for anything more than my passport...

by comparison registering my residence at the 派出所 was waaaay more difficult. talk about doing masochistic busywork because you hate yourself

 

and just a rant on the side, at the 派出所 whether you're sitting or standing, there is a metal bar in the glass exactly where you would be trying to look at the apparatchik policeperson. 

if you stand over it they'll be too low, so it forces you to crouch down into this uncomfortable position (even if you're sitting) in order to talk to them. 

i'm convinced now that this is an intentional part of the design to force people to crouch into a kowtow for said apparatchik.

so its not just that you have to beg these rude bureaucrats for your mundane business while they verbally abuse you, you also have to do it in a half-genuflection, kissing the chinese government's ring as a daily ritual of recognizing the powers that let you go about your business without landing in a reeducation camp.

and stuff like that is kind of everywhere... it's pretty dark but you just filter most of it out after living there for a while i guess.

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