International transfers to a Bank of China account

This information is accurate at the time of writing, April 2020.

So I wanted to transfer money from the UK to my Bank of China account, in China.

China does not use IBAN (International Bank Account Number).

And no matter which branch you open your account at, all international payments arrive at one specified provincial bank. If you go into your local branch, the branch you opened your account at, they’ll give you all the details you need for the international transfer. So for example, my Bank of China account was opened in Dali prefecture. However, for the purposes of international transfer, I have to provide the details (BIC/SWIFT Code, bank name and address) of a bank in the provincial capital of Kunming.

So the information you give the UK / US bank would look something like:

Your name*
Your home address in China, the one you gave to the Bank of China when opening your account
Your account number
Bank code (BIC/SWIFT) (for example for all Bank of China banks in Yunnan province this is BKCHCNBJ640)
Bank name (eg. Bank of China)
Bank address (NOT your local branch, but the address of the provincial branch that deals with international transfers, so for Yunnan that would be the Bank of China at 448 Beijing Road, Kunming) **

The UK bank said to allow three days for the money to arrive, but it was transferred almost instantly, as far as I can work out (it’s confusing with the time difference) it was definitely within a few hours.

Once the money has arrived in your account, you will likely get a call from the bank asking what the payment is for. For example, as my money was coming from a company they wanted to know what kind of work I was getting paid for, and wanted to see a contract and invoice before they would release the money into my account. I had to show them this in person – however, for subsequent payments from the same company, I just had to send them invoices by email.

Notes:

* Using a foreign name with a Chinese bank account is tricky because they get confused about which is your last name. I’ve had trouble transferring money before because my last name was entered as my first name, and even because all the letters were not capitalised. You have to write the name exactly as it appears on your bank statement.

** At a guess, the reason that all payments run through one provincial account is to make sure there are no money laundering or other legal issues involved.

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