Tenwest Mandarin School


RMB to dollars to US

JJ and Janice (324 posts) • 0

Any good advice on converting RMB to dollars and then wire transfer to the US. Have received lots of conflicting thoughts - - several from bank employees. Have been to Bank of China, Bank of Communication and ICBC (have accounts at all)

Appreciate any thoughts

vexed (31 posts) • 0


A little different but I've converted RMB to Pounds Sterling then transferred before.

Essentially, you need a Chinese person for some part of the process (either the changing of currency or the actual transfer of funds to your account - I can't remember which). It seemed to me like Bank of China was the only place that could do this. I took my Chinese girlfriend, who had to open up a bank of China account, and it took about 30mins to sort it all out.

All in all it takes lot of paperwork, needless stamping, begrudging bankers and a bucket load of patience. I did mine up at the Bank of China near Beichen Zhonglu.

Hope that helps.

tigertiger - moderator (5080 posts) • 0

Western Union does operate in China, I think connected to China Post.
I am not sure if they operate in Kunming. I also do not know if you will get a good exchange rate, or what transfer fees are like.

AlexKMG (2361 posts) • 0

I recommend Bank of China. I think only they can do overseas remittance, and you have to go to larger one Beijing Lu I think.

Once there, I was able to present cash and try to wire funds to an account in HK. However, the transaction was denied by the bank officer since they inquired about what type of account it was. Seems you can only wire money out to educational institutions or a personal account (can be yours or a friends). No other types of institutions. This was for HK but I would think it's the same for other places.

Also, of course there is probably some sort of annual outbound limit, as they record the transaction in their system, and they sent me to another officer to make sure my cancelled transaction was removed from their system. Otherwise, it would of counted against the limit. Don't remember what the limits were.

Yuanyangren (297 posts) • 0

@vexed, wrong, you don't need a Chinese person, I've done it myself through my own Bank of China account.

The only reason you might want a local to accompany you is if you don't speak enough Chinese to make your needs understood by the staff.

Basically there is a limit of USD 500 or equivalent that can be converted per day from Yuan into foreign currency - this limit applies to all persons irrespective of nationality and is a Chinese government law designed to reduce the possibility of capital flight. If you need to send more than that, you'll have to come in every day to convert more currency into your desired foreign currency prior to making a telegraphic transfer (also known as a wire transfer) request, which costs around 200 Yuan (which is almost twice as expensive than sending money from Europe or Australia to China or any other country for example). I believe that if you send money first to Hong Kong and then from there to another country the USD 500 per day limit does not apply, but in order to do that, you'd need a bank account or broker based in Hong Kong to help you, which makes little sense unless you are making regular transfers of large amounts.

So, in order to send say USD 2,000 from mainland China to the USA you'll need to come into the Bank of China 4 times (on 4 different days) and convert the money into USD, USD 500 at a time, which will be in the form of a USD account since it is still not possible to send RMB out of China electronically (though it is possible to wire RMB into China).

On the 4th day, you make a wire transfer request and the RMB 200 fee will be deducted from your account. The funds should be available in your US account within 1-2 business days.

Yuanyangren (297 posts) • 0

@tigertiger, western union has plenty of offices in Kunming, however, the reason for going to make a wire transfer through a Bank of China branch outweigh the reasons for using western union in my opinion simply because western union charges much higher fees.

Even though the Bank of China charges RMB 200 (or about US$32) per transfer, compared to only AUD 20 (about US$ 21) from an Australian account to any other country or CHF 20 (about US $22) from a Swiss account to any other country, I'm pretty sure that the Bank of China fee is lower than the western union transfer fee, which depends on the amount of money sent.

Whereas a bank's wire (or telegraphic) transfer fee is always fixed at a certain amount for transfers up to the daily limit (usually US$ 10,000 or up to US$ 50,000 depending on the origin bank and country).

tigertiger - moderator (5080 posts) • 0

You can exchange and wire more than $500 per day. But you need a valid reason. My Chinese wife (like many other parents) will wire several thousand dollars to her child in university overseas, for fees and living. She has also wired money to me whilst overseas, exceeding $500. These are private and not business transaction.
It is possible that the $500 limit is on exchange in China, for cash, and/or at the bank counter.

Smiletome (14 posts) • 0

I use Bank of China, No.1 for international remittance in China. Plus I have a friend works there. Go the head office of Bank of China locates at the crossing of beijinglu and renmindong lu. RMB200+ to USA, RMB130+ to HK.

I have seen a sign of Western Union from pudong development bank, haven't tried it in China.

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