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Top 3 Money Transfer Providers for UK to China

Provider Amount Received Fee Exchange Rate Speed
Azimo Azimo 1,808.36 £0.00 9.0418 1-5 days more...
WorldFirst WorldFirst 1,828.57 £0.00 9.1429 1-3 days more...
Global Reach (formerly FC Exchange) Global Reach (formerly FC Exchange) 1,719.69 £10.00 8.5984 1-3 days more...
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UK
There are no exchange controls in the UK for the pound sterling (GBP), and transferring money to the UK and sending money from the UK is very easy Read More
CHINA
In many cases, local foreign currency controls make it difficult to send money to China or to send money from China Read More
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China Money Transfer Guide

Daniel Webber
Daniel is Founder and CEO of FXcompared and has 18 years of experience in the international finance world focusing on cross-border payments, technology and the property sectors. Daniel is widely quoted as an expert within the money transfer industry including by The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, CNBC and Bloomberg. Daniel is passionate about helping consumers and businesses find the best and most efficient ways to transfer money internationally.

Contents

Summary

In many cases, local foreign currency controls make it difficult to send money to China or to send money from China. Individuals are allowed to exchange renminbi (RMB) up to a value of US$50,000 into foreign currency per year. Larger transfers of money out of China are possible in many cases, including foreign tuition fees, medical or institutional membership fees, or family remittances, but approval is required from the monetary authorities.

China’s Money Transfer Regulations

A number of restrictions apply to capital account transfers, which include foreign direct investment (FDI) and stock market investment. The authorities have pledged to loosen controls on capital account transactions as part of China’s effort to open up its financial system, but progress has been slow. Restrictions vary according to the type of investor, including both private and institutional investors, so we recommend consulting the relevant guidelines from the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE), which regulates the FX sector.

Foreign firms invested in China no longer need pre-approval to open accounts in foreign currencies and may hold income in foreign exchange or convert it freely to renminbi. In the past, capital account transfers required case-by-case approval from SAFE, but specific forex banks now review and execute these settlements. China caps the amount of foreign debt that companies are allowed to hold, and foreign firms are required to report their forex balance annually.

However, the central bank announced new rules in April 2014 that should make capital movement easier. Under the new rules, domestic and foreign firms with a minimum of US$100m in annual foreign exchange income will be able to transfer large sums more freely, a move that authorities hope will encourage more direct investment in China and increase the international use of the currency. The renminbi entered the top ten most traded currency globally in 2013, and has managed to hold this position for more than five years – when moving into 2019, it was still the eighth most traded currency in the world.

Despite the gradual loosening of foreign exchange controls, further liberalisation is clearly necessary if the Chinese authorities are to realise a goal of turning the renminbi into a global reserve and settlement currency. However, while restrictions persist on renminbi held domestically, renminbi held offshore in Hong Kong, whose economy operates independently of mainland China, as well as Taiwan and Singapore are subject to much lighter control. While not legal tender, renminbi accounts can be held in Hong Kong, and it is easily convertible, with daily spot trade in offshore renminbi (CNH) reaching around $4bn in 2014 from zero in 2010, according to Deutsche Bank. This continued to offer growth between 2014 and 2019, hitting a daily spot rate of more than 7.01 to the US dollar from mid-2019 onwards. Because onshore renminbi are so restricted, CNH can have a different value, often attracting a premium due to their easy convertibility. There are no restrictions on transferring renminbi between offshore accounts, converting CNH to other currencies, or remitting renminbi onshore for trade settlement purposes (though transfers onshore for other purposes are subject to regulatory approval).

Trading With China

Most trade with Chinese suppliers is settled in USD, though euros are also common for sales. The swap deals agreed in recent years by the central bank, the People’s Bank of China (PBC), with countries including the UK, Japan, Hong Kong, Australia and Brazil have enabled firms to settle trade in local currencies rather than in US dollars. Some companies are beginning to move to renminbi as discounts can be negotiated with suppliers. However, Chinese companies seem reluctant to move away from USD to RMB, fearing that this might jeopardise their export rebates.

All importers in China need to apply to SAFE for foreign currency when an export transaction takes place. The company needs to provide documents such as contracts, invoices and tax clearance/exemption certificates, before converting renminbi into the appropriate foreign currency for settlement of overseas invoices. This tends to lead to a delay in payment, so trading in renminbi would be faster.

By September 2018, the UK had become the largest trader in renminbi outside of Greater China.

China’s Regulatory Authority

The PBC manages and regulates the financial sector. It drafts laws and regulations related to the financial system, sets national monetary policy, and sets the acceptable daily exchange rate spectrum for the yuan renminbi. The central bank also regulates the banking and foreign exchange markets and ensures overall financial stability.

A separate body under the PBC umbrella, the China Banking Regulatory Commission, conducts direct supervision and guidance in the banking sector, including administration of the supervisory boards of the major public banks. The State Administration of Foreign Exchange has direct oversight over the foreign exchange market.

China has drawn international criticism, particularly from the US, accusing it of manipulating its currency in order to achieve its domestic monetary goals. On various occasions in recent years, monetary authorities are considered to have devalued the yuan in order to make Chinese exports more competitive and encourage capital inflows. So-called currency manipulation continues to be a key point of contention in bilateral strategic and economic talks with the US.

China’s Economic Background

China has witnessed remarkable economic growth in the last 30 years. Its GDP increased tenfold between 1978 and 2013, making China the world’s largest exporter, and the second-largest economy after the US in 2013. However, from 2014 to 2017, India usurped China as the fastest-growing economy in the world. On top of this, a trade war has led to the Chinese economy slowing down its growth since 2018, and new market restrictions could have a significant impact on how China manages its growth over the next five years. China is one of the last remaining Communist governments, but the country is slowly moving away from its centrally planned economic system in favour of free-market principles.

The government has gradually relaxed its foreign exchange policy in recent years as China opened up to the global economy. In 2005, the central bank removed the renminbi’s historic peg to the US dollar (USD) and adopted an exchange rate system that references a basket of currencies. China returned to its dollar peg in the early years of the global economic crisis, but reverted to its managed float system in June 2010.

Currency

China’s currency, the yuan renminbi (RMB), is issued by the People’s Bank of China. The currency symbols CNY and CN are also frequently used. Banknotes are issued in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 yuan. Both coins and notes are available in denominations of 1 and 5 jiao (1/10 of a yuan) and CN1. Offshore renminbi are known as CNH.

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Top 8 Money Transfer Providers

Exchange Rates as of 21 October 2019, 16:19
Bank Beating Rates

TorFX

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Est. 2004

Bank-beating FX rates | Safe and secure | Free transfers for FXcompared customers

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Bank-beating FX rates | Safe and secure | Free transfers for FXcompared customers

Bank Beating Rates

Currencies Direct

Call us0203 018 1318

Bank-beating FX rates | Safe and secure | Free transfers for FXcompared customers

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Bank-beating FX rates | Safe and secure | Free transfers for FXcompared customers

OFX (UK)

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Est. 1998

OFX (previously UKForex in the UK), provides secure and speedy international money transfers to over 300,000 people in 55 currencies at better-than-bank rates

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OFX (previously UKForex in the UK), provides secure and speedy international money transfers to over 300,000 people in 55 currencies at better-than-bank rates

WorldFirst

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Est. 2004

Transparency and security | Great customer feedback rating from Feefo

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Transparency and security | Great customer feedback rating from Feefo

Moneycorp

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Est. 1979

One-off payments | Regular payments | Great rates | Safeguarded customer funds

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One-off payments | Regular payments | Great rates | Safeguarded customer funds

Currency Solutions

Currency exchange specialists ranking No.1 on Trustpilot for the past two years

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Currency exchange specialists ranking No.1 on Trustpilot for the past two years

Special offer

InstaReM

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Est. 2014

Use code FXINSTA10 and get a Bonus of the equivalent to $10 on your first transaction

Headquartered in Singapore, InstaReM offers overseas money transfer service maintaining transparency in transactions by displaying an accurate break-out of transactions.

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Headquartered in Singapore, InstaReM offers overseas money transfer service maintaining transparency in transactions by displaying an accurate break-out of transactions.

Smart Currency Exchange

Smart is focused on helping clients to effectively and efficiently send and receive payments internationally
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Smart is focused on helping clients to effectively and efficiently send and receive payments internationally

FXcompared.com is an fx money comparison site for international money transfer and to compare rates from currency brokers for sending money abroad. The website and the information provided is for informational purposes only and does not constitute an offer, solicitation or advice on any financial service or transaction. None of the information presented is intended to form the basis for any investment decision, and no specific recommendations are intended.  FXC Group Ltd and FX Compared Ltd does not provide any guarantees of any data from third parties listed on this website. FX compared Ltd expressly disclaims any and all responsibility for any direct or consequential loss or damage of any kind whatsoever arising directly or indirectly from (i) any error, omission or inaccuracy in any such information or (ii) any action resulting therefrom.