Tag Archive Incorp China

Profit Repatriation: How to Get Your Money Out of China

As China’s economy continues to grow, it appears to foreign companies as an increasingly attractive place to do business. China is the only major economy to have grown during 2020, a year remembered by many for the coronavirus pandemic and concomitant economic recession. But as foreign businesses invest in the China, a growing number of them are also looking for the most efficient way to bring their profits back home. 

The rules for repatriating funds are different for individuals and companies, regarding both the preconditions one must meet and limits on the amount transferred. Here, we will can compare the regulations for companies and people:

For Companies

There are three methods by which a Wholly Foreign Owned Enterprise (WFOE) can remit its profits across borders: paying dividends, intercompany payments, or granting loans to a related foreign firm.

Repatriation with dividends

Transferring profits through dividend payments can only be done once the follow conditions have been met:

  1. You have paid the corporate income tax of 25%.
  2. The annual audit report has been completed.
  3. Accumulated losses from previous years have been recovered.
  4. All registered income has been included into the WFOE.
  5. 10% of the WFOE’s after-tax profits have been put into a mandatory surplus fund. (This is not necessary if the fund has already reached 50% of registered capital).

Intercompany payments

A WFOE can repatriate money to the parent company by including such funds in intercompany transactions. However, this method is a trade-off: because cash transfers of this nature face fewer preconditions, they may face heightened scrutiny from Chinese officials, necessitating thorough record-keeping on your part.

Loans to related foreign company

A WFOE can also extend loans to a related foreign business. A maximum of 30% of the parent company’s equity can be extended if both companies have an equity sharing relationship, have been established for at least a year, and comply with foreign exchange rules.

For Individuals

Most individuals who have a legitimate employment contract and duly pay their taxes will not find it very troublesome to repatriate their earnings back home. Methods differ slightly depending on the size of the amount being repatriated.

Small amounts

Any amount smaller than RMB 200,000 is allowed to be carried on your person as you leave China, while sums exceeding that figure have to be declared as you transit through customs. If you are leaving on short notice, keep in mind that foreign nationals have a withdraw limit of only US$500 per day.

Large amounts
Those sending larger amounts our of country must supply their bank with their employment contract, valid identification, payslips, work permit, and tax payment documents (including Tax Identification Number).

Once all necessary documents are received, the bank will make an application to China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE), which exercises strict control on money entering and exiting the country. Once the application is accepted, the predetermined sum of money can be transferred to a foreign account of your choice. This can be done by the bank itself or a wiring service, such as Western Union.

Choosing the right method for you

All methods of profit repatriation in China are fluid and frequently changing.  They are different from province to province, city to city, and sometimes even vary between local district within the same city. To find the best plan for you, it would be best for us to provide a complimentary consult to clearly understand your needs.

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WeChat: What is it and Why is it so Popular in China?

WeChat. It allows Chinese people to make payments, install other apps, and even write micro-blogs. Despite its popularity in the Chinese mainland, it is not often used in other countries for privacy issues. However, let’s get started with the fundamental question:

What is WeChat?

WeChat (微信) is a Chinese multi-purpose app developed by Tencent. First released in 2011, it has become the most popular app in China due to its numerous functions, despite it initially only sending instant messages. Why did WeChat grow so rapidly in popularity? The answer is simple: as an all-inclusive app which has no competition in mainland China, WeChat is the dream of every developer. WeChat’s ubiquity in Chinese society makes it a necessity for anyone even visiting for a short time, so make sure to download the app once you’re in China, otherwise you might not even be able to pay a taxi driver.

WeChat data statistics and insights - most popular app in China - 2019

Figure 1 Share of mobile users using the leading social media platforms in China as of October 2019

The poll above shows that in 2019, 73.7% of Chinese netizens frequently used WeChat, a percentage that can only have since increased, especially since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic has make virtual transactions so necessary. Furthermore, in addition to being sponsored by the Chinese government, China’s youth tend to use WeChat to buy music online. Some may think that there is no need for WeChat because other apps could take its place.
But remember to keep in mind the “Great Firewall”, that blocks Facebook, Google, Twitter and WhatsApp. As the versatility of WeChat grew, the need for other social media apps dropped. Instead of a messaging app like WhatsApp, the Chinese netizens have opted for WeChat; instead of Google Pay, they have opted for WeChat pay, and so on. That’s why and how the app developed by Tencent has become an all-inclusive dominant super-app for the Chinese users.

How safe is WeChat?

Unfortunately, this question has no easy answer. According to Tencent, the company does not track or store users’ data, as long as the Chinese authorities do not solicit such information.  For foreign and Chinese users, the situation might be different: “Overseas Users” are not obliged to follow the strict regulations applied to Chinese users. For example, a Chinese user can not receive a message containing sensitive words such as “Free Tibet”; in other words, the app monitors the messages and censors some keywords which might be perceived as threatening by the political regime. Therefore, foreigners can talk to each other about sensitive topics, such as the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, but the same messages can not be received by Chinese netizens.

How Safe is a WeChat account?

In order to get a WeChat account, one only has to register and join the app with a username and a password, thus your account is safe as long as you choose an effective password and you frequently change it. The management of data is a little bit more troublesome: all conversation history is stored locally on your device, which implies that if you change your phone you will have to manually transfer the data to your new device. But why is this troublesome? WeChat doesn’t provide users with end-to-end encryption but with transport encryption. The end-to-end encryption is widely used by western messaging apps and it allows only the sender and the receiver to see the message; whereas the messages sent with transport encryption might be read by third parties. Even though Tencent claimed that all messages, once delivered, are deleted on the server, they still are on your mobile. According to Chinese law, apps, blogs and online forums are accountable for the content of their website which includes what users have written, so were the government to ask, WeChat would hand them your data.

Is WeChat Pay safe?

Users’ credit or debit card  information is stored in a secure server. However, WeChat Pay works only in mainland China and few other countries. WeChat pay is the most popular payment method in China and it requires you to link a source of credit or (just for users with a Chinese bank account) debit card. You can send red envelope (hongbao), transfer money and pay for your groceries with WeChat Pay—no surprise that the app has come to be the emblem of China’s cashless society.

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How To Open a Bank Account in China

Planning to operate a wholly foreign-owned enterprise business in China, whether it be a small business, a global company, or even a Fortune 500 company, can be fairly effortful. It is essential to take all the precautions needed to for your business to be successfully established. Once you acquire a business license, there are more steps to be taken further, such as, opening a bank account in China, to assist your business affairs. Although this step is necessary and can sound simple, opening an account in China can be challenging, especially recently, as the regulations became more stringent.

As of April 2020, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) have made it obligatory to follow high level of analysis during the Know Your Customer (KYC) process. Because of this, the PBOC have ordered that all banks not only to oversee business activities, including financial transactions, but also to induct a few other conditions such as investigating your other bank accounts in addition to dormant accounts, seek capital transitions, examine times of transactions as well as suspicious or abnormal activities, restrict pay outs and limit online banking transactions.

In order to open a bank account in China, one must acquire a few essential documents including:

  • Ownership certificate (lease contract or site certificate) 
  • Proof of utility or rent transfer voucher for the past month (must resonate with lease contract)
  • Original copy of company business license (official seal, financial seal, private seal of legal person) 
  • Original copy of ID card and company associated documents of the legal person

As the process of opening a bank in China can be lengthy and challenging, China banks advise that a legal representative is present in China through the process. Due to the travel bans, banks in China have made an exception in video applications, if all is well the bank will then approve of the proposed bank account. Aside from all of these processes, the person representing the company applying for the account will have to visit the bank with additional documents. The bank will then call and confirm the opening of the account. 

Additionally, various Chinese commercial banks are trying their best to aid new clients with alternate solutions such as organizing a virtual interview (with notarized documents from the Chinese Consulate or Embassy) to make the process more manageable. 

The challenges involved in setting up a WOFE can be interminable and demanding, feel free to reach out to us for a consultation!

+1 561 729 6508 | [email protected]

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