China NRA Account: Opening the Door to the Financial Market


As China accelerates the pace of opening its financial market, an increasing number of overseas investors and businesses seek to enter this vast and opportunity-filled market. Unlike the NRA in the United States, here “NRA” stands for “Non-Resident Account,” which allows overseas institutions to establish foreign currency accounts or RMB bank settlement accounts within China. According to regulations set by the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, this provides convenience for the financial activities of overseas institutions in China, including but not limited to investment and trade.

In this process, China’s “Non-Resident Account” (NRA) system becomes a key tool, not only simplifying the process of cross-border trade and investment but also contributing to the internationalization of the RMB within the global financial system. This article aims to delve into the functions of NRA account, their applicable subjects, and how to establish such accounts.

Overview of China NRA Account

Introduced by the State Administration of Foreign Exchange in 2009, NRA accounts, or non-resident accounts, are designed to facilitate the operations of overseas institutions within China. These accounts are divided into foreign currency NRA and RMB NRA (RMB NRA) accounts, each catering to the financial activities of foreign currencies and RMB respectively. The introduction of this system marks a significant step in China’s efforts to open its financial market and strengthen international financial cooperation.

NRA accounts can be divided into two categories:

Foreign Currency China NRA Account:

These are designed for overseas institutions that need to conduct foreign currency transactions and settlements within China. They allow these institutions to store, remit, and perform other foreign currency-related financial activities.

China NRA Account (RMB NRA Account):

Specifically designed for overseas institutions that need to settle in RMB within China, these accounts allow for the deposit, payment, and other related financial activities in RMB.

The establishment of these accounts aims to facilitate cross-border trade and investment, streamline the financial operations of overseas institutions in China, and align with China’s strategy to further open its financial market and promote the internationalization of the RMB. The management rules for NRA account are set by the State Administration of Foreign Exchange and require banks and overseas institutions to comply with relevant regulatory requirements to ensure the legality of transactions.

China NRA

Applicable Subjects for China NRA (Non-Resident) Account:

NRA accounts serve a wide range of overseas individuals and companies, especially those looking to invest in mainland China, conduct trade, or carry out other business activities. Whether through direct investment, participation in China’s financial market, or cross-border e-commerce transactions, NRA accounts provide an efficient and convenient solution for financial management. Additionally, multinational companies can simplify their financial management and cross-border capital flow in China through NRA accounts.

Mainly suitable for the following types of overseas individuals or companies:

Overseas Enterprises Investing in for China NRA Account:

For those looking to invest in mainland China, NRA accounts offer a convenient financial channel for managing investment funds, repatriating profits, and daily operational financial management. This includes direct investments, equity purchases, and the establishment of branches.

Operations of Multinational Companies for China NRA Account:

Subsidiaries or representative offices of multinational companies in China can manage cross-border finances through NRA accounts, including but not limited to cross-border trade settlements, employee salary payments, rent, and service fee payments.

Overseas Individuals Investing in China:

Although NRA accounts are more oriented towards companies and institutions, certain investment projects, such as overseas individuals investing in China’s real estate or financial markets through legal channels, may also require the establishment of NRA accounts for transaction and fund management.

Overseas Institutions Participating in China’s Financial Market:

Overseas institutions looking to participate in China’s bond market, stock market, and other financial market investments find NRA accounts indispensable. Through NRA accounts, overseas institutions can engage in transactions of financial products priced in RMB, enjoying the opportunities brought by China’s financial market.

Cross-Border E-commerce Platforms:

For cross-border e-commerce platforms or sellers operating in China, NRA accounts can be used to collect RMB sales revenue and facilitate the conversion of these revenues into foreign currency for remittance abroad.

The establishment and use of NRA accounts significantly simplify the financial operations of overseas individuals and companies in China, enhancing the efficiency of cross-border transactions and investments while reducing exchange rate risks. However, holders must comply with Chinese laws and regulations, including taxation and foreign exchange management regulations.

Opening an NRA account in banks helps overseas institutions reduce friction in cross-border transactions, achieving more efficient capital flow. This not only lowers transaction costs but also enhances the flexibility of capital utilization. For overseas institutions participating in the Chinese market, the ability to conduct transactions directly in RMB reduces exchange rate risks. Additionally, the gradual internationalization of the RMB also means more global opportunities. As part of this process, NRA accounts help overseas institutions better utilize these opportunities.

Which Banks Are Suitable for China NRA Account?

International Business Experience:

Choose banks with extensive experience in cross-border financial services. These banks typically understand the needs of international clients better and can offer products and services more suited to overseas institutions.

Broad Network:

Banks with a wide network in China and globally can provide financial services across regions, which is especially important for enterprises operating in multiple areas.

Strong Customer Service:

Good customer service is crucial for resolving issues that may arise in managing cross-border accounts. Opt for banks that offer professional customer service, have a dedicated international business team, or can provide multi-language services.

Competitive Fee Structure:

Understand and compare the fee structures of different banks, including account management fees, transaction fees, remittance fees, etc., to choose cost-effective services.

Stability and Security:

Choose banks with a good reputation for stability and security in the market. Ensure that the bank follows international financial security standards to protect account funds.

RMB and Foreign Exchange Capabilities:

Given that NRA accounts involve managing RMB and foreign exchange, it is important to select banks with strong capabilities and extensive experience in these areas.

Recommended Types of Banks for NRA:

    • Large State-owned Banks in China: Such as Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), Bank of China, and China Construction Bank. These banks have extensive global branches, rich experience, and can provide comprehensive cross-border financial services.
    • International Banks‘ Branches in China: Such as HSBC, Citibank, and Standard Chartered. These international banks’ branches in China usually have good international business experience and customer service.

How to Open an China NRA Account

Opening an NRA account requires going through banks or financial institutions in China and following the regulations set by the State Administration of Foreign Exchange. During the application process, overseas institutions must provide legitimate business licenses, company registration certificates, and the identity proof of responsible persons. Additionally, the purpose of the account must be clarified to ensure all transactions comply with Chinese laws and regulations. Banks will review the application materials, and once approved, overseas institutions can start using their NRA accounts for financial activities.

China NRA’s Case Studies

Through actual case studies, this section will showcase several overseas enterprises that have successfully utilized NRA accounts to expand their businesses in China. These cases will cover different industries and business models, demonstrating how NRA accounts meet the needs of various types of overseas institutions and the specific benefits achieved through these accounts.

For example, a European tech company smoothly collected revenues from its product sales in China through its RMB NRA account and efficiently converted these revenues into Euros to remit back to headquarters. This not only accelerated the speed of capital turnover but also reduced the risks associated with exchange rate fluctuations.

Another case is an American multinational consulting firm that used a foreign currency NRA account to manage its project expenses and revenue collection in China. This allowed the company to more flexibly allocate resources globally, optimizing its financial efficiency.

These cases illustrate that NRA accounts provide significant convenience and efficiency for overseas institutions, whether in speeding up the repatriation of sales revenue or simplifying cross-border financial management.

Chinese Companies Indirectly Related to China’s NRA Accounts

For mainland Chinese companies, NRA (Non-Resident Account) accounts are not directly applicable, as these accounts are specifically designed for non-resident entities and individuals to facilitate trade, investment, and other financial activities in China. Mainland Chinese companies typically do not need to open NRA accounts, as they operate within China’s financial system and can directly use regular RMB and foreign currency accounts for their daily financial management and cross-border transactions.

However, mainland Chinese companies may indirectly relate to NRA accounts in the following ways:

Collaborating with Overseas Companies:

When mainland Chinese companies engage in trade, investment, or other business collaborations with overseas enterprises, their foreign partners may use NRA accounts for RMB or foreign currency transaction settlements. Such arrangements can simplify cross-border financial processes and speed up transaction efficiency.

Establishing or Managing Overseas Subsidiaries:

If mainland Chinese companies set up subsidiaries or offices abroad, these overseas entities might need to open NRA accounts to manage business activities in China, including receiving payments from China or making payments to China.

Cross-Border E-commerce Platforms:

For mainland Chinese companies operating cross-border e-commerce businesses, they may utilize NRA accounts held by their foreign partners or subsidiaries to simplify cross-border payment processes.

Financial Service Providers:

Mainland Chinese banks or other financial service providers might offer NRA account services, including opening and managing accounts, to support their overseas clients’ cross-border financial needs.

Although mainland Chinese companies do not directly use NRA accounts, their international trade, investment, and financial service activities might intersect with those of overseas individuals or enterprises using NRA accounts. Therefore, understanding the functions and advantages of NRA accounts is beneficial for Chinese companies engaged in international business.


GWBMA encourages all overseas enterprises and investors interested in the Chinese market to delve deeply into how NRA accounts can support their business needs and consider integrating this tool into their China market strategy. Moreover, as China’s financial market continues to open further and the RMB internationalization process advances, NRA accounts, serving as a bridge between China and the global economy, will continue to play a crucial role. For overseas institutions seeking to expand their business in the Chinese market, understanding and utilizing NRA accounts will be a key step in achieving their strategic goals. By making judicious use of this tool, overseas institutions can not only enhance their business efficiency in China but also optimize their capital management and financial layout globally.

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