international money transfer

How to transfer money from Australia to China?

Here is my personal experience with transferring money from Commonwealth Bank of Australia to the Construction Bank of China.

I really hate money problems. It’s been the second night without any sleep for me.

A long story short, one of my cousins in China bought a “high-value” service apartment in Nan Jing for just around 1M RMB. So this “rare” investment opportunity went into the ear of my mum, who has always hoped that we could visit her more often.

For over 10 years, I’m really reluctant flying back. Don’t get me wrong! I love China. I love my parents more, but the accommodation was one of the biggest problems. It’s unimaginable for me to stay at my parents’ apartment for even a week. It’s also far away from appropriate or comfortable for Yogi.

Therefore, investing in a service apartment in Nan Jing seems like a perfect option for all of us. Everything sounds quick & easy. We have to pay 50% of the full price up front within the first week of signing the purchase contract, then paying the rest of the money within a month. Now the problem came. Where could I get this 500K RMB? So I thought about transferring my 5 year’s long saving from Australia to China since the money is just sitting there at the moment. We’re not going back anytime soon anyway.

If I knew it’s causing so much trouble now, I would have never agreed on buying this stupid apartment. I checked Commonwealth Bank website. It states that it takes 3-5 business days to complete an international money transfer. My parents signed the contract on last Thursday, then I quickly made the transaction on the same day around 6-7pm Australian time through internet banking. It costs 22 AUD compare to 30 AUD in a branch.

Here’re some of the info I had to fill in (it’s very complicated & confusing):

Firstly the international transfer has a limit of 5K AUD, so I had to call them from Germany to change it to 50K, which is the maximum amount.

After selecting transferring to China. Here is a warning message from the bank.

commonwealth international transfer

Recipient’s details –

SWIF code

Account Number

Account Name

Recipient’s address –

The amount you wish to transfer in AUD or RMB (It’s still unclear to me, which of the both is better)

If you selected RMB, you are required to fill in some additional info-

Chinese Telegraph transfer code (it’s the recipient’s name but in code form)

Chinese National ID number

Reason for Transfer

If all these are still not complicated enough, any wrong info or mistakes would cause the fund returned.

What could be worst? The money is actually transferred from Commonwealth Bank to the Bank of China in New York before going to the Bank of China in China, then possibly end up in my account with the Construction Bank of China.

Now the problem came. I need this money by this Thursday. So if the bank works as they promised, the money should be there on time, if I’m lucky. I called Commonwealth bank customer service on Monday, they told me that international transfer actually sometimes could take up to 10 working days. I was completely desperate. Are the banks not bound for what they promised to their customers? The person told me “finger crossed then”. Is this their attitude towards their service & working ethic? I was furious!

My dad received a text message from the Bank of China on Tuesday at 11 am China time. The fund has been transferred from the Bank of China New York branch on Monday local time and told him to pay attention to the arrival of the fund. So my dad went to the Construction Bank of China about 4 hours after receiving this message. The bank told him the money doesn’t appear on my bank account yet. What’s more unacceptable? Nobody knows where the money is. How long it will take.

I will continue this post when this whole thing moves further tomorrow or the day after. Wish me luck!!!

Sorry guys, before it’s settled, I’m hardly in the mood for anything, not even filming. 🙁

A quick update –

The fund did arrive on time. To be exact, it was 30 mins after my dad left the bank around 3.30pm on Tuesday. I’m surprised how inexperienced the employees were at the construction bank of China.  However, everything went through correctly & timely, so I have nothing to complaint.

In Summary, the whole process of international money transfer took 3 working days. It can be varied depends on the bank you’re with and the country you’re in. The maximum amount of fund transfer in or out of China is 50K USD/AUD. All the information given should be correct & accurate, such as the name, national identity number, account number etc. Commonwealth Bank charges 22 AUD, HSBC charges 20 AUD for international money transfer.



  1. Glad everything went through in the end! Although not quite the same as China, I recently moved a reasonable amount of money from the UK into Hong Kong using a service called TransferWise. I think they also allow transfers from AUD to CNY. The key benefit of their service is that they have very low transaction fees (I paid under 0.4% and got the exact market exchange rate).

    You may want to check it out if you make a transfer in the future!

    1. Thanks, Robin! That’s good to know. I used to use CurrencyFair to transfer money between Australia & Germany. Users can exchange with each other rather than a bank or a firm, but it’s not available in China. Thanks for the tip anyway.

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