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Can I get the money I paid into my Chinese pension back when I leave China?


Photo by Steven Depolo

If you were employed in China by a Chinese company or a foreign company based in China, then you will have already made payments into a Chinese pension and other social security funds for each month you were in employment. The good news is that you can draw some of this money back out when you plan to leave China!

Of course, you may also choose to leave the money in and the account open, in case you return and find employment in China in the future. 

Do bear in mind, however, that you cannot withdraw all the money that has been paid into China’s pension schemes on your behalf. As you will see in this article, each month the employer pays 20 percent of all its employee’s salaries into a country-wide pool of money; the employer also takes about eight percent of each person’s salary and pays that into an individual pool just for that person. 

When you go to withdraw the money from your pension account, you can only draw the money paid into your personal account, not the national pool.
So how do you get to all that money? Here’s how…


How to get your money back

  1. Terminate the employment contract with your employer, through the usual means – a resignation letter or telling them directly. They should give you a stamped release letter saying that you do not work for them any more (you may need to fill in a form first, though this is not common).
  2. Next, your employer or their representative will have to take the stamped form to the local Human Resources and Social Security Bureau to terminate your employment. Before they go, however, tell them that while they are there you would like them to fill out the Personal Pension Insurance Deposit Withdrawal Application Form for Insured Foreigners (Or Citizens of Hong Kong/Macao/Taiwan); they will find this form at the Bureau. While cancelling your employment, they should also hand in this form, to notify the government that you intend to withdraw your money. 
  3. Once your employer notifies you that this has been done, take your passport, valid residence permit and release letter to the Bureau; once you get there, you can ask for and sign the Confirmation Letter for Whole Withdrawal of Basic Pension Insurance Deposit. 
  4. You will also need your bankbook or bank card; this should be an account that you have been using in the last six months. Bureaus in some cities may not accept bankbooks or cards from banks other than ICBC, Agricultural Bank of China (ABC), Bank of China (BOC) and Construction Bank of China (CCB). It is advised to contact the bureau to check which ones they accept before you go.

It usually takes seven working days to process your application; once that is concluded the pension fund will be placed into your bank account. 


Useful Chinese words and phrases 

一次性提取基本养老金确认书 yīcìxìng tíqǔ jīběn yǎnglǎojīn quèrènshū Confirmation Letter of Whole Withdrawal of Basic Pension Insurance Deposit
终止劳动合同 zhōngzhǐ láodòng hétóng End/Terminate Employment Contract
外国(港澳台)参保人员基本养老保险个人账户储存额一次性支取申领表 wàiguó (gǎng/ào/tái) cānbǎo rényuán jīběn yǎnglǎo bǎoxiǎn gèrén zhànghù chǔcún’é yīcìxìng zhīqǔ shēnlǐngbiǎo Personal Pension Insurance Deposit Withdraw Application Form for Insured Foreigners (Or Citizen of Hong Kong/Macao/Taiwan)


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