• How to Make Telegraphic Transfers (T/T) to Chinese Suppliers

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    Telegraphic Transfer (T/T) is the most common way to pay manufacturers in China, and elsewhere in Asia. That said, Telegraphic Transfers are irreversible once the payment is made, and the bank is not responsible for ensuring that you don’t get scammed or pay to the wrong account.

    In this guide, we explain what can go wrong when paying Chinese suppliers by Telegraphic Transfer, and what you can do to prevent common issues.

    Overview

    • Bank account details
    • Paying the right company
    • Payment fraud risks
    • Transaction fees
    • Payment records and documents
    • Using Wise.com
    • Paying using a Hong Kong account
    • Alibaba telegraphic transfer options

    1. Get the beneficiary name, address, and other account details right

    Chinese banks tend to be quickly stringent when it comes to ensuring that all bank account details are correctly input by the sender. This is done for the sake of ensuring that money is paid to the right company, which is ultimately a good thing. That said, even a minor misspelling of the company or incorrect address can sometimes result in the transaction being put on hold by the Chinese bank – and returned a few weeks later.

    Further, the banks don’t refund either your sender fees or the receiver’s bank transaction fees. All in all that can amount to around 30 to 50 US dollars per transaction.

    Here are some common examples for why importers tend to get the bank account details wrong:

    Beneficiary name

    Chinese company names (e.g. the beneficiary name) are often too long to input in a single field. Rather than attempting to shorten the beneficiary name, which can result in a withheld transaction, it’s normally better to add the “remaining” letters in the beneficiary address or message field.

    Example: Shenzhen LED Display Screen Manufacturing Co., Limited


    Beneficiary name field: Shenzhen LED Display Screen Manufacturing

    Beneficiary address field: Co., Limited


    Beneficiary address

    The address can also be tricky. First, because many Chinese suppliers tend to omit the beneficiary address from the bank account details. Second, because their address might be outdated and not the one registered with the bank.

    My recommendation is that you ask your supplier to double-check which address the bank has registered before you wire the money.

    Another issue is that the address can be too long to input in the field. If so, add the remaining characters in the message field.

    Example


    Address: Unit 4A, Floor 4, 71 Fu Hai Avenue, Bao’an District, Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, China


    SWIFT code

    Some SWIFT codes are unique not only to the bank itself, but also to the province, city, or even branch. Ask your supplier to provide the SWIFT code for their bank branch to ensure that there are no issues.

    Examples


    Bank of China (BEIJING BRANCH): BKCHCNBJ110

    Bank of China (DONG SHENG BRANCH): BKCHCNBJ89C 

    Bank of China (NINGBO BRANCH): BKCHCNBJ92A


    2. Make sure you pay the right company

    The risk of payment fraud is always present when transferring money internationally. As such, you must always check if the bank account beneficiary name is matching the name of the company, you buy the products from.

    The problem is that there are various reasons, both legitimate and illegitimate, for Chinese manufacturers to request payments to a bank account that is not directly held by the same company entity that manufactures your products.

    Below follows a few common examples:

    a. Hong Kong Offshore Accounts

    Some suppliers prefer to receive international payments via a Hong Kong-registered bank account, which in turn is held by a Hong Kong company. Hence, the supplier is paid indirectly, which makes it rather unclear which company is actually responsible for your products.

    That said, it’s so common that it would be hard to exclude suppliers based on this factor. There are, however, individuals using Hong Kong accounts for far more sinister reasons – payment frauds.

    At a minimum, you should only pay a Hong Kong-registered entity if the beneficiary name resembles that of the entity on the Chinese mainland.

    For example, ‘Hong Kong Feihang Optoelectronics Co., Limited’ or likely related to ‘Shenzhen Feihang Optoelectronics Co., Limited’ But, if the beneficiary name and the company name have no resemblance, you should be cautious.

    Example


    Manufacturer: Shenzhen Feihang Optoelectronics Co., Limited

    Hong Kong company: Hong Kong Feihang Optoelectronics Co., Limited


    telegraphic transfers

    b. Export Agent Accounts

    Some smaller manufacturers don’t have export licenses. As such, they use Export agents, to clear their products through customs. This requires that the Export agent “sells the products” to you, and then uses your money to buy the products from the supplier.

    This comes at a fee, usually set at 2 to 3%. For you, this means that you will not pay your supplier, but their export agent.

    These are two different entities, which means that the beneficiary name is not that of the supplier. There is a risk, that the Export agent is not really an Export agent. However, I am not aware of any fraud cases involving Export agents.

    Example


    Export agent: Shanghai Ever Commodity Import & Export Co., Limited


    c. Private Bank Accounts

    Some scammers request payment to private bank accounts. While that is not always the case, paying to a private bank account is always a risk.

    Notice that a proper company-held bank account always has a company name a beneficiary, whereas a private account beneficiary is the name of the individual account holder.

    Example


    Company account: Shenzhen LED Display Screen Manufacturing Co., Limited

    Private account: Li Wang


    3. Pay all bank transaction fees. Including the beneficiary bank fees

    When suppliers quote a price, they don’t take bank transaction fees into consideration. Not even the fees charged by their own bank. Some suppliers may refuse to start production until the deposit is paid in full. To avoid delays, make sure you pay both your – and the beneficiary bank fees.

    In most cases, this amounts to 30 to 50 USD per transaction.

    4. Save a transaction record and send it to your supplier

    Send screenshots or PDF transaction records from your online bank as soon as the money is sent. This document must include the following details:

    • Beneficiary name
    • Beneficiary address
    • Bank account number
    • Transaction Date
    • Paid Amount

    Some suppliers refer to this document as a “payment proof” or “payment record”

    What can I do if something goes wrong with the Telegraphic Transfer (T/T) payment?

    In case you manage to type in the wrong beneficiary information, there are two things you can do:

    a. Wait for the money to be returned to your bank account. This can, however, take up to three weeks.

    b. Contact your bank and submit the correct bank account details. This will cost you but could save you several weeks.

    Can I make international wire transfers in Chinese Yuan (RMB)?

    Paying suppliers using RMB, from outside of China, is not available in most countries. There are some exceptions though, such as Switzerland.

    It’s possible that RMB payments will become widely available at some point in the future, but the US Dollar is by far the most common currency in which Chinese exporters are paid by their overseas customers.

    Can I pay my supplier using a service like Wise.com?

    Yes, cross-border wire transfer services can be used to pay suppliers in China, and other countries in Asia. Using services like Wise.com  can help you save hundreds of dollars per transaction, as banks normally charge around 3 to 5% – while these services often charge less than 1%.

    • Supplier email
    • Supplier company name
    • Business license number
    • Bank account number
    • Bank address
    • Bank
    • SWIFT Code

    Can I save money by opening a bank account in Hong Kong?

    Send money from Hong Kong bank accounts to Mainland China is normally slightly cheaper per transaction – in the range of 10 to 20 USD instead of 30 to 50 USD. That being said, the paperwork and time spend to open a bank account in Hong Kong for non-resident-owned businesses makes it a less relevant option compared to using Wise.com or any other telegraphic transfer service.

    Paying Alibaba bank accounts

    Alibaba has focused increasingly on payment services in recent years, including its Trade Assurance program. The most common way to pay suppliers through Alibaba, however, is still by telegraphic transfer. Alibaba has designated bank accounts in Singapore that then serve as the beneficiary, while Alibaba ensures that the supplier receives the money at a later point.

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  • 48 Responses to “How to Make Telegraphic Transfers (T/T) to Chinese Suppliers

    1. Abdul Latib Ahmad at 2:31 pm

      I just want to know if we make TT (using online banking) from Standard Chartered China to Nanyang Commercial Bank China, how long the money will take effect Ito beneficiary account?

      1. Fredrik Gronkvist at 1:06 pm

        I can’t say anything specific about either of these two banks, but normally 2-3 days (excluding weekends)

    2. Aliyapeli Arachchige Hasitha Sandaruwan Sudasinghe at 11:24 pm

      Dear Sir,
      Is there any secure way of doing TT? I am new to import business and my Chinese suppliers ask me to TT in advance. What if they don’t send me my items after i pay? is there any secure way that i can TT but only transfer the cash to suppliers account after i receive the gods?

      1. Fredrik Gronkvist at 11:42 am

        No, in that case you need to pay by letter of credit

    3. www.exportimportdocument.com at 11:40 am

      I am providing export import guidance on free of cost but believe me i am always strongly recommend advance payment before deal in international market because many times bankers also pull the leg.

      1. Fredrik Gronkvist at 9:31 pm

        I absolutely don’t recommend 100% advance payment

    4. henry at 6:05 am

      Hello
      Please i made payment to my supplier in china this is my first time the beneficiary name is (Foshan Golden Furniture Co.,Ltd) but i put (Foshan Golden Furniture Co Ltd) i did not put the full stop and comma (.,) before the Ltd i hope this will not make my money to return?

      1. Fredrik Gronkvist at 8:02 pm

        Hi Henry,

        It should still be okay

    5. Karim at 10:03 pm

      I made payment of $13,000 to a hong kong offshore company bank account today, can the transfer be cancelled? it should arrive the reciever bank in 4 days according to the swift copy. kindly advice me please.

      1. Fredrik Gronkvist at 7:14 pm

        Hi Karim,

        You need to call your bank immediately. At best, they can cancel the transaction before it goes through – but there’s no “refund” mechanism built into the SWIFT system.

    6. Victor at 12:22 pm

      Hi,
      I placed an order on Alibaba my deposit I paid via the Alibaba site so that I get the trade assurance. The supplier seems responsive and ok. But now when I need to pay the remaining balance for the goods to be shipped, they don’t want it to go through Alibaba for “tax purposes which is hard to explain”. Would you know what this means?
      I feel more safe to pay via Alibaba vs wire transfer since Alibaba takes responsibility in case something goes wrong with the shipment…
      They also accept T/T and wire transfer, but this is the first time I am dealing with this supplier, what if the goods that arrive are not as expected?

      your insight is appreciated
      thank you

      Please Help

      Thank you!

      1. Fredrik Gronkvist at 8:25 pm

        Hi Victor,

        Correct, you should not pay to a different account. If you do, then the order is not covered by Trade Assurance.

    7. Agyie at 3:08 pm

      hi, do you know which payment method is better if i want to buy something from 1688? 担保交易 or 信任付?

      1. Fredrik Gronkvist at 8:26 pm

        1688 is for domestic B2B trade inside China. Hence, most of the supplier don’t have foreign currency accounts or export licenses.

    8. SSwift at 8:28 pm

      For smaller transactions, Paypal is better than wire right? Because it costs a lot to wire money. I don’t see a point a losing money. Do you agree?

      1. Fredrik Gronkvist at 8:00 pm

        Hi Steve,

        That depends. How small?

    9. Cesar Bravo de Rueda at 3:48 am

      Hi Fredrik,

      This is the first time I’m buying something from Alibaba. The supplier is responsive and overall seems to have everything in order. They are asking me to pay via Trade Assurance to a bank located in Singapore (I have read your post and you mention only HK). The supplier is however located in China. Is this normal? Any risk according to your previous experience?

      1. Fredrik Gronkvist at 5:01 pm

        Hi Cesar,

        I know that Alibaba is using Singapore banks for Trade Assurance payments. Is this the supplier’s bank account or an Alibaba account?

        1. Beni at 8:23 pm

          How to know how is alibaba acount

          1. Fredrik Gronkvist at 5:39 pm

            Hi Beni,

            I don’t understand the question

    10. Emuoboyin Cephas at 7:20 pm

      Hi Fredrick,
      I am new in the business,I just need you to guide me , please,I want to know if I can use Alibaba for my transaction s.tanks
      Cephas

      1. Fredrik Gronkvist at 5:03 pm

        Hello,

        Alibaba.com accepts various payment methods, including T/T.

    11. Awena at 5:34 am

      Hi my company has been subject to bank mandate fraud when importing goods from china. The fraudsters intercepted the payment request form and changed bank mandate details. When we queried with the supplier they responded to say that yes this is ok they set up an account in malaysia for tax purposes. We now know the factory did not receive any money and so it appears we have been scam victims. The goods arrive tomorrow but the factory won’t release them as they did not receive the money. Help! Advice needed urgently please!! Do we go into more financial risk and pay them more money and if so how can we ever do this securely?? We cannot trust TT anymore. Thanks

      1. Ivan Malloci at 12:36 pm

        Hello Awena,

        I’m not a lawyer, and in the case of frauds you shall talk with a lawyer. Also, I have not enough info to fully assess the situation.

        However, here I don’t think the problem is “T/T”. The problem, if I understand it correctly, seems to be that you sent the money to a bank account that doesn’t belong to the supplier. And that is a costly mistake indeed.

        We always recommend to only send the money to the bank account of the supplier, ie. the bank account that has the following characteristics:

        Beneficiary name is the same exact company name of your supplier, as it appears on their business license (which you can verify)
        Beneficiary address is the same exact address of your supplier, as it appears on their business license (which you can verify)
        The bank is located in the same city of the supplier

        1. Fredrik Gronkvist at 8:16 pm

          Yes, this is certainly a payment fraud. You should contact the Malaysian bank ASAP.

    12. Simon at 5:46 pm

      Hi,
      I want to make a payment to my supplier who is in china but i want to use a securer way here i mean for example trough alibaba T/T transfer. I want to know if this works with money transfer via swift transfer. thanks

    13. LJ at 10:03 am

      Hello,
      may I know if i am able to make a T/T payment to china supplier from Singapore, but the purchase is from Thailand & good delivery to thailand.

      1. Fredrik Gronkvist at 6:04 pm

        Hi LJ,

        This sounds like a payment fraud in the making. Do NOT pay to an account in China if the supplier is supposed to be located in Thailand (or vice versa). Further, the beneficiary name must also match that of the company.

    14. Lim at 3:23 am

      Hi, I made a mistake of entering an extra “International” into the company name for T/T payment, every other info are correct, what would happen to the money I transferred?? Would it bounce back to me and if so how long does it take?

      1. Ivan Malloci at 3:59 am

        Hello Lim,

        yes, it could bounce back if the company name is incorrect. I’m not sure how long it will take: it will depend on the banks, currencies and countries involved. You could try to contact both your bank and the destination bank to gather more information.

    15. maxell at 2:57 am

      hello
      I wired money from south korea to hk to my suppliers correct details for a week plus now and he have not received the money what may be the problem because i contacted my bank they transaction went successful.

      1. Ivan Malloci at 3:18 am

        Hi there,

        I’m sorry but we can’t know what happen among banks

    16. RATUL HASSAN at 3:48 am

      I made TT of 5100 USD and send TT advice copy to my seller company but they asked for bank swift copy.what does it mean?

      1. Ivan Malloci at 11:48 am

        Hello Ratul,

        A SWIFT copy is an extract of the electronic payment document. If you google it you will find a lot of information about this specific document

    17. Bee at 2:51 pm

      Hi Frederik

      I made a payment to an alibaba seller via t/t. Now they are requesting I am responsible for their bank fees. This was not outlined in the trade assurance agreement. I confirmed with them prior to payment that there were ‘no hidden or additional costs’. Now I have had to open a dispute with alibaba. Am I responsible for their banking institutions fees that are imposed on them as bank account holders, shouldn’t they be aware of bank fees when they operate as a business?

      1. Fredrik Gronkvist at 11:58 am

        Hi Bee,

        The standard term is that the buyer pays for all bank charges, including those of the supplier.

        The supplier could of course “include” this cost, but they would then have to add it to the unit price. Hence, it is more transparent if the supplier quotes the actual unit price, and don’t include bank fees or other charges.. including those charged by their Chinese bank

    18. Ty at 11:00 am

      Hello,

      One thing that also needs mentioning is that apart from paying both wire transfer fees upfront (sender’s and recipient’s bank), the recipient bank (in this case Singapore) also takes an additional 5-6 % of the total payment, which can be an unexpected as well.

      Is this common when doing international wire transfers?

      1. Fredrik Gronkvist at 11:32 am

        Hi Ty,

        5-10% is way too high. Should not be more than $50-60 per transaction.

        For small amounts (below $3000), you might want to consider Paypal instead

    19. BASHIR at 6:59 pm

      Thank you for enlightenment.
      I transferred 10,000 USD to my supplier beneficiary bank with correct swift code. But, omitted 1 digit out of 22 digits of beneficiary account number. Then, I received telex copy of Fx transaction done in my DOMICILARY account via email.
      Unfortunately’ my supplier still not received the money yet. Amendment of beneficiary account details in bank will cost me what charges?

      1. Fredrik Gronkvist at 11:31 am

        Hi Bashir,

        I would expect 40-50 USD, but it depends on the bank and which country you live in. You better act on this very fast!

    20. Amar at 2:40 am

      Is agreement made like LC in T/T?can a importer make agreement like LC in telegraphic transfer

      1. Fredrik Gronkvist at 6:51 am

        Hi Amar,

        L/C and T/T are two different payment methods. You can search for Letter of Credit here on our website to find out more.

    21. William at 6:18 am

      I went to the company in China to make deposit but after I left they want payment to sent to personal account of the General Manager because they have issue with their dollar account. I took the National ID card of the boss but am not convice. What do I do

      1. ChinaImportal at 8:21 am

        Hi William,

        Find another supplier. Never pay to personal accounts.

    22. Renaud at 7:37 pm

      I agree that sending money to a private bank account is not good. But maybe one should distinguish between two situations:
      – It is not very frequent when ordering a batch of products. For anything above 500 USD, I would very strongly suggest to pay only company accounts.
      – It is quite frequent when ordering samples. The supplier wants to keep paperwork to a minimum, and also (usually) evade tax. But I often advise to push the supplier for a payment to their bank account, at least the first time you buy samples. It confirms the fact that they do have a company and you can send money to that company once you place a bigger order.

      1. ChinaImportal at 5:37 am

        Hi Renaud,

        As usual, I can only agree with you.

      2. Boris at 2:34 pm

        Hi Renaud,

        Good idea about paying for sample to supplier’s bank account. Despite high wiring fee you can actually have peace of mind that youy are sending to real company and if it’s real company know their bank account number. This is a good risk management move than paying for sample by other means and then worrying how bank account payment would go for large order.

        I tried to send confirmed PO to supplier’s fax number because it is just another way of communication that can be handy if there’s a lack of response from them or their communication channels were hacked. In this case fax would be way to go to confirm their correct bank account and compare with one in email.

        After failed fax attempts I called the number and heard music on hold which gave me impression it’s actual service line. I was told by one of reps that faxing in China is domestic and doesn’t accept faxes from outisde. I am not sure how true this is though.

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