Can a short-term visitor to China sign up to Alipay (Taobao) or Tenpay (WeChat/QQ) mobile payments, without Chinese ID or a Chinese bank account? If yes, how?

  • 4
    Would you mind getting a Chinese bank account? Then there sure is a way to Alipay. As I have answered here getting a Chinese bank account is not that hard, certainly not for you.
    – mts
    Mar 4, 2017 at 1:14

1 Answer 1


Yes, and you do not necessarily need a Chinese bank account. You have a few options:

(1) you could add money into your Alipay account using mobile phone refill cards. These refill cards are purchasable at any convenience store or supermarket.

(2) you can get your identity verified with a non-Chinese passport, although it will take 24 hours (it's instant for Chinese Resident ID Card holders). Instructions are here. But 24 hours isn't bad in any sense, anyway.

(3) Alipay is usable at many restaurants and shops in China. I am not sure, but I think using the "pay by QR code scan" functionality requires you to have Fast Pay enabled, which in turn requires you to have a Chinese bank account. If you're just shopping on Taobao, then you don't necessarily need a bank account & UnionPay card.

(4) If you decide you don't want to open a bank account, then you probably wouldn't benefit much from being able to use Alipay. However, any place that accepts Alipay would very likely accept cash, so just bring enough cash with you. And most places where the expense is too big for cash would usually accept major international credit cards.

  • 1
    +1, just learned something new. Usability of Alipay for foreigners seems to have improved so much over the years. Here is a step-by-step instruction of how to verify with a passport, confirming your answer. Would you mind including it directly in your answer?
    – mts
    Mar 4, 2017 at 7:47
  • @mts Sure! Why not?
    – xuq01
    Mar 4, 2017 at 8:04
  • 2
    @Berwyn Linking a bank account isn't a must. I personally didn't have my Alipay account linked to my bank account when I first opened my Alipay account. However, some nice functionalities do require you to have a Chinese bank account.
    – xuq01
    Mar 4, 2017 at 8:16
  • 4
    It turns out that it's not possible to verify without a Chinese bank card. I just tried to do this and even though I've elected to provide a passport, I'm still required to input my bank card number and the cell phone number associated with the bank card.
    – Michael Wu
    Sep 20, 2017 at 22:46
  • 1
    Looks like things are changing: zdnet.com/article/…
    – JonathanReez
    Dec 22, 2019 at 1:17

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .