I got an email asking me about how he/she can exchange RMB to USD in Pudong Airport. Well. There is no easy answer. Let me explain it in details.
For people with P.R. China residence status, exchange between RMB and USD is not free. The Regulations on Individual Foreign Exchange applies.
According to the regulation, any Chinese citizen can exchange up to 50,000 USD from RMB, or 50,000 USD equivalence of RMB from USD per calendar year.
If you have a valid national ID, or passport, and you have not exceeded the quota, you can go to any bank with foreign currency business, and ask them to exchange RMB to USD or USD to RMB to you. All the banks leverage a specialized, connected terminal to process your request, so your quota is calculated across all different banks and cities.
The problem is, however, there are NO bank in Pudong Airport that handles the foreign exchange business as most of the banks in downtown do. So, if you want to get USD, you’d better get to any bank instead of wait until you are at PVG. The last time, I have to start to US trip without a single USD bank note in my pocket. I am lucky that I didn’t use paper money during the trip.
Citizen of Foreign Countries
As far as I know, there is no hard limitation about how much RMB foreigners can exchange in airports in China. However, if they want to exchange RMB back to USD or other currency, they have to provide the original bank transaction sheet to prove that he/she has just exchanged the RMB using foreign currency. Without the bank sheet, foreigners cannot change RMB back to USD. Please pay special attention to this regulation.