The world of WeChat changes by the day, as more functions become open and available to overseas / foreign companies. This article focuses on how foreign companies, outside of China, are able to set up their WeChat Official Account.
It should be noted that WeChat Tencent has been making numerous improvements to their foreign account application process and procedures. Just a year ago it was next to impossible to get a WeChat Official Account setup yourself. You had some options, such as setting up a China business office and using that to register, going through a third party agency, or setting up WeChat Pay and having the WeChat Pay vendor set it up for you.
Here’s the big newsflash - you CAN set up a WeChat Official Account yourself now. You can visit the WeChat website to register for an account. The registration form and process was still in Chinese when we most recently went through the account set up process, but if you are able to read Chinese then you can now complete the registration process yourself.
The materials required for verification purposes are still lengthy, including but not limited to:
Business Registration Certificate - Colour Copy
Account Operator Identification - Government issued and also in colour - both sides. You can use your driver’s license for this.
Account Operator Mobile Phone Bills - You will need to provide 3 months of your most recent mobile phone bills. This name on the bill should match with the government issued identification you provided.
Business Office Phone Bills - You will need to provide 3 months of your most recent office phone bills. The address should match the one in your WeChat application.
HICCUP #1: One of the hiccups we ran into from testing out the 2019 WeChat account registration process was the fact that they wanted the phone bills as ONE jpeg file. For those who download their bills from sites like Rogers, Verizon, Virgin Mobile, Bell, etc. You will know that the format is usually in PDF, so you will need to work some editing magic to incorporate all 3 phone bills into one long JPG.
HICCUP #2: Our second hiccup was with the payment process. After you have submitted all of the required WeChat application information and documents, WeChat will issue an ‘invoice’ for you to send them a wire payment to verify that your bank account is indeed active. NOTE: Make sure to send the wire payment from the same bank account you filled in with the application.
The details they provide do NOT include some details that most North American banks would require due to banking and anti-money laundering regulations. Such missing line items the bank asked us for included the Beneficiary’s address and the Branch Address for the Beneficiary Bank Account.
*latest update as of July 29, 2019 - we have been able to process payment on a credit card in some of our annual re-verification processes for existing client accounts. This may be because they already have a record of the bank account from the initial registration, so while credit card payment appears to be available, WeChat may still require an initial wire payment to ensure your bank account and business are legitimate.
HICCUP #3: Even when we found the above missing line items, we discovered that the Bank Account Name AND the Beneficiary and Branch Address were all too long to fit into the wire transfer fields. The first time this happened, our verification payment became lost in the banking system because the money could be sent but NOT deposited on the other end at the receiving China bank.
From our experience, you MUST include the full Bank Account Name, the first time we issued a payment our teller had missed the ‘period’ following “Ltd”, and that was the reason why the receiving bank didn’t deposit the funds.
HICCUP #4: Language Barriers. After they receive all the information and your verification payment is sent, your file is sent to a third party verification company authorized by WeChat to complete the verification process. This can include a few back and forth emails in Chinese (and sometimes English - luck of the draw), asking you for follow up information on your file.
HICCUP #5: During the verification process they may require additional documents that you may not readily have on hand, such as the business registration or incorporation documents with your full legal name and signature on it, or an original copy of your business incorporation certificate; be prepared with as many official government issued documents as possible to prove your relationship with the company.
They will then schedule a call with you to verify your phone number and other details. You also have the option of calling them at a time that is convenient for you, keeping in mind your work hours is usually when people in China are still sleeping.
So if you jump through all these hurdles quickly enough, you can narrow down your account application process down to 2 weeks, which is what happened with our latest account registration. It did take us a few tries but we have to say that WeChat has significantly improved the process with comparatively more customer support than they had in 2018.
If this scares you, and you don’t want to do this alone, contact us and let us take care of the WeChat official account registration process, then it will be a breeze for you. Contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org.