Can US Citizen Inherit Property in China? (2023)

Can US Citizen Inherit Property in China? (1)

The answer is YES.

Here's what to do for foreigners to inherit property in China.

(1) What documents are required for foreigners to inherit property in China?

Firstly, the death certificate.

The succession opens(begins) provided that the decedent is dead, so the certificates to prove the identity and death of the decedent are required.

The qualified death certificates include the death certificate issued by the hospital, the cremation certificate issued by the crematorium, relevant documents of the residence deregistration issued by the police station, etc.

If the decedent dies outside of China, the death certificate must be notarized and authenticated in the country where the decedent dies, and attached with Chinese translation, before it can be used in China.

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Secondly, kinship certificates.

In the case of intestate succession, you need to prove that you are entitled to inherit the decedent’s estate by proving that you have a kinship with the decedent.

In general, the kinship certificates include birth certificates, marriage certificates, household registration materials, and other documents.

Thirdly, the inheritance certificate.

This certificate is to prove the scope, attributes, and value of the estate, such as bank deposit receipts, share certificates, real estate certificates, patent certificates, and so on. These documents will serve as the basis for the distribution of the estate.

(2) What are the methods for inheriting an estate?

There are two major methods for foreigners to inherit the estate located in China, namely notarization and litigation.

In the event that there is no dispute between successors over the estate, you may bring relevant documents for succession notarization at a Chinese notary public. Then you may take the notarization certificate to go through relevant formalities for the estate distribution, such as the transfer of housing ownership, the distribution of bank deposits, etc.


In case that there is any dispute between successors over the estate, you may file a lawsuit over the inheritance with the court. After a court trial, you and other successors may go through relevant formalities for the estate distribution pursuant to the binding court judgment or settlement statement.

(3) If there is any dispute between successors over the estate, which court shall the successors institute an action before?

The successors shall bring the case before the court in the place where the decedent was domiciled at the time of his/her death or where the principal part of the estate is located.

(4) After inheriting the property within the territory of China, can a foreign successor transfer the property overseas?

The answer is YES.

China implements a foreign exchange control system to supervise cross-border capital flows. However, pursuant to China’s foreign exchange laws and regulations, after the realization of his/her legally inherited property, the foreign successor may exchange foreign currencies through a bank and remit the money in foreign currency abroad after fulfilling the formalities required by relevant foreign exchange administration departments.

(5) Do foreigners need to come to China in person to inherit the estate in China?

The answer is no.

(Video) Made an Inheritance Abroad? How to get Access to Foreign Assets -- Int'l Probate Expert explains

You can entrust a Chinese lawyer to handle all matters related to your succession in China.

(6) How to apply the law where a foreigner inherits an estate in China?

Intestate succession shall be governed by the law of the place where the deceased person resides at the time of his/her death, however, the intestate succession of immovable property shall be governed by the law of the place where such immovable property is located.

A testament, which is made in compliance with the law of the place where the deceased person resides, the country of the testator’s nationality, or the place where the act of testament is carried out in force at the time of making the testament or the time of the testator’s death, shall be valid.

The validity of a testament shall be governed by the law of the place where the testator resides, or the law of the country of testator’s nationality in force at the time of making the testament or the time of death of the testator. Matters concerning the estate administration shall be governed by the law of the place where the estate is located.

The ownership of an heirless estate shall be governed by the law of the place where the estate is located in force at the time of the death of the decedent.

* * *

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Contributors: CJO Staff Contributors Team

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(Video) Weird Rules That Only Exist in China


Can you inherit a house in China? ›

If a person dies, his/her heirs can inherit the property. During the lifetime, one can specify in the will who inherits his/her house and other heritage. If the person has no will, the decedent's children, spouse, parents, siblings, paternal grandparents, and maternal grandparents may inherit his/her estate.

Can foreigners inherit in China? ›

Foreigners may inherit property in China. (Note: Chinese with foreign permanent residence permits may also inherit the estate located in China. Procedures applying for foreigners would apply here in a similar way.)

What is the Chinese law on inheritance? ›

Under the Chinese statutory succession rules, the first half of the estate is distributed to the spouse of the deceased as community property. The rest is distributed to the spouse, the parents and the children of the deceased in equal shares.

Can a non Chinese citizen own property in China? ›

Foreign investors are not allowed to buy land in China. The land in China belongs to the state and the collectives.

What happens if you inherit property in another country? ›

The IRS doesn't tax foreign inheritances, but individual states might. That being said, you may have to pay taxes on an inheritance if you live in another country. Generally, the IRS doesn't touch foreign inheritances. However, if you fail to report the money you've inherited from another country, you may incur fines.

Why can't you own a house in China? ›

Because China is a socialist country, all land is either subject to government ownership or collective ownership. In principle, municipal land is subject to government ownership and land outside cities is subject to collective ownership. However, one can obtain the right to use the land.

Can foreigners be buried in China? ›

Information on Cremation

Chinese law provides that all the remains of the deceased, local Chinese and aliens alike should be cremated unless there are eligible/religious reasons. Typically, Chinese law does not allow for foreigners to be buried in China.

Can a non U.S. citizen receive an inheritance? ›

The answer is yes; noncitizens can inherit property just as citizens can. So when you make your will or living trust, or name beneficiaries for your retirement accounts or life insurance policies, there is no problem with naming your noncitizen spouse.

Is there inheritance tax in China? ›

Inheritance, estate, and gift taxes

At present, there are no inheritance, estate, or gift taxes in China.

What is the 7 year inheritance rule? ›

No tax is due on any gifts you give if you live for 7 years after giving them - unless the gift is part of a trust. This is known as the 7 year rule. If you die within 7 years of giving a gift and there's Inheritance Tax to pay on it, the amount of tax due after your death depends on when you gave it.

Do people in China have wills? ›

China laws stipulate that a will have to be made in specific formats, such as self written will, notarized will, witnessed will, etc. But there are not many restrictions on the content.

Who is next of kin in China? ›

Under the PRC Inheritance Law, assets shall be inherited in priority by the following parties: First level of priority: spouse, children, parents. Second level of priority: brothers and sisters, (paternal & maternal) grandparents.

How long can you own property in China? ›

“Owning” might not be the right term, as in China, property is simply leased for the duration of 70 years. After this time, the lease is usually renewed. However, the Ministry of Housing and Construction can theoretically nullify your lease at any time if your property is needed for development.

Can you buy property in China without being a citizen? ›

What are the Requirements to Purchase Property in China as a Foreigner? A foreigner must have studied or worked in China for at least one year before purchasing property there. A foreigner can only own one property in China, and that property must be residential. There are additional requirements by province and city.

How long can you own land in China? ›

China does not permit the private ownership of land. Instead, private parties may obtain the right to use property for up to seventy years. These parties own the structures on the land but not the underlying real estate.

Do US citizens pay taxes on foreign inheritance? ›

No, the IRS does not impose taxes on foreign inheritance or gifts if the recipient is a U.S. citizen or resident alien. However, you may need to pay taxes on your inheritance depending on your state's tax laws. Do I need to report foreign inheritance or gifts?

How do I transfer foreign inheritance to the US? ›

If you transfer any of your inheritance to a US bank account, you won't have to file anything out of the ordinary. However, if you deposit more than $10,000, the bank will file FinCEN Form 114. And if you bring the money into the US in the form of cash, you will need to use FinCEN Form 105 to declare it.

Do I have to report a foreign inheritance to the IRS? ›

Reporting Requirements

For gifts or bequests from a nonresident alien or foreign estate, you are required to report the receipt of such gifts or bequests only if the aggregate amount received from that nonresident alien or foreign estate exceeds $100,000 during the taxable year.

Can Americans own land in China? ›

According to the Chinese Property Law, foreigners cannot buy land in China, as the land belongs to the state. Even if some limitations exist, foreigners who work in China or want to relocate here can purchase a property according to their needs and budget.

Can you own guns in China? ›

In the People's Republic of China, access by the general public to firearms is subject to some of the strictest control measures in the world. With the exception of individuals with hunting permits and some ethnic minorities, civilian firearm ownership is restricted to non-individual entities.

How many Americans live in China? ›

Americans in China (Chinese: 在華美國人; Pinyin: zài huá měiguó rén) are expatriates and immigrants from the United States as well as their locally born descendants. Estimates range from 72,000 (excluding Hong Kong and Macau) to 110,000.

What do Chinese not do at funerals? ›

Wakes and funerals are generally sombre affairs. While chatting with the bereaved family or other attendees is acceptable, there shouldn't be loud laughter or chatter, as this could be seen as disrespectful to the family. In Buddhist belief, death is taken with a calm acceptance rather than loud or devastated mourning.

Do Chinese prefer cremation or burial? ›

While traditionally inhumation was favoured, in the present day the dead are often cremated rather than buried, particularly in large cities in China. According to the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs (MCA), of the 9.77 million deaths in 2014, 4.46 million, or 45.6%, were cremated.

Can a US citizen be buried in another country? ›

4 Steps to Be Buried Outside the United States

In order to bury a body in another country, one would have to do the following: Fly out ahead of time and buy the space – or just get someone else to buy the space there first. Talk to the funeral home that's going to receive the body.

Can my beneficiary be from another country? ›

Can my life insurance beneficiary live in another country. We would be direct and give you a straightforward answer: Yes, you can name someone as life insurance beneficiary even if they are not living in the US.

Can you inherit property in India if you are a U.S. citizen? ›

A Non-Resident Indian or a Foreign national such as UK, US or Canadian citizens can inherit the property in India from anyone including their relatives.

How much can a U.S. citizen inherit tax free? ›

US Estate Tax

Estate or Gift Tax is only applicable where the total value of a deceased US citizen's estate exceeds the lifetime exclusion amount. The lifetime exclusion is $11.58 million per US person in 2020 ($23.16 million for married couples).

Which countries have zero inheritance tax? ›

For example, China, India and Russia all have no inheritance taxes.

Which country has no inheritance tax? ›

You can see from the above why Portugal, Malta, Canada, Australia are so attractive for real estate investments for the future of your family because these countries levy zero inheritance tax.

Is there Social Security in China? ›

The central government established China social security law. However, local authorities administer it and influence it. Local jurisdictions have the ability to adjust the employer and employee contribution rates. These rates are modified every year and may also be reformed.

Is it better to gift or inherit property? ›

Capital Gains Tax Considerations

It's generally better to receive real estate as an inheritance rather than as an outright gift because of capital gains implications. That's because of cost basis, which is cost of the property used to determine the capital gain, if any, when it is transferred.

Can I gift 100k to my son? ›

Technically speaking, you can give any amount of money you wish as a gift to one or more of your children or any other member of family. Some parents also choose to buy property and put it into their child's / children's name(s).

Can I give my house to my son to avoid inheritance tax? ›

Gifting property to your children

The most common way to transfer property to your children is through gifting it. This is usually done to ensure they will not have to pay inheritance tax when you die.

Is a will from another country valid in the US? ›

Foreign wills are generally admissible in U.S. jurisdictions, even if they don't cross all the T's and dot all the I's. If a client has a will that was drawn up and executed in another country, unless there is something truly unorthodox about it, it probably does not need to be re-created according to American norms.

Are wills internationally Recognised? ›

Some Wills can be valid Worldwide, some everywhere except certain countries or only remain valid in one particular country. You must also consider the willingness of any foreign jurisdiction to recognise a Will made in another country and how this influences your succession planning.

Are wills valid internationally? ›

A will that you make in New South Wales will cover assets that you own in other parts of Australia but you can't assume that any overseas assets you have will be protected by your Australian will. Every country has its own rules and laws that apply to your assets when you die.

Can you marry your sister in China? ›

The law bans marriage between close relatives, which is defined as lineal relatives, blood relative in the direct line of descent, and collateral relatives, such as cousins or uncles, to the third degree of relationship.

Who is the heir of China? ›

Jin Yuzhang

Can Chinese marry their cousins? ›

The original ban on marriages between cousins maintained in the current Marriage Law as revised in 2001 (art. 7(1)). It remains in effect so that first cousins — as third degree relatives under the PRC Marriage Law — are still prohibited from marrying each other in China.

Who owns private property in China? ›

According to the Constitution, land in cities is owned by the State; land in the rural and suburban areas is owned by the State or by collectives. (Constitution, art. 10.) Although individuals cannot privately own land, they may obtain transferable land-use rights for a number of years for a fee.

What happens exactly when the 70 year lease runs out on a property in China? ›

Property Rights Law (art. 149) states that when the 70-year term for the land-use right for residential purposes expires, the term will “automatically” renew.

Do you own the land your house is on in China? ›

"There is no private ownership of land in China. One can only obtain rights to use land. A land lease of up to 70 years is usually granted for residential purposes. Foreigners who have worked or studied in China for at least a year are allowed to buy a home.

How do foreigners inherit property in China? ›

There are two major methods for foreigners to inherit the estate located in China, namely notarization and litigation. In the event that there is no dispute between successors over the estate, you may bring relevant documents for succession notarization at a Chinese notary public.

Do people own their homes in China? ›

China is a country of homeowners, where >80% all households own their homes (well above the rates for what have been defined as ownership socities in the West) (Clark, Huang, & Yi, 2019).

Can an American own property in Japan? ›

Can a non-Japanese buy a property in Japan? This is the first, fundamental question that needs to be answered. The answer is 'yes', as an expat, you can purchase both land and properties in Japan. No citizenship or residence visa is required.

Can people in China own private property? ›

According to the Constitution and the land laws, Chinese individuals cannot privately own land and natural resources. The Constitution provides that land in urban areas must be owned by the state, whereas land in rural and suburban areas must be owned by the state or by local collectives.

How much land does China own in the United States? ›

China owns and controls almost 192,000 acres of farmland right here in the United States. To be clear, it's not a huge percentage of our total farm acreage by any stretch.

How much is an acre in China? ›

The Chinese mǔ unit number 6.07 畝 or 亩 converts to 1 ac, one acre. It is the EQUAL area value of 1 acre but in the Chinese mǔ area unit alternative.

How long can you own a house in China? ›

“Owning” might not be the right term, as in China, property is simply leased for the duration of 70 years. After this time, the lease is usually renewed. However, the Ministry of Housing and Construction can theoretically nullify your lease at any time if your property is needed for development.

Do they have wills in China? ›

China laws stipulate that a will have to be made in specific formats, such as self written will, notarized will, witnessed will, etc. But there are not many restrictions on the content.

Can a non US citizen inherit a house? ›

Can Noncitizens Inherit Property? One threshold question you may have is simply whether you can leave property to someone who isn't a U.S. citizen. The answer is yes; noncitizens can inherit property just as citizens can.

Can you inherit debt in China? ›

The answer is yes. This post was first published in CJO Family, which is committed to providing consulting services China-based cross-border family matters services, including marriage and succession. If the heir agrees to inherit, he needs to inherit the debt while inheriting the property.

Do wills apply internationally? ›

Generally speaking, for a U.S. will to be valid in a foreign country, it must be formally valid under the laws of that jurisdiction. Some foreign jurisdictions, however, will not recognize a will drafted in the United States under any circumstance or will recognize the U.S. will only under certain unique circumstances.

How much can a non U.S. citizen inherit from a U.S. citizen? ›

An unlimited amount can be gifted to a spouse who is a US citizen, whereas gifts to a non-US citizen spouse are offset by an increased annual exclusion. This annual exclusion for gifts to non-US citizen spouses is $164,000 for 2022 (indexed annually).

Is each heir liable to the debts of a deceased? ›

Following a person's death, the legal heirs must assess the entire value of the properties and assets that they inherit from that person, as well as the obligations of that person. The legal heirs will be liable to creditors for the value of the assets they inherit, which may be paid to the deceased's creditors.

Can you contest a will in China? ›

However, our research on tens of precedent cases involving self-written wills showed that China courts are not readily to overturn a will that looks prima facie a good one. The party challenging the will shall need to have clear evidences, usually, medical records indicating that mental deficiency.


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