Paying utility bills is pretty simple and quick in China unless you fail to pay and ignore the reminders - in which case things can become extremely difficult. Pay your bills on time and conveniently with these options below:

Where to Pay Utility Bills

At the Convenience Store

The simplest option of all for anyone without Chinese language resources, almost any convenience store will be able to scan the barcode on your paper bill and pay it into your utilities account in real time.

One half of the perforated form is torn off and received at the counter; a receipt is stapled to the other half which doubles as a legal fapiao.

Almost any convenience store such as Family Mart, Kedi and Lawson's will be able to handle bill payments.

Through Your Bank

If you can handle the pain, most banks will allow you to sign up for bill payments directly through them. You'll need to at least take a copy of the bill to the bank beforehand to sign up and 'turn on' this function.

This is a convenient option because you can deposit funds into any ATM of your bank which then transfers directly to your utilities company account. You're also able to pay through your bank's website, but again this is only possible if the function has been activated beforehand at the bank.

Using Third-party Payment Websites

This probably requires its own lesson in a modern Mandarin coursebook, but almost all popular payment websites such as AliPay and 99bill will be able to handle bill payments. You'll need to enter the account number or relevant bill reference from the paper bill, unless you have a cellphone app such as Alipay Wallet which lets you scan the barcode. Generally the system will be smart enough to display the amount owed, otherwise you will need to key the amount in yourself.

AliPay's bill payment system remembers your utilities provider and utilities account if you have selected the company and paid through your account before. Although tricky to set up, it is certainly worth asking a friend to help because this method allows you to pay your bills without moving from your desk in about thirty seconds flat.

Where to Pay Late Bills

Once a certain time period elapses you'll get a notice in the mail advising that your utilities bill has expired. None of the options above will work any longer and you will instead have to find the local office for handling late bill payments.

Generally this will be located in the government wholesaler for each utility (eg. State Grid for power), or the nearest office for your utility company. Call the customer service phone number on the bill, ask around your neighbourhood or try using [ Baidu] to search for this often elusive office.

Laowai lingo

  • 水费 - shuǐfèi - water bill
  • 电费 - diànfèi - power bill
  • 煤气费 - méiqìfèi - gas bill
  • ~ 那里可以缴费? - ~ nǎli kěyǐ jiǎofèi - Where do I pay my ~ ?
  • 我 ~ 过期了 - wǒ ~ guòqī le - My ~ is overdue.
  • 帐单 - zhàngdān - an actual (paper) bill