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How Long Are Cheques Valid For?

GoCardless
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Last editedJan 20222 min read

If your business accepts cheques as payment, you might be wondering how long you have to deposit them in your bank account. How long are cheques valid for? There are a few factors that can influence cheque validity, including who writes the cheque and your own bank’s policy. Keep reading for a breakdown of how it works. 

What is a cheque?

Before answering the question of how long personal cheques are valid for, it’s helpful to first take a closer look at how they work. Personal cheques are written money orders issued by a bank account holder. The order instructs the bank to pay the named recipient, whether it’s an individual or business. There are some key details that must be included on the cheque to facilitate this payment:

  • Name of person or business

  • The date

  • The amount to be paid (written in words)

  • The amount to be paid (written in numbers)

  • The cheque writer’s signature

When spelling out the specific amount to be paid, the cheque writer must also follow the number with a line or dash for security. This ensures that the cheque holder doesn’t add in extra numbers and take a larger payment.

The date is also important when it comes to determining the length of time that checks are valid for – this is what the bank will look at as a reference.

Are cheques valid for payment in the UK?

Although paper cheques are seen as an old-fashioned form of payment, they’re still perfectly valid – though increasingly uncommon. According to a recent Financial Times article, cheques accounted for less than 1 percent of retail payments. There were 185 million retail transactions paid for by cheque in 2020, down from 272 million in 2019.

While younger generations are fully accustomed to paying online or via mobile apps, there are others who still prefer the familiarity of paying by cheque. Perhaps for this reason, the Government has done away with a plan to phase out cheque books, making them a valid form of payment. Banks have updated with technology with digital imaging, allowing recipients to deposit a paper cheque via online banking app.

How long are personal cheques valid for?

If your business accepts cheques as payment, you’ll need to know how long personal cheques are valid to ensure you make a deposit within the required timeline. Although there’s no clear expiry date across the board, most banks will accept personal cheque deposits within a timeframe of six months. This six-month period begins at the date of issue written on the cheque.

What can you do if you find an old cheque dated past the six-month mark? One option is to contact the buyer and ask them to write you another cheque – easier to do with a personal contact than a customer, however. The bank might take control and contact the account holder for approval, depending on its own policies. Others will simply reject the cheque.

How long are bank cheques valid for?

In addition to personal cheques, there are also cheques written by banks. These are called bank drafts, allowing the bank to write a cheque on the payer’s behalf. The account holder must first pay the full cheque amount to the bank, plus a potential fee. A bank draft is a more secure form of payment because the cheque is prepaid; there’s no chance of it bouncing due to insufficient account funds.

So, how long are bank cheques valid for in comparison to personal cheques? There is no hard and fast rule, but many banks will accept a draft as payment even after six months. Still, in both cases it’s recommended to deposit the cheque into your account to ensure its validity and boost your cash flow.

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