What to do with a cheque?

9 April 2020

3 min read

What is a cheque?

A cheque is a written document which instructs a bank or Building Society to debit your own account or pay someone else.

How does it work?

The cheque acts as an agreement to pay money from an account holder to a recipient, for example an individual or a business. When you go to pay in a cheque, your bank will send the cheque on to the bank of the person who issued it.

That bank makes sure that the cheque is genuine and that there are enough funds in the issuers account to cover the cheque. They then send the funds to your bank.

Cheque clearing

This is the process of moving money from one bank to another. This means that the cheque, once deposited into the bank, needs to be transferred to the clearing system.

How to deposit a cheque

When you are given a cheque as payment you may have to visit your local bank to pay it in. For a paper cheque you will normally be asked for the details of the account you wish the money to be paid into, or a pre-printed paying in slip. In some cases you may be required to show a form of ID.

Where can I deposit a cheque?

You can pay in a cheque in branch or by posting the cheque to your bank directly. The cheque, along with a pre-printed paying in slip, would usually be put into an envelope addressed to your bank’s cheque processing department along with a stamp. It is also possible to process your cheque through the Post Office by using a pre-printed paying in slip. Although it is always best to check with your bank directly, as criteria may vary when it comes to processing cheques.

Can I deposit a cheque online?

It is possible with some banks to cash a cheque online or through a banking app. But every bank is different so it’s always best to check whether this is possible with your account provider.

How to write a cheque

For a cheque to be valid, you have to make sure that you fill it in correctly.

When you write a cheque, you will need to include the following information:

  • The payee's name (the person you are paying)
  • The date
  • The amount in words
  • The amount in numbers
  • Your signature

Can anyone write a cheque?

As long as you are the account holder, or authorised person on the account with the cheque book, you can write cheques for your account.

How long is a cheque valid for?

A cheque is valid for six months from the date on the cheque. If you send a cheque that is out of date, your cheque is normally returned and marked as expired.

Cheque fraud – what to look out for

Unfortunately, genuine cheques from your own bank can be stolen, altered or counterfeited. The main things to look out for are:

Counterfeit cheques

In some cases, people will create cheques on non-bank paper to make it look genuine. It relates to a genuine account, but has actually been created and written by a fraudster for the purposes of committing fraud.

Forgery of cheques

This is when a genuine cheque has been signed by someone who isn’t that of the account holder.

Fraudulently altered cheques

This is when a genuine cheque made out by the customer has been altered by someone who isn’t the account holder before it has been paid in.

For more information about how to stay safe online and out and about, visit our dedicated security and fraud page.  


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