How Long is a Cheque Valid For?

Tom August 2022 Content Creator 5 min

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Cheques might seem like the kind of thing you only see when a birthday card from your grandmother turns up in the mail, but they are still a valid method of payment around the world. One question many still have is, after I receive the cheque, how long do I have until I have to cash it? If you’ve just opened a draw and discovered several years worth of uncashed cheques from grandma, can you still reap the birthday rewards?

In this post on how long is a cheque valid for, we’ll go over the basics of cheques: what they are, how long the different types of cheques remain valid for, and what to do with an expired cheque. 

How long is a cheque valid for in a nutshell

  • Cheques are money orders written and distributed by account holders
  • Usage of cheques has declined in recent years, but they are still valid and sometimes preferred by older generations as a method of payment
  • Personal cheques and bank cheques usually have a maximum duration of six months before they expire
  • If a cheque expires, the person for whom the cheque has been written can ask the issuer to write another cheque, or take the matter to court if it is worth the costs
  • Due to their lack of convenience, cheques are generally seen as outdated models of payment, however they are still in circulation and digital infrastructure has been set up to hasten their processing

What is a cheque?

A cheque is a money order written and handed out by the account holder. It is essentially an instruction to the bank to pay the person or business who has received the cheque.

Cheques have significantly decreased in popularity as a payment method with the rise of mobile banking and internet technology, but they’re not extinct. Statista shows the steadily declining use of cheques since 2008, however 31% UK respondents in a survey said they still use cheques in 2018, making them worthy of consideration. 

Are cheques still a valid payment form?

Cheques are still a valid, if uncommon, payment form. They are able to be used in shops, between individuals for a private transaction, as a form of wage payment, among other things. 

Cheques may be favoured by older generations for their familiarity and separation from digital technology, and because they are free of charge, whereas digital transactions can come with a surcharge. 

How long is a personal cheque valid for?

A personal cheque is processed directly from your account, meaning the funds come from your bank account. While there’s no single duration of validity for personal cheques, most banks will only cash them within a six month period.

How long is a bank cheque valid for?

Bank cheques are distributed by the banks themselves, and will have the bank’s logo somewhere on the slip of paper. Banks write the cheque on behalf of the payer, who must pay the bank in full before the cheque is distributed to the receiver. Bank cheques are a more secure form of payment but the bank may charge a fee for distribution. 

Again, concerning validity there is no rule, however most banks will allow six months before they refuse to cash a bank cheque. 

Cheque fraud

Cheque fraud in the United States has steadily declined since 2003 with an all-time low in 2020. The rise of mobile and internet payments, especially fraud in these areas being such a huge concern today, has shifted focus away from cheque fraud as one of the prime ways in which criminals can fool victims. However, this doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be taken seriously. Customers should still be wary of keeping their cheques in a safe place before they cash them, making sure they know who the issuer is, and not accepting altered cheques.

What to do if a cheque expires

If your cheque expires, your best bet is to contact the person who wrote the cheque and ask them to write another one. However, if the person has passed away or is refusing to write you another, you can take the matter to court. 

Some regional laws allow cheques to technically be valid for up to six years, so you may have a case if you decide to take it further. That being said, taking the matter to court will be costly and time consuming. It should only be done in extreme cases. 

Are cheques an outdated model?

While cheques are still in circulation, they have the reputation of being outdated. Younger generations may not even know how cheques work, as the proliferation of Apple Pay and Google Pay makes C2C and B2C payments easier than ever.

Mainly, cheques appear outdated because they are a slower, less convenient staple of the traditional banking world. The UK government tried to phase out cheque books in 2018  but the plan was scrapped and the government decided to allow cheques to be used for as long as there is demand to use them. There is now digital infrastructure set up to hasten cheque processing, meaning cheques will remain for a while longer. 

Conclusion: how long is a cheque valid for?

It’s important to understand the requirements of all payment methods still in circulation. While cheques may not be the payment method of choice for someone who prefers the immediacy and convenience of mobile payments, we may all come across cheques at some point and it makes sense that we understand their duration of validity.

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Frequently Asked Questions about cheque validity

Yes. The date the cheque becomes valid indicates it has six months until it must be cashed. Post-dated cheques indicate the date after which the receiver will be able to cash their cheque and receive their money.

Yes. Most banks will not accept cheques after six months. Certain regions have laws allowing cheques to be valid for up to six years, although this is not the case everywhere.

Most likely not. The majority of banks will only allow six months after the cheque has been received (unless it is a post-dated cheque), and only in the most extreme cases are cheques valid for six years.

Cheques are valid for six months at UK banks.

Yes. The receiver can ask the issuer to write them another cheque, which will be valid again for another six months.

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