Do Checks Expire? Definition, Example & Overview

The finding of a blank check may generate a number of concerns. You may wonder if the check is still legitimate, where it originated, if the account is still active, and other queries.  

Even though electronic payments are growing in popularity, physical checks are still in demand. If you have discovered a blank check, does it expire? We possess the required information. 

Do Checks Expire?

Since checks are financial instruments without a predetermined expiration date, they do not expire in the majority of cases. Personal checks get “stale” after a certain amount of time, often six months after issuance.

Do Checks Expire?

The law does not require banks to cash or deposit expired checks. Nevertheless, a stale check is not identical to one that has expired. Whether the cashing establishment accepts or rejects an expired check is primarily at the bank’s discretion.

Examples of Expiration of Checks by Type

Treasury checks have a one-year validity period. Be sure to cash your federal tax refund check within one year of the date it was issued. On request, state and federal agencies will give a new check.

You must contact the issuing office if you lose your state tax refund or a local government check. Local and state governments may have individual expiration dates. As noted previously, personal checks are normally valid for up to six months from the date of issuance; nevertheless, you can not rely on the bank to observe the dates.

United States Postal Service-issued travelers checks and domestic money orders have no expiration date.

Personal Checks

Personal checks typically expire six months after the date printed on the check. However, banks may miss the expiration date or choose to cash expired customer checks.

U.S. Treasury Checks

Timing-wise, federal government checks, such as federal income tax refunds, vary. It is advisable to notify the agency that issued the check if you lose it or if it has been more than six months since it was issued, as state and local governments might set their own expiration dates.

Treasury checks include those from the Internal Revenue Service, the Social Security Administration, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service for the Department of Defense, the Office of Personnel Management, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Cashier’s Checks

The validity time of cashier’s checks is governed by state law, which might be difficult to comprehend. After 90 days, banks may no longer accept cashier’s checks for deposit since the issuing bank may return the check unpaid.

If your cashier’s check is older than ninety days, contact the bank that issued it to request a replacement.

Money Orders

Money orders typically do not expire. Nonetheless, the money order issuer may begin to collect fees, reducing the value of the money order until it becomes worthless. After one to three years, Western Union, for instance, levies fees on money orders.

Instead of depositing expired money orders, it may be necessary to contact the issuer to collect any remaining value. Other issuers are ultimately compelled to transfer unclaimed funds to the state, even if they do not collect fees.

It is recommended to contact the money order issuer for information as the process may be complex. For example, domestic USPS money orders remain perpetually valid, however international money orders may expire.

Traveler’s Checks

Traveler’s checks have no expiration date and are always redeemable if lost or stolen. As long as the issuer is in business, these instruments are accepted anywhere.

Do Checks Expire?

Personal Checks vs. Company-Printed Checks

Are personal checks good for a shorter length of time than commercial checks? Technically, there is no difference between these two types of checks; however, the risk of incurring fines is marginally greater with personal checks, as firms are less inclined to maintain small balances.

Some checks contain text that indicates they expire after 90 days. As an attempt to urge individuals not to hold their checks for too long, this may be mostly disregarded. No matter what is written on the cheque, the six-month rule applies.

When do Money Orders Expire?

The period of money orders is governed by state law and the issuer’s specifications. Generally speaking, money orders do not expire; but, they may become so old that they are deemed abandoned property or their value is devoured by fees.

The issuer’s fine print must be thoroughly read. After one to three years, Western Union will apply a fee on the value of the money order. Given enough time, the money order will become ineffective. The United States Postal Service issues money orders that are valid indefinitely. As long as there are post offices, money orders issued by the United States Postal Service can be cashed.

Western Union or the United States Postal Service may have changed its policies. Contact the issuer of your money order to learn if it has an expiration date or if older money orders incur fees.

How Long are Traveler’s Checks Good For?

Traveler’s checks are good indefinitely. Unused traveler’s checks can be cashed in with the issuer or utilized at home in the same manner as when abroad. If the issuing bank still exists, traveler’s checks remain valid.

Tips to Handle Checks that You Have Written that Go Uncashed

If you submitted a check to someone and have been waiting an unusually long time for it to be cashed, you may wish to contact them to verify that the check has not been stolen or lost. Here are some recommendations for addressing late checks.

How to handle past-due checks when the payee can be identified:

  • Inquire with the recipient on the status of the check.
  • If the check has been lost or stolen, a stop payment must be placed on it, and a replacement check must be given to the payee.

How to handle uncashed checks when you have been unable to contact the payee for over six months:

  • Confirm with the bank that older checks will not be honored after six months.
  • Add an endorsement for halt payment on the cheque. This is to protect you in the event that a teller cashes a check after its expiration date.
  • Put the funds required to cover the face value of the check into a savings account. The recipient of the check will eventually demand payment.

How Long are Different Types of Checks Good For?

There are a variety of check kinds with varied expiration dates. The 6-month rule is a broad notion, but not all check and money order types adhere to it.

How Long are Personal Checks Good For?

Personal, corporate, and salary checks are valid for six months (180 days). On their cheques, some corporations write “void after 90 days.” The majority of banks will accept these checks for up to 180 days, and the pre-printed wording is meant to encourage immediate depositing or cashing.

If you have been given a check, you should cash or deposit it as soon as possible. If you keep a check for an extended period of time, the account number or routing number may change, or the check writer may forget about it and spend the money on something else. This may result in fees associated with a returned check.

How Long are U.S. Treasury Checks Good For?

Legally, Treasury checks expire one year after the printed date. This suggests that U.S. Treasury-issued federal tax refund checks are valid for one year. After that date, you are still entitled to the money the government owes you, but you must contact the check’s issuer to acquire a replacement check.

How Long are State/Local Government Checks Good For?

According to state legislation, government cheques from the state or municipalities will expire. The length of time a state tax refund check is valid varies by state, but is normally between six months and one year.

If your check for your state tax refund has expired, you must contact the state and seek a replacement. As with federal checks, you remain entitled to what the government owes you.

When you receive a check from a government entity, thoroughly inspect the check for an expiration date. Prior to the check’s expiration date, it is advisable to deposit or cash it.

Frequently Asked Questions ( FAQs)

Why Waiting Is Risky

There may be valid reasons for retaining a check written to you, but given to the risks involved, it is best to deposit or cash checks as soon as possible.

How can I cash an expired check?

Cheques older than six months cannot typically be cashed. You can alternatively request a replacement from the person who issued the check.

What Happens If I Forget To Date A Check?

Numerous individuals swiftly complete a check. You are probably attempting to pay for a product or service or a bill as quickly as possible. The problem with moving quickly is that it is possible to miss some areas of the examination.

Always complete each box on a check for your own protection. Frequently, the date is left unfilled. If you give someone a check without a date, they must write the date on the check the day they get it.

If a check does not contain a date, it is appropriate to write in the date of receipt. From this point forward, the selected date will be used to establish the check’s validity period.

If you fail to date your check, a thief may alter the date and have a far longer window of opportunity to cash it. This may make it tough to balance your checkbook and maintain an adequate cash reserve at all times.

When writing a check, it is crucial to ensure that all boxes are filled out.

Do Checks Expire?

Can I Fix A Mistake I Made On A Check?

It is crucial to be as accurate as possible when writing a check. Banks will examine your deposited checks to confirm that they are legitimate and contain appropriate information. Customers rely on banks to protect their accounts, therefore if a check appears to be faked or contains an error, the bank must alert the customer.

This implies that when you attempt to deposit or cash a check, they may review your information for a few moments. One of the potential difficulties is if your check has a mistake. Occasionally, when writing a check, you may make a mistake with the amount or the recipient’s name.

There is a chance that you can still use this check if you choose not to discard it. There is one key rule to adhere to when correcting errors on a check. If the inaccuracy is in the dollar amount section, the check cannot be fixed.

The difficulty with these components is that they are sufficient for the bank to determine the correct amount to be written on your check. If they cannot determine the exact amount you wished to withdraw from your account after analyzing these components, the check will not be accepted.

If you make a mistake in the name section or where the date should be, the check is still legitimate. When you need to correct a name or a date, you should draw a line across the incorrect text and then write the correct information next to it.

You need not be concerned about erasing or scratching out significant amounts of the check. Cross out the error with a single line, then write the correction next to it. There is still the possibility that the bank will not accept a check that has any form of problem.

However, the bank will accept checks with minor errors that have been rectified for the vast majority of customers. Occasionally, you will be required to add your initials next to the error on the check to alert the bank that it has been updated.

If you make an error on a check, you should typically void it and start again with a blank check.

Why should I cash a check as soon as possible?

There may be instances in which you must retain the check for a longer period of time, however it is always preferable to deposit it as soon as possible, such as:

Do Checks Expire?

When someone first writes you a check, they will have adequate funds to cover the amount. However, if you wait months, their situation may have changed and they may not have sufficient funds in their bank account.

If the issuer believes their check was lost or stolen, they may withhold payment, resulting in a fine for a rejected check.

If the issuer changes or closes their bank account, the check may bounce and you may be compelled to pay a returned check fee.

How To Void A Check

Some individuals are unsure of the difference between voiding and canceling a check. When you invalidate a check, you will erase one of the checks in your register. This indicates that the void check cannot be used in any circumstance.

You can write NON-PAYABLE across the bottom of the cheque and then store it. Ensure that you are aware of the check’s number so that it may be accurately recorded in your checkbook. If you do not record this information, you may believe a check is missing or that something in your checkbook is past due.

Everyone who uses a bank should be familiar with the procedure for voiding a check. Suppose you have written $37.12 in one of the boxes while writing a check. Then, while beginning to write the number on the larger line, it is recorded. “One thousand three hundred seventy-twelve percent”

This is a problem, so the bank cannot accept this check. If you expect the bank to properly manage the transfer of funds from one account to another, you must ensure that the two number boxes contain the same information.

If you need to cancel a check, you have already written a check that you want to cancel or stop payment on. This frequently occurs when persons misplace a check. Imagine that you gave your nephew $100 for his birthday.

A month later, he calls to say he cannot find the check and is uncertain of what to do. You must contact the bank and request that they cancel or stop payment on this cheque. The reason for this is to prevent the check from falling into the wrong hands.

If the wrong individuals receive checks, they will make every effort to cash them. There could be issues if the cheque you sent to your nephew was misplaced and ended up in the wrong hands.

Do Checks Expire?

You should instead cancel the cheque and send a new one to your nephew. Tell him to keep a tight eye on this one, as it can occasionally cost you money to cancel a check.

Do I Need To Sign A Check?

Observing the bottom of a blank check will reveal a signature line for the person writing the cheque. If there is no signature on the signature line, the bank will not cash the check. If you recall correctly, we taught you to write a date on a check without one if you receive one without one.

However, it is never permissible to sign a check that is unsigned. Check forgery is a severe crime punishable by incarceration. When you receive a check for a job or payment, you should verify that the entire check is filled out correctly.

Since many people are uncertain as to whether a check would be accepted, they prefer electronic payments wherever possible. With the ease of tracking an electronic payment, it is significantly less burdensome to be concerned about these signatures or errors on the check.

If you schedule an electronic payment to be deducted from your account, the bank assumes you agree to the transaction. If you do not sign a check, the recipient will be limited in their capacity to use it.

This is especially important to remember when submitting payments for power and tax bills. If you fail to sign the check, it will be returned to you and you will have to restart the entire process. Occasionally, it may even imply a late payment.

When do Cashier’s Checks Expire?

Cashier’s checks are a type of “official check” with complex requirements. The expiration date is neither predetermined nor specified on cashier’s checks. Some claim that cashier’s checks do not expire, however others contend that a cashier’s check becomes invalid after sixty, ninety, or 180 days.

Theoretically, cashier’s checks should be valid as long as the issuing bank exists. Nonetheless, some institutions print expiration dates on checks.

Cashing a potentially expired cashier’s check or procuring a new one could be challenging. If you receive a cashier’s check, look for a condition that states “invalid after X days” and pay or deposit the check before that date. If you discover an old cashier’s check, you should contact the bank that issued it and enquire about the necessary steps to finalize the transaction.

Are Checks Going Away?

If you have any interest in business or banking, you may have noticed that the annual number of checks written is rapidly decreasing. In the past, checks were the most prevalent mode of payment for business transactions, home purchases, and personal expenditures.

This payment was made directly from a checking account using a check. With the advent of credit and debit cards, the use of checks began to drop. Now that it is so easy to complete an electronic money transfer, the use of checks continues to drop.

Each year, around two billion fewer checks are issued. Undoubtedly, this is a slow trend, which raises the question of whether or not checks will finally become obsolete. The majority of experts predict that such checks will become redundant in the future.

Some businesses that frequently utilize checks may need to adapt to the new method. More online payment processors must be built, and further official ways of electronic money transfer must be implemented.

Currently, you can receive a bank check, which is nearly similar to cash, if you want a secure check. If we shift to a world without checks, all of the above will need to be evaluated.

Stop Payment Orders

If the check recipient cannot be reached for any reason, the account holder may choose to suspend payment on the check. A stop payment order renders the uncashed check void.

Do Checks Expire?

When checks have been misplaced or are at risk of being discovered or altered by someone other than the intended recipient, this can be highly useful. Attempts to cash a stopped check will be denied. A number of banks charge a fee for the “stop payment” feature.

Old, Unused Checks

If a person obtains an old, unused check for a still-active account, the check remains valid regardless of its age or whether it contains out-of-date personal information, such as an outdated address.

Those in possession of an old checkbook should confirm that the account is still functioning. When a bank account is closed, checks are become invalid.

In addition, it is crucial to validate that the bank information, including the bank name and account routing number, has not changed. The check may be void if the account information does not match the identifying information on the check.

Conclusion

If you discover multiple blank checks on the ground, you should verify the account number linked with each. Typically, written and dated checks are only valid for 30 to 180 days after the date initially written on the check.

If the checks are significantly out of date and the account no longer exists, they are invalid. However, if the account still exists and there is nothing written on the check, it is likely still valid and should be used.

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Pat Moriarty
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