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It’s always a good idea to have a few different tools that you can use to pay down your daily, monthly and yearly expenses. Although it’s more common these days for consumers to use cash, debit, and credit to cover these costs, there are still many situations where a personal cheque can come in handy. 

For everything you need to know about how to write and use a cheque, keep reading.

How To Write A Cheque In Canada

how to write a cheque

To write a cheque in Canada, follow these steps:

  1. Write the date at the top-right corner. This is the first day that the cheque may be cashed or deposited. It can still be cashed or deposited after the date indicated. 
  2. Write the full name of the payee in the “Pay to” field. You can also write the word “cash” here if you’re making the cheque out to cash. 
  3. Write the numeric cheque amount next to the $ sign. Be sure to include cents, even if the cents amount is zero.
  4. Write the cheque amount in words on the line under the payee’s name. Include the cents at the far right in the “/100 Dollars” field, even if the cents amount is zero.
  5. Sign the cheque at the bottom-right corner. This is required to validate the cheque.
  6. Fill out the memo section. This optional step allows you to specify the purpose of the cheque. 

How To Write A Cheque In Canada With Cents

There are two fields where you write the value of the cheque:

  • the numeric box
  • the field that requires the dollar value to be written out in words and numerals.

The numeric box is easy enough to figure out when it comes to writing both dollars and cents. However, it can be a bit more confusing when filling out the written section.

In the text box, write out the dollar amount in words, then write the cents in numerals on the far right part where the cheque shows “Dollars.” For instance, if the value of the cheque is $749.82, then you would write “seven hundred and forty-nine ——— 82/100.” 

What Does It Mean To Write A Cheque Out To Cash?

cheque cash

When you write a cheque out to cash, that allows anyone to receive the money. This differs from writing a specific name, whether an individual or business, in which case only that particular party can access the funds. 

Since anyone can receive the money from a cheque written out to cash, there’s a higher risk of theft. As such, this is not recommended. Instead, make the cheque out to the exact person or business that the money is intended for to minimize this risk. 

How To Write A VOID Cheque

void cheque

A void cheque is often used to set up electronic payments because it contains important banking information, including your account number, routing number, and transit number. In this case, the cheque is blank, meaning no fields have been filled out, such as the “Pay To” or the dollar amount sections. 

To make sure no one fills in your blank cheque and uses it to withdraw money from your chequing account, you must write the word “VOID” in large letters that cover all the important sections of the cheque. This will prevent anyone from trying to write the cheque out to cash and filling in the dollar amount fields, as VOID will cover them. 

Can You Stop A Payment On A Cheque?

Yes, you can request a stop payment on a cheque you wrote. However, if the payment is already in process, it may still go through. Further, all payment details must be exactly as shown on the cheque you wish to put a stop payment on, such as the cheque number, dollar amount, payee, and date. Otherwise, the payment may not be stopped. 

It’s also worth noting that if the cheque is on a pre-authorized payment, only the current payment will be stopped. Any scheduled payments in the future must be individually stopped.

You can stop a cheque payment either in person at a bank branch, over the phone, or through your online banking account. Your financial institution may charge a fee for this service.

What To Do If You Make A Mistake When Writing A Cheque? 

Unfortunately, if you print your recipient’s name wrong, enter the wrong payment amount, or forget to sign the bottom, then your cheque may be considered invalid, or worse, you could end up sending money somewhere you don’t want to. 

Don’t worry, because there are a few things you can do to bypass these problems and avoid any thieves taking advantage of a lost or stolen cheque:

  • Cross out the mistake with ONE horizontal line, then rewrite the correct details
  • Add your initials after the error to confirm that you approve it
  • If the error is bad enough, write VOID in block lettering across the whole cheque
  • If you’re still worried, destroy the cheque and dispose of it properly after voiding it

Before you attempt to correct what you might think is a simple error, consider that some mistakes may be considered worse than others. Some banks will reject the cheque altogether if the payment amount is wrong or some information is illegible. If that happens, it’s probably safer to just void the cheque and start fresh. 

Note: Some employers, landlords, and other entities may ask for a blank cheque so they can verify your financial details. In that case, the VOID technique is also essential.

What Do The Numbers At The Bottom Of The Cheque Mean?

The last feature that you’ll see on a standard cheque is four sets of numbers. These numerals are unique to each cheque and allow the recipient’s bank to locate your account so they can withdraw the desired funds electronically. 

  • Cheque Number – The first section of numbers represents the sequence for which each cheque is printed in the booklet you order (ex: 001,002, etc).
  • Transit Number – The next series helps classify the exact branch where the chequebook was requested (often it’s where you opened your account). 
  • Institution Number – Also known as the “bank number”, this section showcases which bank or credit union the cheque came from.
  • Account Number – As the name suggests, the last few digits in the sequence help identify the account that’s issuing the cheque.

Institution Numbers For Major Canadian Banks

Bank of Montreal (BMO)01
Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank)02
Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)03
Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD Bank)04
National Bank of Canada (NBC)06
Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC)010

Check out this article for a more exhaustive list of bank institution numbers.

Other Features Of A Cheque

While there are several kinds of cheques that you can write or accept in Canada, a standard personal cheque will normally contain the following features:

  • Your name, address, and postal code
  • A spot to fill in the date (DD/MM/YYYY)
  • A line labelled “PAY TO THE ORDER OF” where you’ll write the recipient’s name 
  • A line ending in “DOLLARS”, where you must spell out the payment amount
  • A space to print the amount in numerals (ex: $100.00)
  • The details of your banking institution (name, address, etc.)
  • A line labelled “MEMO” wherein you can describe the cheque’s purpose (optional)
  • Another line beside it where you can put your signature.

How Long Does A Person Have To Cheque A Cash?

A person should wait until the date written on the cheque to cash it. However, there may be times when a cheque is cashed before the date specified, or even months later. 

Stale-Dated Cheques

A cheque is considered “stale-dated” six months after the date written on it unless it’s a certified cheque or a cheque from the federal government. Banks should not cash a stale-dated cheque. 

If the person you issued the stale-dated cheque to says the bank will not cash it, be sure to take the original cheque back before writing a new one to avoid the possibility of both cheques being cashed. 

Post-Dated Cheques

A cheque cannot be cashed before the date written on it. But sometimes banks may cash a post-dated cheque early, particularly if they’re working with a large volume of cheques and automated processing.

If you don’t have enough money in your account to cover the cashed cheque before it should have been processed, ask your bank to replace the funds in your account. 

How Do You Cash A Cheque? 

A cheque can be cashed in several ways:

  • At a physical bank branch
  • At a bank machine
  • At a cheque cashing service

If you’d simply like to deposit your cheque, you can use mobile deposit via your banking app.

Cheque Holds

A “hold” on a cheque may happen when the bank requires that you wait a certain amount of time before you can access the funds. There are several reasons for cheque holds:

– To ensure there is enough money in the issuer’s bank account to cover the cheque.
– To ensure there is no stop payment on the cheque.
– In order to verify the details of the cheque to ensure it hasn’t been fraudulently altered.

The maximum amount of time that a federally-regulated financial institution can hold a cheque is 8 days, depending on the cheque amount and how it was cashed.

What Are The Benefits And Drawbacks Of Using A Cheque In Canada? 

Remember, while your chequebook can be useful in many situations, there are still other ways of paying for your expenses that can be faster or more convenient. 

Benefits Of Writing A Cheque

  • You can ask the payee to hold off on depositing the cheque or post-date the cheque so that the funds aren’t drained from your bank account immediately, as with debit or cash. 
  • If you regularly balance your chequebook, having a physical record of your transactions can make it easier to calculate and budget for all your expenses.
  • You can pay for some expenses without having to visit your bank to withdraw cash or log in online, which many people find confusing or inconvenient. 
  • You can avoid adding more debt to your credit card and reduce the danger of it being lost, stolen, or frauded. The same principle applies to your cash and debit card, which can also be risky to lose or have stolen. 
  • A cheque is only valid once you’ve signed it. Additionally, many cashiers and bankers will confirm your identity before they validate it and your payee’s name will be on it. So, there’s less chance of someone cashing or depositing the cheque if you lose it. 
  • Many businesses charge service fees when you make electronic transfers with cards or e-Transfers, which is not the case with most cheques.

Drawbacks Of Writing A Cheque

  • Depositing and processing a cheque can take longer than with cash, debit, or credit. You might not know how much money is left in your account until the bank charges you a non-sufficient funds (NSF) penalty for another transaction. 
  • Similarly, when you’re depositing or cashing cheques, it may take a few business days for your bank to inform you that the cheque has been denied because the payer is a fraudster or has insufficient funds in their account. 
  • As mentioned, many banks will charge you to order new chequebooks, unless you pay extra monthly fees for a premium account. Plus, you’ll have to visit, call, or go online with your bank to purchase them. 
  • While some banks will accept a cheque online if you scan it or take a picture of it on your phone, others require payees to visit a branch to cash or deposit it
  • Cheques aren’t as widely accepted as cash, credit, or debit. Plus, you’re typically not going to carry around your chequebook. If you don’t have access to any other payment options, some transactions may be impossible. 

How To Write A Cheque In Canada Safely

Still afraid of falling victim to a scam, theft, or identity fraud when issuing cheques? If so, there are several preventative measures you can take, including but not limited to:

  • Write the cheque in pen (rather than pencil) to prevent anyone from erasing and rewriting the cheque. 
  • Make a consistent signature that can’t be forged easily. This way, your bank can take the proper precautions if one of your cheques gets cashed and the handwriting doesn’t match up.   
  • Leave as little blank space as possible when filling out the cheque. For instance, after printing the payment amount, simply draw a line through the rest of the space to stop anyone from adding numbers or words to it. Additionally, don’t let anyone fill out the information for you. 
  • Avoid making any cheques payable to CASH. This is an option that allows the recipient to withdraw the money without depositing a cheque, which is much more dangerous in the event of loss or theft. 

Where Can You Record Your Cheque Payments And Transactions?

When you order your chequebook, your bank should also include a register so that you’ll have an easier time keeping track of: 

  • How many cheques you’re writing 
  • How much money you’re issuing 
  • Who you’re paying the money toward 
  • Why and when you’re making these transactions 

Overall, filling out your cheque register is optional and many consumers will simply use theirs to confirm that all the numbers in their bank account line up, which is commonly known as “balancing” their chequing account. 

However, listing all your transactions can help you monitor where your money is going, as well as lessen the risk of theft, fraud, or accidentally spending more than you have in your bank account. If you wish, you can also use your register to keep track of any cheques that someone else gives you.

Bottom Line On How To Write A Cheque In Canada

While writing a cheque may seem like an outdated skill, there are still many situations where a cheque is needed. The good news is writing a cheque is simple, though it’s important to ensure complete accuracy. If there are any errors on the cheque, all sorts of issues could arise. 

Cheque FAQs

What are some alternatives to using a cheque?

If you’re still worried about writing or accepting personal cheques, it may be a better idea to avoid using them altogether. After all, there are plenty of easier and more convenient payment methods available in Canada, such as credit cards, debit cards, cash, e-transfers and automatic payments & transfers (through your bank).

Can you write yourself a cheque?

Yes, you can write a cheque to yourself, which you might do as a way to withdraw cash from your bank account or transfer funds between accounts. 

What is the purpose of a cheque?

For those who have never used one, a cheque is a piece of paper that you can order through your bank or credit union. Typically, you’ll receive a booklet of identical cheques that have been printed with your personal information. Cheques can be used to pay for various costs. Once the person or organization you’re paying deposits the cheque, the money will be automatically withdrawn from your chequing account or savings account.

When would you use your chequebook?

Though many businesses don’t accept personal cheques anymore, it may still be used to:
  • Borrow money from someone and wish to pay them back
  • Pay your landlord for rent and/or utilities 
  • Have to cover tuition fees, medical or dental bills, or other large expenses
  • Purchase goods and/or services from certain small businesses
  • Pay a contractor, plumber, or other home maintenance professional
  • Haven’t created an online banking account
Lisa Rennie avatar on Loans Canada
Lisa Rennie

Lisa has been working as a personal finance writer for more than a decade, creating unique content that helps to educate Canadian consumers in the realms of real estate, mortgages, investing and financial health. For years, she held her real estate license in Toronto, Ontario before giving it up to pursue writing within this realm and related niches. Lisa is very serious about smart money management and helping others do the same.

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