How Long Are Cheques Valid in the UK? Do They Expire?


Although you’re probably accustomed to receiving payments via digital transfers or cash, there may be times when you receive the cheque. But how long are cheques valid in the UK, and will they expire if you don’t cash them quickly enough?

Most banks in the UK authorise cheques to be valid for 6 months from the initial date of issue. The banks also reserve the right to refuse cheques older than 6 months. However, blank cheques and cheque books don’t have an expiration date and can be used at any time.  

In this article, I’ll explore the validity of cheques in the UK and if they expire. I’ll also provide tips on what to do if you come across an out-of-date cheque that you want to deposit. Keep reading to learn more. 

How Long Are Bank Cheques Valid for in the UK?

There is no legislation dictating the validity of cheques in the UK. However, banks are at liberty to set the timeframe for which they’ll accept cheques, and most UK banks tend to impose a limit of 6 months. 

Many bank cheques in the UK remain valid for 6 months. If you’re attempting to deposit a cheque older than 6 months, the banks reserve the right to refuse your request based on their discretionary period. 

Here’s a quick look at some of the UK’s biggest banks and the timeframe for which they’ll accept cheques: 

Bank Cheque Validity Period
Natwest6 months
Lloyds Bank6 months
Santander12 months
TSB6 months

Source: Natwest, Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds Bank, Twitter: Santander UK, TSB

Although most banks set their limit to 6 months, Santander has a much longer period of 12 months, meaning you have up to a year to cash a cheque before the bank can refuse your request. 

While most UK banks have these limitations, there may be times when you’re able to cash a cheque beyond the 6 or 12-month period. 

According to a forum on Money Saving Expert, some people found success in depositing their out-of-date cheques in the ATM instead of through the bank teller. Going this route allows the cheques to be checked digitally, thus, a greater chance that the date on the cheque may be overlooked.

This method isn’t guaranteed, but it could be an easy way to deposit your cheque, especially if it’s only out of date by only a few days or months.

But if you have a cheque that’s out-of-date by several years, you may need to consult with the issuer and request an updated cheque. 

Another method is to use your bank’s cheque imaging services, which allow you to digitally deposit your cheque, instead of having to go directly to the bank. This may enable you to deposit an outdated cheque if the date on the cheque goes unnoticed through the online system. 

If you opt to go to the bank directly, you could also get lucky with the bank teller scanning over the date and agreeing to deposit it anyway. If you aren’t able to deposit it at one branch, try another.

Source: Money Saving Expert, Cheque and Credit

a sample of a British cheque

Do Cheques Ever Expire in the UK?

Cheques don’t necessarily expire in the UK, but they may only remain valid for a specified period. Depending on the issuer, some cheques can have an expiration date printed directly on the cheque. Cheques can also expire if the payer or bank puts a stop to them. 

For example, if you receive a cheque from HMRC, such as a tax return payment, the cheque will usually have an expiration date listed on the front. If you don’t deposit the cheque before the indicated date, you won’t forfeit the funds, but you’ll have to contact the agency and request the cheque to be reissued.

This can often be a tedious and lengthy process, and means you’ll have to wait longer to get your payment. 

However, according to Mark Hodgson from Tremark Associates, if the cheques don’t have precise dates indicated on them, they may be valid for up to 6 years, instead of 6 months.

So, if you can’t find clear answers from your bank on its cheque acceptance policy, and the cheque itself doesn’t indicate a date of expiration, you could be entitled to an extended period to deposit the cheque, and without worrying about a cutoff point. 

Source: Twitter: HMRC, Tremark Associates

There are other instances in which cheques can expire. These can include the sender cancelling the cheque or the bank putting a stop to the payment. According to Checks and Credits, one of the most common reasons cheques aren’t successfully processed is the sender failing to have adequate funds in their account to issue the payment. 

If you’re having trouble depositing a cheque that is still within the period of validity, you should contact the cheque’s issuer or speak with your bank for further information.

Source: Checks and Credit, Money Helper, Compare the Market, Nationwide

a person writing on a blank cheque

Do Cheque Books or Blank Cheques Expire?

Cheque books and blank cheques do not expire. They can be issued at any time, but as soon as the issuer writes a date on them, the cheques may only be accepted by most UK banks within 6 months of that date. 

Although cheques aren’t as popular as they once were, they are still legally acceptable and can be deposited at banks across the UK. This means that, as long as you have the available funds in your account to issue the cheque, you’re able to write cheques from your cheque book at any time. 

Furthermore, if you’re aren’t writing cheques regularly, it may take you months or years to use all of the blank cheques in your cheque book. And since cheque books don’t expire, you can safely continue using your cheque book for as long as you want.

If your cheque book gets lost or stolen, you should call your bank immediately to cancel your cheques, as this will prevent others from writing cheques and cashing them from your account. Your bank will be able to void your lost or stolen cheques and will likely issue you a new cheque book.

cheque with a signature

How Long Do I Have To Cash a Cheque?

You will usually have around 6 months to cash a cheque from the date that it was initially issued. If you’re receiving a cheque from a business or government agency, the cheque may have an expiration date printed on it, and you’ll need to deposit it within the specified time frame. 

However, if you’re trying to deposit a cheque within its period of validity, there are a couple of instances where you may have to wait longer than usual. 

You may have to wait longer to cash your cheque if you’ve attempted to deposit it after your bank’s cutoff time, or if you’ve sent your request through on a weekend or bank holiday. You should check with your bank about its cheque clearing cycle, as this can vary from bank to bank.

For most banks in the UK, the cheque clearing cycle is approximately 24 hours if there are no issues with the cheque. 

Cheques can also take longer to process if they lack required information, such as signatures and dates. If your bank needs to perform further checks on the transaction, this can also delay your cheque’s processing times.

So, if you’ve missed the deadline to deposit a cheque, you can rest assured knowing there are ways to still get it deposited. Hopefully, you found this helpful article, and you’ll know what to do next time you come across a cheque. 

Source: Barclays

Gina

I'm an ex-BBC food co-ord and committed cuisine nerd. My specialties are travel (I've been to over 50 countries), food, drink, the outdoors, and any geeky tech!

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