how long is a cheque valid for

1 December 2023 

How Long is a Cheque Valid For In December 2023?

What is a cheque?

Cheques are a form of payment that individuals utilise instead of cash or credit cards since they allow them to make a purchase or pay bills without having to worry about carrying extra money or having their credit card stolen. 

It’s a physical piece of paper with instructions for a bank to pay the person named on the cheque a specific amount of money. Business and personal cheques may appear old-fashioned, but they’re still widely used today, which means it’s essential to know how they operate.

There are three different types of cheques:

  • authorised
  • partially authorised
  • unauthorised.

An authorised cheque is known as a direct instruction (DI) or banker’s order (BO). A partially authorised (P/A) cheque is created by using an existing DI form and changing the name on it to someone else. An unauthorised (U/A) cheque has been forged or created with incorrect details.

As long as it is signed correctly, you can cash or deposit almost any kind of cheque as soon as you receive it – either by mail, at your local branch, or online through your individual banks’ website.

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What is Cheque Imaging? 

Cheque imaging is the newest technology for cheque processing. 

The benefits of this new technology are manifold: it eliminates the need for paper storage; it speeds up processes by eliminating physical handling of documents; and it reduces costs associated with document printing, transportation, storage and destruction. If you pay in a cheque on a weekday, most banks will deposit the cheque by the end of the next weekday.

How long do cheques last?

People often wonder how long are cheques valid for and the answer isn’t entirely simple. While there is technically no expiration date for cheques as stated in UK law, most banks will refuse to accept a cheque if it is more than 180 days old. 

This is due to the possibility that an out-of-date cheque may no longer be valid and the decision is at the discretion of the individual bank. Unfortunately, it is common banking practice to reject cheques presented after this six month period and if this happens, you may not be able to get your money back. 

How long to cash a cheque?

Most checks are good for six months from the date they were written. After that, they become outdated and the bank may not accept them. Once you pay or cash a cheque, you may not be able to get the money right away. 

Depending on the bank’s rules and methods, the clearing process can take several business days. During this time, the bank checks to see if the person who wrote the cheque has enough money and if the cheque is real. 

It’s important to keep an eye on your bank account to see when the funds have cleared and can be used. Always keep in mind that a cheque could still be returned unpaid until it is fully cleared, even if the money is already there.

Do cheque books expire?

There is currently no law in the UK that dictates when cheques must be renewed, or when a new book of cheques must be purchased. 

Do cheques expire?

Yes. You can check your cheque’s expiry date by looking at the first nine digits. They will be written as follows: DD MM YY – e.g., 16 09 16.

The first two digits indicate the month; the next two are for the day and the last five for the year. The rest of these digits represent calculations to prevent fraud, so they may not always match what you would expect them to be. If you ever have any doubts over whether a cheque is still valid, it is advisable to contact your bank directly to double-check before it is cashed or deposited into your account.


How Long Does A Cheque Last?

Authorised Cheques:

Cheques that a person has written themselves are always valid as long as they have the funds available to cover the cheque. 

Partially Authorised Cheques:

A partially authorised cheque will, in most cases, be valid for six months from the date written on the cheque. Some UK banks may ask where the original cheque is, and others will honour them within this time limit regardless. It’s important to note that if there isn’t enough money in your account to cover a fully endorsed partially authorised cheque by the six-month mark, then your bank might refuse to pay it. 


Unauthorised Cheques:

An unauthorised cheque can be used as soon as it is prepared and signed, but if the bank spots that it is after the cheque expiry date, they may cancel the transaction. The bank should give you a note explaining why they won’t cover the cheque. You could then take that amount out of your account or pay for it with another payment type (i.e., credit card).

So What Should You Do With An Expired Cheque?

If you’ve got an expired cheque, then make sure to contact the party who wrote it as soon as possible and explain the situation. You could go to your local bank and see if they are willing to cash it for you even though it’s expired – but only if the amount of money written on the cheque is still in your account.

If not, you might need to contact the cheque writer directly and get them to issue a new cheque. If neither the bank nor the writer of the cheque are willing to help you, then there isn’t much more that can be done about an expired cheque aside from contacting a lawyer and possibly going through the court system (which can take a long time and end up costing more than what the cheque is for).

How Can You Avoid Cheques Expiring?

Organising all necessary paperwork can help people avoid these kinds of problems in general because then they know exactly when something was created and by whom. This way, there’s no doubt about whether or not the cheque has expired, and it’s clear that the money in their account was there when the cheque was initially written.

Organising things in a safe place can also help avoid going through too much trouble to reclaim something if it gets lost because you know exactly where it is! Organising your money and knowing exactly when things were written can help prevent all kinds of mistakes or resolve them, even years after they’ve happened.

What Are Some Other Common Problems with Cheques?

A cheque can ‘bounce’ if the account it is drawn against does not have enough funds to cover the expense. This typically happens when someone writes a cheque for more money than they actually have in their account. If this happens, then it can result in fees being associated with trying to cash the cheque again or recouping the amount. 

Because of this, it is especially important to cash cheques as soon as possible to reduce the risk of money no longer being in the cheque writer’s account. 

Checking your balance can help avoid problems by giving you an idea of how much money is currently in your account and whether or not all payments have already been covered.  

If you are dealing with uncertified, partially authorised, or authorisation cheques, then your bank can refuse to pay them if they think there isn’t enough money in your account to cover the amount that was written on the cheque. Having this information to hand means that you can stop these issues before it is too late and can avoid the accumulation of unnecessary debt. 

The only way to know if a cheque will clear is to wait until the bank processes it and sends back an approval notice. If you deposit a cheque before this happens, you risk having your money returned to you as well as paying extra fees for depositing unauthorised payments.

What are the alternatives to cheques?

If you really want to avoid problems with expiring cheques, the best way is to consider handling your transaction by other means. 


Debit cards are increasingly popular these days since banks are able to confirm right away whether or not there’s enough money in your account for a purchase to go through – which is better than just trusting that the other company will still honour the cheque if you take it in. This works well because it’s all done electronically, so once a debit has been made by one account holder to another, there generally isn’t anything else that needs to be sorted out.

A bank account transfer is another great option for situations where you need to pay someone else but don’t want them to be able to take money from your account. 

An ACH transfer or direct debit works by letting each of the two parties agree that they’re going to pay a certain amount through the banking system, and then they can do this right away without having to wait for the duration of the clearing process. Similarly, wire transfers work in much the same way but go between two different banks instead of just two people’s accounts at one bank.

Cheques provide an option for those who want to pay in a way that is not electronic, but they come with the risk of the cheque expiring. If you are careful about when you pay cheques and make sure that there is enough money in your account to cover them, then you can avoid the vast majority of these risks. However, it’s always best to be aware of these dangers and have a backup plan just in case something goes wrong. For example, having a debit card allows you to quickly and easily transfer money without any hassles.


Can a bank reject a cheque that is less than 180 days old?

According to UK law, there is no expiration date for cheques; however, in our experience, banks may still reject cheques that are less than 180 days old if they suspect there may be problems. 

This may be due to potential fraud, insufficient funds, or other factors. Even if a cheque is technically still valid according to the law, banks can accept or reject it based on their policies and procedures.

Is there a law in the UK that dictates when cheques must be renewed?

No law in the United Kingdom specifies when a new book of checks must be purchased or when a chequebook must be renewed. 

However, it is important to note that checks typically expire six months after issuance. It is always prudent to periodically check the expiration date of checks and replace them if necessary to avoid the possibility of bank rejection.

How can you check cheque validity?

To verify the validity of a check, you can examine the first nine digits, which indicate the date the check was written. The first two digits represent the month, the next two the day, and the final five the year. 

It is important to note that while the date on the cheque can indicate its validity, other factors, such as insufficient funds in the account or suspicion of fraud, may affect whether the cheque can be cashed or deposited. If you have doubts about whether a check is still valid, contact your bank to confirm before cashing or depositing the check.


What happens if you deposit an unauthorised payment before the bank has processed it?

If you deposit an unauthorised payment before processing it, the bank may reject it and return the check to you. This could occur if the cheque contained incorrect information or needed to be forged. 

The bank must safeguard customer accounts and may take measures to prevent fraudulent activity.

Sometimes, the bank may explain why they will not cover the check, and you may be required to pay with a credit card or withdraw the funds from your account.

What are the benefits of using cheque imaging technology?

Cheque imaging is a relatively new technology for processing checks with many advantages. 

Cheque imaging eliminates paper storage, as digital images can be stored electronically, reducing the costs associated with document printing, transportation, and storage.

It also expedites processes by eliminating the physical handling of documents, enabling faster clearing times and making it easier for customers to deposit checks from remote locations. 

Additionally, cheque imaging can enhance security because digital images can be easily monitored for signs of potential fraud.

What is the difference between an ACH transfer and a wire transfer?

ACH transfers and wire transfers are both electronic payment methods in our experience, but there are significant differences between them. 

ACH transfers are typically used for domestic transactions and are processed in batches, so they may take several days to clear.

Wire transfers, on the other hand, are typically used for international transactions and are processed in real-time, so the funds are typically accessible immediately. 

Wire transfers are typically more expensive than ACH transfers due to the expedited processing times and additional security requirements.


What should you do if your cheque bounces due to insufficient funds in your account?

If your check bounces due to insufficient funds in your account, you should immediately contact your bank to resolve the issue. In our experience, the bank and the person or business you were attempting to pay may charge you a fee for a bounced check. 

You may also be charged interest until the debt is settled in full. To avoid these issues, it is essential to have sufficient funds in your account to cover any checks you write, or to consider alternative payment methods that carry different risks than insufficient funds.

Are there other payment methods besides cheques and debit cards that can be used for transactions?

Yes, besides checks and debit cards, several other payment methods can be used for transactions. 

According to our research, credit cards, online payment systems such as PayPal, mobile payment apps such as Cash App, and bank transfers are popular alternative payment methods. Depending on their needs and preferences, these payment methods may be a better option for certain individuals.

Can you still cash an expired cheque if the amount written on it is still in your account?

While technically, there is no expiration date for cheques under UK law, most banks will only accept them if they are 180 days old.

In our experience, if you have an expired check and the amount is still in your account, you may be able to contact the person who wrote the check and request that they issue a new check. 

Alternatively, you can take the expired check to your bank and see if they will cash it; however, this is at the bank’s discretion and may not be possible in all situations.

How can organising paperwork help prevent problems with cheques?

In multiple ways, organising paperwork can aid in preventing problems with cheques. Keeping track of all necessary documents, including checks, can help you determine when and by whom something was created. 

This allows you to track when cheques were written and when they expire, thereby reducing the likelihood of a bank rejecting the cheque. In addition, organising items in a secure location allows you to retrieve lost items with minimal effort because you know their exact location. 

Maintaining accurate records and being organised can also aid in preventing errors or resolving them, even years after they have occurred, thereby reducing the risk of financial losses or other problems.


Meet the author

Hayley Kenyon

Hayley Kenyon

Hayley is responsible for writing content on the site as well as managing the social media channels. She has a degree in Art and Humanities. Hayley has been reviewing and writing on products for a number of years and uses her experience to recommend the best products.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the alternatives to cheques?

If you really want to avoid problems with expiring cheques, the best way is to consider handling your transaction by other means.

What is a cheque?

Cheques are a form of payment that individuals utilise instead of cash or credit cards since they allow them to make a purchase or pay bills without having to worry about carrying extra money or having their credit card stolen.

What is Cheque Imaging? 

Cheque imaging is the newest technology for cheque processing.

Do cheque books expire?

There is currently no law in the UK that dictates when cheques must be renewed, or when a new book of cheques must be purchased.

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