Unless a check has an expiration date listed, banks will typically treat it as "expired" once it is six months old. If the person or business you gave the payment to hasn't cashed the check within this time, you can ask your bank to issue a new payment, either online or by visiting a local branch.
Definition of Expired
Generally, a check with an expiration date is not valid after the date listed. For example, if John Doe gave you a check on June 1st with the words "Void After 90 Days" embossed on the front, it is unlikely the bank will cash it on September 1st or later. However, whether or not to cash an expired check is solely within the bank's discretion. If an expiration date is not listed, the bank will treat it as "expired" once the check is six months old, although policies vary between banks. Expired checks are also known as old or stale checks.
Return of Original Check
Prior to replacing an expired check, contact the person you issued the check to and ask him to return it. This ensures the payee does not cash both the old and new check, receiving double payment. If you are unable to reach the payee, consider placing a stop payment on the original check at the same time you reissue a replacement check. This will prevent the bank from potentially honoring the old check after you send the payee a new one.
If you place a stop payment on the original check and fail to reissue a replacement, this may constitute fraud under the law because it suggests an intent not to pay. However, by issuing both a stop payment and replacement check at the same time, a finding of fraud is unlikely because it shows you are not attempting to avoid payment of the original debt.
If more than six months have passed and a personal check you issued has not been cashed, you can have the bank reissue a new check through your bank's online bill pay system or by visiting a local branch and requesting a cashier's check. If you are reissuing the check through bill pay, log in to your account online and select "Add Payee" to enter the payee's name and mailing address. Next, select "Make Payment" and provide the amount of the check and date you want the bank to mail it to your payee.
If the expired check was a cashier's check, also known as a bank or certified check, visit your local branch to have a new one issued. If you want to place a stop payment on the original check, doing so is at the bank's discretion. Typically, banks will only do so if the cashier's check is lost or stolen. The bank may also require you to wait a certain amount of time from the date the original check was issued before providing a replacement. A common waiting period is 90 days. If your bank refuses to place a stop payment on the expired cashier's check prior to issuing a new one, confirm that it will honor the original check if presented, then advise your payee to submit that check for payment.
- Bankrate: 5 Things to Know When Cashing Old Checks
- My Bank Tracker: Stop Payment Fee Comparison at Top 10 U.S. Banks
- New York Times: Stop Payment. Now Stop It Again.
- Webster Bank: Online Bill Pay Questions, Can I Stop Payment On a Bill Pay Check?
- Community State Bank: Stop Payments - Online Banking
- Logix: Cashier’s Check Stop Payment Request and Indemnification Agreement
- U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency: Answers About Stop Payment Orders
- Nolo: Can I Cash a Check I've Held for Months?
- Wells Fargo: Bill Pay Questions
Based on the West Coast, Mary Jane Freeman has been writing professionally since 1994, specializing in the topics of business and law. Freeman's work has appeared in a variety of publications, including LegalZoom, Essence, Reuters and Chicago Sun-Times. Freeman holds a Master of Science in public policy and management and Juris Doctor. Freeman is self-employed and works as a policy analyst and legal consultant.