How Much Time Before It Is Too Late to Cash a Check?

by Alan Sembera
Open a bank account to avoid check-cashing fees.

If you hold onto a check longer than six months, there's a good chance you won't be able to cash it. Under the federal code that regulates these matters, a bank is under no obligation to honor a check that's presented six months after it was written and dated, unless it's a certified check. However, the decision to cash older checks is ultimately left up to the bank.

After Six Months

Many banks will honor a check after six months unless they suspect you're up to no good. In some cases they may hold the check and call the issuer to verify that it's real, although they're under no obligation to do this. If it's a personal check from a friend or relative, consider letting the person know before you cash it. The writer might have assumed you already cashed the check and may no longer have money in the account to cover it.


Many checks, particularly those from government agencies or large companies, contain fine print that voids the check after a certain period, such as 90 days. If you have one of these, contact the issuer and ask for a replacement.

About the Author

Alan Sembera began writing for local newspapers in Texas and Louisiana. His professional career includes stints as a computer tech, information editor and income tax preparer. Sembera now writes full time about business and technology. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Texas A&M University.

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