At some point in your business, you will want to issue professional-looking checks with crisp, typed information printed across them. This will reduce errors and the potential for fraud when compared to filling out a check in ink.
The most common way for a small business to print checks is through accounting software such as Quicken or QuickBooks Online. This software is readily available at office supply stores. Alternatively, you can buy special stock paper with watermarks for the checks and also a check printer from specialty suppliers.
Can You Print a Check?
Free pre-printed checks are often a courtesy extended for personal checks attached to personal checking accounts. However, if you have a bank account for your small business, you will need to provide your own checks. This might mean buying them from the bank, ordering blank checks from a third party or printing them yourself in-house.
If you are writing paychecks and paying vendors, that can add up to a lot of outbound business checks. This can certainly get expensive if you are buying checks from the bank. A more sustainable option is to print your own checks from your personal computer or Mac. It is perfectly legal if you follow all guidelines and requirements set by the American Bankers Association (ABA).
The two options here are to buy sheets of connected pre-printed checks that are already on blank check stock and print only the payor/payee information, or to print them entirely from scratch. This will require MICR ink and a MICR font for the MICR line. MICR stands for magnetic ink character recognition, and it is a major security feature on all checks.
Is Printing Checks Easy?
Printing checks is fairly straightforward, but you must comply with all legal requirements. This will depend on whether you want to print the MICR line on a check fully from scratch, or if you intend to use pre-printed sheets. The initial investment will be higher if you purchase the MICR ink, special check paper and check printer. However, it might be more cost-effective in the long run.
The MICR line is at the bottom of the check’s front side. Cornell Law School explains it contains the account and routing numbers, check number and possibly other relevant details. This line is unique because it is always printed using a specific font and in magnetic ink. This technology was developed in the late 1950s and still remains the standard in the United States.
If you are not issuing checks at that volume, consider purchasing pre-printed sheets of checks that can be printed on a regular office printer. You can use your accounting software to track the check numbers on each check. This process is very similar to printing on company letterhead. It is very convenient, especially for payroll.
Is Printing Checks Safe?
As long as all requirements are followed, it is no less safe than issuing any other check. You will want to ensure that you can handle the accounting behind the issuance of multiple checks at a time. This includes tracking check numbers and making sure that they are not used twice.
You will also want to make sure to double-check all of the information going onto the checks. This includes the check amounts and payee information. It can become time-consuming if too many errors cause employees to request reissued checks and W-2s due to repeated technical errors. This can also create negative issues with the IRS.
Finally, you will want to make sure that you keep your check writing supplies, templates and check printing software secure from theft or fraud.
Hashaw Elkins is a financial services and tax professional, as well as a project management consultant. She has led projects across multiple industries and sectors, ranging from the Fortune Global 500 to international nongovernmental organizations. Hashaw holds an MBA in Real Estate and an MSci in Project Management. She is further certified in organizational change management, diversity management, and cross-cultural mediation.