When you are presented with a check, it is always necessary to establish that you are the rightful recipient. This is typically done with photo identification, with the most common being a driver's license. It is possible to cash a check without a driver's license, but you may need to determine how to best approach such a scenario. Another form of photo ID can often be substituted, and other options are available.
While you usually have to show photo identification to cash a check, you can show a state photo ID instead of a driver's license. Depending on the establishment, other forms of identification such as a passport or employee ID might work.
Check Cashing Process
A check is simply a financial obligation in the form of a written personal pledge. Typically, if a check is made out in your name, you will take the check to your bank and deposit it in your account. There may be a hold placed on the money for a day or longer as your bank and the issuing bank transfer the underlying funds. You can also present a check at the bank where it was written and cash it without an account. You can also cash certain types of checks at payday loan and check cashing providers. Typically, these establishments will only accept paychecks. In all cases, you will need to establish your identity with photo ID to match the name of the payee of the check.
State Photo Identification
The most common form of photo identification in the United States is a driver's license. The driver's license has become a de facto national ID card. Every state offers a non-driver identification card that does not obligate you to pass a driving test. One of these forms of ID will be the preferred form when you cash a check. You may be able to present other forms of photo ID.
Alternative Identification Options
You should try to determine in advance what other forms of photo ID are acceptable when cashing a check. Call ahead and ask. A United States or foreign passport is usually acceptable, although you may need to provide additional documentation to supplement a passport. Other forms of ID, such as school or employer-issued cards, may be sufficient.
Cashing Checks Without Identification
If you have established a long-term relationship with a check-cashing establishment, certain grocery stores or your bank, they may be willing to accept your signature without photo identification. The process is likely to be more involved in such a case, especially if the manager needs to vouch on your behalf that they can identify you without an ID. You may also be able to sign your check over to a third-party individual, such as a friend or family member, to deposit it in a personal bank account. The hold time on third-party checks can take over a week, so you will need to plan for this contingency. Employees in certain industries may be able to sign their paycheck over to their employer and cash it at work. This often holds true for the restaurant industry, but check with your employer first to even see if this is an option.
Jefe Nubarron has been writing technical articles since 1995. He has been published in technical magazines and on popular websites. He has a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology and is working on additional coursework towards a master's degree.