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How long before a personal check expires?

Updated February 21, 2017

From time to time, people may misplace or forget about a personal check that was written to them to pay for goods or services. When the check is discovered, questions can arise about whether or not the check has expired.

Terminology

Personal checks do not expire; however, they do become what is known as "stale dated."

Time Frame

A check becomes stale dated six months after it was written.

Significance

Banks have the option of refusing to deposit or cash stale-dated checks.

Effects

A person in possession of a stale-dated check may have to return to the person who issued the check and ask for a replacement. Alternatively, a bank may agree to accept the check, but place a hold on it to ensure that the check clears before the funds are spent.

Considerations

There is no mandate that banks are required to follow regarding stale-dated checks. Banks are free to set whatever policies they feel best protect themselves and their depositors.

Solutions

It is best to check with the financial institution where the stale-dated check will be deposited to become aware with their specific policies.

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About the Author

Faith Davies has been writing professionally since 1996, contributing to various websites. She holds an LAH insurance license in the state of Pennsylvania and has experience as a bank branch manager and lending officer. Davies graduated cum laude from the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelor of Arts in art history.