How to Write a Cheque in Canada: Simple Step-by-Step Instructions

While digital payment methods have become increasingly popular, cheques remain a valid and useful way to transfer funds in Canada. Understanding how to write a cheque correctly ensures a smooth and secure transaction. This guide provides a step-by-step breakdown of the cheque-writing process, along with essential information on depositing cheques, handling mistakes, and keeping your cheques secure.

What is a Cheque?

A cheque is a paper document instructing a bank to pay a specific amount of money to the named recipient. It acts as a written order, authorizing the transfer of funds from your bank account to the payee’s account. Here’s a breakdown of the key players involved:

  • Payor (Drawer): The person writing the cheque, instructs the bank to transfer funds.
  • Payee: The person or entity receiving the payment through the cheque.
  • Bank: The financial institution holding the payor’s account and responsible for processing the cheque.

The cheque contains various fields that need to be filled out accurately for successful processing. Let’s delve into the step-by-step process of writing a cheque in Canada.

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How to Write a Cheque in Canada: A Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Date: Locate the top right corner of the cheque, where you’ll find a box labeled “Date.” Write the current date in day/month/year format (e.g., 09/05/2024).
  2. Payee Name: Find the line that reads “Pay to the order of.” Here, you’ll write the full legal name of the person or business receiving the payment. Ensure there are no spelling mistakes, as inaccuracies can lead to rejection of the cheque.
  3. Amount (Numeric): Next to the dollar sign ($), write the exact amount of money you’re paying in numerical format. Include cents and two decimal places (e.g., $450.20). Draw a horizontal line before the first digit to prevent anyone from altering the amount.
  4. Amount (Written): On the line below the payee’s name, write out the complete amount in words. Here are some examples:
    • For $450.20: “Four hundred and fifty dollars and twenty cents” or “Four hundred and fifty dollars and 20/100”
  5. Signature: The bottom right corner of the cheque has a designated line for your signature. Use the same signature you use for your bank documents for verification purposes.
  6. Memo (Optional): While not mandatory, the memo section on the bottom left corner allows you to include a brief note referencing the purpose of the cheque (e.g., “Rent payment for May”).

What to Do If You Make a Mistake

Making a mistake while writing a cheque can happen. Here’s how to handle it:

  • Voiding the Cheque: If the error is significant, it’s best to void the cheque. Write “VOID” in large, bold letters across the entire cheque to prevent its misuse.
  • Correcting Minor Mistakes: For small errors like misspelling a name or incorrect amounts, you can carefully draw a single line through the mistake. Write the correction neatly above the line and initial it for verification. However, avoid excessive corrections, as messy cheques might be rejected.

Understanding Cheque Numbers and Information

The bottom left corner of a cheque displays a series of numbers specific to your account and the cheque itself. Here’s a breakdown of their meaning:

  • Cheque Number: This unique number identifies the specific cheque.
  • Transit Number: Identifies the branch where your account is held.
  • Financial Institution Number: Identifies your bank.
  • Account Number: Links the cheque to your specific chequing account.

These numbers are crucial for depositing the cheque electronically or through an ATM.

Depositing a Cheque in Canada

How to Write a Cheque in Canada: Simple Step-by-Step Instructions

There are two primary ways to deposit a cheque in Canada:

  1. In-Person Deposit: Visit your bank teller and present the endorsed cheque (signing the back of the cheque). The teller will verify the information and deposit the funds into your account.
  2. ATM or Mobile Deposit: Many banks offer cheque deposits through ATMs or their mobile banking apps. Follow the specific instructions provided by your bank. This usually involves selecting the cheque deposit option, capturing clear images of the front and back of the cheque, and confirming the deposit details.

Safeguarding Your Cheques

Cheques are valuable financial instruments, so proper security measures are essential:

  • Recordkeeping: Maintain a record of all issued cheques, including payee name, amount, date, and cheque number.
  • Verification: Ensure all cheques, whether issued or received, are correctly dated, completed, and signed.
  • Refusal of Post-Dated Cheques: Avoid accepting post-dated cheques, which are cheques with a future date written on them. Similarly, don’t hold onto a cheque for someone else to cash later.
  • Suspicious Cheques: Never accept cheques written out to someone else and then endorsed over to you. This practice can be a red flag for fraud.
  • Safe Storage: Keep your checkbook in a secure location, away from prying eyes and potential theft.

How Long Does a Cheque Take to Clear?

The timeframe for a cheque to clear in Canada depends on the deposit method:

  • Instant Access: You get immediate access to the first $100 of a deposited cheque.
  • ATM/Mobile Deposits: Funds become available on the business day following the deposit.

For deposits exceeding $100, your bank may place a hold on the cheque, restricting access to the funds for a specific period. The hold duration typically ranges from 4 to 8 business days, depending on the cheque amount and deposit method:

  • $1,500 or Less: 4 business days for in-person deposits and 5 business days for ATM/mobile deposits.
  • More Than $1,500: 7 business days for in-person deposits and 8 business days for ATM/mobile deposits.

Remember: These are general timeframes, and your bank’s specific policies may differ. It’s always recommended to consult your bank regarding their hold periods.

Pros and Cons of Using Cheques

While cheques offer a secure way to transfer funds, they also come with some drawbacks:


  • No Convenience Fees: Unlike electronic transfers, cheques typically don’t incur additional fees.
  • Security: Only the named payee can deposit the cheque, minimizing the risk of theft compared to cash.
  • Proof of Payment: A canceled cheque serves as a physical record of the payment made.


  • Cost: Ordering a checkbook can involve a cost, especially for customized cheques.
  • Processing Time: Compared to instant electronic transfers, cheques take longer to clear and access the funds.
  • Risk of Overdrawing: Inaccurate account balance calculations can lead to accidental overdrafts when using cheques.
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Can I Write a Cheque to Myself?

Yes, you can write a cheque to yourself and follow the same process as writing a cheque to someone else. However, there might be easier ways to access your funds, such as withdrawing money at an ATM or using a debit card.

How to Write a Cheque with Cents?

  • Numeric Format: In the designated numeric field, include the dollar amount and two decimal places for the cents (e.g., $450.20).
  • Written Format: Write out the full amount in words, including the cents. For example, for $450.20, you can write “Four hundred and fifty dollars and twenty cents” or “Four hundred and fifty dollars and 20/100.”

How to Post-Date a Cheque?

To post-date a cheque, simply write a future date on the top right corner, instead of the current date. This instructs the bank to hold the cheque and not process it until the written date arrives.

How Long is a Cheque Valid For?

In Canada, a cheque is considered valid for six months from the date written on it. After this period, the cheque becomes “stale-dated,” and financial institutions may refuse to cash it.

How Do I Write a Cheque for a Specific Bank (e.g., TD, RBC)?

The process of writing a cheque remains the same regardless of the bank you hold your account with (TD, RBC, or any other bank in Canada). The cheque itself will have the bank’s information pre-printed, but the way you fill out the payee, amount, and other details remains consistent.

By following these guidelines and understanding the process, you can confidently write cheques in Canada and ensure smooth and secure financial transactions.

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