What is the cheque clearing cycle and how long does it take?

The cheque clearing cycle is the process we use to establish whether a payment made by cheque can be honoured by the bank it was drawn from. It normally takes 5 working days, which are Monday to Friday (except bank holidays).

However, in cases where the payment can’t be honoured – eg, if the person who gave you the cheque doesn’t have enough money in their account – we need extra days to allow for the unpaid cheque to be returned.

Please note that some branches have a cut-off time, after which cheques paid in are processed the following day. Cut-off times vary and are available in branches.

You don’t have to wait for the cheque to clear before you use the money. If you’re sure the cheque won’t be returned unpaid, you may be able to access some of the money on the day using our Instant Access service. Please check with us in branch or by calling Telephone Banking (if you’re registered) to see if you qualify for this service and what limit applies.

Speeding up the process

If you need a cheque to clear faster than usual, ask to use the Direct Presentations service – it’s available in most branches, so check before you visit. We’ll send the cheque by Royal Mail Special Delivery to the bank the cheque is being paid from. It usually then takes that bank up to 2 working days to confirm whether the cheque can be paid. After that, we’ll phone you to let you know the decision. This service costs £20 per cheque.

Unpaid cheques

If a cheque is returned unpaid, its value will be debited from your account even if you’ve already withdrawn the money.

However, you can be certain that an unpaid cheque won’t be debited from your account without your permission if 6 working days have passed since it was deposited, unless there’s a suspicion that fraud has been committed.