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Legal Requirements for Checks
Answer by John Burnett, BOL Guru

Question: What are the legal requirements as far as how a check has to be written? For example, does it have to be on check paper? Does the bank's name have to be on it, etc.? Where can I find the law?

Answer: A check does not have to be on "check paper" to be a legal check. In order to be capable of being processed through the clearing system, however, it must meet certain paper tests and be properly encoded to identify the bank and account on which it's drawn.

To meet the legal check requirements, it has to be an unconditional order to pay a sum certain in money on demand and identify the bank and account on which it is drawn. It can be printed on a shingle or the side of a watermelon. But don't ask your bank to handle such an item in any sort of expedited, automated fashion!

First published on 05/17/04

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