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Cheque Clearing - What are the changes?

The process of cheque clearing in the UK will undergo an important and necessary change. The main difference is that instead of exchanging physical paper cheques, UK banks will begin to exchange digital images of these cheques.

This will enable faster cheque processing but it will not change how you currently use cheques. It simply means payments will go in and out of your account quicker, allowing cheques to clear in 2 working days instead of 6.

From the 30th October 2017, we will start to process a very small number of NatWest cheques that have been paid in at other banks through the new Image Clearing System (ICS). This means that instead of sending the paper cheque to NatWest, the other bank will send a digital image of the cheque for NatWest to process.

More information is available at the Cheque & Credit Clearing Company Website (opens in a new window).

We have also attached a list of questions to support you with this change below.

General Questions

How long does it take for a cheque to clear? will give you all the information you need on cheque clearing before the changes come into effect

Will this change affect how I write and pay in cheques and what are the benefits of these changes for me?

There are no changes in how you use, issue and pay in cheques. The new clearing system will speed up the time it takes a cheque to clear meaning funds will be available for you to use much quicker than they are currently.

Why are these changes happening and when will they be introduced?

These changes are part of an industry wide directive to improve the efficiency and speed of the clearing process. The Image Clearing System will be phased in gradually across UK banks and building societies from the end of October 2017 until the end of 2018, we will continue to communicate these changes as they come into effect.

Can a cheque take longer than 2 days to clear when the changes come into effect and  what other factors do I need to think about when I write/issue a cheque?

Due to the phased approach the time and location of where and when you deposit a cheque or other factors, may result in the cheque taking longer than 2 days to clear. If you need to receive or make a payment quicker than two days we also offer electronic forms of payments via our online and mobile banking services. Under the new system cheque clearing timescales will be significantly reduced which means that you must ensure you have the funds available in your account when you write a cheque.

What do I need to consider if I need to stop a cheque?

There will be less time to cancel a cheque in the new clearing system once it has been deposited by the recipient. Please see "How do I cancel a cheque?"

Will I still be able to use my existing chequebook and will I still be able to deposit cheques?

Yes, you can continue to write and issue cheques exactly as you do today and you will still be able to deposit cheques with the bank via the same way as you do today. You will also still be able to use the Post Office to deposit cheques however please see timescales for the process.

Will the new system process cheques in foreign currencies as well?

No. The new system will only process sterling cheques, postal orders, travellers' cheques, bankers' drafts and dividend cheques drawn on UK banks and paid into a UK bank accounts.

How long will it take for a cheque to clear when paid in at the Post Office?

If you pay in a cheque on Monday before the Post Office® cut off time. We will usually receive it by Wednesday, the cheque value should appear on your account by close of business Thursday (with Wednesday's date), and therefore your funds are available.

If however you should pay in a cheque on Monday after the Post Office® cut off time. We will usually receive it by Thursday, the cheque value should appear on your statement by close of business Friday (with Thursday's date), and therefore your funds are available.

How will the new system protect me against fraud?

In-built security techniques and checks will be deployed to help prevent fraud, so provided you have kept to the terms and conditions of your account you will be protected if you are an innocent victim of fraud.