Check Expiration Dates for Personal Checks, Payroll Checks, etc

A calendar someone is flipping through to make sure a check they have hasn't expired.

Short Answer: Most checks expire, with the exception of bank drafts, traveler’s checks, and certain types of money orders. The exact time frame in which a check expires varies depending on the check type but is usually between six months to a year. For more details on check expiration, see below.

Do Checks Expire?

Most checks expire within six to twelve months. The only types of checks that do not expire are bank drafts, traveler’s checks, and certain types of money orders.

Expiration by Check Type

Personal Checks

Personal checks older than six months are sometimes called “stale-dated” checks.

Banks/credit unions have no obligation to deposit or cash a check older than six months, but whether or not to cash a stale-dated check is ultimately at the individual bank’s/credit union’s discretion, depending on the funds available and the financial institution’s relationship with the customer.

If you’re a good customer and rarely overdraft your account(s), or have a mortgage, you’ll be more likely to get your old checks cashed.

If your bank/credit union allows you to cash or deposit a stale-dated check, remember that the check may still not clear. Sometimes, issuing institutions won’t honor the check if the account no longer holds sufficient funds or if the holder of the account requested a stop-payment on the check.

Payroll Checks

Payroll checks often have expiration dates printed on them. If not, they usually expire six months after issuance.

Bank Drafts

Bank drafts don’t expire because they represent a guaranteed amount of funds and have a set monetary value.

Business Checks

Major businesses or corporations will often print expiration dates on their checks, and these expiration dates aren’t negotiable.

Large businesses need to closely manage the flow of funds in and out of their accounts, so they’re stricter when it comes to expired checks.

If a business doesn’t print an expiration date on their checks, the check will typically have the same expiration policy as a paycheck or personal check. You might want to contact the business directly to make sure this is the case.

Cashier’s Checks/Teller Checks/Certified Checks

Cashier’s checks, otherwise known as teller checks or certified checks, don’t have expiration dates unless the bank/credit union specifies a guaranteed-funds time frame which will be printed on the check itself.

If no time frame is specified, it’s good practice to call the bank/credit union and double-check that no expiration date is in place.

Government Checks

Government checks carry funds from the United States Treasury and are valid for a year. If your government check is older than a year, it’s considered expired.

You can request a new check by contacting the paying agency. If the check was issued by your state government, your state revenue department can inform you of the check’s expiration date and reissue you one, if necessary.

Traveler’s Checks

Traveler’s checks work like cash and are backed by guaranteed funds. Because of this, they don’t expire.

Money Orders

Money orders typically don’t expire, but instead begin losing value one to three years after purchase. For more details about money order expiration dates, see our dedicated research on whether money orders expire.

How to Avoid the Problem of Expired Checks

In all cases, the best practice is to deposit or cash checks promptly or at least before six months have passed.

Late policies vary by state and by the financial institution, so contact your bank and the issuer of the check to make sure funds are available.

The sooner you have the money in your possession, the better. Then you can put it to work for you.

Check to see if your financial institution offers an app for mobile deposits. With such an app, you simply take a photo of the front and back of the check and the check will be processed.

If you can deposit your check directly from home instead of having to go to the bank, you’ll be more likely to avoid forgetting about a check until it’s expired.

If you do have to cash an old check, especially a personal check, practice proper check etiquette. Call the person who gave you the check and make sure they still have sufficient funds in their account. You don’t want to cause them to accrue overdraft fees because you’re cashing late.


  • Tammy

    I have a insurance check for settlement claim for damages done to my car, but the lien holder wanted me to pay for repairs out of pocket then they would sign off, but I did not have that amount of money just to pay .And then get expiration date on check and I have paid car note off.and want to cash so I can get car repaired.

    • First Quarter Finance logo
      First Quarter Finance | Rebecca Turley

      Hi Tammy,

      All checks must have an expiration date. Take a look at the check again so you can be sure it is still valid.

  • Bobby Kenneth

    I rec’d a class-action settlement check for Kolinek vsWalgreens in the amt of $27.70 dated 5/4/2016. It says “VOID AFTER August 10. 2016” on its face. I’ve tried to call the Settlement Administrator using the phone number printed on the check, but I am redirected to numerous recorded messages and a website. I was never able to talk to a human. Can I still cash this check?

    • First Quarter Finance logo
      First Quarter Finance | Rebecca Turley

      Hi Bobby,

      Most of the time, these check expiration dates are not negotiable; however, it is ultimately up to your bank’s discretion whether they will cash the check for you. Most of the time, they will ensure you have enough funds in your account to cover the cost of the check if it doesn’t clear. In other words, take it to your bank and let them make the call.

  • Tammie

    I missed cashing my check from my mortgage company. I paid my property taxes myself, because I was refinancing my house and I didn’t want the taxes in my refinance amount. I missed it by 2 days as of today.

    • First Quarter Finance logo
      First Quarter Finance | Hillary M. Miller

      Hi Tammie,

      It sounds like the best course of action will be to contact the mortgage company directly and ask if they would be able to reissue the check for you. In many cases, companies will be able to reissue an expired check without a problem, as the money is still technically owed to you. It’s not recommended that you try to deposit the expired check at an ATM, as this can cause fees if the bank flags the deposit (especially if the deposit is initially accepted and the funds are later withdrawn, which can lead to significant overdraft issues). Best of luck getting this resolved!

  • John Song

    My ex-boss is reissuing a paycheck that was void. How long does it take for the check to be signed at payroll and then mailed to me? Also, how long does it take to get mailed to me? This is regarding the NJ state.

    • First Quarter Finance logo
      First Quarter Finance | Hillary M. Miller

      Hi John,

      This is something that is handled at the company or department level rather than the state, so it’s difficult to say when the check will be re-issued; it’s not really the time it takes to physically print and mail off the new check as much as when the HR office gets around to it. I would expect it to take at least two or three business days from the time you request the re-issued check before it’s printed so that the HR office can verify the old payroll records and take care of any other necessary paperwork. Once the check is in the mail, if it’s being sent to you from within the state, it shouldn’t take more than two business days or so to reach you. As a rough estimate, the check should be in your hands within a week or so of being requested (though it could be longer for a larger company).

      • John Song

        I see. How long would you say for school food service that uses ADP?

        • First Quarter Finance logo
          First Quarter Finance | Hillary M. Miller

          Hi John,

          Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find any more specific information about the timeline for receiving a re-issued check, whether through ADP or otherwise. For more specific information, I would recommend that you get in touch with the person from whom you requested the check; your contact at that company should be able to provide an estimate as to when you will see the re-issued check. Sorry I couldn’t provide you with a more definitive answer!

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