Losing, misplacing, or having your ID stolen may hinder your ability to perform certain everyday tasks, including cashing a check. Is an ID mandatory for check cashing? No, you don’t need an ID to cash a check — though you’ll need to use an unconventional check cashing method to avoid using an ID. Below, we explain how to cash a check without ID.
Do You Need ID to Cash a Check?
Banks, check cashing stores, and stores that provide check cashing services typically require some form of identification before cashing checks for customers. This practice is the established norm, and you should always carry ID with you when cashing checks.
For example, if you cash a check at Walmart, you’ll have to show a valid ID (a state driver’s license or photo ID, military ID, tribal ID, or U.S. passport) whether you’re cashing it at a register or the Walmart MoneyCenter. Even among stores that offer check cashing privileges with a store card, such as with Giant Eagle’s check cashing policy, you must initially provide a valid ID to activate check cashing privileges. You will be asked for both an ID and your store card when you cash checks later.
The Patriot Act has a “know your customer” provision that requires businesses conducting certain types of financial transactions to request ID. Producing valid identification helps prove your legitimacy as a customer and prevents the likelihood of fraud, identity theft, and money laundering.
What Type of ID Do You Need to Cash a Check?
Most banks and stores require you to show one or two forms of government-issued identification when cashing checks. They include:
- State-issued photo driver’s license
- State-issued photo learner’s permit
- State-issued photo ID
- Military photo ID
- U.S. passport
- U.S. visa
Other forms of ID may be acceptable on a case-by-case basis, depending on individual financial institution branches or store locations. If you have another form of ID not listed above, browse our banking list below or contact the bank or store in your area and ask if they accept your alternative ID for check cashing.
Can You Cash a Check with an Expired ID?
If you have an expired ID, it is considered invalid and cannot be accepted when cashing a check. If you don’t produce another form of primary ID, you’ll be turned away.
Can You Cash a Check Without a Government-Issued ID?
Depending on the bank or store, you may be able to use a secondary form of valid ID. Some forms of secondary ID are government-issued, though they aren’t the common types listed above. Secondary forms of ID also include IDs that are issued by some entity other than the government, like a school or employer.
Banks and stores that accept secondary IDs usually require that you produce two forms of secondary ID to complete the transaction. So, while you may be able to cash a check without one of the commonly request government-issued photo IDs listed above, you’ll probably still have to show something that comes from the government, even if that means a birth certificate, welfare ID, or the like.
Secondary ID may include:
- Alien registration photo card
- College photo ID
- Employment photo ID
- Firearms permit photo ID
- Foreign driver’s license photo ID
- Permanent resident photo card
- U.S. birth certificate
- U.S. employment authorization photo ID
- Welfare photo ID
How to Cash a Check If You Don’t Have an ID
While your options are limited if you don’t have an ID and need to cash a check, there are a few workarounds you can try.
Ask a Trusted Person to Cash It for You
If you must cash the check quickly but don’t have an acceptable ID, you can ask a relative or friend to cash it as a third party. This means you’ll sign the check over to them, and they’ll cash it for you. It’s relatively easy to do this; see our explanation of how to sign over a check.
Not all places will cash a third-party check. And among those that do, some places require the payee (you) to sign the check in the presence of a bank teller and provide a valid photo ID. See our previous research on banks that accept third-party checks (and those that don’t).
Use Your Bank’s Mobile Check Cashing App
If you have an account with a bank that has a mobile check cashing app, download the app to your cell phone or digital device. You’ll need to be signed up for online banking services for this method to work. Open the app and follow bank instructions for signing, photographing your check, and depositing it through the app. If your check is large, you’ll probably have to wait for the check to clear — usually a day or two — before you can access all of the funds. Find out more about this process in our research on online check cashing.
Use an Online Mobile Check Cashing App
If your bank doesn’t have a mobile app for check cashing, or if you don’t have a bank account with online banking, you can still cash checks using a mobile app. Ingo Money, for one, is a popular online check cashing app that is easy to use. Simply download the app, create a user profile, link an account (a prepaid card, PayPal account, bank-issued debit card, or credit card), and take a snapshot of your check. You can get fast access to your money for a fee, or you can opt to wait ten days to get access to your money and without a fee.
Get a Reloadable Prepaid Card
Reloadable prepaid cards are an alternative option for transferring funds without the need to show ID. These cards work the same as bank-issued debit cards, but you’ll be transferring money from your check directly onto the card, instead of into a bank account. You can find prepaid cards at stores such as CVS (NetSpend), Walgreens (American Express, Green Dot, MyVanilla), and Walmart (MoneyCard). Once you have the card, follow instructions for registration and activation. To avoid check cashing hassles, choose the direct deposit option that transfers paycheck funds to the card. You can also reload these money cards using cash when checking out at store registers. When funds are available, you can use the card to withdraw cash at the nearest ATM.
Note that not all prepaid cards can be activated without ID. For instance, PayPal offers a reloadable prepaid card, but you may or may not need to show ID to get it. PayPal collects your full name, address, date of birth, and Social Security number when issuing a prepaid card; you may be asked to show a driver’s license or another identifying document to verify this information. You don’t need a PayPal account to use the PayPal Prepaid MasterCard; however, if you do have a PayPal account, you can link the card to your account to enjoy additional services. Add money to this card using direct deposit or instant transfer from a PayPal account.
Get a State-Issued Photo ID
You may also consider getting a state-issued photo ID — all states issue them. This process usually involves visiting your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or Secretary of State (SOS) office, completing an application form, and providing proof of your identity and legal U.S. presence (birth certificate or U.S. passport). You will also likely need to provide proof of your state residency, which can often be a lease agreement or utility bill with your name and address on it. You’ll have to pay a fee (usually about $30, though it varies by state). Most DMV and SOS offices will process your application, take your photo, and present you with your state-issued photo ID all on the same day.
Can You Cash a Check Without a Bank Account?
Provided you have a valid ID, you can cash your check without a bank account at a number of locations. There are many banks, grocery stores, and check cashing stores that will cash your check for a fee. To find out more, see our research on how to cash a check without a bank account.
That’s how to cash a check without an ID or bank account. A valid form of ID is required when cashing checks of any kind at any bank or business that cashes checks. Most places require a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license or U.S. passport, while others accept secondary forms of ID, such as employment and student photo IDs. If you have a valid ID, there are many banks, stores, and check cashing companies that will cash your check, usually for a fee — but some places will cash checks for free. If you have a bank account, but don’t have your ID, you can still deposit a check using your bank’s online banking and mobile check cashing app services. Alternatively, you can purchase prepaid reloadable debit cards and opt to have your paycheck direct deposited to the card, or you can use a third-party mobile check cashing app that accepts direct deposit and/or PayPal transfers.