In order to use a check to pay someone else, you could cash the check and then hand over the cash — or, you could save some time and effort by signing over the check to the person you want to pay. To sign over a check, you must endorse it with both the recipient’s information and your own signature. Below, we detail how and when you should sign over a check — including an instructional video to show you the steps.
How to Sign Over a Check to Someone Else
When you receive a check and sign it over to someone else, you are creating a third-party check. Instead of just signing your name on the back of the check as you would when chasing the check yourself, you’ll need to include information about the person to whom you’re signing it over. Third-party checks are useful because you can’t have someone else cash a check for you (as previously reported). Note that the process is the same regardless of whether you’re signing over a personal check, business check, insurance check, or another type. Take the following steps (which you can see in action in our video below):
Step 1: Confirm that the person or company you’re signing the check over to will accept a third-party check.
Before signing a check over, it’s best to check with the recipient and confirm that they are willing to accept a third-party check. It’s also a good idea for the recipient to double-check the requirements for depositing or cashing third-party checks at their intended bank or store. Not all banks or check cashing locations will accept third-party checks due to the increased risk of fraud, and you may need to accompany them to the check cashing location to verify the check.
Step 2: Add the recipient’s information.
Every check includes an endorsement section on the back marked “Endorse Here.” Rather than signing the check on this line as you would when cashing it, you’ll add the recipient’s information above your signature.
Write “Pay to the order of [recipient’s name]” on the first line of the endorsement section — for example, “Pay to the order of John Smith.” Be sure the name of the person you’re singing the check over to is legible and spelled correctly. It will need to match their ID when they cash the check.
Including the recipient’s name above your own is an anti-fraud measure; the bank will know that you genuinely signed the check over to that person, and they didn’t find an endorsed check and sign it over to themselves.
Step 3: Endorse the check with your own signature.
Below the recipient’s information, sign the second line of the “Endorse Here” section with your own name.
According to the Uniform Commercial Code, a series of laws pertaining to commercial transactions in the U.S., your signature serves as a warranty. You are telling not just the person you’re giving the check to, but also that bank that cashes it, that the check is valid and unaltered.
Step 4: Give the check to the recipient.
Once the check is properly endorsed with your signature and the recipient’s name, the recipient can cash or deposit it. It’s best if you go with the recipient when they attempt to deposit or cash the check; as noted above, many places that accept or cash third-party checks require that both parties be present and show photo ID.
When to Create a Third-Party Check
Any time you endorse a check to another person, you create what’s known as a third-party check. The “third” in third-party refers to the person who will ultimately receive the funds from the check; party one is the writer of the check, you are party two (the original recipient), and the person you sign it over to is the third party.
Third-party checks are a lot less common than they used to be, and nowadays, you’ll typically only use them in a few instances. For example, auto insurance companies will usually pay out a claim in the form of a check made out to you. You are then expected to endorse the check over to the mechanic who repairs your car. Using third party checks to settle private debts (such as one between you and your friend for the concert tickets) is rarer.
If you decide you don’t need to create a third-party check, see our related research for information on how to cash a check yourself rather than signing it over.
Where to Cash or Deposit a Third-Party Check
Due to the higher amount of risk involved, it can be more difficult to find a place that will cash a third-party check than it is to cash a standard check. For information about where the recipient can cash a third-party check, see our lists of banks that accept third-party checks and places that cash third-party checks.
A Warning About Third-Party Checks
When signing over a check to someone else, make sure you endorse it and sign it over to them at the same time, rather than endorsing it with your own signature first and signing it over to them later. Though whoever cashes the check will need to show an ID, it’s best not to take the risk of endorsing ahead of time in case you misplace or drop the check. Wait until you’re at the bank or check cashing store, then follow the steps above.