😊😳😃 This article was co-authored by Michael R. Lewis and by wikiHow staff writer, Jennifer Mueller, JD. Michael R. Lewis is a retired corporate executive, entrepreneur, and investment advisor in Texas. He has over 40 years of experience in business and finance, including as a Vice President for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas. He has a BBA in Industrial Management from the University of Texas at Austin.
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😊😳😃 If someone gives you a check, you must endorse it before you can cash it or deposit it in your bank account. Through your endorsement, you give the bank the legal right to process the check. You can simply sign the check with your name only, add restrictions for how the bank should process the check, or sign the check over to someone else.XResearch source
Method 1Method 1 of 3:Using a Blank Endorsement
- 1Verify that the information on the check is correct. Before you endorse the check, make sure it's one that your bank will accept, and that all the information on the front is correct. If the person who gave you the check spelled your name wrong or made a mistake, you may want to give it back to them and have them write you another check.XResearch source
- While some banks will accept a check that has been changed as long as the person who wrote the check initials the change, many banks are suspicious of this. It's better to have the person write you another check.
- A valid check has a line at the bottom with the routing number and account number. If that line isn't present, the bank will not be able to process the check.
- 2Determine who must endorse the check. If only your name is listed on the payee line of the check, your signature is all that is needed to cash or deposit the check. If someone's else name is also listed, they only have to sign the check if the word "and" or the symbol "&" appears between the 2 names.XResearch source
- The default rule is that a check with 2 or more names can be cashed or deposited individually by any of the people listed on the check. If the check says "or," or includes ambiguous language or symbols (such as a dash or a slash), either of the people named can cash or deposit the check.
- If the check is written to you "℅" (meaning "care of") someone else, only your signature is needed. They generally cannot cash or deposit the check without your signature. However, if you have a joint bank account, they may be able to deposit the check in that account on your behalf without your signature.
- 3Find the gray lines on the back of the check. If you flip over the check, you'll see 3 to 5 gray lines. These typically appear on the upper short side of the check. You'll also see a solid line with instructions not to write below the line.XResearch source
- The bank needs the remaining blank space under the endorsement area to document the processing of the check. Make sure your signature doesn't extend into that space, or the bank may refuse the check.
- 4Sign your name on one of the gray lines. To endorse a check, you typically only have to sign your name in pen using blue or black ink. If your name on the check differs from your name on your government-issued photo ID, or on your bank account, you may want to print the correct spelling of your name under your signature.XResearch source
- If you're signing a business check, include the business's name on the line above your name. You may also want to add your job title to show you are authorized to cash or deposit the check in the name of the company.
- 5Cash or deposit the check immediately. Once you've signed the check, it becomes a "bearer instrument," meaning anyone who finds it can cash it. If you're traveling to the bank, don't sign your check until you get there.
- If you go to a bank to cash the check and you don't have an account with that bank, you typically must show a government-issued photo ID. You may also have to provide a thumbprint for identification services.
- Check cashing services will charge you a fee to cash the check. Banks typically charge a fee as well, unless you have an account with that bank.
- If you don't have a bank account, you may want to take this opportunity to open one, using the check is your initial balance. Otherwise, you can get the check cashed at a check-cashing service available at discount or grocery stores. You can also go to the bank that issued the check. That bank will have its name and logo printed on the front of the check.
Method 2Method 2 of 3:Adding Restrictions to Your Endorsement
- 1Write "For Deposit Only" on the top endorsement line. This restrictive endorsement ensures that the check's funds can only be deposited in a bank account in your name. If someone finds your check, they won't be able to do anything with it.XTrustworthy SourceUS Consumer Financial Protection BureauU.S. government agency for protecting consumers in the financial sectorGo to source
- This endorsement is effective if you're mailing your check to the bank for deposit, or if you're giving it to someone else to deposit on your behalf.
- 2Include your bank account number. Some banks require you to include the account number where you want the check's funds deposited. Even if it's not required, it might be a good idea if you have more than one bank account at the same bank.
- For example, if you have a checking account and a savings account, you would typically want to include the account number for the account you want to use.
- While you'll also include this information on the deposit slip, it helps to also put it on the check in case the two get separated. Additionally, checks deposited using an ATM or a mobile app may not have deposit slips.
- Because it's a security risk, if you're traveling to the bank to deposit the check in person, wait until you get there to write your account number on the check.
- 3Sign the check below your restrictions. Once you've included the deposit restriction, sign the check as you normally would, using a pen with blue or black ink. Signing below the restrictions gives them effect – if you sign above the restrictions, they aren't considered valid.
- You can place your account number below your name. The account number just tells the bank where to deposit the funds from the check. Some banks prefer that you put your account number under your name.
- 4Deposit the check at your bank. Once you've completed a restrictive endorsement, you can deposit it at any time. There's no worry of someone else taking the check, because a bank won't process it for anyone other than you.
- If you give the check to someone else to deposit for you, put the check in a sealed envelope only to be opened by the teller. Make sure the person taking the check to the bank for you is someone you trust.
- When using a mobile banking app to deposit your check, some banks require this restrictive endorsement. Without it, someone could take the check to another bank and attempt to cash it.XResearch source
Method 3Method 3 of 3:Signing the Check over to Someone Else
- 1Find out the bank's policy on third-party checks. Banks don't have to accept checks signed over to someone else (called "third-party checks"), and many banks refuse them. Before you sign your check over to someone else, call the bank where the person is going to take the check and make sure they accept checks endorsed this way.XResearch source
- Talk to the person you're going to sign the check over to and find out what bank or check cashing service they plan to use to cash or deposit the check.
- Generally, the person will have better luck getting a third-party check accepted if they go to a bank where they have an account and present the check for deposit. You may also have to go with them to validate your signature.
- 2Write "Pay to the Order of" on the top endorsement line. Using a pen with blue or black ink, clearly print the words at the very top of the endorsement area. Make sure you leave enough room for both you and the other person to sign in the endorsement area.
- When you do this, you're effectively turning your check into a brand new check for another person. They person you sign your check over to will have to sign it as well.
- 3Print the name of the person you want to have the check. Either next to or below the words "Pay to the Order of," carefully print the name of the person you want to sign your check over to. The name should be legible and written in blue or black ink.
- Make sure you've spelled their name correctly, and that it matches their name as it appears on their government-issued photo ID or on their bank account.
- 4Sign the check underneath the printed name. Since you were the check's original payee, you still have to sign it. As with restrictive endorsements, endorse underneath your transfer instructions to give those instructions legal effect.
- Make sure you leave enough room for the other person to sign the check after you. If possible, leave room for any restrictive endorsements or other information they may want to add.
- 5Give the person the check. At this point, the processing of the check becomes the responsibility of the person you've signed it over to. However, some banks are cautious about third-party checks and may want to get confirmation from you before they accept the check.XResearch source
- Some banks may be willing to call you and get your confirmation that you intended to transfer the check to the other person. You may also have to go to the bank with the person, especially if the check is for a large amount.
- QuestionWhat if a check is made out to a deceased spouse?Michael R. LewisMichael R. Lewis is a retired corporate executive, entrepreneur, and investment advisor in Texas. He has over 40 years of experience in business and finance, including as a Vice President for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas. He has a BBA in Industrial Management from the University of Texas at Austin.
Business AdvisorBusiness AdvisorExpert AnswerOnly an executor of administrator of a deceased person's estate can deposit or cash checks in the deceased person's name. However, in most cases, the bank will accept a copy of the spouse's death certificate and evidence that the person cashing the check is the executor or administrator.
- QuestionCan I deposit into my bank account a check given to my cousin from the company where he works?Michael R. LewisMichael R. Lewis is a retired corporate executive, entrepreneur, and investment advisor in Texas. He has over 40 years of experience in business and finance, including as a Vice President for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas. He has a BBA in Industrial Management from the University of Texas at Austin.
Business AdvisorBusiness AdvisorExpert AnswerYes, you can deposit the check in your account if the payee on the company check is in your cousin's name and he subsequently endorses the check over to you. For example, he would write on the back of the check "Pay to the order of [your name]" and sign his name. when depositing the check, you would write your name under the endorsement.
- Depending on the amount of the check, your bank may place a temporary hold on all or part of the funds before releasing them to your bank account.
- If you receive a check with a later date on it (a "post-dated" check), you do not have to wait until that date to cash or deposit the check. However, if you cash or deposit it early and the bank accepts it, the check may bounce.
- This article discusses how to endorse a check under US law regarding negotiable instruments. If you live in another country, your law may be different. Consult a banker about how to properly endorse a check.
About This Article
Before you can deposit or cash a check in your name, you’ll need to endorse it, or add your signature. This will give the bank the legal right to process the check. First, take a look at the payee line on the front of the check, which will specify who needs to endorse the check. The payee line is located near the top of the check, next to the words “Pay to the order of.” If your name is the only one on the payee line, you’re the only person who needs to endorse it. However, if there’s more than one name listed with the word “and” or an ampersand between the names, everyone listed will need to endorse the check. On the other hand, if your name is followed by “or,” a slash, or if there is a “c/o” before any other names listed on the payee line, then only your signature is needed. To endorse the check, turn it over and look for 3 to 5 gray lines printed on the back. You may see the words “Endorse Here” printed above these lines. Write your signature in blue or black ink on one of the lines. Be careful not to extend your writing into the space below the lines, or the bank may not accept the check. If you’re endorsing the check on behalf of a business or other institution, print the institution’s name on the line above your signature. Once you’ve endorsed the check, cash or deposit it right away, for your own security. After the check is endorsed, anyone can cash it. In some situations, you might want to add special restrictions to your endorsement. For instance, say you’re mailing the check to the bank or want to give it to someone else to deposit on your behalf. To prevent someone from cashing the check against your wishes, write “For Deposit Only” on the top line of the endorsement section, above your signature. Or, if you have multiple accounts at the same bank, you can use the top line to indicate which account you’d like to use when you deposit the check. Write the bank account number in the top line, then sign your name on the line below. You can also use the endorsement section of the check to sign the check over to somebody else, but keep in mind that not every bank will accept these third-party checks. To do it, write “Pay to the order of” in the top line of the endorsement section, then print the name of the person you’re signing the check over to on the next line. Finally, sign your name on the third line. Then, give the other person the check so that they can cash or deposit it with their bank. For tips from our reviewer on how to endorse a business check or transfer a check to another person, scroll down!
Reader Success Stories
- "It's been a long time since I've had to deposit a check. I had endorsed it and was about to head out the door to the bank when something didn't look right on the endorsement area. Came on here to refresh myself and sure enough, I did it just fine."..." more