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An example of a cheque clearing cycle

Sometimes it's difficult to understand when you can withdraw money after a cheque has been paid into your account.

The cheque clearing example below will help you work out when your money begins to earn interest, when money can be used, and when you can be sure that the cheque has cleared.

Paper clearing only example

If you pay a cheque into your account on a Monday, you can expect to earn interest (if the account pays interest on credit balances) two working days later, on Wednesday. This is also the point at which this money will reduce the amount of your overdraft interest charged (if applicable).

Funds can be withdrawn by day five, on Friday. By the end of day seven, the second Tuesday, the money cannot be reclaimed from your account (i.e. as a result of a cheque being returned unpaid). Any unpaid cheques returned too late, (after the second Tuesday in this example), will not be debited from your account.

If you pay a cheque in on a Saturday or after 3.30pm on a working day, the payment is not credited to your account until the following working day, when the cheque-clearing period will start.

Cheques paid in at some financial institutions, or agents, (e.g. the Post Office), may take longer to arrive at the other bank for payment. The clearing cycle referred to here does not apply to foreign cheques, which will usually take 4-5 weeks to clear.

It can take up to 7 working days for a cheque to go through the entire clearing cycle.

Image Clearing Only

Throughout 2018 there is an industry wide change coming into place in regards to the cheque clearing process in the UK. From 23rd April 2018, RBS/Natwest/UBNI customers paying cheques from their account into other Banks may see this being processed through the new Image Clearing model which means that the funds will be debited from their account the next working day after the cheque has been paid into an account.

The numbers initially being processed in this way will be relatively low but this will increase throughout the year. Later in 2018 we will also introduce this system for cheque that are paid into RBS/NatWest/UBNI accounts. Until 100% of cheques are processed via the Image Clearing System, cheques may be processed by either paper or image clearing.

Cheques paid in at some financial institutions, or agents, (e.g. the Post Office), may take longer to arrive at the other bank for payment and will only begin the Clearing process when it is received by the Bank. The clearing cycle referred to here does not apply to foreign cheques, which will usually take 4-5 weeks to clear.