How Do I Void a Certified Check?

If you have issued a certified check to a person or business but now need to void it, writing "void" across the front is not going to invalidate it. This requires contacting your bank and having it issuing a stop payment on it. However, this may not be necessary if the check is old or the bank set it to expire after a certain amount of months.

Certified Check Defined

A certified check is a personal check that a bank official has reviewed and guaranteed the signature as genuine and funds available as of the date the check was issued. This is different from a cashier's check, which is an official check drawn on the bank's escrow account that is guaranteed to pay on the issue date or afterward.

Void Date

As a condition of certifying the check, your bank may have listed an "expiration" or "void" date on the check. For example, the check may be embossed with the words "Void After 90 Days" across the front. If your check was issued January 1st, for instance, this limitation would prevent the payee from cashing it April 1st or later since the bank is unlikely to honor the check past the void date. Contact your bank to confirm this to be sure. If your certified check is past its void date, further action on your part to void the check may be unnecessary.

Stale Date

Even if your check does not have a void date, the payee may still be prevented from cashing it if it is old or stale. Generally, these are checks that are six months or more old, although policies may differ between banks. If your check has passed this six month period, no additional steps are necessary to void it. However, confirm your bank will not honor the check if it is presented.

Stop Payment

The only surefire way to ensure your certified check is not cashed is to place a stop payment on it. This is a good idea even if the check has passed its void date or become stale. Although bank policies vary, many banks accepts accept stop payment requests by phone, online or in person. At a minimum, the check number must be provided. However, give the bank as much information as possible, including check date, check number, payee's name and check amount. The more information provided, the less likely the bank will cash the check in error. You will also have to pay a stop payment fee, which can be anywhere from $8 to $40 depending on your bank.