There is no required time limit for depositing a check however; a bank may not honor a check that is more than six months old.  A check is payable any time unless the bank has knowledge that it should not be paid such as a stop payment order that may have been issued on the check.  There is a provision in most state laws, that after six months the bank is not obligated to pay on the check but may still honor it without liability. 

The term, stale date, refers to the six month time frame after which a bank is not required to cash or make payment on a check.  UCC section 4-404 covers the obligations for banks regarding check dates.  The standard UCC (Uniform Commercial Code) states that a bank is under no obligation to a customer having a checking account to pay a check, other than a certified check, which is presented more than six months after its date, but it may charge its customer’s account for a payment made thereafter in good faith.

Since check processing is done almost entirely by automated sorting and handling and the check date is not encoded in the check, it is not uncommon for the bank processing the payment to not be aware of the date on the check.  If the check being deposited is more than six months old, the bank may therefor pay on the check and be protected or it may refuse to pay the check and still be protected.

The wiggle room in the laws is primarily protecting the bank and the recipient of a check would be wise to present the check for payment as soon as possible to avoid reaching a date when the bank may not be obligated to honor the check any longer.

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