How to Fill Out a Check
Posted by Frank Gogol
A check is a highly important document used for paying fees of various USCIS fees. These are an inexpensive and easy way to move money around and get things done. Filling out a check for the very first time can be nervy, even challenging for some. In this article, we’ll explain how to fill out a check correctly in the United States.
Table of Contents
What is a Check?
Before we start with the correct ways of writing a check, let’s clear the air on what a check is and what it is not. Many people, especially beginners, tend to get confused with this. Without proper understanding, you’re prone to making mistakes at one point in time or another. Depending on your scenario, this could put you in some form of trouble.
A check is a signed and dated instrument that instructs a financial institution to pay a certain amount of money to the bearer. All the details like the amount, when it should be paid, and the bearer are covered in this check. Without proper information, the bank might not be able to process your request for money transfer.
Checks are either deposited or cashed. Once claimed by the bearer, the money is debited from your account and paid out to the bearer safely.
What are the Different Parts of a Check?
A check, while a single document, has various sections or parts. Each part informs the reader of a specific question. The different parts of a check are:
- Payee section – This section informs the reader about the payee, who is supposed to be paid. The payee can also be an organization. When filling out this section, you need to ask, “Who am I paying to?”.
- Date section – This section is used to identify the date of the transaction. This will help you and other parties keep accurate records.
- Amount section – This section helps you identify the amount to be paid to the payee. The line in this section often reads something like “Pay the amount to …”.
- Signature – This section helps to authenticate the transaction. The check will only be processed further if this section is completely signed and matches with the other documents.
- Memo – If you want to supplement your check with further information relevant to the bank or other parties, you can use this section. This is an optional section.
At the bare minimum, checks will have the five parts. The order might be different, but the sections remain the same.
How to Fill Out a Check?
Check is a small and simple, single-page form. While there are very few things you need to fill out, correctness remains a top priority. To fill out a check properly, you’re required to fill out the five sections mentioned above, with the memo section being optional.
Here are the steps on how to properly complete a check:
Date the check
A check is a dated document. This means the date is an important factor looked at when processing your check. The date must be in the exact format, as mentioned in the instructions. The format is usually DD-MM-YYYY. The date is also the first section you’re going to fill out. There will be a box or blank that reads “Date.”
Write the correct payee details
The next section you’re going to fill out is the payee. This is also the most highlighted one that instantly catches your attention. As mentioned before, the payee can be either a person or an organization. You must get the correct details, more precisely, their official banking details.
If you’re writing to a person, you’ll be using their full, legal name. If paying to an organization, you must inquire about the payee, which can be the director, the clerk, or any other authorized person. Then you’ll follow it up with the name of the organization. An example of this is “To, The Director, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.”
Write the exact amount details (in both numbers and words)
Next, you’ll have to specify the exact amount you’re writing the check for. You’re required to write in both number and word format. The box on the right-hand side is where you need to write in numerical format.
The box is big enough to accommodate large numbers. Below the box, you’ll have to write the word equivalent of the numbers. You’re not required to specify currency or symbols since they’re already taken care of.
Write a memo (if you want)
If there’s any information you want to provide to the bank or for future reference, you can use this section. Writing the things down will help you recollect the exact circumstances under which you wrote the check. This is optional, and you may wish not to write anything if you don’t want.
Provide your official signature
The final thing you need to do is sign the check. The signature box provides ample space for you to sign. When signing the check, you need to ensure that the signature is the same as you normally do in your official records. Bank employees will check for discrepancies. If found, your check might get terminated.
While these are the 5 minimum fields, there might be more sections to fill out in certain checks provided by a bank. Do not hesitate to fill them out, but do take precautions.
Tips for Writing a Check
When writing the check, here are the things you need to take care of:
- Type or write legibly in a single color.
- Always confirm the details before filling out the check. Once processed, these types of transactions are not reversible.
- The bank does not charge any fees unless otherwise specified. The amount you mention on the check must be exact to what is required, and even the decimal points must be accurate.
- Always refer to bank employees if you’re confused about a particular field.
- Use check with carbon copies. This will create an exact copy you can retain as proof of transaction.
- When writing the amount, it’s important not to leave any space on the left-hand side for numbers, and the symbol “/-” or word “only” at the end of word amount format.
You should record a check transaction in your check register. With that, you can track your spending, detect fraudulent activities, and keep it as a reference. Your bank must have provided you a check register at the time of opening an account. If not, you can get one online.