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Cheque Clearing - What are the changes?

The process of cheque clearing in the UK will undergo an important and necessary change. The main difference is that instead of exchanging physical paper cheques, UK banks will begin to exchange digital images of these cheques.

This will enable faster cheque processing but it will not change how you currently use cheques. It simply means payments will go in and out of your account quicker, allowing cheques to clear in 2 working days instead of 6.

From the end of April 2018 we will start to process a very small number of NatWest cheques that have been paid in at other banks through the new Image Clearing System (ICS). Instead of sending the paper cheque to NatWest, the other bank sends a digital image of the cheques for NatWest to process.

More information is available at the Cheque & Credit Clearing Company Website (opens in a new window).

We have also attached a list of questions to support you with this change below.

General Questions

How long does it take for a cheque to clear? will give you all the information you need on cheque clearing before the changes come into effect

Will this change affect how I write and pay in cheques and what are the benefits of these changes for me?

There are no changes in how you use, issue and pay in cheques for the majority of customers. The new Image Clearing System will speed up the time it takes a cheque to clear meaning funds will be available for you to use much quicker than they are currently.

Why are these changes happening and when will they be introduced?

These changes are part of an industry wide directive to improve the efficiency and speed of the clearing process. The Image Clearing System started to be phased in across UK banks and building societies from the end of October 2017 and will continue until the end of 2018, we will continue to communicate these changes as they come into effect.

Can a cheque take longer than 2 working days to clear when the Image Clearing changes come into effect and what other factors do I need to think about when I write/issue a cheque?

Until the new system is fully implemented, cheques paid in may still take longer than 2 working days to clear. If you need to receive or make a payment quicker than 2 working days we also offer electronic forms of payments via our online and mobile banking services.

Under the new system cheque clearing timescales will be significantly reduced which means that you must ensure you have the funds available in your account when you write a cheque.

What do I need to consider if I need to stop a cheque?

There will be less time to cancel a cheque in the new clearing system once it has been deposited by the recipient, so please only write a cheque if you have the funds available to pay this. To cancel a cheque, contact us ensuring you have the relevant cheque details to hand

Telephone banking
Jersey: 01534 282850 or +44 1534 282850 from outside the UK
Guernsey: 01481 703860 or +44 1481 703860 from outside the UK
Isle of Man: 01624 637190 or +44 1624 637190 from outside the UK
Gibraltar: 200 77737 or 00350 200 77737 from outside Gibraltar

Our Telephone Banking service is available Monday to Friday 7am to 7pm, Saturday 8am to 1pm. Calls may be recorded.

Will I still be able to use my existing chequebook and will I still be able to deposit cheques?

Yes, you can continue to write and issue cheques exactly as you do today and you will still be able to deposit cheques with the bank in the same way as you do today. You will also still be able to use the Post Office to deposit cheques however please see timescales for the process.

How long will it take for a cheque to clear through image clearing when paid in at the Post Office?

If you pay in a cheque on Monday before the Post Office® cut off time, we will usually receive it by Wednesday and credit your account. The cheque value should appear on your account by close of business Thursday (with Wednesday's date), and your funds will be available to withdraw.

If you pay in a cheque on Monday after the Post Office® cut off time. We will usually receive it by Thursday and credit your account. The cheque value should appear on your statement by close of business Friday (with Thursday's date), and your funds will be available to withdraw.

Will the new system process cheques in foreign currencies as well?

No. The new system will only process sterling cheques, postal orders, travellers' cheques, bankers' drafts and dividend cheques drawn on UK banks and paid into a UK bank accounts.

How will the new system protect me against fraud?

In-built security techniques and checks will be deployed to help prevent fraud. If you've taken care and kept to the terms and conditions of your account, you'll be protected if you are an innocent victim of fraud, just as you are now.