How many days will it take 'for the check to clear'?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by reginaregina, Mar 31, 2011.

  1. reginaregina Senior Member

    The context is in a bank. what does"How many days will it take for the check to clear?"mean? Thank you
  2. Oeco

    Oeco Senior Member

    Milwaukee, WI
    English - US
    "clear" in this case means to "clear the bank." That is, the money that the check indicates is to be withdrawn from the account.
  3. David dL Junior Member

    Ottawa, ON, Canada
    English - Canada
    Hi reginaregina,

    I will do my best to explain.

    When a check (cheque for us Canadians) is written, it must be processed by the bank... otherwise it is just a piece of paper with numbers and a signature.

    When you bring a check to the bank to receive the "cash" value, the bank must:
    1. Enter the check details
    2. Verify that the amount on the check is available from the bank account of the person who wrote the check
    3. Withdraw the amount from the account of the person who wrote the check

    If all that goes well, the check has cleared.

    EDIT: Sorry Oeco, didn't see your reply when I started mine :eek:
  4. reginaregina Senior Member

    Thank you so much. Your answers are very helpful.
  5. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    In the United States there are laws on how long it may take to clear a check. If the check is local it must clear in 48 hours; if it is from out of state (from another state) then it must clear in 5 working days (Saturday and Sunday are not counted, even if the bank is open those days).

    Banks can actually clear checks within minutes of its receipt. They then want to hold onto that money for as long as possible. The laws were created to control that practice.
  6. Egmont Senior Member

    Massachusetts, U.S.
    English - U.S.
    The usual context for this question is when someone brings a check written on bank A to bank B. For example, you write a check to me. This check is written on your bank. I take it to my bank, a different bank, perhaps in a different city. My bank must confirm with your bank that this check is valid. Your bank will then withdraw the money from your account and transfer it to my bank. My bank will then credit my account with the amount of the check. Until then, I cannot use the money that your check represents, even though I have deposited your check.

    Years ago, this process of "clearing a check" required several days because the paper check had to be sent to the issuing bank (your bank) by postal mail. It is faster now, but still not instantaneous.
  7. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    It is instantaneous once they enter it into the computer system. There can be a backlog (intentional or not) that will delay entry. But the transfer takes a matter of milliseconds.
  8. Egmont Senior Member

    Massachusetts, U.S.
    English - U.S.
    Entirely correct. The delay is in the human processes that precede its entry to the computer system.
  9. Myridon

    Myridon Senior Member

    English - US
    Most banks do not complete transactions until the end of the day or even the end of the next day so that all the day's deposits can be processed before the withdrawals, i.e. the transactions are entered as "pending" nearly instantaneously but the money may still not be available until the next day.
  10. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    I have not checked lately but in years gone by any transaction that occurred after 3:00 p.m. was part of the next day's business. So a Friday transaction (deposit, cash for example) would not be processed until Monday.
  11. Fabulist Banned

    Annandale, Virginia, USA
    American English
    Basically, "How many days will it take for the check to clear?" means, "How long will it take before I can make a withdrawal against this money?"

    If you have $100 in your account, and you submit a check written on an account at any other bank for $200, you may not write a check for more than $100 on your own account until the $200 check clears. Or, if you do, there is a chance that your check will be cleared by your bank before the deposit is cleared. Your check will be returned to whomever you wrote it to for "insufficient funds" and you will be charged an extra fee by your bank.

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