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Understanding cheques and cheque security

If a cheque form or cheque book is stolen or lost, call BNZ immediately on 0800 800 468 or go to any BNZ store.

What you need to know about cashing cheques

  • You will need to bring ID to cash a cheque. We may ask you for identification when you cash a cheque and we will explain our reasons for doing so on request.
  • Any changes made to a cheque need to be accompanied by full signatures of an authorised signatory(ies) for that account.
  • Cheques cannot be accepted for deposit before the date that is written on them. If your cheque has a future date, present this for deposit on or after that date.

If a cheque is not presented to us for payment within a certain period of time (usually six months from the date written on the cheque) we may pay the cheque; decline to pay the cheque; or make any further enquiry we consider necessary before deciding whether to pay or not to pay the cheque.

Understanding the instructions or crossings on your cheque

  • If the words ‘or bearer’ appear on a cheque, this generally means that cheque is payable to whoever presents or ‘bears’ it.
  • A crossing on the cheque means that the cheque must be deposited into a bank account; if the words ‘or bearer’ appear, this generally can be the account of the person who presents the cheques depending on the wording within the crossing
  • Various wording within the crossing changes the drawer’s instructions to the bank, for example if the cheque is crossed with two lines and reads ‘account payee only’ or ‘not transferable’, the cheque must be deposited into the account of the named payee even though the words ‘or bearer’ appear. 

How long it takes to clear a cheque

  • A cheque paid into your account will show in your account on the day we receive it, but you’ll not be able to use the funds until we are reasonably satisfied that the amounts deposited will be cleared.
  • Cheques deposited at a BNZ Store usually take three business days to clear. This includes the day of deposit plus two business days. For example, if a cheque is deposited on Monday, the funds should be available to you on Wednesday.
  • If you deposit a cheque via a BNZ ATM or to a credit card it will take four days to clear (the day of the deposit plus three business days). For example, if you deposited a cheque via a BNZ ATM on Monday, the funds should be available to you on Thursday.
  • Foreign cheques will take longer to clear and are subject to the laws and regulations of the country in which they are drawn. New Zealand Dollar Bank Drafts might take up to five business days to clear.

Why a cheque might be be dishonoured

There are a number of reasons why a cheque may not be able to be paid out on. This includes but is not limited to: insufficient funds, amount in words and figures differs, cheque is stale or post-dated, signature is unlike specimen held, and alterations have been made without sufficient signature authority.

If the dishonour notice you receive states one of the following as the reason for the dishonour: (i) refer to drawer, (ii) post dated, or (iii) effects not clear, you can re-bank the cheque. Please phone 0800 240 000, then press * to talk to a Customer Services Representative who can help you with this.

For any other dishonour reasons you should contact the drawer of the cheque in the first instance.

How to protect yourself from cheque fraud

Every year cheque fraud robs hundreds of New Zealanders. Most of the problems occur because a cheque hasn't been written correctly or because a cheque book has been stolen.

Here are the basic rules to follow:

  • Keep your cheque book in a secure place
  • Don't sign an incomplete or blank cheque
  • It's important to ensure the cheque can only be banked by the person or company it's intended for. To do this, write the words 'Not transferable' or 'A/C payee only' or 'Account payee only' within two parallel lines cross across the face of the cheque. Make sure you know the correct payee name.
  • You can write the words 'Not negotiable' within two parallel lines across the face of the cheque. This means the cheque must be paid into a bank account. A cheque marked 'not negotiable' can be transferred to someone other than the person it is made out to, but it still has to be paid into a bank account
  • When writing the cheque amount in words, begin writing as far possible to the left of the space provided and add the word 'only' after the amount. This ensures that other words and figures can't be added
  • Draw a line through any unused portion of the payee or amount spaces, so that there is no unwritten space
  • If you make an alteration to something you have written, confirm by signing your full signature alongside the alteration
  • If you change your postal address, let us know quickly