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Federal Law on Check Clearing Time

Is there a federal law on how long it takes for an out of state check to clear? If there is, does this law require ten business days or does the law require only four business days, allowing a bank discretion to hold a check for up to ten business days? Additionally, where can I find this federal regulation in printed form?

There is a federal law, the Expedited Funds Availability Act. When a law such as this is enacted, there is a banking regulation that implements it and tells the bankers more precisely what they have to do, how to do it, and what options they have in meeting these requirements.

In the case of this requirement, Regulation CC, banks can put holds on items deposited into a checking account. Your bank provided you with a Funds Availability Policy (although it could have been named differently) when you opened your checking account. You are always free to request another one as well. Because there are various options available to the bank on the hold periods they use, I will say that they can provide access the very next day or up to eleven business days from the date of deposit.

You can ask when you make a deposit how long it will be on hold. In some cases the bank will tell you immediately or will mail a notice when they are placing what is known as a "case by case hold" on the deposit. This depends on what checks in your deposit are defined as local, non-local and what items are defined as next-day available items. It also depends on the size of the deposit and how long your account has been open. This is a very difficult banking regulation to follow and to describe briefly. The defined terms themselves go from "(a) account" to "(fff) Remotely created check."

You may find an online copy of this regulation here, on

Published on 10/04/06