That's a bit of a loaded question, because you could mean one of two things. First, the real answer -- a check clears when it has made the journey -- physically or electronically -- to the bank on which it is drawn (the paying bank), where it is then paid. Checks that don't get paid have to take a return trip -- again, physically or electronically -- to the depositary bank, where any credit given to a depositor gets reversed (the check is charged back). The trip to the paying bank can take anywhere from one to five business days on average, without allowing for possible delays.|
When can you use the funds deposited to your account in the form of a certified check? Certified checks are part of a group of check types for which banks are supposed to give next day availability. If the certified check is deposited to the account of a payee on the check, in person with a teller at the bank, the bank should give you access to the funds by the next business day. Your bank may have a special procedure you'll need to follow when depositing the check, so be sure to ask.
The bank may place a hold on all or part of the check deposit for what are called "exception reasons". For instance, if the deposited check is for more than $5,000, the first $5,000 will be available on the next business day, but the rest of the amount may not be available until the seventh or eleventh business day. If your bank has a legitimate doubt about the validity of the certified check, it can hold the entire amount for seven or eleven business days. There are a couple other reasons for a hold, too, but the bank should notify you of any hold at the time you make the deposit. Your bank could also refuse to accept the check for deposit if it doubts its validity.
Published on BankingQuestions.com 8/16/07