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Cashing cheques in foreign currencies

Cashing a foreign currency cheque in the UK isn’t always straightforward. If you receive a cheque in euros, dollars or another currency, here’s what to do.

Cashing a foreign currency cheque in the UK isn’t always straightforward. If you receive a cheque in euros, dollars or another currency, here’s what to do.

Written by
Sajni Shah
Consumer expert on money and utilities
Last Updated
7 FEBRUARY 2023
4 min read
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Can I pay a foreign cheque into my UK bank account?

Yes, most of the big high street banks will let you pay in a foreign cheque. There’s usually a fee for doing so.

If you need to access the money quickly, an online bank transfer is usually faster than trying to cash a cheque.

What should I do if I receive a cheque in a foreign currency?

These days it’s relatively rare to receive a cheque at all, let alone one in a foreign currency. But if you’re sent a foreign currency cheque, first make sure you can pay it into your current account.

If your bank accepts foreign cheques, you’ll usually need to pop into a branch to pay it into your account.

Cheques have to go through a clearing process, where the amount on the cheque transfers between accounts to settle the payment. This usually takes between one to six working days. But if the cheque is in a foreign currency, it can slow the process. Foreign currency cheque clearing can take up to seven weeks and you’ll probably have to pay a charge.

Your bank may refuse to accept the cheque if you don’t pay it in within six months.

How are foreign cheques paid?

There are two ways a bank can process a foreign cheque: a negotiation or collection service. Which method they use will depend on where the cheque comes from and what currency it’s in.

Cheque negotiation
Cheque negotiation lets you use the money before the cheque has cleared. But if the cheque bounces or is stopped, the money could be deducted from your account.

Funds are usually paid into your account within three to six working days, but it can take longer.

You’ll usually have to pay a fee. This might be a set figure or a percentage of the cheque amount. At NatWest, for example, you’ll be charged £5 for a cheque of £100 or less or £60 for a cheque worth over £20,000.

Cheque negotiation is only used for cheques made out in the currency of the sender’s country – for example, a cheque from Canada made out in Canadian dollars. If you receive a Canadian cheque made out in euros, it will need to be paid by collection.

Cheque collection
When cheques are paid by collection, the bank waits for the cheque to clear – and the foreign bank to confirm the transaction – before crediting your account. This could take a while – sometimes seven weeks or more. As with cheque negotiation, there’s usually a fee.

Your bank will probably use the collection method if the cheque is made out in a different currency to the one used in the issuing country, or if it’s from a country your bank deems high risk.

Can exchange rates affect the value of foreign cheques?

Yes. Your bank can set its own exchange rate to calculate how much you’re owed. This won’t always be the most competitive rate on the market.

You may find the exchange rate changes in the time between you depositing the cheque and it clearing – especially if it takes several weeks to process. You could end up with less than you would have received on the day the cheque was paid in. On the flip side, you could get more.

Anything else I should know about cashing a cheque in a foreign currency?

While it’s certainly possible to cash a foreign cheque in the UK, there are easier ways to transfer money between countries. Many online and smaller banks won’t even accept international cheques.

Remember, never accept a cheque from someone you don’t know or trust, as fraud can be a big issue with foreign cheques.

An electronic cash transfer is the fastest and safest way to receive funds from overseas. If possible, ask the person paying you to organise a bank transfer instead of writing a cheque.

You’ll need to provide them with your International Bank Account Number (IBAN) and Bank Identifier Code (BIC). These are similar to sort codes and account numbers.

You can find them in the account details section of your banking app or online account. While you may face steep fees and unfavourable exchange rates, the processing time should be much quicker.

Frequently asked questions

Do all banks charge the same to cash a foreign cheque?

No, fees vary. Some banks charge a flat fee, for example, £10, while others charge a percentage of the cheque amount – or even a combination of both. Your bank’s website should give you details.

How do I pay in a foreign cheque?

Check with your bank, as you’ll probably need to go into a branch. Alternatively, you might be able to send the cheque to be processed at your bank’s international payments office. Be sure to sign the back of the cheque and add your sort code and account number. It’s worth photographing the cheque for your records.

What is cheque recourse?

Cheque recourse is when your bank takes the money back from you if the cheque is stopped or returned unpaid. It could take several weeks for a foreign cheque to clear and the cheque could bounce in this time. A foreign cheque can be returned up to seven years from the issue date if fraud is identified.

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Sajni Shah - Consumer expert on utilities and money

Sajni is passionate about building products, allowing Compare the Market to help you make great financial decisions. She keeps track of the latest trends and evolving markets to find new ways to help you save money.

Learn more about Sajni