How To Read A Canadian Cheque

Why is it important to know how to read a Canadian cheque? If you own or do business in Canada or with a Canadian company, it is a good idea to educate yourself so that you know how to obtain the information you require when you need it.

Canadian cheques are not read the same way as US cheques. It is critical to understand and use the information on Canadian cheques. It also keeps you informed and aware of the cheques you’re using.

Personal checks have become less common as technology has developed, and online banking has grown in popularity, with direct deposits, wire transfers, and electronic funds transfer taking their place.

Even if you usually conduct your banking online, checks are still used, and it’s useful to be able to read one.

There are several parts to a cheque. The information in each section is crucial and pertains to the account holder and their account. Read down to know more.

Key Takeaway

  • Learn how to read a Canadian cheque
  • reason Why it’s important to know how to read a cheque
  • What the symbols on the bottom of a check mean
How to read a Canadian cheque

What is a cheque meaning?

A cheque/check is a bill of exchange in which one party instructs the bank to transfer money to another party’s bank account. It is a negotiable instrument governed by the Negotiable Instruments Act of 1881.

There are three parties which are involved in the transaction: the drawer, who writes the check; the drawee, or bank, which must transfer the money; and the payee, or the individual to whom the check is issued. Both a current and savings account are eligible for checks.

How to read a Canadian cheque

All banks process both US and Canadian checks using the MICR encoding line. This line at the bottom of the cheque serves as a storage area for all the data. It typically includes the branch number of the bank (also called the transit number), the institution code, the account number of the customer, the number of the check, and occasionally the transaction code.

Magnetic Image Character Recognition is known as MICR. Magnetic ink is used to print this line. In addition, the font used is MICR, which aids scanners and processing equipment in recognizing and reading the line. These numbers are instantly transformed into digital information that banks and other financial institutions can use to process the checks and complete the transactions.

There are detailed instructions on how to print checks and what components to include. Each component has a designated location on the check that must be strictly adhered to when printing a Canadian check. There is a wealth of helpful information on the MICR line.

There are several parts to a cheque. The information in each section is crucial and pertains to the account holder and their account.

1. Personal information on a cheque

Information regarding the authorized user(s) of the account from which the cheque will withdraw funds can be found in the top left corner of the check.

  • The top line contains your full name as it appears on your bank account
  • the second line contains your home street address.
  • Your city, province, and postal code are on the third line.

This information is already written on personalized checks. Some cheques, such as starter or temporary cheques, may require the user to handwrite the information.

2. Bank information on a cheque

Your bank account and routing numbers are a series of groups of numbers that can be found at the bottom of the check. The check number, which has three digits, can be seen as the first number on the bottom left. Your banking details are in the numbers that follow.

A cheque contains three important banking numbers.

  • Your transit number: This is the five-digit number that appears after the cheque number when read from left to right. The transit number denotes the financial institution branch where you opened your account.
  •  Your institution’s identification number is a three-digit number that comes after the transit number. Your institution number is a one-of-a-kind code assigned to each bank or financial institution to help them be identified. It’s worth noting that your transit number combined with your institution number is sometimes referred to as a “routing number.”
  •  The account number: This number will have at least seven digits but may have up to twelve digits, depending on your banking institution. The account number indicates which bank account the funds from the cheque will be withdrawn from.

Other things to consider when reading a cheque

Every cheque you write should have the same personal and banking information. However, the other details on the check will change.

This includes:

  • The cheque number, which, as previously stated, is three digits and can be found in the bottom left and top right corners.
  • The date will be in the top right corner below the cheque number.
  • The payee. Your cheque will include a line with the words “pay to the order of.” This is where you write down the name of the company or individual who will cash or deposit the cheque.
  • The total payment amount is written in full words. “One hundred and eighty-six dollars,” for example. In addition, the amount is written in numerals in a small box. So, in our case, $186.00.

Reasons Why it is important to know how to read a Canadian cheque

Even though checks are becoming less and less common, they are still very much in use. Cheques are a good way to send money via the mail if the need ever arises, and some companies and people may prefer to receive them.

It’s also important/vital to keep in mind that some Canadian financial institutions might consider checks that are older than six months to be invalid. To ensure you can cash or deposit any checks you receive (or discover in the back of a drawer), check the date.

Furthermore, the banking numbers located on the bottom of the cheque are required to set up direct deposits or automatic payments from your banking accounts.

There are other places to look for this information, such as the bank’s website or your most recent bank statement but looking at a cheque is a convenient way to get it all in one place.

What the numbers on the bottom of a Canadian cheque mean

The transit number (five digits) identifies the location where you opened your account. ATB Financial is identified as your bank by the three-digit institution number (219). Your individual account is identified by the account number (11 digits).

What the symbols on the bottom of a check mean

Two different sets of symbols make up the data printed at the bottom of a check: (1) separators, which mark the beginning and end of a data zone, and (2) numbers, which include routing, bank account, and check numbers.

What the tiny numbers on top of a check mean

Routing numbers, also known as ABA numbers or ABA numbers, are 9-digit codes used to identify the financial institution that manages your account. A check’s routing number does not include the character symbol that surrounds the numbers. Routing numbers are made public.

The important numbers on a check

Three groups of numbers, including your routing number, account number, and check number, are located at the bottom of each check. The bank’s routing number is the first group of numbers on your check in the lower left corner.

Read Also:

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How To Build Credit Without A Credit Card (2022 Guide)

How To Accept Credit Card Payments In 7 Simple Ways


You should have a thorough understanding of how to read a cheque in Canada, whether you’re writing one to pay a bill, receiving one from your employer, or simply want to know how to locate your account number on your cheque.

Like any other necessary skill in life, knowing how to make the most of every banking tool at your disposal is extremely beneficial.

Knowing how to use a cheque is arguably just as important as knowing how to use a credit card or what a savings account is for.

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About Author

How to read a Canadian cheque
Precious Ejimofor
My name is Precious Ejiofor, I am a professional self motivated, dependable writer and editor, with over 4 year of experience in writing for variety of business and platforms. I am able and capable to write on any kind of topic.
Specifically, I focus on producing persuasive and compelling contents that is thoughtful, prominent, and engaging.

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