PSA: There’s a New Rule for Writing Checks

Writing alphanumerical dates on checks may be the norm for some, but a new rule was released on writing checks. And with zero tolerance for errors, this is a must.

Writing checks can be tricky, as it does not allow any room for error. Aside from basic rules like using dark-colored ink to correctly and legibly write the required information on the check (yes, no pencils or erasable pens), erasures are also an absolute no-no.

Joining this list of rules is the newest policy that was announced by the Philippine Clearing House Corporation (PCHC)—that issue dates are required to be written in the MM-DD-YYYY numerical format. According to the Memorandum Circular 3738 dated January 17, the change is meant to “set a standard or uniform format of writing the date on checks in order to avoid misinterpretation of date of issue.”

While the announcement that checks with alphanumerical issue dates will be accepted only until April 30 of this year, the PCHC clarified in a memo that the implementation of the required numerical format for issue dates on checks has been moved to May 1, 2024.

That way, “more time for bank clients to exhaust remaining checks or base stocks of printed checks in their possession,” per the Operating Memo released by PCHC. 

What This Means for Old Format Checks

Since the implementation of the new format has been deferred to next year, this means that old format checks with alphanumeric issue dates will still be accepted for clearing. However, this applies only if the checks are dated April 30, 2024, or earlier. Moreover, they also have to be presented for deposit before the 180th day from their date of issue. 

PCHC also notes that while alphameric dates written in any sequence are still acceptable, the Month-Day-Year sequence is highly preferred to remain consistent with the MM-DD-YYYY format that will be implemented next year. 

Check Writing 101 

Writing checks properly is crucial, as any mistake made may cause a bank not to accept the check you want to deposit or encash. To avoid any delays and hassles, here are some check-writing tips and reminders to keep in mind. 

Which Pen to Use

It is highly recommended that you use a pen with dark-colored ink—such as black and dark blue—when writing a check. This is so the information you write can be easily read. Moreover, it will also make it harder for what you write to be erased or changed—forgeries, so to speak. 

With that being said, avoid using pencils, as well as pens with gel or erasable ink. Using rubber stamps and holograms is also discouraged. 

No Erasures and Corrections

Banks strongly encourage clients to make sure that the information written on checks is clear and readable. Given this, it is best to avoid making any erasures or any changes to the check once you have written on it. 

This is because banks will not accept checks with erasures and changes for clearing. This will still apply even if you countersign on the check. 

Use Capital Letters

It is ideal that you use all capital letters when writing information on a check, especially the amount in expanded word form. Capital letters are harder to alter, which will help prevent check fraud. 

Add a Decimal Point and Two Zeros to the Numerical Amount

Let’s say the amount you want to write on your check is PHP 1,000. Make sure to write it as PHP 1,000.00—complete with a decimal point and two zeros after it despite not having a centavo amount. 
Writing the amount purely as PHP 1,000 or worse, PHP 1000 can make your check susceptible to alterations and check fraud, as anyone can just add an additional zero or more to the amount.