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Personal Banking > Bank Accounts > Managing Your Bank Accounts > Education Centre > Hold Policy Guide

Hold Policy Guide

Accepting Cheques/Items for Deposit or Negotiation

This guide is designed to help answer many of the questions you might have about cheques that are placed "on hold." We also provide some tips so that you may have peace-of-mind when you accept a cheque as payment or reimbursement for goods or services.

For purposes of the Hold policy:
  • "Cheque" also includes certified cheques, bank drafts, money orders and other instruments
  • Saturday, Sunday and holidays are not business days

How is RBC's Hold Policy Established?

Our Hold Policy follows the regulations set out in the Bank Act. The cheque clearing system for the financial services industry is guided by rules established by the Canadian Payments Association (CPA).

Who is Responsible for the Cheque or Item Deposited?

Individuals and businesses are ultimately responsible for the items they deposit in their bank accounts. Generally a cheque can clear but only be considered validated when money is taken out of the account of the person who wrote the cheque and the intended recipient has received the funds in their account. Cheques can be returned for a variety of reasons in a variety of time frames based on the CPA rules. This is why it is so important to take precautions and be aware of the circumstances under which you accept a cheque, especially if you are accepting a cheque for a large amount from someone you do not know. You are financially responsible for items deposited or cashed both before and after the hold period.

What Happens During the Hold Period?

During the hold period, funds for cheques and other negotiable items deposited to your account may not all be accessed immediately.

The hold period allows the Bank to verify that funds will be available from the account at the other financial institution on which the cheques and other negotiable items are drawn.

Our Hold Policy is explained in, and is subject to, the account agreement that governs your account. For example, if a cheque you deposit is returned to RBC for any reason, either during or after the expiry of the applicable hold period, RBC has the right to charge the amount of the cheque/item to your account. Holds are placed on some deposited items to protect both clients and the Bank from fraud.

Tips and Questions to Consider

When accepting cheque/items for deposit to your account:

  • Do you know the person that signed and gave you this cheque/item?
  • Do you normally receive cheques from this person?

    • If so, have you ever had any problems with these items?
    • Have they ever been returned to you/your account because it was unpaid?
  • Is this a "one-time only" transaction, or do you regularly deal with this person?
  • Is the cheque/item for an amount more than you expected, or are entitled to?
  • Were you approached to make this deposit on behalf of someone else?
  • Were you promised a portion of the proceeds to deposit this for someone else?
  • Were you asked to send a wire payment to a third party that you do not know?
  • Does this transaction, or the person you are dealing with, make you feel uncomfortable?

If you are concerned with any of the above, please speak with your local RBC Royal Bank® branch or call 1-800-769-2511 for personal clients or 1-800-769-2520 for business clients for assistance.

Hold Timelines

The length of the hold period can vary depending on the location of the issuing financial institution. In general, the period of time required to verify if there are sufficient funds available in the account at the other financial institution is:

  • Four (4) business days after the day of the deposit if the cheque or other negotiable item is deposited in person with an employee at one of our branches or points of service and is in Canadian dollars, drawn on a Canadian branch of a Canadian financial institution. For USD cheques drawn on a Canadian financial institution the hold period remain at 5 business days.
  • Five (5) business days after the day of deposit if the cheque or other negotiable item is deposited in any other manner, such as at an Automated Teller Machine (ATM). for cheques and other negotiable items in Canadian dollars, drawn on a Canadian branch of a Canadian financial institution
  • Fifteen (15) business days after the first business day of deposit for cheques and other negotiable items drawn on a U.S. Bank
  • Twenty-five (25) business days after the first business day of deposit for cheques and other negotiable items drawn on foreign banks other than U.S.

Important: The expiry of the hold period does not mean that the item will not be subsequently returned for some other reason. You are financially responsible for items deposited or cashed both before and after the hold period.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is this new (placing holds on cheques), or has this always been the case?

Placing holds on cheques is not new. A financial institution must protect its depositors and shareholders from losses due to the negotiation of bad cheques. When a cheque is deposited, the financial institution will generally hold the item until it can verify that sufficient funds are available in the account at the other financial institution. However, this does not guarantee that the item will not be returned at a later date for some other reason. Please refer to http://www.cdnpay.ca/imis15/eng/FAQs/eng/FAQs.aspx (Canadian Payments Association Website opens external website in new window) for additional factors considered when placing holds.

 

2. Is it safe to take cheques as a form of payment?

Yes, although there is always a risk associated with the subsequent return of the item deposited/cashed. Cheques written to you by people you know and trust are generally safe.

 

3. Can the bank do anything to help me if I am concerned with the item/cheque provided to me?

If you are concerned with the cheque/negotiable item provided or you are unfamiliar with the sender, please contact your local RBC Royal Bank branch or call 1-800-769-2511 for personal clients or 1-800-769-2520 for business clients.

Additional steps/measures can be taken to minimize the risk of your item being returned.

 

4. Do all banks have the same policy regarding holds?

A financial institution's decision whether or not to place a hold on funds is a business decision. However, if a financial institution decides to place a hold on funds, it will generally hold an item for the number of days likely required for the item to reach the branch/financial institution that holds the account on which it was written and, to determine if there are sufficient funds in that account. For more detailed information regarding industry standards on Cheques and Holds on Cheques visit the Canadian Payments Association Website (Canadian Payments Association Website opens external website in new window).

 

5. Now that the hold has been released, are my funds now available?

Yes. Once the hold is lifted, all the funds are made available in your account. However, the item may still be returned after the hold period for reasons other than insufficient funds. The lifting of the hold does not guarantee that an item will not be returned. If you are concerned, please contact your local branch for assistance.

 

6. Is there anything that I can do to ensure that the item is not returned at a later date?

Although the Bank does not guarantee that a cheque/item deposited will not be returned at a later date, you can ask yourself the questions set out above in "Tips and Questions to Consider," to help you understand the risks associated with a particular item. Your responses should provide you with an indication/comfort level with respect to the items being negotiated. If you are uncomfortable with the potential risk associated with the item being cashed/deposited (based on your responses), please contact your local branch as per the above for assistance.

 

7. If the item has been returned either before or after the hold has expired, does this have a negative impact on my credit rating?

If your account has enough funds to cover the item subsequently returned, it will not affect your credit rating. If, however, your account is put into an overdraft position, exceeding the approved limit, this could affect your credit rating if not dealt with immediately. Please contact your branch immediately if this happens to you.

 

Responsibility

As our client, you are financially responsible for all items presented to us for deposit or to be cashed and for the potential return of the item, regardless of any applicable hold period.

Contact Details

Should you have any additional concerns regarding our hold policy or are concerned about an item given to you, please contact your local RBC Royal Bank branch or call:

Table caption
Service Phone number
Personal Clients 1-800-769-2511
Business Clients 1-800-769-2520

Additional References

Please refer to your Client Agreement-Personal Deposit Accounts (for personal accounts) and the Financial Services Agreement (for business accounts), and/or our Policy on Holds PDF (opens new window) for additional information regarding our holds policy. For an industry perspective, please refer to the Canadian Payments Association Website (Canadian Payments Association Website opens external website in new window) for additional information on Cheques and Holds on Cheques.