New cheque printing standards for faster, simpler cheque processing.
In order to make cheque processing faster and more convenient, the Canadian Payments Association (CPA) has announced a new standardized layout for cheques, known as Standard 006.
Financial institutions will be able to exchange cheques between themselves in an electronic data format, which will enhance the efficiency of the Canadian Payments System. As a result, customers will enjoy faster, easier access to cheque images, streamlining the cheque clearing process.
The new specifications at a glance.
This illustration highlights the changes mandated by the new standards:
- The numeric date field must follow one of these formats:
- English format of MMDDYYYY or DDMMYYYY
- French MMJJAAAA or JJMMAAAA
- International date format YYYYMMDD (English) or AAAAMMJJ (French)
- In all cases, the date field indicators must be printed below the date field line to indicate which format is being used. The font size for this date field is a minimum of 6pts and a maximum of 8pts.
- A mandatory serial number must be encoded in the MICR line on the bottom of the cheque.
- The minimum length of a cheque increases from 6" to 6 1/4" (or 15.88 cm) to ensure there is sufficient space to accommodate the mandatory serial number in the MICR line.
- Positions for key fields on the cheque, such as the amount field, have been standardized.
- Elements that could hinder the capture of images from the cheques must not be used. These include inverse printing, italics, slanted fonts, a bottom border printed below the MICR line, black carbon on the reverse of cheques, and some complex or colourful backgrounds.
- Security features must not interfere with image capture for "areas of interest" as defined in Standard 006, Part A.
- New requirements for the reverse of the cheque.
Always fill out your new cheques using black or blue ink and, if you have any old cheques, be sure to replace them.
Without these modifications to your cheques, other financial institutions may not process non-compliant cheques. That means, some cheques may not clear. By making the transition to the new cheque format before that date, you will avoid potential business disruptions and be ready to take advantage of the benefits of cheque imaging.