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Check 21

Effective October 28, 2004, the Check Clearing for the 21st Century Act (Check 21) was passed into law. The goal of this act was "to improve the overall efficiency of the nation's payment system." Since the check-processing environment involves extensive transportation costs and is time consuming, this law allows for the creation of a new negotiable instrument called a "substitute check" to help expedite the check collection process.

How it works

  • Financial institutions remove the original check anywhere in the check clearing process and replace it with an electronic reproduction1 of your original check.
  • Substitute checks will include an exact copy of the original check and will contain other pertinent information.


  • Allows faster collection and return of checks
  • Provide greater control over accounts and personal finances
  • Checks clear faster
  • Few noticed changes with Credit Union checking accounts.
Rights regarding substitute checks may be found in the Substitute Check Policy

1 The law describes the format in which this instrument must be created and gives the substitute check the same legal rights as the original check.

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