Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Customer Assistance: 1-800-613-6743

Get Answers to Your Banking Questions

What is Check 21?

Check 21 refers to the Check Clearing for the 21st Century Act. Check 21 is a federal law that allows banks to handle more checks electronically. It allows banks to

  • truncate a check by removing the original from processing.
  • exchange images of a check instead of the original paper check.
  • create a special paper copy, called a substitute check, of an original check.

A substitute check is

  • a legal document, with all the rights and obligations of the original check.
  • a reproduction that includes all information and endorsements from both the front and back of the original check.
  • used as proof of payment.

More information on this topic can be found at Check Clearing for the 21st Century - FDIC.

Last Reviewed: April 2021

Please note: The terms "bank" and "banks" used in these answers generally refer to national banks, federal savings associations, and federal branches or agencies of foreign banking organizations that are regulated by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). Find out if the OCC regulates your bank. Information provided on should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion of the OCC.

Still need help?

Contact Us