Precautions when using cheques

Precautions of the issuer

When issuing a cheque, bank customers must:

  • Check that the account has sufficient funds available to pay the cheque;

  • Check that the cheque is within the validity period printed on the cheque book;

  • Observe the pre-printed mentions on the cheque;

  • Write only in the spaces that are to be filled in, without going outside these spaces;

  • Write out the check without erasures or overwriting;

  • Always indicate the place of issue;

  • Always write the date of issue (year, month and day);

  • Write the name or denomination of the entity to whom the cheque is being issued;

  • Always write the value of the cheque in full, with the full indication of the value expressed in figures, writing euros and, where appropriate, cents;

  • Always cross out the squares and unfilled spaces with a continuous horizontal line;

  • Write the words ‘não à ordem’ (‘not to order’), before or after the name of the payee, thus preventing the cheque from being paid to an entity other than the one indicated on the cheque in the event of theft or loss;

  • Sign the cheque, with the same signature as on the customer account opening form;

  • Avoid sending cheques by mail – mailed cheques can be stolen. However, if absolutely necessary, customers must write out crossed cheques and always write the name of the payee, followed or preceded by the words ‘não à ordem’ (‘not to order’).

It is important to note that:

  • Cheques filled in without indicating the amount in words can be changed to a higher amount – in case of divergence, the credit institution will pay the amount in words since, by law, the amount in words shall prevail;

  • Cheques without the name of the payee can be paid by credit institutions to any person who presents them for payment.

In addition to the care taken when filling in the cheque book, the issuer should also bear in mind that:

  • Cheques should only be issued on funds that are available;

  • If there are no funds available in the account, cheques will be returned for ‘lack of or insufficient funds’;

  • Writing out a cheque when there are lack of funds in the account may constitute a crime punishable by imprisonment;

  • Not settling returned or paid cheques, under the legal obligation to pay cheques in the amount of €150 or less, prevents issuers from using cheques for a period of two years and implies their inclusion on the List of Cheque Defaulters.


Precautions of the payee

Payees are not obliged to accept cheques as a means of payment, and may therefore stipulate the conditions under which they will accept a cheque from a given person, in particular if the person is unknown, and may ask to see the identification of the cheque issuer.

In addition, payees must:

  • Check if the cheque has been filled in correctly, namely if there are any erasures or overwriting, if the date of issue is the day on which it is issued, if the cheque is issued within the period of validity of the respective cheque book (in cases in which it has a pre-printed expiry date) and if the currency indicated in writing matches the pre-printed currency;

  • Present the cheque for payment during the presentation period (as a rule, eight days).