While most Canadians do their banking online and pay for things with a credit card, for some items you may need a certified cheque. If you’re looking to buy something like a car or home, sellers may require a certified cheque. You might be wondering why a piece of paper is so important with a large sale and how it differs from a personal cheque. We’ll explain the reasons why a certified cheque is a means of doing a safe transaction and much more.

What is a certified cheque?

A certified cheque is also called a bank certified cheque. It’s much like a personal cheque with an added feature for security. The bank will have literally put a stamp of approval on it. Your bank is certifying that the amount of money the cheque is made out for can be covered with funds in your account.

The bank will check to see how much money you have available. If you have enough to cover the cheque, they’ll certify it with a stamp. When the cheque is issued, those funds are frozen in the sense that you can’t use it for anything else.

The recipient that is receiving your certified cheque will know that the funds are there and you’ll take over ownership of whatever it is you’re buying. They know that there won’t be any issues when they go to deposit the cheque. That is the appeal of a bank certified cheque.

How can I get a certified cheque?

You’ll go to your main bank branch and request it from any bank teller. They’ll take a look into your account to see that you have the funds to cover the cheque. The teller will also ask for your identification and signature.

The teller may also add special conditions on the cheque. An example of this is stipulating how long the cheque is valid for and how quickly the funds are available for the recipient once deposited. You’ll fill the cheque in just like you’d do if you were writing a personal cheque. The bank then stamps the cheque and adds their signature or mark for full certification.

How long does it take for funds to be made available?

It usually takes a few days for money to arrive in the recipient’s account once deposited. Banks know that the amount of money on the cheque is available so most recipients will see the money in their accounts within one business day. If the recipient deposits the cheque in person at the bank, it’s the best way to get money into their account quickly.

Most banks will give recipients access to $5,000 or less right away. However, they may put holds on more than that. That protects the bank.

The difference between certified cheques and cashier’s cheques

They are similar in many ways. Cashier’s cheques are drawn from the bank’s account while certified cheques are drawn from the payer’s account. They both have inexpensive fees, offer high security, and reduce fraud.

Certified cheques and bank drafts

Some banks don’t offer certified cheques any longer but they do offer bank drafts. With a bank draft, the payer’s financial institution issues the draft to the recipient at the payer’s request. When the order is sent, the bank freezes the amount from the bank account of the payer. This allows financial institutions to directly transfer to the recipient’s bank account. It does not require a signature of the recipient.

That’s one of the big differences between certified cheques and a bank draft: a signature is required for the certified cheque. Also, with a certified cheque, funds aren’t reserved to carry out the translation. When a payer uses a certified cheque, it is written by the payer and verified by the bank. With a bank draft, the bank will process everything on behalf of the payer.

How much does issuing a certified cheque cost in Canada?

Issuing a certified cheque has a fee in Canada. Most banks are quite similar in their costs. The best case scenario is if both the recipient and the person writing the cheque both bank at the same place. Some of the Canadian banks have stopped issuing certified cheques in lieu of more modern tools like bank drafts.

Bank of Montreal (BMO)

The Bank of Montreal offers certified cheques for $15.00 when requested by the issuer. If the request is made from the non-issuer, it’s $25.00.

Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank)

The cost is $15.00 for the payer’s request. If requested by the recipient, the cost is 15 $ if they have a Scotiabank account and 25 $ if they do not have an account. If paid in cash, there’s an additional $3.00 charge. Also, if paid by cheque that’s been drawn from another financial institution, there is a $3.00 fee.

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC)

As of September 1, 2017, CIBC doesn’t issue certified cheques for cheques drawn on personal accounts. They have other payment solutions that are geared towards electronic transfers like bank drafts. When CIBC did offer certified cheques, they charged $15.00 for the recipient requesting.

Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)

RBC also stopped issuing certified cheques November 1, 2018 on personal accounts. They offer other alternatives and on their site they recommend Interac transfers. However, a bank draft would be more secure when transferring large amounts of funds.

Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD)

TD Bank charges the holder of the account where funds will be withdrawn $10.00. If the request for a certified cheque comes from a person other than the holder of the account, the fee is $15.00.

National Bank of Canada

The National Bank of Canada is promoting bank drafts as opposed to certified cheques. There were fees noted online from years ago of $15.00.

Desjardins

Desjardins still offers the service of issuing certified cheques. If it’s the payers request, the fee is $15.00. If it’s at the request of the recipient, it’s $20.00.

The certified cheque is not as popular as it once was. Since online banking and electronic paying has become so secure, there are new tools to move large sums of money.