The Check Clearing for the 21st Century Act of 2004 (Check 21 Act) is a federal law that allows financial institutions to clear checks by exchanging electronic images. If financial institutions are not set up to receive electronic images, they may make a "substitute check", which is a legal copy of the original check. While Check 21 represents a new era in financial services, the effects of Check 21 on banking has been gradual. Some of the effects you may notice include:

  • Checks and deposits often clear much faster than they used to. Instead of taking days, checks may clear in minutes or hours.
  • If a check you deposit is returned, instead of receiving the original check, you may receive a substitute check. A substitute check will have an image of both the front and back of the original check along with a statement that the check is a legal copy of the original check.
  • When you request a copy of a check, you may receive a copy of a substitute check, rather than a copy of the original check.