Cheque Printing Standards According to the Canadian Payments Association (CPA)

July 28, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The Canadian Payments Association (CPA) is a not-for-profit association created in 1980 by an Act of Parliament.

There are changes to cheques. Do your cheques meet the new CPA standards? Here are the facts you need to know.

In 2005 the CPA announced new specifications for personal and business cheques. The CPA extended the transition period until September 2, 2008.If you ordered cheques after 2005 they already meet the new standard but here is how it affects you:

  • Financial Institutions will recognize that some “old format” business cheques still exist and they will accept them until further notice to avoid potential disruption.
  • Clients with the “old format” cheques can continue to use them until their supply is gone.

The easiest way for you to make sure your cheques meet the new standard is the date format. If the format is MMDDYYYY or DDMMYYYY or YYYYMMDD, your cheques meet the new standard.

These new standards are intended to ensure that cheques can leverage all new image technologies. The new specifications as outlined in CPA Standard 006, Part A, are necessary to ensure that high-quality cheque images can be captured, both for clearing purposes and for delivery to clients, and to enhance processing efficiency.

Here are 7 things to check for issued on the new standard cheques

  • As mentioned above check that the dates are MMDDYYY or DDMMYYY. If so, your cheques meet the new standard.
  • The serial number should be encoded in the MICR line.
  • The minimum length of cheque increases.
  • Security features do not interfere with image capture.
  • Standardized positions for key fields on the cheque (i.e. field amount).
  • New requirements for the reverse of the cheque.
  • No elements that could hinder image capture on the cheque (i.e. inverse printing, italics, slanted fonts, black carbon on the reverse of cheques, a bottom border, and complex or colorful backgrounds.

In addition to the things to look for, the main things that have changed on Cheques are:

  • An increase in the minimum length of cheques to 6 ¼”, or 15.88 cm, from 6”, to ensure there is enough space for the mandatory serial number in the MICR line.
  • A mandatory serial number in the MICR line encoded at the bottom of the cheque.
  • Specified positions for key fields on the cheque, including the date field and the amount in figures.
  • New printing requirements on the reverse of the cheque so that image capture can be verified.
  • Disallowance of elements that may hinder the capture of images or data from the cheque.
  • A provision to ensure that security features do not interfere with key data, or “areas of interest,” as defined in Standard 006, Part A, and either prior to imaging or post imaging. In particular, if a VOID pantograph or other hidden pantograph is used, the pantograph must not be visible on images captured from original cheques.
  • Some revisions to technical specifications (e.g. Print Contrast Signal) to ensure high-quality images can be captured. For example, some colourful or detailed backgrounds that have been used on cheques to date may interfere with image quality and may need to be changed.

If you would like more information about Cheque Standards visit the CPA standards for cheques webpage.

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