Canadian Payments Association

Canadian cheque specs change — December 2006

The Canadian Payments Association has published new cheque specifications this year that will apply to all cheques in Canada as of December 31, 2006. The changes are in preparation for Canada’s move to cheque imaging, for more efficient processing and clearing.

The date field on cheques must display one of three numeric formats: DDMMYYYY, MMDDYYYY or YYYYMMDD (with the appropriate field indicators displayed below the date to identity which format is being used).

There are other requirements, including minimum size, specific printing requirements on the back of cheques, standardized positions for key fields on the front and back of cheques and a prohibition on elements that might prevent the capture of key data, such as inverse printing, italics and slanted font forms.

The Canadian Payments Association is advising organizations that custom print their own cheques to review these specifications and to confirm that they meet the new requirements by providing samples of their new cheques to the quality assurance division of their financial institutions. For more information, see