With which colors can one fill out and sign and personal check in the US?

Black is of course okay; I have heard that blue is also allowed. An ideal answer will give references.

Is there anything else to know? Does the answer follow from more general rules about the issuing and signing of legal documents in the US?

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    In Australia it is blue or black. Red is definitely not allowed on cheques or other legal and official documents.
    – Victor
    Commented May 18, 2013 at 19:54
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    @Victor The OP is specifically asking about the US, however. Commented May 18, 2013 at 20:46
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    Regarding legal documents, what is usually allowed in one country can sometimes also be the case in other countries. That is why I am simply making a comment about this and not including it as an answer.
    – Victor
    Commented May 18, 2013 at 21:10
  • @Victor Thanks for the information! In reply to Ricardo's comment I have clarified the scope of the question in the question title, but I agree that your comment is not out of scope. Commented May 19, 2013 at 17:42

1 Answer 1


Keep in mind that many checks are being cashed via scanner or photo. These can be home based, business based or ATM based systems. The key requirement is that the software has to be able to distinguish the "written" parts from the background parts.

If the image doesn't have enough contrast for the edge detection to work, the check can't be easily processed. In that case a human looks at the image and decodes the image and processes the transaction. The image is not in color.

Many businesses scan the check and hand the original back to you after having the Point of Sale system process the image.

Post 2001 the checks in the united states are no longer moved through the banking system, only their images. With the roll out of these image based systems, in the future almost no physical checks will be seen by banks. Therefore the actual ink color is not important, only the result.

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    I think it is an interesting question whether regulations about the color on checks (if they exist) would technically apply to checks that are to be scanned, even if arbitrary colors (say, a shade of green that isn't too light) work practically. Commented May 18, 2013 at 17:17
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    @LoverofStructure I know that some colors don't get scanned very well. For example, my bank almost rejected a deposit because I endorsed it in red ink and the scanner didn't pick it up at all (they thought it wasn't endorsed). I had to ask them to look at the physical check and verify (deposited through ATM).
    – littleadv
    Commented May 18, 2013 at 19:29

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