A US citizen, long-term permanent resident in Canada, with no financial presence of any type in the US. He holds a valid US passport, and is up-to-date with all IRS and FBAR reporting.

He has a $400 IRS refund check, denominated, naturally, in US funds. He will soon be visiting the US.

Can he just walk into a bank in the US and get US currency for the check? He can provide his US passport, and Canadian government photo ID matching the address on the check. Would there be any fee involved?

Cashing the check in Canada into C$ and then buying US dollars slices $15 off the value...

1 Answer 1


$400 is a small enough amount that he will probably be able to find some way to cash it. There may be a fee, but probably not as high as $15.

Banks may not cash a check if you don't have an account, or they may charge a fee. You could call and ask.

However, there are many places you can cash a check besides banks. Many grocery stores, for instance, will cash checks for a small fee. Walmart says they will cash a check under $1000 for a fee of $3 with "no registration required" and specifically lists tax checks among the allowed types of checks. This article from last year says Kroger stores will cash checks up to $2000 for a fee of $3. (Sometimes these places won't cash personal checks, but a tax check should be okay.) There are also check-cashing services. They charge higher fees, but as long as the fee is less than about 3%, it still won't be as much as $15.

Given all these options, I'd say there is pretty good likelihood of being able to find some way to cash the check for less than $15. If he really wants to be sure and/or minimize the fee, he can call some banks or grocery stores in the area he'll be visiting and ask what their check-cashing policy is.

(Of course, he'll probably want to spend that $400 while still in the US, otherwise he'll have to pay the exchange fee anyway to get it into Canadian dollars to use when he goes back home to Canada.)

  • 1
    In Canada, banks must cash gov't checks for free for customers or non-customers, and they are never stale dated... We'll go with Walmart :)
    – DJohnM
    Commented Aug 23, 2014 at 7:50

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