We're a US company. We got a check from a Canadian company and usually the check will say "USD" on it. Otherwise when we deposit it, the check will clear as CAD.

This check has no indicators on it. Just the amount written as "$100".

Is there something visible on the check (a code in the numbers) that determines what currency the check is written in? How can I tell before I deposit it whether the check is USD or CAD? (Even though the company's address is Canada, the Bank Name on the check says Bank of America)

Or is this just determined by the currency of the account that wrote the check which isn't knowable until it tries to clear via the banks?

  • It doesn't say the unit at the end of the line where you're supposed to write out the value in words? Jan 24, 2011 at 20:15
  • 6
    Canadian money is also called dollars and marked as $. Unless the check is marked USD or CAD there's no good way to tell by inspecting the check...
    – jldugger
    Jan 24, 2011 at 20:23
  • You could try calling you local BoA branch...
    – C. Ross
    Jan 25, 2011 at 19:28

3 Answers 3


If the check is drawn an a Canadian bank, and does not specify the currency, then it is assumed to be in Canadian dollars.

Edit: To identify a check clearing through the US Federal Reserve system, every check will have three numbers on the bottom of it: A routing number, an account number, and a check number. The routing number is 9 digits long, and is normally book-ended by two symbols that look like this a bar and two dots |:

The last Canadian check I saw had a routing number which was five digits, a dash, and then three digits. Unfortunately, I don't see them often enough to know if that's how they always appear or not.

  • The problem is that the address on the check is Canadian, but the bank name has no address. It says Bank of America (which you would assume means it's a US bank, but what if it said simply Chase?) Jan 25, 2011 at 21:13
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    The routing numbers on the bottom of the check will determine which system it goes through, if it gets routed through the US Federal Reserve or through the Canadian system (sorry, I don't know the name of it). Jan 25, 2011 at 21:51
  • @Ben I think you're looking for the Bank of Canada, but are you sure that cheques go through the central bank? That seems a little absurd. Jan 26, 2011 at 4:23
  • @benjamin That's what I'm trying to find out. What set of numbers would indicate it's going to Canada? Jan 26, 2011 at 23:55
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    @Matthew: I'm assuming that @Benjamin is referring to the fact that the cheque would be cleared through the Canadian banking system, not necessarily that it would physically get checked by the Bank of Canada.
    – fideli
    Jan 28, 2011 at 2:17

Don't know if this is broadly applicable but here's how the University of Minnesota handles it.

  • Hey, you've overtaken me on rep. That's quite a rise, congrats :-) Jan 25, 2011 at 14:35
  • Hah thanks! :) Glad people find my stuff helpful.
    – mbhunter
    Jan 25, 2011 at 15:58

The routing number for checks drawn from a Canadian bank (as Benjamin observed 9 years ago) is indeed in the format 5-dash-3 in stead of the 9 digits for U.S. banks. So you can easily find out if a check was from a U.S. or Canadian bank.

Determining the currency of the check is much trickier.

The "MICR" (Magnetic Ink line at bottom of check) has a "Transaction Code" (TC) field which is supposed to be used for that on Canadian checks: if set to "45" the check is in USD.


Except, if the field is set to 11 the check is in USD but only if the last 3 digits of the routing number (the "FI" part) is 815 or 829. Except, if the field is set to 6404 the check is in USD but only if.... etc.

The reason for all this is that every bank (or "Financial Institution") can make their own rules.

O Canada.

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