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What is CPA 006 all about?

CPA 006 refers to the latest standards for what cheques must look like. This has come about because banks can now transmit images of cheques rather than sending the actual physical cheques to the bank the cheque is drawn on. By July 2007, all cheques must comply to the rules for where and how information is located, the contrast between background designs and what is printed, and in particular that the bottom 5/8" (called the MICR clear band) be free of printing except for the magnetic ink numbers and symbols.

Anyone buying cheques today should ensure that they are "CPA 006" compatible, because chances are that the order will not be used up by the deadline. And banks have the option of charging a fee for having to manually process any cheques that are not CPA 006 compatible.

More details are available at our CPA 006 Overview and at the Canadian Payments Association.

Are the cheques from ASAP Cheques compatible with CPA 006 ?

All of ASAP's Cheque paper is compatible with CPA 006 but your software must also be compliant.

However, not all software vendors have caught up. Or you may still be using an older version of your software that does not support CPA 006 printing. So when you place your order, you will have to specify whether you wish the current layout or the new "image ready" CPA 006 layout.

What if I continue to use old-style cheques after June 30, 2007?

If you use cheques that are not compatible with CPA 006 requirements after June 30, 2007 then you run the risk of being charged a manual processing fee for every cheque (in the past, we have heard of these fees being in the range of $1 to $3 per cheque. Processing of your cheque may also be delayed.

How can I tell if a cheque is CPA 006 compatible?

Here are just some of the things to look for.

  • The minimum size of a cheque is now 6.25" wide and 2.75" high. The maximum size of a cheque is now 8.5" wide by 3.75" high.
  • The bottom 5/8" (called the MICR Clear Band) must be clear of all printing except for the magnetic ink numbers and symbols. There should be no background printing in the MICR clear band, and if there is it must be so light that it will not interfere with readability when the cheque is scanned.
  • Backgrounds must be very light, and not interfere with information on the cheque.
  • The MICR encoding must include a cheque number (this used to be optional).
  • The date must now be in the form of YYYYMMDD, MMDDYYYY or DDMMYYYY. If the date can be filled in by hand, then the format must be printed underneath.
  • The cheque amount in words must be followed by "/ Dollars"
  • The back of the cheque must have the new standard CPA layout.

More details are available at our CPA 006 Overview and at the Canadian Payments Association.

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