Identify, Accept, or Deposit a Foreign Check

Learn how to identify, accept, and deposit a foreign check, as well as the associated fees and allowable currencies.


Our recommendation to University departments is that you do not accept foreign checks.

Due to a change in the structure of the foreign banking system and the increased fees associated with this change, U.S. banks are passing through larger fees on foreign checks, and are raising the minimum check value eligible for foreign clearing. As a result, bank fees have increasingly exceeded the face value of small checks, resulting in a net loss on these payments to the University.

Departments should encourage their customers to make their payments using a U.S. check, wire transfer or credit card (e.g., VISA, Master Card). This payment information should be clearly communicated in such things as registration material, tuition payment instructions, and journal subscription information.

For departments that still accept foreign checks, the University has a separate bank account used to expedite the acceptance and translation process. The costs of maintaining this account are offset by clearing fees, charged on a per-check basis.

How to Determine if Your Check is Foreign

These three simple questions will allow you to determine if you have a foreign check, money order or bank draft.

Is the check written in a currency other then $US (ignoring the country of the bank)?

  • Yes – It is a foreign check and should be sent to the Treasury Department.
  •  No – Go to question 2.

Is the location of the drawee bank on the check outside the U.S.? Although a bank is in a foreign country it may state a drawee bank in the U.S. from which the funds will be drawn. If no drawee bank is listed, then the funds will be drawn from the bank listed on the check.

  • Yes - It is a foreign check and should be sent to the Treasury Department.
  • No – Go to question 3.

Is there a 9 digit ABA number of the check printed on the bottom line of the check?

  • Yes – It is not a foreign check and can be deposited in the Cashier's Office.
  • No – It should be treated as a foreign check and sent to the Treasury Department.
Image of sample foreign check with bank name and account number areas highlighted.
Foreign Check and Money Order Fees

If you decide to accept payment in the form of a foreign check, money order, or draft, please note that to be deposited each check or money order must exceed $150 US and must be issued in a Type 1 currency.

All foreign checks will be charged a one-time processing fee of $50*. This is a processing fee only; it does not include transaction costs. These may include:

  • Currency exchange rate charged by the bank (e.g., for conversion)
  • Any additional transaction cost imposed by the issuing bank
  • Insufficient funds (NSF) fee - $20*  
  • Stopped check fee - $20*

Again, our recommendation to University departments is that you do not accept foreign checks.

*Please note that these fees are subject to change.

Type 1 Currencies

The following are considered Type I currencies. If you have decided to accept a foreign check or money order, it must be drawn in one of the following:

  • CAD Canadian Dollar
  • DKK Danish Krone
  • EUR EMU Euro
  • NZD New Zealand Dollar
  • NOK Norwegian Krone
  • SEK Swedish Krona
  • CHF Swiss Franc
  • GBP UK Pound Sterling
  • USD Drawn on/in Canada
  • USD Drawn on/in the United Kingdom

For the following currencies, please contact the Office of The Treasurer so that the check(s) can be evaluated on a case-by-case basis:

  • HKD Hong Kong Dollar
  • JPY Japanese Yen
  • SGD Singapore Dollar

How to Deposit Your Foreign Check

If you have determined that your check is foreign, that it has been drawn in a Type I currency, that its value is over $150 USD, and that you accept the fees associated with the transaction, please send the check or have it delivered to:

Office of the Treasurer

Attn: Lisa Rogerson

Columbia University in the City of New York

615 W. 131 Street, 3rd Floor

New York, NY 10027

Tel: (212) 854-3171

All checks must be accompanied by a Foreign Check Log (listing each check, amounts and full revenue & fee chart strings). Each log must also be sent by email to [email protected]. Your ARC account should be credited within 2 weeks of receipt.

Include a Foreign Check Log with your Deposit

All checks must be accompanied by a Foreign Check Log and delivered by email to [email protected].

Please refer to the above section on depositing foreign checks for more information. 

Cash and Check Handling Policy

Refer to the Cash and Check Handling Policy to read more on procedures for the collection, transportation and secure processing of coin, currency, checks, e-checks, cashier's checks, traveler's checks and money orders ("Cash") for US Dollars as well as foreign currencies.

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