What is an Uncleared Check?

Uncleared Check

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Uncleared Check

An uncleared check, also known as an outstanding check, is a check that has been written and distributed but has not yet been processed or cleared by the bank. In other words, the funds represented by the check have not yet been deducted from the payer’s account or credited to the payee’s account. This can occur for various reasons such as delays in depositing the check, bank processing times, or the check being lost or forgotten.

Importance in Accounting:

  • Bank Reconciliation: Uncleared checks are significant when performing a bank reconciliation. They are checks that have been recorded in the accounting records but do not appear on the bank statement because they have not yet cleared. These need to be accounted for to reconcile the company’s book balance with the bank statement balance.
  • Cash Flow Management: Knowing the amount represented by uncleared checks is essential for accurate cash flow management. Businesses need to be aware that the money for those checks will eventually be deducted from their bank account when the checks clear.
  • Audit and Review: Uncleared checks often attract attention during financial audits or reviews. Auditors may request an explanation for long-outstanding checks as they might indicate an accounting issue or fraud.

In summary, an uncleared check is a check that has been issued but not yet processed by the bank, and understanding its status is crucial for accurate accounting and cash management.

Example of an Uncleared Check

Let’s consider a hypothetical example involving a small business, XYZ Boutique, to illustrate the concept of an uncleared check.


XYZ Boutique is a small retail store specializing in women’s clothing. The owner, Jane, writes a check to one of her suppliers, FashionMart, for $1,000 on September 1st. She immediately records this $1,000 as an accounts payable transaction in her accounting software, reducing both her cash account and accounts payable by that amount.


On September 30th, Jane receives her bank statement and notices that the $1,000 check to FashionMart has not yet been deducted. This means the check has not yet cleared the bank, making it an “uncleared” or “outstanding” check. Jane must now perform a bank reconciliation to align her accounting records with her bank statement.

Bank Reconciliation Steps:

  1. Bank Statement Balance: According to the bank statement, the ending balance as of September 30th is $10,000.
  2. Book Balance: According to Jane’s accounting records, the cash account shows a balance of $9,000 after accounting for the $1,000 check she wrote to FashionMart.
  3. Reconciling Items: The $1,000 check is an uncleared check and is the reconciling item between the bank statement balance and the book balance.
  4. Bank Reconciliation:
    • Start with the Bank Statement Balance: $10,000
    • Subtract Uncleared Checks: $1,000
    • Reconciled Balance: $9,000 (This should match with the book balance)


By accounting for the uncleared check, Jane successfully reconciles her bank statement balance ($10,000) with her book balance ($9,000). This reconciliation confirms that the difference between the two balances is solely due to the uncleared check of $1,000.

Understanding and tracking uncleared checks are crucial for Jane as it allows her to manage her cash flow accurately and ensures that her accounting records are correct. Uncleared checks are an essential aspect of bank reconciliations, which are integral to maintaining accurate financial records.

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