After working in Australia some time ago and moving back to the United States, I received a cheque from the Reserve Bank of Australia for my superannuation funds. Unfortunately, I'm having a problem depositing this with my US bank.

The main problem is that the cheque is marked "Not Negotiable" vertically along its face. My understand of this term within the Australian banking system is that it simply means the check cannot be endorsed to another party; it can only be deposited by the named person (i.e. me). But in the US, "non-negotiable" means it's not a valid check and my bank won't touch it. I've talked to another bank and they gave me the same response.

Is there any way to get around this issue? Perhaps there is another bank in the US that is more used to dealing with Australian cheques? Has anyone else found a way to deal with this?

  • 3
    You may need to contact, or to persuade your local bank branch to contact, an international transaction specialist at the bank. Aug 23 '16 at 22:46
  • 2
    Have you tried contacting the RBA New York office? (phone 212 566 8466, Christopher Thompson, Chief Representative, 505 Fifth Avenue, 16th Floor, NY 10017) rba.gov.au/contact/locations.html
    – Giorgio
    Aug 23 '16 at 22:56
  • 2
    In particular, non-negotiable is often used in the US on carbon copies of checks (or other documents that look like checks but are not) to indicate that the document is not in fact a check.
    – phoog
    Aug 23 '16 at 22:56
  • 1
    Your understanding of "not negotiable" in Australia in not fully correct. Under the Cheques Act 1986, "not negotiable" merely means the cheque has to be deposited into a bank account rather than taken as cash. The restriction that a cheque can only be deposited by the named person is indicated by the marking "A/C payee only".
    – molypot
    Jul 14 '17 at 13:40

There are a few options available for you.

  1. You could endorse the cheque to a friend in Australia, mail it to them (postage cost), they could then bank it, and transfer you the money over PayPal. The downside is PayPal takes a percentage, which could hurt. (I'm writing this for other readers, as I realise your not-negotiable line removes it)

  2. If however this isn't feasible for you, you can mail the cheque back and get the bank to wire you the money directly.

  3. Alternatively, you open an ING Direct bank account online on their website (Aussie bank), deposit the cheque to there, do an international transfer, and then close the account. Probably get stung for about $30 in international transfer fees (I do by CBA).

  4. I believe Citibank allows free international withdrawals, so that could be another option - get an account, deposit, then pull it out an ATM in the US ;)

  • PayPal takes no fees for sending money to relatives. I don't remember whether friends were listed on the same thing. I can't look because the dingbats closed my account on the grounds that my not responding to an SMS on my broken phone meant I was committing fraud.
    – WGroleau
    Jul 18 '17 at 1:16
  • ING is a Dutch bank.
    – phoog
    May 11 '19 at 22:32
  • @phoog Fair ING is, but ING Direct Australia is a direct bank operating in Australia with an Australian banking license, albeit wholly owned by ING (the Dutch one).
    – Mark Mayo
    May 12 '19 at 0:10
  • Hm, okay. Part of the motivation for my comment was also that there were other ING Direct brands in other countries, but that seems perhaps no longer to be the case, since the US operations were sold in 2011.
    – phoog
    May 12 '19 at 15:15

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