Foreign Check User Guide

Checks drawn on depository institutions outside of the twelve Federal Reserve Districts can be forwarded to the Federal Reserve Bank for collection. Here is what you need to know to get started:

Setup Information

Information and sign up documentation to register for Foreign Check Processing (required).

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Deposit Information

Preparation of Foreign Items, Cash Letter Packaging Instructions, Forwarding Cash Letters for Processing and Collection

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Return Information

When we receive foreign items back on return, we return the items directly to you. The exchange rate in effect on the date of return is the rate that will be applied to the item.

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General Information

Deadlines, Availability, and Fees, Reconciliation of Credits (items deposited) and Debits (items returned), Exchange Rates

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Foreign Check Deposit Information

Preparation of Foreign Items

The preferred option for preparing foreign items for deposit is to encode your foreign checks for the face value of each item, e.g., a check written for 100 Eurodollars is encoded 100. The items are then listed on a tape, and the total amount is written on the foreign cash letter form. The final dollar value of the check will be determined by the application exchange rate.

Cash Letter Packaging Instructions

Once you have prepared your foreign items for deposit, prepare your foreign cash letter form. Foreign cash letter forms can be completed online and printed for use with your foreign check deposits to the Federal Reserve Bank. Multiple currency types can be included with a single cash letter form.

  • Please fill in all requested information.
  • As instructed above, on the form in the space provided write in the tape total for all items in the deposit.
  • Bundle the foreign cash letter form with the items and the tape listing that recaps the total number of items and dollars in the deposit.

Forwarding Cash Letters for Processing and Collection

Send all Foreign Item Cash Letters to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. Please clearly mark "FOREIGN ITEMS ENCLOSED"

US Mail, FedEx, UPS and other couriers
Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta
Attn: Check Department - Foreign
1000 Peachtree Street NE
Atlanta, GA 30309-4470

When we receive your deposit, it is verified and checked for any items that can be cleared domestically. If any are enclosed, we will return the item(s) and provide you with the appropriate routing number. An "Advice of Receipt" is generated and sent to you for your records, identifying the face value of your total deposit and confirming our receipt of your work. These statements will be sent via email based on the information you submitted in your sign up request.

Credit availability will be based upon when your deposit arrives at the Atlanta office. It is important to keep in mind that Federal Reserve Operating Circular No 3 and Regulations CC and J do not apply to Banks outside of the U.S. This credit appears as a separate transaction on your Federal Reserve account statement and is processed as a same day settlement entry from the Atlanta Office. (Note: Some foreign institutions take longer than twenty business days to pass credit.)

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Foreign Check Return Item Information

When we receive foreign items back on return, we return the items directly to you. The exchange rate in effect on the date of return is the rate that will be applied to the item. (Note: This could result in you getting an item returned for more/less than you were originally credited. We are required to pass this difference to you. How you choose to "book the difference" upon receipt is left to your discretion.) Examples of why you might receive an item on return are listed below, with suggestions for handling:

  • Endorsement Missing - Return to the depositor for the correct endorsement and redeposit.
  • NSF - Return to depositor with instructions for them to contact the drawee. The item may be redeposited.

It is important for foreign check customers to be aware that U.S. return item deadlines and policies do not apply to checks drawn on banks located in foreign countries. There often is no predictable pattern in some institutions' crediting and subsequent return practices. As such, where we are used to "timely" return of items, you could experience a return on an item weeks after the original credit is passed. Also, as a general rule of thumb, industry practice suggests that an item sent "on collection" is safe from return; however, this is not the case when the item is determined to be forged/fraudulent. In order to protect the interests of your institution and your customers, it is important when dealing with foreign items to "know your customer" and ensure that they are confident in the sources of foreign items they are depositing with you.

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Foreign Check General Information

Deadlines, Availability, and Fees

Applicable deposit deadlines, service fees, and credit availability are outlined on our Foreign Check Fee Schedule. (Note: Certain foreign items, collection items, and return items are subject to additional foreign bank charges. These charges are assessed by the foreign bank and taken from the credit that is ultimately passed to you by us.)

Check Fee Schedules

Reconciliation of Credits (items deposited) and Debits (items returned)

Some detailed reconciliation will be necessary to match your foreign check deposits (debits) to the credits that the Federal Reserve Bank will pass back to you when your items clear, as well as to match returns on any previously cleared/credited items. To assist you in the reconciliation process, the Federal Reserve Bank will provide you with an advice of credit that lists the value of the check in foreign currency when it was deposited and the dollar value of the item after it was collected. For a return, the Federal Reserve Bank will provide you with an advice of debit that lists the face value of the check when it was originally deposited and the dollar value being debited back to you. This information will be provided by the check number on each check. We recommend you keep photocopies of each item that you deposit with the Fed, as copies will prove useful for reference during the reconciliation process.

To receive advices via email from the Federal Reserve Bank, contact Customer Support to be added to the mailing list.

Exchange Rates

Any questions about exchange rates should be directed to FedACH and Check Customer Support at 877-372-2457.

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