How to void a check

Close-up photo of a person's hands as they write a check on a wooden tabletop.Image: Close-up photo of a person's hands as they write a check on a wooden tabletop.

In a Nutshell

A voided check can be useful in certain situations, such as when you want to set up direct deposit of your paycheck into your checking account. The process of voiding a check is simple but needs to be done correctly to safeguard your bank account and help you avoid unnecessary fees.
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Though many financial transactions are now paperless, knowing how to void a physical check is useful at times. According to a 2022 survey by the American Payroll Association, 93% of American workers use direct deposit. So you may need to give your employer a voided check to set things up.

It’s wise to be cautious with your bank account information, so knowing the proper way to void a check could help you set up direct deposit safely and correctly.

Read on to learn exactly how to void a check, why you might need to void a check and what to do if you don’t have any physical checks.

3 steps to void a check

Voiding a check is as simple as writing “VOID” in large letters across the front of the check, but there are a few other things to keep in mind. Follow these three steps to achieve a properly voided check.

An infographic that illustrates the three steps to void a check. There are three white rectangles numbered 1-3 arranged side by side against a gray background. Each contains a small illustration of the step within a green circle. Below the illustration is a description of the step. 

Step 1: Get a blank check. A blank check is required for direct deposit and automatic payments. 

Step 2: Write "VOID" on the check. Use blue or black ink, and don't cover the routing or account numbers. 

Step 3: Make a copy of the check. You can destroy the original, keep a copy and provide one to whoever needs it.

Step 1: Start with a blank check

When you’re submitting a voided check for direct deposit or automatic payments, you don’t need to include any information on the regular lines. After you grab a blank check from your checkbook, you’re ready to move on to the next step.

Step 2: Use blue or black ink to write “VOID”

Using a blue or black pen — preferably one with indelible gel ink — write “VOID” in large letters across the entire front of the check, making sure not to cover the routing or account numbers. Those numbers are what the person receiving the voided check will use to identify your checking account.

By writing “VOID” on the check, you’ll prevent anyone from filling out the check and cashing it. There’s just one more step in the process.

Step 3: Make a copy of the voided check

Make a copy of the voided check to send to your employer or whoever else needs it. You can also keep a copy for yourself as a reminder that the check with this number was not used for a specific payment.

Note the voided check in your check register for recordkeeping purposes, then destroy the original check as a safeguard.

Reasons for voiding a check

In a variety of situations, providing a voided check enables you to share your checking account information without allowing anyone to use the blank check.

An infographic titled: Situations when you may need to void a check. Beneath the title, within a contrasting rectangle, are three circular graphics. Each graphic is paired with information about three different scenarios — a green check next to direct deposit, a yellow coin next to automatic payments and a deep orange triangle containing an exclamation point next to mistakes. 

Direct deposit: Having your paycheck deposited into your account often requires a voided check. 

Automatic payments: Recurring payments that are automatically deducted from your account may need a voided check. 

Mistakes: If you make a mistake while writing a check, you can void the check to prevent anyone from using it.

Here are a few times when a voided check may be necessary:

  1. Setting up direct deposit: If you choose to have your paycheck deposited directly into your checking account, your employer may ask for a voided check so they can view your account details to arrange delivery.
  2. Establishing automatic payments: Some recurring payments, like loans or utility bills, can be automatically deducted from your checking account on a set schedule, but this often requires a voided check to set up.
  3. Voiding a check with errors: After filling out a check, you may notice that you’ve made a mistake in the recipient’s name or the amount. You can simply void the check by writing “VOID” on it, then write a new check.

Safety precautions with voided checks

When voiding a check, these safety measures can help you to protect yourself from scammers. Criminals can steal mail, then physically wash checks with chemicals and rewrite the check’s value and recipient.

You can safeguard your voided checks by using long-lasting indelible gel in pens, preferably with black ink. This type of ink is harder to wash out.

Once you’ve voided a check and made copies of it, shredding the original check is a good idea to help prevent fraudsters from getting their hands on it.

Voiding checks FAQ

Since physical checks are used less frequently, many people have questions related to voiding checks. Here are a few of the common questions people often have:

How do I void a blank check?

You can void a blank check or a filled-out check exactly the same way: Write “VOID” in large letters across the entire check.

How can I get a voided check online?

If you need to provide a voided check but don’t have any physical checks, you can get a “counter check” at your local bank branch. Rather than an entire checkbook, this will be a single check that you can void. Note that some banks charge a fee for providing counter checks.

How do I void a check for direct deposit?

To void a check for your employer to set up direct deposit, take a blank check and write “VOID” in large letters across the entire check. Be certain that you don’t cover the routing or the account numbers, which your employer will use to ensure your paycheck goes to the right account. Make a copy of the check to send to your employer and a second copy for your records. Destroy the original voided check.

Can I void a check I already sent?

There’s no way to void a check once you’ve already sent it. Instead, you’ll need to contact your bank and ask them to issue a stop payment on that particular check number, though there may be a fee to do this.

How do I void a lost check?

You won’t be able to void a lost check, but you should contact your bank right away so that it can issue a stop payment for that check number, which will prevent anyone else from using it. Note that some banks may charge a fee to issue a stop payment on a check.

What’s next: Set up direct deposit without a voided check

With the rise of online banks, your checking account may not come with a supply of paper checks. If you don’t have access to paper checks that you can void and provide to your employer or a merchant who needs one, there are other ways to set up ACH transactions.

  • In many cases, your employer can establish direct deposit simply by you providing your routing and account numbers, as well as how your name appears on the account. Check with your employer’s payroll department to determine if this is an option.
  • The company requesting a voided check may be able to accept printed deposit slips that have your banking account information on them instead of a check.
  • Many banks now offer digital checks or a pre-filled direct deposit authorization form for ACH setup purposes. You can usually fill these out online.
  • Check with the merchant you want to pay or the lender to whom you make loan payments to see if they have online options for enrolling in automatic bill payment.

Knowing how to void a check is useful whether you need to set up auto-pay for a loan or want to start receiving your paycheck via direct deposit. Voided checks allow you to protect your funds from unauthorized use while also providing your pertinent financial information.