When it comes to check printing, your MICR printing solution needs to meet the specific standards set by the ANSI X.9 document preparation technology. Many organizations do not understand the importance of meeting these standards until they suddenly have a pile of bank rejection fines due at the end of the month. When checks do not meet the quality standards set by ANSI, a check runs the risk of failing when being processed. The burden of the fine does not land on the recipient but the issuer of the check. This is why it is critical to make sure that your checks are meeting all the ANSI quality standards before being issued out to the recipient.
From check size to formatting specifications, this set of guidelines ensures that the printing of checks and official documentation meets necessary quality standards. Before delving into the specific requirements that your printing solution should have, what exactly is MICR check printing?
What is MICR Check Printing?
MICR is the abbreviation for Magnetic Ink Character Recognition code. With MICR technology, check printers will use certified magnetic ink and toner to print the characters at the bottom of checks and other official documents to help with document identification. Because MICR technology uses this specialized MICR ink and toner, using MICR compliant products will also improve financial security measures and reduce the chance of check fraud.
MICR Printing Standards:
ANSI X.9 laid out a group of MICR printing standards that all MICR technology should be in adherence with. Here are the specifications that your MICR technology should follow:
Size of Check
According to ANSI, the standard check size must be at least 6 inches in the width and it cannot exceed 8.75 inches. The height of the check must also be between 2.75 and 3.66 inches.
MICR fonts are the characters that appear at the bottom of checks or financial documents. There are two different MICR fonts that can be used on checks or financial documents depending on the banking standards of the country you are in. The two different fonts used are E-13B or CMC-7. For the United States, the official font used is the E-13B font. Using any other fonts besides these two fonts will be out of compliance with ANSI.
The MICR line is made up of ten number characters (0-9) and four special symbols in the form of a transit, amount, on-us, and dash. This line is broken up into 5 fields: the amount, on-us, transit, EPC, and auxiliary on-us field. This information is printed in an area called the “clear band,” and the bottom of the MICR line should start 3/16 of an inch from the bottom of the check.
The amount field occupies positions 1-12 on the MICR line. This field is not set by the check supplier, but instead, it is made during the post-encoding process at the bank where the first deposit was made.
The on-us field occupies positions 13-32 on the MICR line. This line is not a static field, and the bank usually occupies the on-us field with the account holder’s account number information.
The transit field occupies positions 33-43 on the MICR line. This is a fixed field that cannot be altered by the bank later on, and it is sometimes referred to as the routing field. This field routes the check through the system.
EPC or the External Processing Field is located at position 44 or 45. This character is set by the ASC (Accredited Standards Committee) X9B, and it cannot be altered without approval.
Auxiliary On-Us Field
This field occupies positions 45+. This is usually the check serial number, and it cannot pass further than an eighth of an inch from the edge of the check.
MICR Toner or Ink
Depending on the type of MICR printer you have, you will either need to use MICR ink or MICR toner. MICR ink is used in Inkjet printers, and MICR toner is used in laser printers. ANSI and the Federal Reserve both require banks to print checks with MICR ink or toner for processing and check clearance. Originally manufactured MICR ink and toner cartridges meet the ANSI standards for check printing while remanufactured MICR ink and toner cartridges aren't guaranteed to meet those sets of standards.
MICR toner consists of iron oxide. This creates the magnetic properties to the toner, and it enables the high-speed check processor to read the characters quickly as it passes through the system.
Check Paper Specifications
One of the most important pieces needed to make the printing process go smoothly is the paper that the check is printed on. Because checks can go through sorters more than once, using the wrong check paper could cause delays in the process. By choosing low quality, cheaper check paper, you run the risk of printing faulty, damaged checks. That is why it is important to use premium quality check paper.
To adhere with ANSI, the weight of the paper needs to be at least 20-pound long grain with the paper moisture content being between 4.7 to 5.5%.
Check Printing and Your Business
Now that you understand the standards that need to be met to be ANSI compliant, it’s time to find a MICR printing solution that’s right for your business. Connect with our team of MICR specialists to see how the Source Technologies MICR printing solutions can mitigate check fraud and automate your current operations.