A check across which some competent bank officer has written, or stamped,1 over his signature, satisfactory evidence that the person having drawn the check has sufficient funds on deposit at the bank to pay it when presented. Such a check takes precedence over other checks, not " certified," drawn by the same person, and at the time of " certification " the amount of the check is deducted from the funds to the credit of the depositor. " Certified checks " are very much in use as safeguards, and in financial transactions it is desirable, if a payment of a considerable sum is to be made by check, to present a " certified " one. A " certified check " may be returned to the bank and cancelled if not used. The certifying of a check is not obligatory upon a bank, but an act of accommodation. After certification, a bank may be held for payment (except in case of a " raised check "),but no other parties thereto, unless the certification was obtained by the one who drew it.
To obtain a check of this kind, draw, in favour of the party to whom you wish to make payment, a check against your bank in the ordinary form, and either present it in person or by messenger to the bank, with the request for certification.
Many banks have pursued the policy of " over-certifying; " that is, certifying a check for a greater amount of money than the depositor has to his credit, as a matter of accommodation, the understanding being that it is to be for a very brief period, the depositor making good the deficit some time during the day. This is not strictly proper banking. In fact, it is prohibited for national banks to "over-certify " a check.
1 There are various forms of wording used for the stamping on a check for this purpose, such as, " Good when properly indorsed," " Good through the Clearing-house," " Accepted," etc., to which, of course, must be added the date and the official signature.