What are Foreign Items

Foreign items are checks or drafts drawn on a financial institution different from the one at which it is being presented. Foreign items may also be referred to as transit items.


Foreign currency can also be considered a foreign item when depositing into the account, as special procedures may come into play; such an item may also be referred to as an international item. Canadian currency being deposited into a U.S. bank does not need to be handled differently, although exchange rates will be calculated.

Transit Items

A foreign item, or transit item, that is drawn on a bank different from the one at which it is being deposited is also known as a not-on-us item. This is in contrast to an item drawn on the same bank at which it is being deposited, which is known as an on-us item.

For example, if an account holder at Wells Fargo wrote a check to an account holder at Chase, that check would be considered a foreign item, transit item, or not-on-us item when the Chase account holder deposited it in his or her bank account. Banks determine whether or not a check or other bank draft is a foreign item thanks to its routing numbers; the item may also have other information about the bank of origin printed on it, such as the name of the bank.

International Items

Foreign items drawn on banks outside the United States are also sometimes referred to as international items. It is possible to deposit such an item into a U.S. bank account, although doing so may require hold times of up to six to eight weeks, depending on the nation where the foreign bank is located. Items drawn on Canadian banks are usually processed the fastest, and may take only five business days to clear, while checks and drafts drawn on banks farther away may take several weeks to clear.

Some banks may accept checks or drafts on foreign bank accounts only above a certain threshold value, due to the expense and time involved in sending the foreign item to a correspondent bank in the relevant country, and then presenting it to a branch of the foreign bank on which it is drawn. Due to daily variations in the exchange rate, the foreign check or draft may be worth more or less when it clears than at the time of deposit.