What Is a Voucher Check?

A voucher check is a combination of a check and a voucher, also known as a "remittance advice", which includes pertinent information about the parties to the transaction and thus creates an auditable paper trail about that check's payment.

Key Takeaways

  • A voucher check is a form of official payment that creates an audit trail about that check's payment details.
  • Voucher checks have three parts - the check, a voucher for the payee, and a voucher for the issuer. Before computerized payroll, these would come in the form of three perforated items from a standardized paper sheet.
  • Voucher checks are commonly used by a company's payroll department and may be referred to as payroll checks in that context.

Understanding Voucher Check

The voucher check creates a paper trail for the payment by the issuer of the check. The recipient of the voucher check detaches one voucher part and retains it for record-keeping before cashing the check. The issuer retains the other voucher portion.

Voucher checks that are used in computerized accounting systems have three parts that together fit on standard-sized sheets of paper for ease of use in printers. The checks are usually business sized — longer than a standard check but with the same width. One part is the check and the other two parts are the vouchers for the payee and issuer for their respective records. Perforations make the different sections easy to separate.

A voucher is a document used by a company’s accounts payable department to gather and file all of the supporting documents needed to approve and track the payment of a liability. A voucher is essentially the backup documents for accounts payable, invoicing, or payroll. (Accounts payable are the short-term bills owed by companies to vendors and suppliers). The voucher is important because it is an internal accounting control mechanism that ensures that every payment is properly authorized and that the goods or services purchased are actually received.

Who Uses Voucher Checks?

Voucher checks are commonly used by a company's payroll department and are referred to as payroll checks. The voucher will contain a voucher number, name of the payee, date, amount (gross and net if any deductions), signatures and any memo notes that need to be recorded. For payroll, even though direct deposit is increasingly becoming the norm for paying employees, having a paper trail back-up is a common practice.

Vendors also use voucher checks. In this instance, a voucher check is issued when an invoice is matched with a purchase order and documentation that the order was filled. In addition, for the accounts payable department, having a file of voucher records of payments to vendors is helpful in resolving payment disputes and in preparing books for internal month-end closings.