What is a Wire Fate Item

Wire fate item is an archaic term that refers to a request made by a bank when it sends a check or draft for encashment to a bank in a different jurisdiction for prompt advice or notification of payment or non-payment. It is usually transmitted by bank wire or federal wire, which are high-speed electronic communication networks used for transmitting information on transfers of large dollar amounts and other extremely time-sensitive information.


"Wire fate" items or acknowledgments are of critical importance, since notification of non-payment of a check needs to be made to the payee as soon as possible. The term "wire" has carried over from previous generations when most time-sensitive information was transmitted by telegraph.

Wire Fate Items in Practice

Check clearing is the process of moving funds from one account to another. When a check is deposited or draft initiated, funds may not be available immediately, as checks need to be transferred to the clearing system, where the bank that accepted the deposited check notifies the bank that issued the check that the funds are being requested by the depositor. Today, most checks are processed with electronic imagery, so this process is much quicker than decades ago when paper checks were sent between financial institutions for verification. The bank that received the deposited check may request or receive a wire fate item notification from the bank that issued the check, letting the depositing bank know if the check can be paid or not.