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The Eurocheque

Roger Outing


 

Introduced 1983
Eurocheques were introduced into the UK by the Midland Bank in April 1983. They were primarily a means of providing convenient foreign currency when travelling in Europe.  Following the Midland Bank initiative all the other UK banks, including the Scottish banks, then began to offer the Eurocheque service.

Eurocheques were made progressively redundant; initially by the use of electronic payment with debit and credit cards and then, finally, by the introduction of the Euro currency.  It is emphasised that Eurocheques had absolutely no connection with the Euro currency!  It was the introduction of the Euro currency that effectively rendered the Eurocheque obsolete and the service is no longer offered by U.K. banks.

How did they Work?
Upon application at your local bank you would be issued with a cheque book of Eurocheques which were personalised for your use only and linked to your regular account.  You then used them just like ordinary cheques at any location that displayed the "Eurocheque"sign.  Examples are shown at the right.

The novel and convenient element was that they could be written in any appropriate local currency. So if you were in Spain you the made them out in pesetas, whilst in France you used francs, etc. etc.  You were also issued with a Eurocheque guarantee card that offered payment protection to the person receiving the cheque.  There was a limit on the amount per cheque but there was a stated invitation to use multiple cheques for any purchases that exceeded the single cheque maximum amount.  

The system was widespread and quite popular for the 20 years or so it lasted.  The Table to the right shows the countries where Eurocheques could be used.

Shown at Fig. 1 is an example from the Bank of England and at Fig. 2 an example from National Westminster Bank.  All the principal British banks offered Eurocheques. Indeed most principal banks in Europe offered Eurocheques.  Theoretically you should be able to collect Eurocheques from all the banks of Europe during the 1980’s and 1990’s.  

Individual pieces are surprisingly difficult to find.  Once used the Eurocheques made their way back to the originating bank to debit the appropriate account and were then eventually destroyed as confidential waste.  None were returned to the users.  Therefore surviving examples are only the unused examples that have never been made out or Specimen examples that survive from the internal information literature used by the various banks.

Two Design Types
Each Eurocheque had the same colour scheme of blue with multi-coloured ornate design elements.  The individual bank name and location was printed in black at the top.  The bottom edge has white space to bear the usual MICR line with code numbers for bank, account and cheque number.  

There are two different design types:
Type 1: watermark of "EC - Eurocheque", white space along top edge, under print of lines radiating from the "EC" symbol at left.  See above.
Type 2:  watermark of Beethoven portrait + "Eurocheque", no white space at top, under print of "Eurocheque" with "EC" symbol at left.  See above.

Bank of England  
As the Bank of England never offered any form of Traveller’s Cheque and by the 1980’s had little interest in providing a retail banking service to the general public it is a perhaps a little surprising to learn that the Bank did offer Eurocheques.  It may be surmised that there was a political dimension to having the name of the Bank of England attached to the scheme.  

Until very recently the very few Bank of England Eurocheques that had been seen were all from the London Head Office.  It was generally assumed that all the Bank’s Eurocheques would be from London.  We now know this to be wrong!

Show at right is one example (from the Bristol Branch) of a Specimen set of six Bank of England Eurocheques from London and also the five branches at Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Manchester and Newcastle.  The five branches were all closed in 1991 so these Branch Eurocheques mark the last evidence of the Bank of England branch system.  All these cheques are Type 2 design, are overprinted in red with "Specimen" and have "000000" cheque numbers. Each branch uses a different Bank Sort Code.

Just FOUR sets of these Bank of England Eurocheques are known.  It is considered very unlikely that there will be any more lucky survivors outside of the Bank.

Eurocheques are a fascinating and largely unexplored collecting area.  There is no catalogue of these issues and they are only very occasionally offered for sale in dealers lists. The collecting community know very little about them and for that reason alone they are well worth seeking out.



Roger Outing
Created 2006
Updated 12th May 2012                                        Feedback






Bank of England - Eurocheque
National Westminster Bank, Eurocheque
 

Countries using Eurocheques

Albania

Lichtenstein

Algeria

Luxemburg

Andorra

Malta

Austria

Monacco

Cyprus (South)

Netherlands

Czechoslovakia

Norway

Denmark

Poland

Egypt

Portugal

Finland

Rumania

France

San Marino

Germany

Spain

Gibraltar

Sweden

Greece

Switzerland

Hungary

Tunisia

Iceland

Turkey

Ireland

United Kingdom

Israel

U.S.S.R.

Italy

Yugoslavia

Within each countries there would be multiple banks using Eurocheques.

 
Bank of England, Bristol Branch, Eurocheque
 
 



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