MICR toner is similar to standard laser printer toner, but it includes an iron oxide additive. This allows for electronic processing and ensures compliance with American National Standards Institute (ANSI) specifications for readability. While it is possible to physically print checks with non-MICR toner, there are several important issues to consider first.
Why is MICR toner best?
Financial institutions read checks optically and/or magnetically, using MICR. But there is no guarantee that a check printed using non-MICR toner will be handled by a bank that uses optical technology. If that bank only uses magnetic technology, a non-MICR toner check may need to be processed manually or even returned as unreadable. In either case, the processing time will be increased and additional processing fees may be charged.
Why is it important to use a MICR printer?
Just like it is possible to print checks with non-MICR toner, it is also possible to print checks using a standard laser printer with a MICR toner cartridge. But we do not recommend that you do that. To be sure that you are meeting ANSI standards, it’s best to use MICR toner in a MICR printer when printing checks.
Manufacturers of standard laser printers cannot guarantee that the MICR line will be readable or usable, whereas MICR laser printer manufacturers can make that guarantee. In addition, MICR printers can offer a host of security features—including paper tray or printer locks—that prevent unauthorized users from printing checks. A special security cartridge, which can be removed and stored in a secure area after use, can ensure that authorized signatures, company logos and font information remains protected.
MICR = fraud prevention
Using MICR toner and a MICR printer ensures that an organization has done its due diligence to prevent fraud. An organization that does not exercise due diligence risks their own security and may be ultimately responsible for any losses that result from the fraud.
*This blog post was originally published in January 2011, it was updated and republished on May 31, 2019.