The process of check clearing involves transferring money from the check writer's checking account into the recipient's account, according to About.com. The check recipient's bank asks for funds from the bank of the individual who wrote the check, which can take days for written checks or less time if the check is an electronic one. The check-clearing process can also include intermediaries such as the Federal Reserve and correspondent banks.
Even though it might take a few days for a check to clear and for funds to come out of a person's account, it's best for him to act as if the money has left the account as soon as he writes the check, notes About.com. Doing so ensures the bank doesn't return the check, which can lead to overdraft and returned check fees. Registers can convert physical checks into electronic ones, which speeds up the clearing process, and individuals can use their smartphones to electronically deposit checks, which also speeds up the process.
Whenever a person deposits a check, either all or a portion of the funds can be available for immediate withdrawal, according to About.com. The rest of the funds might not be available for a few days, depending on the bank. Should the person spend funds from a check that a bank later returns, he may be responsible for repaying the funds already spent on the bounced check.