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Home > Business Check Ordering Guide > What’s the Difference Between MICR Ink and MICR Toner?

What’s the Difference Between
MICR Ink and MICR Toner?

In the world of ink, not all inks are equal, especially when it comes to business checks. If you have never heard of MICR ink or toner, or wonder what it is, we’re going to explain why it matters so much to your business and your financial security.

What Does MICR Mean?

The term “MICR” is an acronym standing for “Magnetic Ink Character Recognition.” It refers to the special numbers at the bottom of checks that include the account number, the bank’s routing number, check number, and other details.

What is the difference between MICR ink and MICR toner?

What is MICR ink? This is used for check printing on inkjet printers.

What is MICR toner? This is used for check printing on laser printers. MICR toner is similar to standard laser printer toner, but it includes an iron oxide additive. It’s this additive that allows for electronic processing and ensures compliance with American National Standards Institute (ANSI) specifications for readability.

What do the MICR ink and MICR toner both print?: They print the special numbers, also known as the MICR line, on checks. Assuming the magnetic ink or toner cartridges are originally manufactured (as opposed to refilled or remanufactured), then both kinds of cartridges should meet ANSI (ansi.org) standards for check printing.


Why Does the Federal Reserve Require MICR on Business Checks?

The Federal Reserve and all banks require that checks are printed with MICR ink or toner for ease of processing. Financial institutions read checks optically and/or magnetically, using MICR.

As a check travels through the check clearing system, it passes through reader-sorters that send a magnetic charge to the check, enabling the machine to read the information contained within the MICR line. If a check is printed with non-MICR (regular) ink or toner, the reader/sorter will reject the check, creating manual processes for the bank to process the check, and cause the company that printed the check/document to be charged with rejection fees.

It’s also important to note that not all banks have optical technology. This means that checks printed without MICR toner won’t meet the magnetic technology and will again require manual processing or likely be unreadable, causing the processing delays/fees mentioned above.

Does it Matter Which MICR Business Check Printers I Use?

As seen above, there are two kinds of printers you can use: an inkjet MICR printer or a laser MICR printer. In comparing the two, let’s break down the main features of each so you can better understand what is right for you.

Inkjet MICR Printers
  • A likely choice for small businesses that print a few checks each day/week.
  • These are slower than laser printers, and it will be challenging to find an inkjet printer that will print MICR at speeds much higher than 20 pages-per-minute (ppm).
  • These printers are also less scalable than laser printers for accessories like trays, drawers, and/or security options.
Workgroup Laser MICR Printers
  • An ideal choice for companies that print high volumes of checks, and also may involve many employees in the process that require a more secure solution.
  • These printers offer a broader range of speeds (26-62ppm).
  • They come with a variety of additional trays and drawers for multiple types of check stock.
  • These printers also offer many security features to prevent checks from being printed with non-MICR toner, to restrict access to the check-printing process, and to protect and encrypt the check data as it’s traveling to the printer.
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MICR Laser Printers Vs. Standard Laser Printers
It is technically possible to print checks using a standard laser printer with an MICR toner cartridge, just like it’s technically possible to print checks with non-MICR toner. But, that doesn’t mean you should do either one! In fact, if you want to meet the ANSI standards, you are required to use MICR toner in a MICR printer when printing checks.

MICR laser printer manufacturers guarantee the MICR line will be readable or usable; manufacturers of standard laser printers cannot.


MICR printers also protect against fraud through many security features like paper tray or printer locks that prevent unauthorized users from printing checks, as well as a special security cartridge that can be removed and stored in a secure area after use, ensuring that authorized signatures, company logos and font information are all protected.

When a company uses MICR technology, they are extending this added layer of security to their vendors and customers. If a company fails to use this technology, they become vulnerable to any security breaches from this decision and may be held responsible for fraudulent fall-out and expenses.

MICR Inkjet Printers Vs. Standard Inkjet Printers

As discussed above, you really need to rely on MICR for compliance and safety if you are printing your checks with the MICR line, i.e. blank checks. Simply, you put yourself, your company, and the people you do business with at risk if you print bank information with standard ink.

It’s important to note that while your MICR line requires magnetic ink, your whole check doesn’t. If the MICR line (bank account number, routing information, etc.) has been preprinted by a check printer and you are only printing payee information and the amount, you don’t need magnetic ink.

For our preprinted checks, Checksforless.com® offers a 100% financial institution compatibility guarantee. Our state-of-the-art MICR matching system ensures readability by all financial institutions.

Order Your Laser Business Checks Today!

Business check security is incredibly important to Checksforless.com® and we are proud to extend our security promise to our customers. We guarantee your checks will meet or exceed industry bank processing standards, including Check 21 regulations. Additionally, all of Checksforless.com® checks exceed the security guidelines set by the industry and by the Check Payment Systems Association. For a full article on our commitment to business check safety and our customer identity protection, please feel free to check out our detailed Business Check Security Features page.

Please remember that secure blank check paper is for those who print their own checks. These checks do not contain any imprint or bank information or MICR Line encoding and are for those who print their own checks with special MICR toner.

We guarantee that your laser checks will be 100% compatible with your current accounting systems, including QuickBooks and Sage accounting systems. We also offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee and we are happy to beat any lower price you find by 10%. Our production time is 4-5 days, not including shipping time. If you need your order faster than our standard delivery time, you may choose from our expedited in-plant rush services and expedited shipping services or talk to us directly. (For other information, feel free to check out our FAQ page or call our team directly).

Order online at Checksforless.com® or call 800-245-5775 toll-free to get started; we look forward to helping you with all of your checking needs today!

This page is made possible by Checksforless.com® For more than 35 years, Checksforless.com® has provided over 500,000 businesses with high quality business checksdeposit slips, and other banking supplies with easy ordering and fast production times; all at the guaranteed lowest price in the nation. Our discount business checks are easily customizable and compatible with over 4,500 software programs including QuickBooks and Peachtree/Sage 50. Email or call us toll-free at 800-245-5775 or visit us online at Checksforless.com®.

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