When you want to cash in some savings bonds, the task can be handled by most local financial institutions, including your bank or one near your home. The bond cashing rules are pretty liberal as far as ID goes if you go to a bank where you have an account. If you go to a different bank, be ready to show a valid form of identification that meets the several criteria set out by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
Go To Your Bank
If you take your savings bonds to a bank where you have an account, the bank can redeem the bonds based on your signature. The Treasury defines an established account as a bank account that has been open for six months or longer. At your bank, if your signature matches the signature on file for the bank account, your bonds will be redeemed on the spot. As always with savings bonds, you must be a listed owner on a bond to cash it in.
Go To a Friend's Bank
You can also cash bonds at a bank where someone else -- such as a close friend or relative -- has an established account, if that person will vouch that you are who you say you are and you are the person who owns the savings bond. The Treasury Department guidelines warn banks about cashing bonds for casual acquaintances of customers. The name and account number of the person who vouches for your identity will be written on the bond as a record of the type of identification used.
Picture ID Requirements
If you have no bank account and no friends or relatives who can help you cash the bond, you can cash up to $1,000 worth of savings bonds at any bank with proper identification. The Treasury guidelines state that the identification must be a picture ID, signed by you and signed or validated by a responsible counter-party. Besides a driver's license, acceptable forms of identification can include a military ID, other government ID, an employer-provided ID card, legal residence green card, or a passport.
Cash Bonds by Mail
To cash more than $1,000 worth of bonds you either must go to a bank where you or a friend have an account, or send the bonds in to the Treasury for redemption by mail. Before mailing bonds in, you must have your identification and signature verified at a bank, and one of the acceptable types of identification must be presented. A bank officer will verify your information on the bond and then you can mail it away to be redeemed with a government check.
Tim Plaehn has been writing financial, investment and trading articles and blogs since 2007. His work has appeared online at Seeking Alpha, Marketwatch.com and various other websites. Plaehn has a bachelor's degree in mathematics from the U.S. Air Force Academy.