Restricted Cash

Restricted Cash Definition

Restricted cash is that portion of cash that is set aside for a specific purpose and is not available for general business use on an immediate basis. This cash is usually held in a special account (example escrow account) so it remains separate from the rest of a business’ cash and equivalent.

In the broader sense, it is the portion of money a business entity has in its possession but can’t use it immediately. Instead, that portion of cash is subjected to special limitations, such as being earmarked for future use or waiting period. It may represent cash amount on its way into the business or cash held before spending. Such kind of cash is not available for current use. It is not considered as part of liquidity source and excluded in the calculation of various liquidity ratios.

Restricted Cash

Examples of Restricted Cash

Let’s discuss the following examples.

Restricted Cash Examples

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For eg:
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  1. Amounts pledged as collaterals.: Sometimes, some corporations pledge a certain amount of cash as collateral against the risk covered by an insurance company. They generally maintain such cash in a separate escrow account.
  2. Mandatory deposits at central banks.: This is the most common deposit of restricted cash where the bank needs to deposit a certain amount of cash in the central bank (RBI in India), and this amount is not available to use.
  3. Contributions to cover pension liabilities.: Companies in specific geographies maintain funds to cover some of the employee benefits, like pensions for future payments.

Restricted Cash Accounting

Balance Sheet

A balance sheet for any entity must add all assets and liabilities, including cash and cash equivalents. Companies generally report such cash as a separate line item as part of cash and cash equivalents account on a company’s balance sheet. They typically state the reason why the cash is restricted in the accompanying notes. It allows a balance sheet to have a balance until the cash is brought in as revenue, or paid out as an expense, and accounted for normally.

Cash Flow Statement

Restricted cash on the cash flow statement is another form of financial statement in which a corporation uses to account for such cash and keep its accounts balanced.

Cash flow refers to the rate at which cash moves in and out of business. Usually, a change in cash and cash equivalent is presented in the final reconciliation at the end of the cash flow statement as the purpose of the restricted cash on cash flow statement is to explain how and why the balance of cash moved.

When there is cash that is not presented as part of the cash balance in the balance sheet, change in restricted cash would be presented either in cash from operating activities, cash from investing activities. Or in cash from financing activities, depending on the reason for maintaining cash in the balance sheet.

For example, changes in the cash because the repayments of borrowings are reported under cash flow from financing activities.

Changes in deposits which is taken from clients to construct an asset are generally related to the main operation, and thus are covered under operating activity.

In cases where it is expected to be used after one year from the balance sheet date, it should be classified as the non-current asset. However, if it is expected to be used within 12 months from the balance sheet date, it should be classified as a current asset.


Example 1

ABC Inc. is engaged in large equipment manufacturing. It receives an order from one of its customers for a piece of equipment for finishing and shipping within the next three months. For the same, the customer has made an advance payment (deposit) to ABC. As per the customer contract, ABC must transfer this deposit in a separate bank account. It cannot be used until the equipment ships. This advance payment received from the customer can classify as restricted cash on the ABC’s balance sheet. It is because the company cannot use it until a future event occurs (the shipment of equipment). Once the equipment ships, this cash is available to the company for its regular operation.

Example 2

XYZ Inc. sets aside a certain amount of cash each month for payment of a long-term debt, which is to be paid off in two years. The amount of cash set aside is restricted in nature as it can only be used for debt repayment in the future, and thus represents restricted cash. When the time of loan settlement comes, the company will use the restricted funds to pay off the debt.

Compensating Balances

Compensating balance is a minimum cash balance that a company is required to maintain in an account primarily maintained as part of a contractual agreement with a potential or current lender. A compensating balance is generally used to offset bank’s costs partially when lending out money. It is typically calculated as a loan percentage. For example, a company agrees to keep $800,000 in a bank account in exchange for that bank extending an $8 million credit line. Compensating balances are often considered as restricted cash and must be reported on a company’s balance sheet.

Restricted Cash Video

This article has been a guide on what is Restricted Cash, examples, and its definition. We also look at restricted cash accounting – balance sheet and cash flows and its associated examples. You may learn more about advanced accounting from the following articles –

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