What Is a Bank or Building Society Number? [UK Banking]

If you’re trying to answer “What is a bank or building society number” there’s a good chance you’re looking to bank in the UK for the first time.

Alternatively, you might be looking to send a transfer to an account at a building society and need a bit of guidance.

In either case, we’ve got you covered…

In this article, our team will share the different numbers you need to be aware of when banking with a traditional bank or a building society.

Of course, if this is your first time opening in the UK and you need assistance navigating the account opening challenges such as opening a UK bank account without proof of address, we have a number of other free resources that will help you.

Feel free to jump ahead to the areas most relevant to you by using the table of contents below.

Table of Contents

  1. Difference Between a Building Society & a Bank
  2. Building Society Numbers & Bank Numbers
  3. Frequently Asked Questions
  4. Do You Want Help Opening Bank Accounts?

Difference Between a Building Society & a Bank

Building societies and a bank (credit unions) are very similar. In fact, the only real difference is found in the services that they offer their members.

If you haven’t spent a lot of time in the UK, you probably haven’t heard the term building society before. Fortunately, there’s a direct comparison in most countries, credit unions.

While credit unions typically reflect more traditional banking activities for both individuals and businesses, building societies are almost exclusively focused on helping members buy homes through mortgages that they offer.

That said, in terms of personal banking, both building societies and credit unions typically offer savings accounts, current (or checking) accounts, credit cards, and other personal loans.

Of course, there are a few other differences between building societies and traditional banks as well, including the numbers that get issued during account opening. Before we take a closer look at the bank or building society number below, it’s important to understand that there are unique account opening requirements, including minimum deposit and banks typically ask for a source of funds.

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Building Society Numbers

When you open an account with a traditional bank, you will typically receive an account number. Depending on where you open in the world, the length of this number can vary.

For example, standard UK bank accounts have eight characters plus a six-character sort code, while IBANs vary and can go up to 34 characters.

When opening an account at a building society, you will also receive a standard account number, which will be used anytime you need to receive funds into your account.

However, there is another number that often gets confused when dealing with building societies, which is a building society roll number.

What is a Building Society Roll Number?

First of all, a building society roll number is not a number at all, in fact, it’s a combination of letters and numbers that is better described as a reference code.

The purpose of the Building Society roll number is to identify the individual’s account, typically a savings account.

Today, a Building Society roll number is not always required when sending transfers to a Building Society account. But, when it is required, the roll number will be added to the “reference” portion of the transfer details.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Below are two of the most common questions that we receive from people looking to open accounts in the UK with building societies. If you have further questions you would like answered, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us directly.

How Do I Open a Building Society Account?

The process to open a Building Society account will depend on the client profile and the purpose of the account.

What is a Building Society roll number?

A building society roll number is a reference code that is used to identify the owner of the account that funds are being transferred to.

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GlobalBanks Team
GlobalBanks Team

The GlobalBanks editorial team comprises a group of subject-matter experts from across the banking world, including former bankers, analysts, investors, and entrepreneurs. All have in-depth knowledge and experience in various aspects of international banking. In particular, they have expertise in banking for foreigners, non-residents, and both foreign and offshore companies.

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