Building society roll number

building society reference number

This page was last updated on 1 December 2021

Building society roll number In 2021

What is a building society?

A building society is a non-profit member-owned financial institution that functions similarly to a traditional bank. They are mostly found in the UK, Jamaica, Australia and New Zealand etc. They are the equivalent of savings and loan institutions in the United States. Customers looking to open a savings account or taking out a mortgage might want to consider them as an alternative to going to the bank.

Many building societies in the UK demutualised in the 1980s and 1990s and became regular banks or were acquired by larger banks. Many of the best-known banks in the UK were once building societies, including Santander and Halifax.

Although the total numbers have decreased, many remain to this day and actively compete with banks for many consumer banking services.

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What are the biggest building societies in Britain today?

As of 2021, the UK has 43 building societies, down from 55 in 2008.

Based on the number of assets owned, these are the 10 biggest ones in the UK today:

1. Nationwide
2. Coventry Building Society
3. Yorkshire Building Society
4. Skipton Building Society
5. Leeds Building Society
6.West Bromwich Building Society
7. Principality Building Society
8. Newcastle Building Society
9. Norwich & Peterborough Building Society
10. Nottingham Building Society

How is a bank different from a building society?

Both are financial institutions that offer many of the same services. However, one of the differences between a building society and a bank is that a bank can be listed on the stock exchange and is accountable to shareholders, whereas a building society is mutually owned by its members and these members get a say in how it is run.

Another key difference is that building society accounts may use building society roll numbers to identify individual account holders when making a payment, while standard UK bank accounts use a different system with an account number and sort code.

What is a building society roll number?

One of the ways in which a building society differs from a conventional bank is that it might use building society roll numbers for security, in order to identify account holders instead of, or in addition to a sort code and account number. This is a reference code with letters and numbers.

In the past, this roll number was also used by many financial institutions including banks however, they are not as common today. Many ex-building societies, such as Halifax, stopped using roll numbers when they demutualised and became regular banks.

roll number

Nowadays, instead of a roll number, most standard UK bank accounts have an 8 digit account number and a 6 digit sort code, while building society accounts may still use a building society roll number, also known simply as a ‘roll number’.

You will need your roll number in order for you to be identified as an account holder and to use your account to make payments etc.

A building society is a non-profit member-owned financial institution that functions similarly to a traditional bank.

Where can I find my roll number?

Your roll number is often around 10 digits long and can be found on the inside cover of your passbook, in recent letters from your building society or by logging into your online account.

If you require your roll number but your financial institution replaced it with an account number and sort code, you might be able to find it in old letters and correspondence from the institution.

building society reference number

When will I need to use my roll number?

While making a payment to a building society account, you might be provided with a roll number. If you are making a payment online, you will have to include the roll number as a reference for the payment.

It is important to note that if you are required to provide your roll number when you are making a payment to a building society account, you must not type any additional characters in the payment reference.

Does every building society require a building society roll number to make a payment?

It is not easy to estimate how many financial institutions still require a roll number to identify an account holder and allow them to make payments. Roll numbers are usually only required if you have a certain type of account, (such as a savings account) and most building society accounts may also use an 8 digit account number and a 6 digit sort code, just like standard UK bank accounts.

Sometimes customers will be asked to contact their building society to obtain the equivalent of an 8 digit account number and 6 digit sort code while making a payment or setting up a direct debit. If this is the case, a roll number will not be required.

Article author

James Lloyd

I am the primary writer and author for Help and Advice, having originally helped start the site because I recognised that there was a need for easy to read, free and comprehensive information on the web. I have been able to use my background in finance to produce a number of articles for the site, as well as develop the financial fitness assessment tool. This is a tool that provides you with practical advice on improving your personal financial health.

Outside of work I am a keen rugby player and used to play up to a semi-professional level before the years of injury finally took their toll.  Now you are more likely to see me in the clubhouse enjoying the game.

Email – james@helpandadvice.co.uk

Linked in – Connect with me 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a building society?

A building society is a non-profit member-owned financial institution that functions similarly to a traditional bank. They are mostly found in the UK, Jamaica, Australia and New Zealand etc. They are the equivalent of savings and loan institutions in the United States.


What are the biggest building societies in Britain today?

As of 2021, the UK has 43 building societies, down from 55 in 2008.

What is a building society roll number?

One of the ways in which a building society differs from a conventional bank is that it might use building society roll numbers for security, in order to identify account holders instead of, or in addition to a sort code and account number.

Where can I find my roll number?

Your roll number is often around 10 digits long and can be found on the inside cover of your passbook, in recent letters from your building society or by logging into your online account

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