What is a Roll Number?

This page outlines what you need to know about using a roll number to execute transactions. Understanding the different components of bank account information enables you to assess what information is needed to make a transaction. This page is useful for international money transfer customers that want a better understanding of what a roll number is all about.

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United Kingdom

What is a building society roll number?

A roll number is an alphanumeric (mix of numbers and letters) code that identifies building society accounts and can be up to 18 characters long. There are around 43 UK building societies that serve 25 million customers. The roll number must be provided as a reference when making online payments.

Where are roll numbers used?

Roll numbers, also known as Building Society roll numbers, are unique alphanumeric identifiers for customer accounts at building societies. They differ from banks and are typically located in the United Kingdom. A building society can be defined as a financial institution that is owned by its members. They provide banking and other financial services. In the United States, a comparable financial institution would be a credit union.

Building societies differ from regular banks because they are not listed on a stock exchange. They focus on providing mortgage lending and savings. Also, international money transfer services are offered and the roll number is a key component of the system.

This guide goes into detail about how to use the roll number to send and receive funds and learn about how roll numbers are needed to complete a transaction.

How to use roll numbers to send and receive money

We understand that using a building society and roll number might be tricky for new customers. This section goes into the details of using the roll number to send and receive money.

Sending money

1.Step 1 See your options
2.Step 2 Gather the recipient details
3.Step 3 Enter the transaction details
4.Step 4 Review

Receiving money

1.Step 1 Create an account
2.Step 2 Share the account details
3.Step 3 Wait for the funds to arrive

Alternative methods that do not require a roll number

Money transfer customers that do not want to use roll numbers to send or receive money can turn towards other methods. This section provides some alternatives that you can use to send money today.

Roll numbers are not the easiest to remember, especially if you do not plan to use them regularly for transfers. Other money transfer options are easier to remember or do not require the entry of any recipient details. Instead, recipient information is saved for future use.

For example, Wise offers balance transfers and all you need is the recipient's email address. However, the recipient must change their account status so they can receive funds via email address.

Read our full review of Wise

Cash pick up is another transfer method that does not use a roll number. The sender needs to provide the details of who will be picking up the money. The recipient must bring their ID to the cash pick up point and share the transaction reference number.

Bottom line

To summarize, the roll number is used by UK financial institutions called business societies. It is an alphanumeric code that can be up to 16 characters long and is required for money transfers. We have shared how to send and receive money transfers using roll numbers and provided alternative transfers methods that do not require them.

Continue learning about how to send money internationally by reading our website. We share relevant information such as what you need to know about the mid-market rate and wire transfer fees.

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Can I use roll numbers to send money with mobile apps?
What is the difference between a bank and building society?
How to keep my roll number safe?

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Article Factchecked by Elliot Laybourne on 20th July 2022: Elliott is a former investment banker with a 20 year career in the city of London. During this time he held senior roles at ABN Amro, Societe Generale, Marex Financial and Natixis bank, specialising in commodity derivatives and options market-making. During this time, Elliott’s client list included Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Credit Suisse, Schroders Asset Management, and the Pennsylvania State Public School Employees Retirement System, amongst others.
April Summers
April Summers
April is a trained journalist and the Content Editor for She has 10 years experience writing about a diverse range of subjects, from financial services to arts and entertainment. When she's not writing about global remittances she can be found daydreaming about her next holiday abroad.