Foundered Logo

Get all the latest money saving tips direct to your inbox

Sign up for my newsletter to receive weekly tips on saving money, earning more, starting a business, and investing intelligently. Plus, get FREE access to my 10-Day Financial Freedom Mini Course for step-by-step guidance on reaching financial independence.

What is a building society roll number?

building society roll number
I have been asked to supply a building society roll number for a payment to my account. But what is this?

Table of Contents

Transferring money online has become quicker and easier than ever. The utilisation of digital payments ensures that even large transactions can be transferred between banks in seconds. 

However, when transferring money to a building society, there are often some differences in how transactions are conducted. One of these differences is the use of a building society roll number, also simply known as a roll number. 

What is a building society roll number? 

The building society roll number is the unique identifier of a member’s account within the building society. Historically these were given to members so that transfer of funds could be allocated to a specific member account.

In addition to a sort code and account number, if the building society uses a roll number, it must be used when making an online fund transfer so that the money can be directly routed to a member account.

Why do some building societies use roll numbers?

Not every building society continues to use roll numbers. The use of a roll number is often the remaining element of historical systems as roll numbers were the unique account identifier for member accounts within a building society. 

Once funds were transferred to the holding account, the roll number enabled the building society to allocate the funds correctly. Another name for a building society roll number is a “reference number”. 

With modern banking practices, individual roll numbers have often been replaced with individual account numbers. So the use of roll numbers often relates to historical building society saving or current accounts.

What does a building society roll number consist of?

A building society roll number will most often be a combination of letters and numbers. Often 10 digits long, some building society roll numbers can consist of 12 or 14 digits, sometimes more.

Where do I put the building society roll number?

When you have been given a building society roll number you must put this combination of numbers and letters in the reference field of any online transaction. You should not put any other information in the reference field as this could result in the payment failing and being returned.

Whenever the building society receives any transactions, its automated systems will look for the roll number. If the field doesn’t match an expected input, then the payment may be returned or placed in a holding account while awaiting investigation. This can often result in significant delays in the receipt of payments. 

Where do I find my building society roll number?

  1. When you open your building account you will be given your roll number if your building society continues to use this. It is often printed on any of the materials provided, such as an account book.
  2. Contacting your building society directly is often the quickest way to get your roll number. You can go into your society or request this over the phone. You will need to answer your security questions or show your ID whenever you request your building society roll number.
  3. Look for letters sent such as your statement of account. If your building society still uses a roll number, then this will be printed prominently on the letter.
  4. If your building society uses an online portal or app, then the roll number can often be recovered by logging in and checking within the portal or app. Each system is different, but this is commonly found with your other account details.

Frequently asked questions

Is a roll number the same as an account number?

Yes and no. Historically building societies used the roll number in the same way as a bank uses an account number. However all building societies today will give you a specific account number and possibly a roll number. The account number (and sort code) identify where the funds are to be sent, and the roll number allows the fund allocation to a specific member account.

Do banks have a roll number?

Instead of roll numbers, banks use a combination of Sort Codes (6 digits) and Account Numbers (8 digits) to correctly allocate funds to their customer’s accounts. The use of a roll number would not be required. The sort code identifies the bank and the account number, the unique account to add the funds.

When might I need my roll number?

One of the most popular reasons for needing your building society roll number is when you are applying for your state pension. If you want your pension paid into your building society account and you have a roll number for this account, it will be required.

What is a building society?

Building societies were once much more prominent on the UK high street than they are today. That said, building societies have a long history in the UK and are still popular in many parts of the country. Building societies are much like banks or credit unions, in that they provide a range of financial services such as savings accounts or loans to their customers. They differ from other financial institutions in that they are owned and controlled by their members.

Building societies are typically non-profit and any surplus is returned to its members as dividends. If members decide to sell a building society, then each member will receive a portion of the sale proceeds.


You may never need a building society roll number, but if and when you do, you’ll want to know that it will ensure your funds are correctly allocated to a member’s account. The roll number is also known as a building society reference number and is unique to each member. It may contain letters and numbers in a 10-digit or more combination.

If you are unsure where to find your roll number, it can be recovered by contacting your building society. Or if you have any postal correspondence, it is often printed on letters from your building society.

Share this post

Related articles