Key points of the Code

The Banking Code is a voluntary code followed by banks and building societies in their relations with personal customers in the United Kingdom. It covers current accounts, personal loans, savings (including cash ISAs) and credit cards. The Business Banking Code covers small businesses with a turnover of up to £1 million a year.

Mortgages, investments, general insurance, pensions and life assurance are regulated by the Financial Services Authority.

The Code sets standards of good banking practice, which are followed as a minimum by banks and building societies subscribing to it.

It allows competition and market forces to operate to encourage higher standards of banking practice for the benefit of customers.

Established in 1991, the Banking Code is now in its seventh edition. The current edition came into effect on 1 March 2005. It includes new requirements on basic accounts, summary boxes on credit card agreements, clearing timescales, branch closures and dormant accounts.

The first Business Banking Code was introduced on 31 March 2002 and a revised edition became effective on 1 March 2005.code

Both Codes are reviewed at regular intervals. An Independent Reviewer, Prof. Elaine Kempson, recently steered the process on behalf of the sponsors.

Under the Banking Code and the Business Banking Code, subscribers promise to act fairly and reasonably by meeting key commitments, which include:

  • making sure that advertising and promotional literature is clear and not misleading and that clear information about products and services is provided
  • giving clear information about how an account or service works
  • sending regular statements (where appropriate) and advising changes to the interest rates, charges or terms and conditions
  • dealing quickly and sympathetically when things go wrong
  • treating all personal information as private and confidential, and operate secure and reliable banking and payment systems
  • publicise this Code, have copies available and make sure that staff are trained to put it into practice.


The Codes set out how customers should be dealt with, in such areas as:

  • account opening
  • marketing of services
  • information on interest rates
  • bank charges
  • lending
  • confidentiality
  • handling financial difficulty

Copies of the Banking and Business Banking Codes, including alternative formats such as Audio, Braille and Large Print, are available from the Banks, Building Societies and other organisations that subscribe to them.

Guidance for Banks and Building Societies.

The Guidance for both Codes is intended to clarify what the Codes mean, and how they should be interpreted. The Guidance is intended primarily for banks and building societies but is also available to members of the public.

Click here for:

Guidance on Banking Code
Guidance on Business Banking Code