Banks, building societies and credit unions – branch access for essential services

The Government has been clear that the single most important action we can all take, in fighting coronavirus (Covid-19), is to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives. 


Banks, building societies, credit unions and Post Offices are working to maintain access to their services, while balancing the needs of their customers/members with the safety and welfare of staff/volunteers.

We understand that firms are facing considerable increases in the need to help customers who themselves face difficulties. However, there is also a lot of demand for non-essential contact.

We recognise that staff are working extremely hard at this difficult time to ensure that consumers and small businesses can access essential banking services.

We would like to thank them for their efforts and ask consumers to be patient if they need to wait longer than usual, for instance due to social distancing measures. 

Use alternatives to bank branches where possible

  • We urge customers to only visit branches where absolutely necessary. 
  • We encourage customers, wherever possible, to instead use online services for their banking.
  • Bank customers may also be able to use the Post Office for essential banking services as an alternative to their branch. 
  • Customers can continue to use cash machines as normal for cash withdrawals and balance enquiries.

Only contact your bank if you absolutely need to access essential services

  • Customers should not contact their bank for non-essential services – examples of services that are not likely to be essential are opening an additional account or closing an account. 
  • Customers who nevertheless feel that they do need access to these services should do so using internet or app banking wherever possible and where these are not available over the telephone.

Payments by a trusted person on your behalf

We recognise that some types of payment can only be made in person, and that some customers rely heavily on in-person payments.

During the coronavirus crisis, it may be more difficult to make these payments if you are self-isolating. We welcome the progress banks, building societies, and credit unions have made to offer vulnerable customers suitable ways to make in-person payments through a trusted person.

Where possible, firms are proactively telling vulnerable customers how they can use these schemes. They are clearly signposting information on their websites, and customers/members should go there in the first instance.

Access to other channels, such as contact centres and branches, may also be available for customers who are unable to access online help and information.

We will monitor this to ensure that all firms are providing clear information to consumers about the solutions that they offer.