What is reference letter


What is reference letter, an inside look at its uses in Nigeria?

What is reference letter? – At some point in dealing with the bank, an institution (school), corporation, the embassy, (etc.) as the case may be you are required to provide a reference letter to make your application or request binding.

The reference letter in this case may not be the only document required, however, it’s part of a processing document in line with the provision of the organization under review.

There may be instances where you are asked to provide or reference an employee, a prospective bank customer, a friend, etc.

In this case you should know what is reference letter and how to go about it.

What is reference letter?

In plane terms, a reference letter is a positive endorsement or recommendation of a third party’s attributes, character or skills written by someone quite familiar with the character of the person being endorsed.

Where reference letter is needed

Reference letters are needed when

  • Applying for jobs
  • Internships
  • Volunteer positions
  • Colleges and graduate school programs
  • Looking to open current, corporate or domiciliary account with the bank, etc.

How reference letter works

A reference letter is required when you want to open/operate certain accounts like current/corporate, business as well as domiciliary account with the bank.

Also, internship, volunteer positions, job application, colleges and graduate school programs, etc.

The bank in this case issues the customer a reference form or more, the customer in turn reach out to his referees with the reference form who are most times close confidants.

In some instance, a referee is required to have been an existing customer of the bank whose reference form was issued, the customer should be operating a current account at least.

The potential customer most times has a leverage to source referees from other banks (inter-bank).

Having provided the references, the bank in turn verifies the authenticity of such reference before going ahead to use it.

The verification process is meant to ascertain that such reference was granted in good faith by the referee under normal condition and personal relationship with the referrer.

The process of reference verification is usually faster within same bank (intra-bank) in Nigeria than inter-bank. Sometimes your statement of account may be required alongside.

Other aspects

Aside the banking system, a reference letter is applicable in other sectors like corporate institutions, ivory towers/institutions of higher learning, embassies, to name just a few.

The reference letter in this case asserts or confirms that the character of the person being referred in the letter is of good conduct and acceptable behavior as such should proceed to benefit from any advantage within the confine of the institution to which the reference is required.

In reference types, this falls under the character or personal reference.

Types of reference letters

  • The professional reference letter, written by the a supervisor, colleague, client, teacher or professor well acquainted with one’s accomplishment.
  • Character reference letter, this may be written by a family friend, mentor or neighbor who attests that the referred will make a good candidate for a position he seeks.
  • Academic reference, this is written by a teacher, professor, or advisor where the referred academic background is discussed.

How to write a reference letter

If you are referencing someone for a bank, they most times issue a reference form from which requisite information have been made available.

Go ahead and complete the form as required with keen attention to details.

In the reference form you will see the following

  • Column for your complete name
  • Your account number
  • Bank name
  • The referred complete name
  • Your signature
  • A passport photograph, etc.

Writing reference for other purposes?

There’s no rocket science involved here, you will have to write this letter like any other one jut for the details, etc.

Follow the below steps as a guide

1. Addresses: You are expected to include your own address and that of the institution the letter is meant for. The referee is the person whose address is being referred here.

Your address should be written clearly at the top end. The address of the institution/organization being referred should come just a bit below at the top left end too.

2. The heading: You will have to include a title for your letter which is “Reference.”

If you are referencing Mr. Damiel Orji,” your title should appear thus


3. Salutation:  It’s normal to greet and show kind gestures while writing people you don’t even know.

Appreciate them, show how much you value them even though you didn’t know much about them.

4. In the next paragraph explain your connection with the referred (Mr. Daniel Orji), this should include how you know him, how long you’ve known him and why you are qualified to write a reference letter on his behalf.

5. Explain why he’s qualified: what he can contribute, be specific about this.

6. Close the letter.

7. Append your signature

Reference letter sample

Kindly find the below reference letter a case study writing to a school.

No 14, upper chime Avenue,

New Haven, Enugu.                

30th April, 2022.

Office of the Registrar

Nnamdi Azikiwe University,

Awka, Anambra state.

30th April, 2022.


                            REFERENCE LETTER IN FAVOR OF MR. DANIEL ORJI

Compliments, I trust you are staying safe and sound at this time and hopefully my letter meets you well too?

The above subject refers; My name is Engineer Emeka Orji, of the Ike’s construction Nigeria Ltd.

I am writing you with respect to my nephew “Mr. Daniel Orji” whose name appears on the subject of this letter.

Daniel is has been a good boy under my watch for the past 21 years, I can assure you he does not have a questionable character or ill record during this time. Firmly attested by me.

In the light of this, I seek your indulgence to offer him every necessary attention, assistance and advantage that’ll aid his academic pursuit.

He’ll be of good conduct and would contribute in lifting the image of the school in good light, do find him worthy and grant his request please.

I look forward to your unreserved corporation to further encourage him in his academic pursuit.

Kind regards.

Yours sincerely,

(Append your signature here)

Engineer Emeka Orji

What is reference letter for University?

This is a letter written to a University just like above seeking to have the school grant a particular student certain advantages as being pursued.

What is reference letter for student?

Reference letter for student is a letter written on behalf of a student by a referee, requesting the school to grant such student a privilege as may be pursued.

Reference from employer

A reference letter from employer is a letter written by an employer in favor of an employee who is looking to certain privilege elsewhere. It could be for a loan, or other advantage.


A letter could serve different purposes depending on whom it’s being addressed to. There’s an instance for a letter of recommendation too where a former employee could seek a reference from a previous employer/recommendation for a new offer/opportunity.

Certain hierarchy are required to give recommendation sometimes for contracts, jobs, etc.

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