Subject and purpose of work: The article deals with the issue of risk mainly in banking activity. Different definitions of risk were reviewed as tools for risk management in banks and for regulatory activities by institutions. Materials and methods: The research material was taken from the subject literature and official documents of financial market institutions - international organizations, as well as foreign and domestic financial institutions. They were mainly legal acts, standards and guidelines/recommendations. Particular attention was paid to documents published by banking supervision authorities. Results: As a result of the study, the multiplicity of concepts and approaches were found to define and identify banking risks as the categorizations presented by regulators seemed to be a standard to apply in risk management practices. Conclusions: Among the risk categorization used by banks, the leading ones have been presented by supervisory authorities. Defining the types of risk in operations should be the first stage of the internal risk management process which is necessary for banks’ survival. Ensuring high quality of the implementation of the first stage determines the efficiency and effectiveness of the entire process. The decisive requirements set by European and national regulators with regard to banks’ application of risk categorization as part of the risk management system contributed to mitigating the phenomena related to the global financial crisis among banks in Europe.