The plan could affect up to 9,000 group manufacturing roles globally, including 4,500 in the UK, over the next two years.
But RBS says the actual number of jobs lost is expected to be significantly lower than this.
The business plan, which involves a number of other cost-saving initiatives including moving to a common technology platform, will help RBS achieve its target of reducing annual costs by £2.5bn within the next three years.
Stephen Hester, chief executive of RBS, says: “We have set a new strategy for RBS to restore the Bank to standalone strength as soon as practicable. From this we want the Government to be able to realise value from its investment in RBS.
“To do so we need to cut our costs, as in all businesses, given the current recession. Unfortunately that means taking difficult decisions about jobs as well as taking many other cost reduction actions. We want to be as open and transparent as possible and are announcing these plans at the earliest possible opportunity so that our employees can prepare for the future.”