How to Sign Up for International Stock and Currency Trading
Trading internationally enables you to diversify your portfolio by leveraging other economies and currencies. When you enroll, you can invest in a broad range of global companies and foreign currencies—opening up a completely new world of trading.
Do I need special approval before I can start trading internationally?
First you'll need to sign up online for international trading. After you enroll, there's a message asking you to call us prior to placing your first international stock order or currency exchange. When you call us, you'll review the international trading guidelines and risks with one of our specialists. When you're ready to place your first order, you'll need either sufficient U.S. dollars (displayed as Cash Available to Trade) or 100% of the foreign currency needed for the trade. These balances display near the top of the Trade Stocks – International Trade ticket under Cash Available to Trade (USD) and Foreign Currency Positions (foreign currency you hold). They are also included on the Balances and Positions pages.
Watch this brief video to see how to get started with international trading.
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What do I need to know?
- From Accounts & Trade, select Update Accounts/Features and then International Trading.
Scroll to the bottom of the page and select Sign up for international stock trading, then choose the brokerage account you'd like to use for your trades.
Note: Only brokerage, nonretirement accounts that are registered in the United States are eligible. You can add international trading to more than one of your accounts as long as you sign up each account separately.
- Read the International Trading Supplement and agree to the terms.
Select Sign-Up. A confirmation page appears with this message:
"Prior to placing your first international stock trade or currency exchange, you must contact an international trading specialist at 800-544-2976."
After calling us to review our international trading policies and guidelines:
- Underneath the confirmation message, you'll see a check mark next to the account that says "enrolled."
- From Next Steps, select Research International Stocks or Trade International Stocks.
- Select Find Symbol. In the window that opens, in the Search field, enter the company's name. A page displays showing the stock and all of the exchanges it's traded on.
Choose the exchange you want to use.
Note: International stocks use different symbols based on the exchange where they're traded. You can enter a global order at any time, but orders are executed only during regular market hours for the local exchange. Real-time quotes are available for indexes and securities during regular local market hours.
Select Research. You will see the country's exchange, the company's name, the real-time quote, currency, and the market status (open or closed).
Note: You can only make cash trades; margin, short selling, or complex orders (e.g., option transactions and conditional orders) are not allowed.
- On the trade ticket, select Action, then Buy, and enter the quantity.
- Select an order type (you can only choose market or limit). If you choose limit, enter the limit price.
- In Time in Force, Day displays (that's the only available choice).
Note: All international stocks must be sold on the same exchange where you originally purchased the shares. For example, if you purchase 100 shares of Nestlé* on the French exchange and you decide to sell those shares, you must do so on the French exchange. This is true even if the company trades on more than one exchange in different markets. You can learn more on our International Stock Trading page and by reviewing the FAQs.
You can also buy and sell currencies. To place a currency order, change the order ticket to currency exchange and check the currency's exchange rate. To do this, enter this information on the Currency Exchange ticket:
- From currency
- To currency
After you enter this information, a currency exchange rate will be displayed. Select Preview Exchange to proceed to the Trade Verification page.
*For illustrative purposes only.
What to expect
Make sure you review International Stock Trading for details. After you've enrolled, you will be eligible to:
- Invest in online equity trading in 25 countries and exchanges in 16 currencies.
- Receive real-time international quotes.
- Get flexible settlement options in U.S. dollars or local currency.
- View international market research organized by region.
- See your international stock and foreign currency positions alongside all of your other positions in your existing brokerage account.
- Receive cost basis reporting for international securities and currencies.
Foreign security trades appear on your statements and trade confirmations like normal trades. Foreign securities are priced on statements in U.S. dollars, using the London Barclay midday rate at the end of the month to convert from local prices (unless there are discrepancies in the local currency). The prices on your statement will not match the bid or ask prices you may have bought or sold at. That’s because the prices on your statement don’t reflect the cost of trading foreign securities that market makers build into price spreads.
You can review markets on the Stock Market & Sector Performance page.
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Foreign investments involve greater risks than U.S. investments, including political and economic risks and the risk of currency fluctuations, all of which may be magnified in emerging markets.