You can open a brokerage account even if you're not a United States citizen, but it requires some additional documentation and potentially a phone call to the brokerage that you'd like to work with. Some brokerages have special sections for specific nationalities that you must use if you're from a certain country. You must also fill out specific forms from the IRS along with all other paperwork requested by the brokerage.
Fill out the IRS tax form W-8BEN entitled Certificate of Foreign Status of Beneficial Owner for United States Tax Withholding. You can find a link to this document in the resources section of this article. You are obligated to fill out this form accurately in order to trade securities with a U.S. account.
Check the website of the brokerage firm where you'd like to open an account to see if there are any online forms for nonresidents. Complete the application and send your W-8BEN form when it is requested. If you don't see a form specifically for foreign residents, contact the brokerage firm's customer service department. Many of the most popular brokerage firms have customer service representatives that speak English, Spanish and Mandarin or Cantonese Chinese.
File a copy of IRS Form 1001 if you don't currently live in the U.S. and are not a citizen when opening your brokerage account. This form will exempt your trading income from U.S. taxes.
Complete the application process by transferring funds to your brokerage account. International transaction fees along with any fees charged by your bank may apply. Currency conversion fees will also apply, as normal U.S. brokerage accounts are only traded in dollars.
- TD Ameritrade; telehone interview; December 20, 2009
- eTrade Account Requirements
- Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. "What to Expect When You Open a Brokerage Account." Accessed Oct. 8, 2020.
- Securities Investor Protection Corporation. "How SIPC Protects You." Accessed Oct. 8, 2020.
- Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. "Types of Investments." Accessed Oct. 8, 2020.
- Office of Investor Education and Advocacy. "Type of Brokerage Accounts." Accessed Oct. 8, 2020.
- Securities and Exchange Commission. "Investor Bulletin: Understanding Margin Accounts." Accessed Oct. 8, 2020.
John Hewitt began freelancing in 2008, writing about subjects ranging from music to stock trading, the energy industry and business. His ghostwritten work has appeared all over the Web. He attended New York University, pursuing a bachelor's degree in history.