How to Open an Interactive Brokers Account?

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How to Open an Interactive Brokers Account?

Interactive Brokers is an excellent broker from the United States. It is known for its cheap fees and its unique range of offered investment products. It is being used by many personal finance bloggers, for instance.

It is currently the best broker that allows access to U.S. ETFs. And U.S. ETFs are the most efficient ETFs for Swiss investors.

I am going to go over some detail about Interactive Brokers. Mainly, I am going to go over the details of how to open an Interactive Brokers account. It is not very difficult, but there are a few things you need to know before you start your application.

Interactive Brokers

Best Broker for Swiss Investors
Interactive Brokers

Interactive Brokers is an outstanding broker, with extremely affordable fees! Trade U.S. security for as little as 0.5 USD!

So what is Interactive Brokers (IB)? IB is a brokerage firm from the United States. It was created in 1978 in New York, more than 40 years ago! IB is the largest brokerage firm in the United States and the leading foreign exchange (forex) broker. Interactive Brokers offers access to many instruments such as stocks, bonds, options, futures, futures options, and even more.

It is a very well-known broker with an excellent reputation. It is known to be cheap compared to its competitors. I have already compared IB and DEGIRO in the past. This comparison showed that it is even less expensive than DEGIRO, the broker I was using before.

Before, I thought DEGIRO was cheaper. An essential thing with IB is that, by default, they do not lend your shares to other people such as DEGIRO does by default. You also have the option of lending shares, and you will get some of the money from the lending. But, you have the choice, which is good!

Why open an IB account?

So, why did I open an IB account? I had a DEGIRO broker account. Recently, DEGIRO cut access to U.S. funds from Swiss investors! Since my portfolio is composed of about 80% of U.S. Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), this is a big problem for me. They should have kept us access at least until 2020. But for some reason, they decided to cut this access. And since they did not communicate at all on this subject, I was pretty angry about it.

Therefore, I decided to open an Interactive Brokers account to continue to trade with my ETF portfolio for one more year. However, this is not the only reason I wanted to change. First, I have discovered recently that Interactive Brokers can be cheaper than DEGIRO. The switch to IB will save me money in the long-term.

Finally, DEGIRO only accepts money from a single bank account. With IB, you can transfer money to your account from any bank account. Since I will receive some money in USD once I sell some shares from my company, this is important to me to transfer USD without costs.

And talking about USD, IB is much cheaper than DEGIRO at converting between currencies. So, in the long-term, I am going to save a lot of money with IB.

So, let’s see how one can create an account on IB.

Create an Interactive Brokers account

First, prepare some time in front of you. The account creation process on Interactive Brokers is not difficult, but it will take some time. You will need to answer many questions, and you will need to wait a day for your account to be funded.

First, you can go to the account creation page and choose to Start Application for an Individual, Joint, and Retirement Accounts. I needed an Individual account, but maybe you will need type such as Joint if you plan to do it for you and your spouse. The procedure should be mostly the same, but I never tried other accounts than the Individual.

On the first page, you will need to enter your email, a user name, and your password for the account. They have weird conditions for the user name. It needs to be between 8 and 9 characters in length. And it needs to contain at least three numbers.

It is a bit dumb, but it is only a user name. It will not matter much in the future. The password is also a bit limited since you cannot use special characters. I would recommend making it at least 20 characters long. A long password is a very important to secure your account! Make sure to remember it correctly as well!

You also need to enter your country of residence. If your country of legal residence is different, you also need to enter it. You can then confirm the first page.

At this point, they will send you an email to confirm your email address. Just check your mail and choose to continue the application.

Personal information

On the second page, you will have to set your account type. I set to Individual for my needs. You can check the kinds of accounts to make sure you choose the one according to your needs.

Then, you will have to set the general kind of personal information. There is nothing special here, only the thing you are used to entering on each website. You will have to set your addresses as well. Be aware that since this will be related to your taxes in the end, it is essential to enter them correctly. You will also need to enter a valid phone number. This phone number will be used for authentication, so once again, be sure to enter it correctly.

IB has several kinds of accounts. You will need to select the account type you want. The primary type of account is a Cash account. A cash account is the account type you probably need. It means you need to have the money before each trade. There are also Margin accounts. Margin means you will use leverage for investing with money you do not need.

Another thing you need to configure when you create an IB account is the base currency of your account. I am going to make most of my payments in Swiss Francs (CHF). Therefore I went with CHF as my base currency. You can always convert money from your base currency to any other currency.

Now, you will also have to set up three security questions. You will need these questions if you ever need to recover your account. This procedure is, once again, a standard procedure. Make sure you choose questions from which the answer is not ambiguous!

Investment Questions

After this, you need to answers many questions about your finances. You need to set how much your net worth is and how much income you have. You also need to say what your objectives are for your investments. For instance, you may want to invest in appreciation of capital or for fixed income. I am not sure what IB is doing with all this information. I would advise to answer them with honesty simply.

You also need to set which instruments you need to invest in. For instance, if you want to invest and Stocks and Bonds, you need to select these options. I only selected stocks. There are many more options like Stocks, Bonds, Options, and Futures. You also need to select from which country (stock market exchange), you want to invest in.

You also need to confirm your phone number with a code.

Confirmations

At this point, you will have to agree to all the rules that IB has for trading. Ideally, you may want to read them. But, you probably will not!

If you want, you can also join the Stock Yield Enhancement Program. This program will allow IB to lend your shares to other people. With that, you will receive half of the interests of the lending. Of course, there is a slight risk to that, and you may also not be able to sell your shares when you want or need to. I did not agree with that. But that maybe something I am going to consider in the future.

At this point, Interactive Brokers will want to get proof of your identification. For this, you can upload a driving license, an ID card, a passport, or an alien ID card for IB to confirm your identity. On the same page, you will also have to enter information about your tax status. You will also have to fill information about your employer and your job occupation. Usually, you also need to submit something as a proof of address. But for some reason, I was not able to complete this at this point when I created my account.

Fund your account

Your account will only be fully activated once it receives funding. You need to deposit the first amount of money for IB to validate your account. First, you need to declare how much money you are going to deposit. Then, IB will give you all the information necessary for the payment.

Make sure your properly copy the IBAN number. With banking transactions, you should always double-check all banking information before you do a transfer. Since they have a bank account in Switzerland, the transfer will be free!

And do not forget to include the “Further Benefit to XXX” line! Otherwise, the money will not directly go to your account, and you will have to contact them to fix the issue. You will need to do that for all your future deposits to your Interactive Brokers account.

Finalize your account

After you have funded your account, there are still a few more things you can do.

First of all, you can configure the market data. You should set your market data status to non-professional. And you should check that you are not buying any market data. Unless you plan to day trade, you do not need any of this data. You do not want to pay for it.

You can also configure your mobile phone to use it as Two-Factor Authentication (2FA). One excellent thing is that you have to use two-factor, you have no choice. It is great. 2FA is an essential part of online security. First, you need to install IBRK Mobile on your phone. This application is available for Android and iOS.

Once you installed the application, you can register the application as two-factor for your account. You will have to log in with your user and password. You need to enter the code you received by SMS. Finally, you can then choose a PIN for your future two-factor authentication. Make sure to remember that PIN since you will have to use it for each of your connections to Interactive Brokers.

If you do not know about 2FA and why it is necessary, read my article about online personal finance and security.

Wait for your account

At this point, you only need to wait for IB to create and fund your account.

It should not take too long. For me, it only took one day for my account to be created and funded. It is quite fast. The next day, I could directly make my first trade.

The only thing that remains at this point is to configure the Pricing System. I recommend you use the Tiered Pricing system. IB is cheaper than DEGIRO when you use the Tiered Pricing system. You can do the change in your Account Settings. If you prefer the more predictable Fixed Pricing, you can also opt for it.

Here are my settings just before I made the change to Tiered pricing:

Interactive Brokers Account Settings
Interactive Brokers Account Settings

Conclusion

Best Broker for Swiss Investors
Interactive Brokers

Interactive Brokers is an outstanding broker, with extremely affordable fees! Trade U.S. security for as little as 0.5 USD!

The procedure is now complete! If you followed this guide, you now have an Interactive Brokers account.

At least for now, we have access to U.S. Exchange Traded Funds such as VT, which makes the most significant part of my portfolio.

I have now been using IB for almost two years. And I am delighted with IB. Interactive Brokers is the best broker available to Swiss investors.

To learn more about Interactive Brokers, read my guide to Interactive Brokers multiple user interfaces.

What do you think about Interactive Brokers? Do you already have an account? If not, which broker are you using?

Mr. The Poor Swiss

Mr. The Poor Swiss is the author behind thepoorswiss.com. In 2017, he realized that he was falling into the trap of lifestyle inflation. He decided to cut on his expenses and increase his income. This blog is relating his story and findings. In 2019, he is saving more than 50% of his income. He made it a goal to reach Financial Independence. You can send Mr. The Poor Swiss a message here.

57 thoughts on “How to Open an Interactive Brokers Account?”

  1. Nice. Glad you made the switch! Welcome on IB! A real broker! ;-)

    When I opened my account, it took me something like almost 1 hour, between all the questions and the documents needed. It was a real pain in the ass as we say. I’ve never done a registration like that before haha.

    I hope you will consider using their TWS (Trader Workstation) app for investing. It’s a scary Java app, at first sight, but much more feature complete than the rest, there is more informations and honestly, not hard to use and much better looking than their WebTrader. In fact, I find the last one quite scarier…

    The only thing I suggest, is double checking how to convert currency correctly, you need to use FXCONV instead of IDEALPRO when converting USD to CHF on the forex. Not sure if you can do it with the WebTrader. Else you can end with virtual negative balances… Maybe you can do some tests with your paper trading account.

    Also I couldn’t say it better so I’m quoting someone from internet : “And really you want to learn how to use TWS anyway – it’s a hell of a lot better.”

    Good luck.

    1. Hi Cashflow,

      As you said, it’s a bit a pain in the ass. I’ve never seen any registration so complete. But it’s pretty straightforward overall.

      I will definitely test TWS. So far, the only things I have seen from it is pretty overwhelming. But I am going to give it a try.

      Thanks for the tip about conversion. I will take a closer look at this the next time I do a currency conversion!

      Thanks a lot of sharing

  2. I did not find the way of using FXCONV on the TWS “android” app but only on the PC desktop version. If anyone can share an idea on that it would be highly appreciated. Cashflow is right, use the FXCONV for currency converting. The IDEALPRO also works but it ends up in a currency position instead of cash balance. It does not harm but gives a headache by reading out balances.

        1. Hi Marc,

          Thanks for the link. It is very helpful indeed!
          My only problem is that I do not use the TWS app most of the time. I prefer to use the WebTrader or even simpler the Account Management interface. And from these two interfaces, only IDEALPRO is available.

          Thanks for stopping by :)

  3. Great Post,

    just a question what will happen after 2020. Will we need to sell all our US based ETF? Or can we keep them until we want to sell them?

  4. Hi the Poor Swiss,
    Did you make up your mind yet as to how to transfer your capital from Degiro to IB?
    I am exactly in the same situation as you…
    Cheers from Genf!
    Jean-Pierre

    1. Hi Jean-Pierre,

      Yes, I did. I started selling my funds and buying them back. However, I do not think it is a good idea anymore. There is really too much risk of market price change between the time you sell and the time you have the money again to buy them back.

      Unless you have a very small portfolio, I would not advise to sell and buy back.

      Good luck with your transfer!

  5. I am sorry, but I am a bit puzzled by your explanation: “They have weird conditions for the user name, it needs to be between 8 and 9 characters in length. And it needs to contain at least three numbers. I think it is a bit dumb, but it is only a password”. Are you talking about name or password here?

  6. Hi Mr. The Poor Swiss.

    Thank you for the article (contains a lot of useful information) and apologize for the large number of questions I’m asking:

    1. “Another thing you need to configure when you create an IB account is the base currency of your account. I am going to make most of my payments in Swiss Francs (CHF), therefore I went with CHF as my base currency. You can always convert money from your base currency to any other currency.”
    Does it mean that when you transfer your money from your Swiss bank to IB account through IBAN to CH2089095000010569674, there is no fee for that at all? In other words, if let’s say you send 1000 CHF, you will get exactly 1000 CHF in your IB account, right?
    The second question: since US ETFs are sold in USD, how do you buy them? You mentioned: “You can always convert money from your base currency to any other currency”. Is the currency exhcnage rate between CHF and USD good enough? Do you have to pay any commission for this conversion? What is IDEALPRO and FXCONV?

    2. “You need to set how much your net worth is and how much income you have.”
    Does IB check it some how? Do they require any supporting documents? May I simply answer “it’s none of your business, guys”?

    3. “You also need to select from which country (stock market exchange), you want to invest in.”
    If I want to buy US ETFs like VT, SPY or IVV then should I select NYSE? If next year (2020) I lose access to US-domiciled ETFs and will decide to continue with European domiciled ETFs, should I select SWX? May I add another stock exchange later?

    4. “On the same page, you will also have to enter information about your tax status”
    What does it mean?

    5. “Once we are done replenishing our cash fund, I will move more funds to my new IB account. At this point, I will make sure to write an article on how to buy an ETF on Interactive Brokers.”
    Since I am about to create an account in IB and make my first purchase of ETFs, I look forward to reading this article.

    1. Hi,

      You’re welcome :)

      I am glad to answer your questions!

      1. Yes, that is totally correct. I never paid any fee to transfer CHF to my IB account :)
      2. You have to convert the currency. In Interactive Brokers, you can make a trade for almost any currency. The exchange rates are extremely good at IB. Some people use IB only to make currency conversion. You have to pay a small fee indeed. I have paid about 3 dollars last time I converted 10’000 CHF into USD. IDEALPRO and FXCONV are different exchanges for making currency conversions. In practice, for simple users like us, there is no difference.
      3. I do not think they check how much you got, no. They do not require any supporting document. I do not think you can answer that, no.
      4. You can add other exchanges later on yes. I have selected U.S. and all of Europe as my countries to invest in.
      5. It’s simply in which country you pay tax and your tax number (social security number, AVS)
      6. The article is coming and in the pipeline. It should be published by the end of the month!

      I hope that helps!

      1. Hi Mr. The Poor Swiss.

        Thank you for the information.

        Let me ask you some more questions.

        I’ve just opened my IB account and I am about to fund it (bank wire). So, first of all I see the following message: “CHF carries a negative interest rate as imposed by the relevant central bank. This means that you will actually pay interest to keep this currency with the broker rather than earning interest (this is because the broker, in turn, must pay interest to the banks in which it keeps client funds denominated in this currency).” Does it mean that I have extra fees just because I selected CHF for my base currency? What do you think abot this?
        Second question: I am requested to fill the following fields: Sending Institution (Required), Account Number (Optional), Nickname (Required). What is this? Where can I find this information? I want to send money from my PostFinance account. Does acount number equal to the last 9 digits of my IBAN?
        Thank you.

        1. Hi Aleksei,

          You are welcome.

          a) It is not extra fees, no. However, your balance in CHF at Interactive Brokers will have a negative interest. If the current interest is -0.5%, you will lose 0.5% of your CHF cash every year. Since you should generally not carry a large balance in cash in your broker account, this should not make a big difference in the long-term.
          b) The Institution should be PostFinance. You can let the Account Number empty, this is what I did with my Migros account. And the Nickname, you can put what you want, this is the just the name inside IB.

          I hope that helps

          Thanks for stopping by!

          1. Hi Mr. The Poor Swiss

            If an investor will have in his account 150.000 CHF in cash , he will pay 1,238 % for the balance above 100.000 = 50.000 CHF in this example .(negative interest !)
            Is it possible for the investor to lend that amount (50.000 CHF) through IB and the borrower ( another investor ) to pay that negative interest ? instead of the owner ?

          2. Hi Rick,

            I do not know if you can lend cash on IB. I would think you cannot.

            However, why would you have so much cash on IB? I am not sure it is a great place to store cash, especially in CHF. You could store it in USD in order to make some profit.

            If I had so much cash, I would store it in my bank account.

            Thanks for stopping by :)

  7. What is the minimum amount needed to put into the account? Im new to this..if i was to buy shares and leave the account dormant for a while, do they charge for inactivity?

    1. Hi Sair,

      There used to be a minimum of 10’000 USD, but that is not the case anymore. You can now open a Cash account with 0$.
      However, they have inactivity fees of 10 USD per month if you have less than 100’000 USD in assets.

      Let me know if that helps :)

  8. Hi Mr. The Poor Swiss,

    Is not more easy to send money by Revolut to the IB, in USD money currency?
    I mean, using Revolut to change currency and trade in BI in USD currency.

    Thanks.

    1. Hi,

      That’s a good point. You can indeed send CHF to Revolut, exchange it to USD and then transfer it to IB.
      I don’t think it is simpler since it adds a new step and also adds at least one more day delay. But it will save you about 2 CHF on each exchange indeed.
      Moreover, this can be rather large transfers. I feel a bit more comfortable with the large transfer going from my bank to IB directly.

      But this is a very good alternative indeed.

      Thanks for stopping by :)

      1. I just started my journey with IB and I think if you can wait (which usually you can, if you buy monthly/quarterly for the long term) and the conversion is below 10k/month (revolut limit) then imo it’s better to go with revolut.

        Over the long term if each month you will save 2 USD, it will compound

        1. Hi Trebor,

          Do you mean to say that it’s better to do the transfer each month with Revolut instead of sending CHF to IB and then using to do the transfer?
          It’s possible indeed if you never transfer more than 10K in one month. I would not do it for 2 CHF per month though. I do not to transfer such amounts with Revolut.
          But yes, even 2 CHF per month will compound nicely if invest in the stock market.

          Thanks for stopping by!

          1. Hi,

            I find that funding IB with Revolut can be a very good idea in some situations. For instance if you want to invest on a monthly basis.

            Did anyone managed to do it? I tried, but I’m stucked because of the following: If you open a notification for a wire deposit in USD on IB, IB provides you with a virtual bank account number that contains your username (it is therefore alphanumerical, but does not have an IBAN format). This does not fit the format expected when you do a transfer on Revolut (IBAN expected for transfer to UK).

            I would be super glad if someone can help. Thanks!

          2. Hi Donovan,

            Yes, it can be practical to use Revolut.

            I am at work right now with no access to IB. But I do not think it would be an issue. You need to enter directly the IBAN into Revolut and then you can use your account number/name as the reference number.
            I am always using IB CH IBAN to send money to, I do not use a virtual bank account.
            You should check on IB if you have several options for deposit. I can check again tonight if you want.

            I hope that helps!

          3. Hi Mr. The Poor Swiss,

            Thanks a lot for your answer! I had a look at my account again. If I want to transfer CHF to IB, it happens exactly how you described, and I can provide a CH IBAN with the correct format to Revolut.

            But if I select USD as currency and select Bank Wire Deposit as the transfer method, IB does not provide me an IBAN that I could use for Revolut. I only get the virtual account number, an ABA Routing Number (no idea what that is…), and the SWIFT/BIC Code. Since the whole point of using Revolut is to transfer USD, I’m still stucked.

            If you have an idea I would be pleased. I will keep looking for the solution anyway. ;)

            (I don’t know why, I couldn’t publish below your comment…)

          4. Hi Donovan,

            Oh, that sucks!
            ABA Routing Number is for U.S. banks. But if you do not get a regular IBAN, I do not see how you can transfer money from Revolut.

            You could still transfer CHF and then convert the CHF on IB. IB is really good at foreign currency exchange. But it’s starting to be a lot of steps.

            (Don’t worry about the order of comments :) )

            Thanks for stopping by!

          5. Hi The Poor Swiss

            Thanks a lot for your informative blog!

            Concerning the issue of transferring and exchanging money: The forex commission of IB is at least 2 USD per transaction, which seems pretty steep (compared with the commission for buying shares/ETFs). Especially if you want to invest small amounts each month (eg. 500 CHF).

            Alternatively, one could try to exchange elsewhere and then transfer USD to IB. But in my experience, transfers in USD usually use SWIFT, an archaic payment system with uncontrollable fees from intermediary banks… a transfer of USD from Revolut to a Swiss bank account recently costed me 20 USD (even with IBAN).

            Have you (or anyone) managed to transfer USD to IB from an European bank or from Revolut for free? Is this possible?

            Transfers from US banks to IB seems to be free, as they can avoid the “international wire transfer” of SWIFT.

            Thank you.

          6. Hi Sam,

            This is a good point. I should mention that the conversion fee on IB is bad for small amounts. 2 USD for 1000 USD transfer is 0.2%, so it’s still worse than DEGIRO 0.1%. But for large sums, it is really good to have such a small fee.

            In theory, you could use Revolut to do the transfer. It’s easy to transfer CHF to Revolut for free. The problem is transferring USD from Revolut to IB. I know people who tried this and fail to find a way to do it for free. You could transfer USD to their European bank accounts, but it would be too expensive.

            I do not know any other way to do it for free. Maybe you could do it with TransferWise for 0.3% too. But I do not know if that’s possible or not.

            Yes, transfers from US banks to IB is fine because they have an American bank account.

            Now, IB is indeed not the best for small sums. Personally, I have never converted less than a few thousand CHF into USD. So the fee is really good.
            One solution could be to wait a while to accumulate the CHF before you convert it. But that’s not optimal indeed.

            Thanks for stopping by!

  9. imaginary scenario :
    1.investor ABC has 300.000 CHF invested in Novartis , Roche , Nestle
    2.investor Rick invest in Nasdaq futures and need cash for collateral just in case of a posible margin call .
    3. a correction is coming in the next 6 months .
    4. investor ABC decide to move in cash until the “storm” will go away so he will have 300.000 CHF in cash and he will pay/lose 1,238 % for 200.000 CHF for the next 6 months .
    5.investor Rick decide not to sell but stick to his investments through the “storm”.Because he will maybe need extra cash just in case of a posible margin call , investor Rick will like to borrow some cash if is necessary . And he is willing to pay , lets say 3 % .
    6. the benefit for investor ABC = he will not have to pay 1,238 % for those 200.000 CHF
    7.the benefit for IB = IB will get 3 % from investor Rick
    8.the benefit for Rick = will get through the “storm”
    everybody wins
    The idea is coming from this: IB has a “Stock Yield Enhancement Program ”
    https://www.interactivebrokers.com/en/index.php?f=14527
    Lets say investor ABC has shares in Novartis . He can lend those shares to IB and IB will further lend those share to an investor who will sell short those shares .
    Investor ABC will still own those shares , he will still get the Novartis dividend and in top of that investor ABC will receive an extra yield from the Short seller .
    Example :
    1.investor XXX want to short 1000 shares Novartis
    2.he will borrow those 1000 shares from IB and IB will borrow those shares from investor ABC with his approval of course .
    3.investor XXX ( the short seller ) will pay 4 % interest for the value of those borrowed shares
    4. IB will split the 4 % and IB will retain 2 % and investor ABC will get the other 2%
    5.During that period , investor ABC will still own the shares and he will still get the dividend ,plus an extra yield .
    Can be done the same with cash too ?
    Of course does not make sense if the investor ABC has US $ because IB pays interest for cash in US $ ( or change his CHF in US $ ) but in future it is possible that IB will not pay interest for US $ either .
    How much a Swiss bank will pay in interest ?

    1. Hi rick,

      I guess this makes sense indeed. It’s still market timing and it could end badly.

      Stock Yield Enhancement Program is really to yield shares, not cash. I did a little research, but I didn’t find anyway to lend cash in IB. The best thing you could do is transfer it to USD to get some interests and avoid negative interests. However, there is a currency risk of course.

      A Swiss bank will basically not pay any interest. The best right now are around 0.03% and they often do not pay interests after 100’000 CHF.

      You should probably ask IB about that.

      Thanks for commenting :)

  10. Hi Mr. Poor Swiss,

    Thanks for these articles about brokers.

    I start to follow you and I made the same decision opening an DEGIRO account first… But what intrigues me is why you decide opening an account in IB.
    I know about the “DEGIRO cut access to U.S. funds from Swiss investors! Since my portfolio is made of about 80% of U.S. Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs)”.

    DEGIRO also have ETFs like S&P500 from Vanguard an so on in different exchanges you can see in this link(https://www.degiro.ch/data/pdf/ch-en/Free_ETFs.pdf) and without any fees.

    My question is, you cannot have the same investments using these ETFs?

    BTW I invest into:
    IE00B3XXRP09 VANGUARD S&P500
    IE00B3RBWM25 VANGUARD FTSE AW
    IE00BYYR0C64 VANGUARD GLBLMINVO
    IE00B4L5Y983 ISHARES MSCI WOR A

    What do you think?
    thanks once again

  11. Hello Mr Poor
    I recently came accross a discussion about Interactive Brokers.UK’s custodian…which apparently is also in US (as the main IB website).
    Does this mean that, even if we are buying Irelend domiciled, UCITS ETFs we are still falling under the foreign investor witholding tax on profit, rom US? (this being as high as 30%…if your country doesn’t have a tax treaty)
    Does this tax apply to all income: from dividends as well as growth, in case of acc. ETFs? Or when/how it applies?
    And in this case, what’s the point of owning iShares Irelend domiciled and EU approved ETFs if I still pay taxex to US through IB?
    I hope I missunderstood something because this just got really complicated to me :)
    Btw, I am from Romania and Degiro is not an available option.
    I plan to passively invest on the long run, by buying accumulating ETFs:
    IWDA + EMIM + IUSN + AGGH
    Thanks!

    1. Hi IronM,

      I am not sure I understand your question.

      What matters generally is the domicile of the fund, not of the broker. For instance, if you buy VT (U.S. ETF), you profit from the U.S. CH tax treaty and you save 15% in withholding in the U.S. dividends.
      IE ETFs are still efficient, but not as efficient as the U.S. ETF. The reason is that U.S. Dividends will be taxed (in the united states) before they even reach the IE ETFs.
      So, if you have access to U.S. ETFs, you should go for it. If you do not have access, you should go with Ireland ETFs, they are the next best thing.

      But that’s for Swiss people :) If you are Romanian, it will depend if you have a tax treaty with the U.S. (I have no clue) or not. If you have one, you can invest in U.S. ETFs, for the best tax-efficiency. Otherwise, it does not matter between U.S. ETF and IE ETFs (except that U.S. ETFs are slightly cheaper).

      Does that make sense?

      1. It almost makes sense. I mean, when we’ll we be taxed and by whom?
        I own all my ETFs from iShares and they are all domiciled in Ireland. And yes, Romania does have a treaty, like Swiss, for 15%.
        What you are saying, is that before the profit reaches Ireland (and eventually my account on Interactive Brokers), it will get taxed by US according to their treaty with my country?
        And then I will need to declare it again in my country and pay my country’s specific taxes on income/gain?
        That just sucks, if you pardon my french :)
        Then the only reason I’m buying the more expensive ETF from Ireland is because Europe decided to ban the purchase of the more cheaper ETFs directly from US.
        Comming back to my question, I was talking about a different, additional tax (I hope I’m wrong and missuderstood) that I will pay just because all ETFs custodians are in US and not Ireland. I’m just as confused as before :( I need to further research and come back…maybe I’m just mixing some terms here.
        Thanks a lot for your time and your nice blog!!!

        1. In Switzerland, you will be taxed only on the dividends and not for the capital gains. In Romania, I have no clue.

          For Ireland ETFs that holds U.S. ETF, the U.S. governement will take 30% of the U.S. dividends before it even touches the fund.
          For U.S. ETF, they will only take 15% and you can reclaim them later on.

          On top of that, you will have to declare dividends as income. But capital gains will not be taxed (in Switzerland at least).

          If that’s still not clear, maybe do a little more research indeed.

          Cheers

  12. Hi poorswiss,
    I don’t understand what it means if an online broker is “lending your shares”. IB offers you additional profit when you agree to this. What’s the catch? What are the risks or the disadvantages? And what is actually happening if they lend your shares? I read rick’s comment above but I’m still not sure what it all means exactly.
    Also, did I understand the difference between IB and Degiro correctly (regarding share-lending):
    You can opt-in when using IB, without a penalty for not doing so, and you have to opt-out when using Degiro, with a penalty (higher fees) for doing so, correct?

    Thanks for your blog and being active in the comment section answering questions, it’s really helpful :)

    1. Hi EarnestPear,

      You understand very well the difference between IB and DEGIRO.

      Securities lending means that the broker can lend your shares to another investor. This something they do when investors are short selling. This means that investors are selling shares they do not have. They do this to gamble on shares going down.
      The risk is smaller than people think. When the investor borrow share, they provide collateral instead. So, if the investor default while borrowing your shares, you still get the collateral back. The problem is when both the investor and the broker default at the same time. It is a very small risk. But I prefer tha approach of IB where you can opt-in for a bonus instead of opt-out for a fee.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  13. Hello dear Mr. Poor Swiss
    Could you please help me to find information on your blog about IB documentation needed for tax declaration in CH. I am currently using Swissquote, they provide a tax statement for 100 chf.
    Many thanks
    OW

    1. Hi OW,

      They do not have a tax statement. But they have an annual report that you can generate from the web interface. This is what I used for my tax declaration and there was no issue. The report is free with IB.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  14. I’ve been with IB for a few years and am a fan. For reasons that aren’t quite clear to me, my account ended up with IB UK. Did you weigh up the advantages of IB LLC vs. IB Luxembourg, IB UK, etc?
    I need to find out whether accounts can be transferred between IB regional entities.

  15. Thanks Mr. Poor Swiss for the great article.

    Can you please advice if for starting to invest on IB it is better to use the free TradeStation Global?

    1. Hi Enrique,

      Looking at the fees, the only advantage of TradeStation Global is the absence of inactivity fees. And some of these fees are actually higher than IB Tiered model.
      If you are serious about investing in the long-term, IB is probably better. But for smaller investing, TradeStation Global could be better.
      Keep in mind that I never used TradeStation Global and did very little research, so these are just my two cents.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  16. Hello Mr. Poor Swiss,
    Is IB a good option if you want to start low? I mean, investing a relatively low amount (2000-10000) mostly for learning purpose?

    I am new to investing but interested in the learning-by-doing kind of approach. I know I may lose some cash early on due to the 10$ fee, but that would help me building some confidence before injecting more money.

    Does that make sense or would you suggest another broker for that particular use case?

    Kind regards

    1. Hi Stéphane,

      If you are going lower than 2000 CHF, I would not recommend it. But if you are just starting with more than 2000 CHF and trying to build some confidence, I completely recommend IB over all other options. You will pay very low fees (except for the custody fee) and you will have access to U.S. ETFs which are the best.
      So in your case, yes, I would go with IB :)

      Thanks for stopping by!

  17. Dear Mr The Poor Swiss,

    Thank you for writing your blog, I really like it :)

    So you have convinced me to open an IB account, however, I have a doubt. I am a Swiss resident with a B permit, so I do not fill a tax return, I am taxed at source. So, will I have any problem using IB? Will I have to declare anything regarding taxes to the authorities?

    In addition, I think I will not be able to fill that form for getting the witholding taxes from U.S. ETFs back, since I do not fill a tax return… is that correct?
    I also assume that any dividends I receive will be taxed at 35%.

    Thank you for your time,

    C.

    1. Hi C.

      I am glad you like it!

      It should not be an issue, no. You are allowed to have shares when you are taxed at the source.

      That’s not entirely correct.
      * I believe (not entirely sure because of Permit B), that you can still fill the W8-BEN form that will lower your dividends withholding from 30% to 15% for U.S. shares and ETFs
      * Unless you fill a tax declaration, you will not be able to reclaim the 15% withheld by the U.S. government
      * 35% is for Swiss shares, 30% is for U.S. shares.

      I hope this makes sense :)

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