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How to Open an Interactive Brokers Account in 2023?

Baptiste Wicht | Updated: |

(Disclosure: Some of the links below may be affiliate links)

Interactive Brokers is an excellent broker from the United States. It is known for its cheap fees and unique investment product range. 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.

In this guide, I review 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. And I also teach you how to optimize your account to save money!

Interactive Brokers

The best broker
Interactive Brokers
No custody fees

The broker you need to buy stocks and ETFs reliably and at extremely affordable prices. Trade U.S. stocks for as little as 0.5 USD!

  • Extremely affordable
  • Wide range of investing instruments
Invest your money Read My Review

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, and more.

Interactive Brokers 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 used before.

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

If you want more information on IB, read my review of Interactive Brokers.

Why open an IB account?

So, why did I open an IB account? It is currently the best broker available to Swiss investors.

There are many reasons to prefer Interactive Brokers over other brokers.

  1. IB offers access to U.S. ETFs to Swiss investors, while many brokers are not.
  2. IB has excellent prices.
  3. IB offers access to many investing instruments.
  4. IB offers foreign exchanges at an excellent price.
  5. IB has an excellent reputation.
  6. IB has good financial strength.

So, we will 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 a few questions, and you will need to wait a day for your account to be funded.

Interactive Brokers has several entities in Europe. The primary entity is IB UK, but one is in Luxembourg, and one is in Ireland, for instance. For Swiss investors, the best entity is IB UK because they offer access to a Swiss IBAN and give you access to US ETFs. For European investors, it does not make much of a difference.

First, go to the account creation page and click “Open account”.

Start opening an Interactive Brokers account
Start opening an Interactive Brokers account

On the first page, you must enter your email, user name, and password for the account. Make sure to choose a good password and user name.

Start filling up your Interactive Brokers account
Start filling up your Interactive Brokers account

I would recommend making your password at least 20 characters long. A long password is essential to secure your online accounts! Make sure to remember it correctly as well!

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

At this point, they will email you 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 put it to Individual for my needs. You can check the kinds of accounts to ensure you choose the one according to your needs. But most people will want an Individual account.

Then, you will have to enter the general kind of personal information. Nothing is special here, only what you are used to entering on each website. You will have to set your addresses as well.

Since this will be related to your taxes, it is essential to enter them correctly. You will also need to enter a valid phone number. IB will use this phone number authentication, so once again, enter it correctly.

IB has several types 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 (IB has some good information about margin accounts). Margin means you can use leverage for investing with money you do not have. Unless you know what you are doing, I recommend a Cash account.

Another thing you need to configure when you create an IB account is the base currency of your account. I make most of my payments in Swiss Francs (CHF) and live in Switzerland. Therefore I went with CHF as my base currency.

You can always convert money from your base currency to any other currency. The base currency only matters for the display in the interface. If you choose CHF, you can still transfer USD and buy shares in EUR, for instance.

Currently, there is a positive interest rate on the CHF balance. If it becomes negative again, you will see a warning about the negative interest rate on CHF balances. You can get the current negative interest rate and limit here.

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

Investment Questions

After this, you need to answer questions about your finances.

You need to tell 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 for capital appreciation or fixed income.

All this information is here for regulatory reasons. I would advise you to answer them with honesty.

You also need to set which instruments you need to invest in. For instance, if you want to invest in stocks and bonds, you must select these options. I only chose stocks.

Many more choices include stocks, bonds, options, and futures. You also must select which country (stock market exchange) you want to invest in.

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


At this point, you must agree to all the rules 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 profits.

Of course, there is a slight risk to that, and you may also be unable to sell your shares when you want or need to. I am not using that feature now. But I have tested this feature recently, and it works well.

At this point, Interactive Brokers will want 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. You will also have to enter information about your tax status on the same page.

You will also have to fill in information about your employer and job. Usually, you also need to submit something as proof of address.

Fund your IBKR account

IB will fully activate your account once they receive funding.

You need to deposit the first amount for IB to validate your account. First, you need to declare how much money you will deposit. Then, IB will give you all the information necessary for the payment.

Make sure you correctly copy the IBAN. With banking transactions, you should always double-check all banking information before transferring. The transfer will be free since they have a bank account in Switzerland!

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

Finalize your account

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

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 this data. You do not want to pay for it.

One great thing is that you have to use two-factor. You have no choice. You must configure your mobile phone to use it as Two-Factor Authentication (2FA).

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 have installed the application, you can register the application as a 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. Remember that PIN since you must use it for each connection 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. It only took one day for my account to be created and funded. It is pretty fast. The next day, I could directly make my first trade.

Optimize your IBKR account

Now that you have access to your account, there are two more things to finalize in your account.

The first thing remaining at this point is configuring 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 make the change in your Account Settings. If you prefer the more predictable Fixed Pricing, you can also opt for it. There are some cases where fixed pricing is cheaper than tiered pricing.

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

Interactive Brokers Account Settings
Interactive Brokers Account Settings

The second thing applies if you are a Swiss investor and will invest in U.S. ETFs. In that case, you need to fill out the W-8BEN form. That is pretty simple. You can go into your Account Settings. Then, you must click the (i) blue button next to your name below Profiles. Then, you can click on “Update Tax Forms”.

They will then take you through the process, and you can fill out the W-8BEN tax form. This form will halve the dividend withholding from your American stocks and ETFs. This step is essential if you want to profit from the great tax efficiency of U.S. ETFs.

Some people have told me that it sometimes takes about one day for the account currency to be changed on the interface. You have to wait one day, and the issue should disappear. In the meantime, you may see some numbers in other currencies (likely GBP).

Another thing you can choose to do is to allow IB to lend your shares. By doing so, you will get 50% of the profits. This feature is called the Stock Yield Enhancement Program. However, there are some risks. I have tried it on and off over the last few years, but whether you think it is worth it is up to you.


The best broker
Interactive Brokers
No custody fees

The broker you need to buy stocks and ETFs reliably and at extremely affordable prices. Trade U.S. stocks for as little as 0.5 USD!

  • Extremely affordable
  • Wide range of investing instruments
Invest your money Read My Review

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

With this great broker, 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 more than two years. And I am delighted with IB. Interactive Brokers is the best broker available to Swiss investors.

The next step is now to buy an ETF from Interactive Brokers. It is also relatively simple and only takes a little time.

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

The best financial services for your money!

Download this e-book and optimize your finances and save money by using the best financial services available in Switzerland!

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Photo of Baptiste Wicht

Baptiste Wicht started in 2017. He realized that he was falling into the trap of lifestyle inflation. He decided to cut 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.

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338 thoughts on “How to Open an Interactive Brokers Account in 2023?”

  1. Hello.
    Thanks for the steps how open account in IB.
    I have a question. Do I have to open a Additional Account? Because on my status is everything completed. Fund Account, Confirm Mobile Number, Submit a document…, Verify ID. And also say that “your application is approved!” The only think who is not check is “open an Additional Account” Do I really need to open a Additional account?

    Another thing is, how I delete my paper (simulation) account.

    1. Hi Francisco,

      No, you don’t need to open an additional account if you don’t need one.
      No idea how you can delete your paper account.
      But at this point, you should be able to login, no? There is nothing left to do. Have you received any email?

  2. Hello,
    Thanks for your great articles.
    There is one thing I do not see mentionned – the IBKR Lite or Pro accounts. According to their website, there seems to be those two possibilities.
    Can you tell the differences and at which point we choose in the registration process ?

  3. Hello, the negative interest rate on CHF is no longer applied since October. You can check on the page you linked.

  4. Hi,

    I currently live in Switzerland (Permit B), however, I’m not sure if I’ll stay here for another 10 years, I might move somewhere else. How does someone’s residency impact the investments made?

    1. Hi Vesta,

      Residency can affect a lot the investments you can make, but they generally do not affect investments already made.
      But for instance, if you move o France, you won’t be able to buy US ETFs anymore.

  5. Salut Baptiste,
    thank you so much for your wonderful blog ! I have started using Interactive Brokers, but have to admit that I am a bit overwhelmed by the richness of information, even on the App. I would find a guide that helps to see the essential bits and interpret them super helpful. Does sth like this exist already?

  6. Hi Poor swiss, thanks for this continuous brilliant blog. With your help i was able to open IBKR last year and it’s been a year since I started investing in the Vanguard total world ETF. I also managed to fill out the W8.
    My question: I was looking at the tax form areas and I see the amount of dividends and indeed taxed at 15%. Is this the information i print out and add to my tax submission to reclaim this back from swiss tax authority? Including the fx income worksheet?

    My other question will the dividends be reinvested or will they be paid to my IBKR account or do i need to provide my IBAN details somewhere and then i do the reinvestment for my self?

    Thank you so much for your feedback on this.

    Warm regards Jay

    1. Hi Jay,

      Thanks for your kind words :) And congratulations for starting to invest.
      15% is indeed correct. And this should figure in the document you should attach to your taxes. Personally, I simply generate a yearly activity statement and join it to my taxes. The document is huge, but the tax office never complained.

      By default, your dividends will be distributed to your IB account. You can then buy more shares with them or do whatever you want. There is an option to automatically reinvest your dividends, however this is not available for each ETF since this requires fractional trading and I have never used it myself since I find it more efficient to invest monthly.

  7. Do you have any insights as to why an IB application might be rejected? I was rejected at the page where I selected my account type and investment experience. I’m wondering if my experience level has anything to do with it (I have been investing in ETFs for some time but don’t consider myself experienced). I tried to change up my answers about my experience level but my application was still not accepted. Wondering if I’m rejected for good or if there’s a chance to get approved?

    1. Hi Becca,

      Are you trying to open a margin account? These accounts are significantly higher requirements. But a normal cash account should be easy to get even with very few years of experience.

  8. Hi Baptiste,

    Thanks for your article, very detailed and easy to follow.
    I see that IB pays 3.8% of interest on unused USD cash balances (>100k). Compared to the current savings rate we have in Switzerland, this seems very interesting for someone who needs to keep a certain amount of cash for a while. It would just mean to transfer my CHF cash to IB and convert it into USD and let it there to get the interest paid.
    Do you see any risk with that? It almost seems too good to be true.

    Thanks again,

    1. Hi Arnaud

      The risk is currency risk :)
      There is no more risk in USD interest than in CHF interest. When treasury yields are increased, so are bank interest rates.
      If you are going to use the USD directly, there is not much risk, but if you are going to convert it again to CHF, there is a considerable risk. The USD/CHF rate can have huge fluctuations.

      1. Hi Baptiste, thanks for all the info!
        The interest in USD is now 4.5%
        You indeed have the currency risk, but if you invest in US ETF which are on USD you have both the currency risk and the risk of how the ETF will perform. Right?
        So the correct comparison would be 4.5% guaranteed grow or 7% average ETF grow (with whatever risk it might have). Do you think that it is worth the extra risk?

      2. Arnaud was talking about savings rate in Switzerland, that’s why I compared it with that.

        If you want returns and accept some risks, then this will have lower risks than stocks and lower average returns. It’s basically a money market account.
        It’s not guaranteed because it can change any day.

      1. There are always rumors that buying US-listed ETF won’t be possible in the future.

        This was posted on mustachianpost’s forum last month:

        “The Swiss Federal Council has made the decision to align the Swiss deadlines with those for the European PRIIPs KID. As a result, providing a KID will become mandatory from 1 January 2023.”

        I’m not too worried, as I said there have been rumors for many years but nothing ever came of it. I’m just curious if anything changed.

      2. I am not too worried either. The current consensus is that since IB is an execution-only broker, it won’t be impacted by these regulations. But as usual, unless we get a proper official communication, we will have to wait and see.

      1. My US based ETFs on IBs were all locked this week due to this issue. I have no idea why now, but looks like this aforementioned rule is in play.

        Any advice for a workaround? The intention is quite illogical – I am playing it super safe with S&P500 and AllWorld ETFs, now im locked out im forced to consider EU based options I know and much less about. Is this a protectionist play from the EU?

      2. These regulations come for the EU. The official reason is that they want to protect their citizens. But the real reason is almost certainly that they want to favor European funds.

        Don’t rush for a workaround, we may still get them back.

  9. Hi Baptiste, what you are not mentioning at opening an account with IB is their section of residency and Treaty Benefits Qualifications (US), Australian and Canadian Tax certification. How do Swiss tax payers reply to them (“I do not qualify”?)?.
    In terms of income tax declaration I assume we declare our IB accounts in CH and have no obligations to make any other declarations (UK) neither pay any taxes elsewhere.

    Thanks for the answer.

    1. Hi justyna,

      I have a section about optimizing your account that mentions how to get US tax advantages.
      As for Australian and Canadian, I have no clue since I have never used any of their ETFs. And I also see don’t see the interest in their interest since US ETFs are the most tax efficient for Swiss investors.
      That’s correct. Using IB does not make you eligible to pay taxes in other places than Switzerland.

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