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How to Open an Interactive Brokers Account in 2024?

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 this example. You can check the kinds of accounts to ensure you choose the one according to your needs. But most people will want either an Individual or a Joint 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 type you want. The primary type of account is a Cash account, which is the type you probably need. A cash account 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. Since I make most of my payments in Swiss Francs (CHF) and live in Switzerland, I chose 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 interface’s display. If you choose CHF, you can still transfer USD and buy shares in EUR, for instance.

Currently, the CHF balance has a positive interest rate. 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.

Stocks, bonds, options, and futures are among many other choices. You must also 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 authentication (2FA). You have no choice. You must configure your mobile phone to use it as 2FA.

2FA is an essential part of online security. First, you need to install IBKR Mobile on your phone. This application is available for Android and iOS.

Once you have installed the application, you can register it as a two-factor authentication for your account. You will have to log in with your username and password, and 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!

Download The FREE e-book
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. Since 2019, he has been 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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412 thoughts on “How to Open an Interactive Brokers Account in 2024?”

  1. Hi,

    I am Swiss and will work with my wife for the next few years (say between 5 ad 15 years) in the USA. Our long term plan is to come back to Switzerland. We want to open an IBKR account, and we are currently trying to decide whether to open it in the USA or in Switzerland. I am unable to find comparison charts online, could you help?


    1. Hi Tom,

      Overall, I think it will little difference. The conditions are the same for Swiss citizens whether you use IB UK or IB US.
      If coming back to Switzerland, I would personally use IB UK since it is closer, but again the conditions are the same.

  2. Hello Baptiste

    I’ll ask you this here because it might help others as well.

    First, thank you! Your articles and consistently kind and informative answers are of great help to many.

    I recently opened an IB account and created my portfolio. It’s not as simple as the one you recommended because I’m investing a lump sum upfront rather than monthly contributions.

    Now, I’ve received an email from IB suggesting there are a few options for a couple of the ETFs I’ve invested in. They mention these alternatives have similar historical performance but lower costs. Here’s the message:

    **IBKR FYI: Mutual Fund/ETF Advisory**

    Dear Client,

    We would like to inform you that there may be Exchange-Traded Funds (“ETFs”) available with similar historical performance and lower fees than the following mutual fund/ETF holdings in your accounts. You can find them by using IBKR’s Mutual Fund Replicator available under the Analytical Tools menu.

    **Mutual Fund/ETF**
    – IWM
    – VNQ

    To unsubscribe from this IBFYI, please click here or modify settings in TWS using the FYI button in Mosaic or in Client Portal via the FYI menu.

    I’m now a bit uncertain about what I should do. Could you suggest or guide me on the best way to proceed?

    Thanks, and best of luck to everyone. Navigating IB is quite challenging, and there’s so much to learn. Each term and option takes time to understand fully.

    Thanks again,

    1. Hi Carla

      If you are happy about your portfolio, you probably do not have to bother about this email.
      It is possible that they may suggest you a slightly cheaper portfolio but it generally ends up being more complicated.
      The problem is that their tool is only available in Trading Workstation (TWS) which is way too complicated for many people. If you are already using TWS, then you should definitely check out the tool, but otherwise, this is unlikely to make a major difference unless your portfolio is poorly optimized.

  3. Hi Baptiste, I’m a Swiss citizen living in Switzerland and with a IBKR account. I invested a little amount to test the account, ca. 1000.- in an ETF: QQQM, which is a Investco Nasdaq ETF denominated in USD and I assume issued in the US.

    Am I somehow liable to pay US taxes or declare it in the US? Do I have to declare something to anyone else besides my Cantonal Tax Office (in my regular tax return)?


  4. Hi Baptiste,
    First I would like to thank you for your amazing articles.
    I read your article about FinPension Invest, I already have my 3rd Pillar with them, and now it will be nice to do investment as well.
    Then I read this article about IB and how I have the possibility to save some fees by investing ETFs by myself. I tried to open an account with them but it get rejected (most probably due to my nationality).
    I’m planning to put couple hundreds monthly in ETFs, so I’m seeking your advise, is it better for me to invest with FinPension (as Robo Advisor), or doing it by myself? (I never traded ETFs by myself before) If it’s the latter, can you please recommend other broker than IB for someone lives in Switzerland?
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Amjad

      I have an article scheduled for next month when I compare Robo-advisors and brokers :)
      Finpension Invest can compare to most Swiss brokers up to large portfolios (100k+) and at a few hundred per month, it will even compare with IB (although it quickly falls short as the portfolio gets larger).
      If you cannot use IB and do not plan on investing very large amounts, Finpension Invest should be an excellent choice.

      1. Thanks for your advise, appreciate it. And I’m looking forward for the next article :)

  5. Hi Baptiste,
    I’ve opened an IBKR account, and set it to non-professional.
    The platform tells me that I am automatically subscribed to complementary services.
    Are these the ones I need to uncheck? These seem t be fee waived rather than a montly subscription
    many thanks!

    1. Hi Andrea

      I do not know what they mean by complementary services. What you need to be careful about are market data subscriptions.
      If the fees are waived, you are good. But be careful that the fees may not be waived for ever.

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