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How to register physical share certificates

Physical share certificates (also known as stock certificates) are a form of ownership for certain types of investments. Although 99.9% of trading is now online and electronic, physical shares may still be issued in certificate form for certain companies. Physical share certificates are official documents that state the ownership of shares, and may or may not have restrictions for trading.

This can be common for the following scenarios:

  • Pre-IPO, or IPO investments
  • Employee share purchase plans (ESPP)
  • Vested stocks, or employee stock options

Please note: Due to Covid-19, we are currently not accepting physical share certificates for deposit, please see below for instructions on converting your physical certificates to an electronic format for deposit or transfer.

Transfer agents

A transfer agent is a trust company, bank or other similar financial institution who is assigned by a publicly-traded corporation to maintain investor’s financial records, and act as a depository. Each publicly traded company may have a different transfer agent, and you can usually view your specific transfer agent on the front or back of your physical share certificate. If this information cannot be found on the certificate, you can usually find this information for the company on their website under the ‘investor relations’ area, or simply try an online search for the company name + “transfer agent”.

Some examples of popular transfer agents include:

  • Computershare
  • AST Trust company
  • TSX Trust
  • Solium Capital

If your securities are held in physical certificate form, you will need to contact the issuer’s Transfer Agent to have the holding converted to DRS (Direct Registration System) format. DRS is an electronic version of a physical certificate. Questrade can deposit your DRS securities into your self-directed trading account. This enables you to trade the security in the open market. Check the bottom of this article for detailed instructions regarding depositing your DRS securities at Questrade. 

The Direct Registration System (DRS)

Direct Registration System (DRS) allows registered securities to be held in electronic form without having a physical security certificate issued as evidence of ownership. DRS essentially ‘replaces’ the physical share certificate, and instead the shares are registered electronically with the transfer agent. You are usually issued statements/DRS receipts quarterly, or monthly depending on the specific agent.

  • SwitchArrow How to request a DRS transfer

    Once your shares are registered electronically with the transfer agent, you can easily request a transfer to your Questrade account.

    Requests through transfer agent

    Some transfer agents may be able to start the transfer from their end, if the transfer agent is “starting” the process from their side, please provide them with the following information:

    • Questrade’s CUID code/number: QSTR
    • DTC code/number: 5084
    • Your self-directed Questrade account number

    Please note: Most transfer agents will charge a fee for this service. We can help reimburse up to $150 in transfer fees per transfer. To learn more, please see here.

    Requests through Questrade

    If you’d like to submit the request to Questrade directly, you will need to upload the following documents:

    1. DRS statement (from the transfer agent)
      • Must be issued within 2 months
      • Must show customer name, number of shares, company name and CUSIP
      • Shares must not be under restrictions of any kind, please see below for more information
    2. Letter of direction
    3. For U.S. securities only: Power of Attorney form
      • The original, hand-signed copy must be physically mailed in due to our regulators
      • You must leave “Name of transferee” and “Address of transferee” blank when completing the form

    DRS transfers may take up to 10 business days to process. For international securities (non-USD/CAD) this process can take between 15-20 business days due to the many intermediaries involved. 

    Fees

    DRS transfers cost $300+HST to process per security if started from Questrade.

    If you are transferring to a brand-new Questrade account, you will first need to fund the account with $300+HST to cover the transfer fee before we can begin the process. Fees can only be charged to the destination account for the transfer if you have multiple accounts.

    Restrictions

    Please keep the following restrictions in mind if requesting a DRS transfer:

    • OTC/Pink sheet securities are not eligible for DRS transfer into a Questrade account
    • CSE (.cn) securities are only acceptable for transfer if the following requirements are met:
      • Is currently trading
      • Has a unique CUSIP
      • Eligible for deposit into CDS
      • Is unrestricted (Due to the volatile nature of CSE listed securities)
    • Fractional shares cannot be transferred via DRS
    • Non CDS/DTC eligible securities - Not eligible for transfer
    • 1933 Securities restriction - Not eligible for transfer
    • Date restrictions beyond 1 month in the future - Not eligible for transfer
      • This can be found on the back of the certificate/DRS statement and will usually state: “Cannot be sold/transferred before ‘X’ date”
      • This means we cannot process the transfer until this date

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The information contained in this website is for information purposes only and should not be used or construed as financial or investment advice by any individual. Information obtained from third parties is believed to be reliable, but no representations or warranty, expressed or implied is made by Questrade, Inc., its affiliates or any other person to its accuracy.

Questrade Wealth Management Inc. (QWM) and Questrade, Inc. are wholly owned subsidiaries of Questrade Financial Group Inc. Questrade, Inc. is a registered investment dealer, a member of the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) and a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF), the benefits of which are limited to the activities undertaken by Questrade, Inc. QWM is not a member of IIROC or the CIPF.

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