Expiration & Corporate Action Related Liquidations


In addition to the policy of force liquidating client positions in the event of a real-time margin deficiency, IB will also liquidate positions based upon certain expiration or corporate action related events which, after giving effect to, would create undue risk and/or operational concerns.  Examples of such events are outlined below.

Option Exercise

IB reserves the right to prohibit the exercise of stock options and/or close short options if the effect of the exercise/assignment would be to place the account in margin deficit. While the purchase of an option generally requires no margin since the position is paid in full, once exercised the account holder is obligated to either pay for the ensuing long stock position in full (in the case of a call exercised in a cash account or stock subject to 100% margin) or finance the long/short stock position (in the case of a call/put exercised in a margin account).  Accounts which do not have sufficient equity on hand prior to exercise introduce undue risk should an adverse price change in the underlying occur upon delivery. This uncollateralized risk can be especially pronounced and may far exceed any in-the-money value the long option may have held, particularly at expiration when clearinghouses automatically exercise options at in-the-money levels as low as $0.01 per share.

Take, for example, an account whose equity on Day 1 consists solely of 20 long $50 strike call options in hypothetical stock XYZ which have closed at expiration at $1 per contract with the underlying at $51. Assume under Scenario 1 that the options are all auto-exercised and XYZ opens at $51 on Day 2. Assume under Scenario 2 that the options are all auto-exercised and XYZ opens at $48 on Day 2.

Account Balance Pre-Expiration

Scenario 1 - XYZ Opens @ $51

Scenario 2 - XYZ Opens @ $48
$0.00 ($100,000.00) ($100,000.00)
Long Stock   $0.00 $102,000.00 $96,000.00

Long Option*

$2,000.00 $0.00 $0.00
Net Liquidating Equity/(Deficit) $2,000.00 $2,000.00 ($4,000.00)
Margin Requirement
$0.00 $25,500.00 $25,500.00
Margin Excess/(Deficiency) $0.00 ($23,500.00) ($29,500.00)

*Long option has no loan value.

To protect against these scenarios as expiration nears, IB will simulate the effect of expiration assuming plausible underlying price scenarios and evaluating the exposure of each account assuming stock delivery. If the exposure is deemed excessive, IB reserves the right to either: 1) liquidate options prior to expiration; 2) allow the options to lapse; and/or 3) allow delivery and liquidate the underlying at any time.  In addition, the account may be restricted from opening new positions to prevent an increase in exposure.

While IB reserves the right to take these actions, account holders are solely responsible for managing the exercise/assignment risks associated with the positions in their accounts. IB is under no obligation to manage such risks for you.

IB also reserves the right to liquidate positions on the afternoon before settlement if IB’s systems project that the effect of settlement would result in a margin deficit. To protect against these scenarios as expiration nears, IB will simulate the effect of expiration assuming plausible underlying price scenarios and evaluating the exposure of each account after settlement.  For instance, if IB projects that positions will be removed from the account as a result of settlement (e.g., if options will expire out of the money or cash-settled options will expire in the money), IB’s systems will evaluate the margin effect of those settlement events.

If IB determines the exposure is excessive, IB may liquidate positions in the account to resolve the projected margin deficiency.  Account holders may monitor this expiration related margin exposure via the Account window located within the TWS. The projected margin excess will be displayed on the line titled “Post-Expiry Margin” (see below) which, if negative and highlighted in red indicates that your account may be subject to forced position liquidations. This exposure calculation is performed 3 days prior to the next expiration and is updated approximately every 15 minutes.  Note that certain account types which employ a hierarchy structure (e.g., Separate Trading Limit account) will have this information presented only at the master account level where the computation is aggregated.

Note that IB generally initiates expiration related liquidations 2 hours prior to the close, but reserves the right to begin this process sooner or later should conditions warrant. In addition, liquidations are prioritized based upon a number of account-specific criteria including the Net Liquidating Value, projected post-expiration deficit, and the relationship between the option strike price and underlying.


Call Spreads in Advance of Ex-Dividend Date

In the event that you are holding a call spread (long and short calls having the same underlying) prior to an ex-dividend date in the underlying, and if you have not liquidated the spread or exercised the long call(s), IB reserves the right to: i) exercise some or all of the long call(s); and/or ii) liquidate (i.e., close out) some or all of the spreads - if IB, in its sole discretion, anticipates that: a) the short call(s) is (are) likely to be assigned; and b) your account would not ave sufficient equity to satisfy the liability to pay the dividend or to satisfy margin requirements generally.  In the event that IB exercises the long call(s) in this scenario and you are not assigned on the short call(s), you could suffer losses. Likewise, if IB liquidates some or all of your spread position, you may suffer losses or incur an investment result that was not your objective.

In order to avoid this scenario, you should carefully review your option positions and your account equity prior to any ex-dividend date of the underlying and you should manage your risk and your account accordingly.


Physically Delivered Futures

With the exception of certain futures contracts having currencies as their underlying, IB generally does not allow clients to make or receive delivery of the underlying for physically settled futures or futures option contracts. To avoid deliveries in an expiring contract, clients must either roll the contract forward or close the position prior to the Close-Out Deadline specific to that contract (a list of which is provided on the website). 

Note that it is the client’s responsibility to be aware of the Close-Out Deadline and physically delivered contracts which are not closed out within the specified time frame may be liquidated by IB without prior notification.

Considerations for Optimizing Order Efficiency

Account holders are encouraged to routinely monitor their order submissions with the objective of optimizing efficiency and minimizing 'wasted' or non-executed orders.  As inefficient orders have the potential to consume a disproportionate amount of system resources. IB measures the effectiveness of client orders through the Order Efficiency Ratio (OER).  This ratio compares aggregate daily order activity relative to that portion of activity which results in an execution and is determined as follows:


OER = (Order Submissions + Order Revisions + Order Cancellations) / (Executed Orders + 1)

Outlined below is a list of considerations which can assist with optimizing (reducing) one's OER:


1. Cancellation of Day Orders - strategies which use 'Day' as the Time in Force setting and are restricted to Regular Trading Hours should not initiate order cancellations after 16:00 ET, but rather rely upon IB processes which automatically act to cancel such orders. While the client initiated cancellation request which serve to increase the OER, IB's cancellation will not.

2. Modification vs. Cancellation - logic which acts to cancel and subsequently replace orders should be substituted with logic which simply modifies the existing orders. This will serve to reduce the process from two order actions to a single order action, thereby improving the OER.

3. Conditional Orders - when utilizing strategies which involve the pricing of one product relative to another, consideration should be given to minimizing unnecessary price and quantity order modifications. As an example, an order modification based upon a price change should only be triggered if the prior price is no longer competitive and the new suggested price is competitive.

4. Meaningful Revisions – logic which serves to modify existing orders without substantially increasing the likelihood of the modified order interacting with the NBBO should be avoided. An example of this would be the modification of a buy order from $30.50 to $30.55 on a stock having a bid-ask of $31.25 - $31.26.

5. RTH Orders – logic which modifies orders set to execute solely during Regular Trading Hours based upon price changes taking place outside those hours should be optimized to only make such modifications during or just prior to the time at which the orders are activated.

6. Order Stacking - Any strategy that incorporates and transmits the stacking of orders on the same side of a particular underlying should minimize transmitting those that are not immediately marketable until the orders which have a greater likelihood of interacting with the NBBO have executed.

7. Use of IB Order Types - as the revision logic embedded within IB-supported order types is not considered an order action for the purposes of the OER, consideration should be given to using IB order types, whenever practical, as opposed to replicating such logic within the client order management logic. Logic which is commonly initiated by clients and whose behavior can be readily replicated by IB order types include: the dynamic management of orders expressed in terms of an options implied volatility (Volatility Orders), orders to set a stop price at a fixed amount relative to the market price (Trailing Stop Orders), and orders designed to automatically maintain a limit price relative to the NBBO (Pegged-to-Market Orders).

The above is not intended to be an exhaustive list of steps for optimizing one's orders but rather those which address the most frequently observed inefficiencies in client order management logic, are relatively simple to implement and which provide the opportunity for substantive and enduring improvements. For further information or questions, please contact the Customer Service Technical Assistance Center.


Structured Products: Issuer Links

Structured Products Web Links

Below are links to the relevant exchanges' product pages and issuer listings. The listings include links to the issuers' web sites.

The exchange web sites provide search tools, product overviews and analytics. Only the issuers' web sites can be relied upon for fully up to date details, including term sheets and other legal documentation.


Frankfurt Exchange

Stuttgart Exchange


The Netherlands






Overview of SEC Fees

Under Section 31 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, U.S. national securities exchanges are obligated to pay transaction fees to the SEC based on the volume of securities that are sold on their markets. Exchange rules require their broker-dealer members to pay a share of these fees who, in turn, pass the responsibility of paying the fees to their customers.

This fee is intended to allow the SEC to recover costs associated with its supervision and regulation of the U.S. securities markets and securities professionals. It applies to stocks, options and single stock futures (on a round turn basis); however, IB does not pass on the fee in the case of single stock futures trades.  Note that this fee is assessed only to the sale side of security transactions, thereby applying to the grantor of an option (fee based upon the option premium received at time of sale) and the exerciser of a put or call assignee (fee based upon option strike price).

For the fiscal year 2016 the fee was assessed at a rate of $0.0000218 per $1.00 of sales proceeds, however, the rate is subject to annual and,in some cases, mid-year adjustments should realized transaction volume generate fees sufficiently below or in excess of targeted funding levels.1

Examples of the transactions impacted by this fee and sample calculations are outlined in the table below.


Subject to Fee?



Stock Purchase




Stock Sale (cost plus commission option)


Sell 1,000 shares MSFT@ $25.87

$0.0000218 * $25.87 * 1,000 = $0.563966

Call Purchase




Put Purchase




Call Sale


Sell 10 MSFT June ’11 $25 calls @ $1.17

$0.0000218 * $1.17 * 100 * 10 = $0.025506

Put Sale


Sell 10 MSFT June ’11 $25 puts @ $0.41

$0.0000218 * $0.41 * 100 * 10 = $0.008938

Call Exercise




Put Exercise


Exercise of 10 MSFT June ’11 $25 puts

$0.0000218 * $25.00 * 100 * 10 = $0.545

Call Assignment


Assignment of 10 MSFT June ’11 $25 calls

$0.0000218 * $25.00 * 100 * 10 = $0.545

Put Assignment





1Information regarding current Section 31 fees may be found on the SEC's Frequently Requested Documents page located at: http://www.sec.gov/divisions/marketreg/mrfreqreq.shtml#feerate



FAQs - U.S. Securities Option Expiration


The following page has been created in attempt to assist traders by providing answers to frequently asked questions related to US security option expiration, exercise, and assignment.  Please feel free to contact us if your question is not addressed on this page or to request the addition of a question and answer. 

Click on a question in the table of contents to jump to the question in this document.

Table Of Contents:

How do I provide exercise instructions?

Do I have to notify IB if I want my long option exercised?

What if I have a long option which I do not want exercised?

What can I do to prevent the assignment of a short option?

Is it possible for a short option which is in-the-money not to be assigned?

What happens if I have a spread position with an in-the-money option and an out-of-the-money option?

Can IB exercise the out-of-the-money long leg of my spread position only if my in-the-money short leg is assigned?

What happens to my long stock position if a short option which is part of a covered write is assigned?

Am I charged a commission for exercise or assignments?

What happens if I am unable to meet the margin requirement on a stock delivery resulting from an option exercise or assignment?



How do I provide exercise instructions?
Instructions are to be entered through the TWS Option Exercise window. Procedures for exercising an option using the IB Trader Workstation can be found in the TWS User's Guide.

Important Note: In the event that an option exercise cannot be submitted via the TWS, an option exercise request with all pertinent details (including option symbol, account number and exact quantity), should be created in a ticket via the Account Management window. In the Account Management window, click on "Inquiry/Problem Ticket". The ticket should include the words "Option Exercise Request" in the subject line. Please provide a contact number and clearly state in your ticket why the TWS Option Exercise window was not available for use.

back to top


Do I have to notify IB if I want my long option exercised?

In the case of exchange listed U.S. securities options, the clearinghouse (OCC) will automatically exercise all cash and physically settled options which are in-the-money by at least $0.01 at expiration (e.g., a call option having a strike price of $25.00 will be automatically exercised if the stock price is $25.01 or more and a put option having a strike price of $25.00 will be automatically exercised if the stock price is $24.99 or less). In accordance with this process, referred to as exercise by exception, account holders are not required to provide IB with instructions to exercise any long options which are in-the-money by at least $0.01 at expiration. 

Important Note: in certain situations (e.g., underlying stock halt, corporate action), OCC may elect to remove a particular class of options from the exercise by exception process, thereby requiring the account holder to provide positive notice of their intent to exercise their long option contracts regardless of the extent they may be in-the-money. In these situations, IB will make every effort to provide advance notice to the account holder of their obligation to respond, however, account holders purchasing such options on the last day of trading are not likely to be afforded any notice.

 back to top


What if I have a long option which I do not want exercised?
If a long option is not in-the-money by at least $0.01 at expiration it will not be automatically exercised by OCC. If it is in-the-money by at least that amount and you do not wish to have it exercised, you would need to provide IB with contrary instructions to let the option lapse. These instructions would need to be entered through the TWS Option Exercise window prior to the deadline as stated on the IB website.

back to top


What can I do to prevent the assignment of a short option?
The only action one can take to prevent being assigned on a short option position is to buy back in the option prior to the close of trade on its last trading day (for equity options this is usually the Friday preceding the expiration date although there may also be weekly expiring options for certain classes). When you sell an option, you provided the purchaser with the right to exercise which they generally will do if the option is in-the-money at expiration.

back to top


Is it possible for a short option which is in-the-money not to be assigned?
While is unlikely that holders of in-the-money long options will elect to let the option lapse without exercising them, certain holders may do so due to transaction costs or risk considerations. In conjunction with its expiration processing, OCC will assign option exercises to short position holders via a random lottery process which, in turn, is applied by brokers to their customer accounts. It is possible through these random processes that short positions in your account be part of those which were not assigned.

back to top

What happens if I have a spread position with an in-the-money option and an out-of-the-money option?
Spread positions can have unique expiration risks associated with them. For example, an expiring spread where the long option is in-the-money by less than $0.01 and the short leg is in-the-money more than $0.01 may expire unhedged. Account holders are ultimately responsible for taking action on such positions and responsible for the risks associated with any unhedged spread leg expiring in-the-money.


Can IB exercise the out-of-the-money long leg of my spread position only if my in-the-money short leg is assigned?
No. There is no provision for issuing conditional exercise instructions to OCC. OCC determines the assignment of options based upon a random process which is initiated only after the deadline for submitting all exercise instructions has ended. In order to avoid the delivery of a long or short underlying stock position when only the short leg of an option spread is in-the-money at expiration, the account holder would need to either close out that short position or consider exercising an at-the-money long option.

back to top


What happens to my long stock position if a short option which is part of a covered write is assigned?
If the short call leg of a covered write position is assigned, the long stock position will be applied to satisfy the stock delivery obligation on the short call. The price at which that long stock position will be closed out is equal to the short call option strike price.

back to top


Am I charged a commission for exercise or assignments?
There is no commissions charged as the result of the delivery of a long or short position resulting from option exercise or assignment of a U.S. security option (note that this is not always the case for non-U.S. options).

back to top


What happens if I am unable to meet the margin requirement on a stock delivery resulting from an option exercise or assignment?
You should review your positions prior to expiration to determine whether you have adequate equity in your account to exercise your options. You should also determine whether you have adequate equity in the account if an in-the-money short option position is assigned to your account. You should also be aware that short options positions may be exercised against you by the long holder even if the option is out-of-the-money.

If you anticipate that you will be unable to meet the margin requirement on a stock delivery resulting from an option exercise or assignment, you should either close positions or deposit additional funds to your account to meet the anticipated post-delivery margin requirement.

If an option exercise or assignment results in the delivery of a long or short stock position and the account holder does not maintain sufficient equity to meet the ensuing margin requirement, IB may liquidate positions to restore margin compliance. While IB retains the right to liquidate at any time in such situations, liquidations involving U.S. security positions will typically begin at approximately 9:40 AM ET as of the business day following expiration.

back to top

SPX Weekly Settlement Changes (SPXW)

In the first week of December 2010, CBOE will transition from the current AM-settled SPX Weeklys product to a PM-settled SPX Week-End product. The last AM-settled Weeklys will expire on Friday, December 3, 2010. The first PM-settled SPX Week-End options will begin on Thursday, December 2, 2010 and expire on Friday, December 10, 2010, thus allowing overlap of one trading day between the two. Following this transition, no further AM-settled SPX Weeklys will be listed. The trading symbol for the new PM-settled SPX Week-End product will be SPXW which will be tied to the SPX index underlying.

Launch of P.M.-Settled End of Week (i.e. Week-End) SPX Options on Thursday, December 2, 2010

  • Regulatory Circular RG10-112
  • TO: Trading Permit Holders
  • FROM: CBOE Research and Product Development
  • DATE: October 28, 2010
  • SUBJECT: Launch of P.M.-Settled End of Week (i.e. ?Week-End?) SPX Options on Thursday, December 2, 2010


  • On Thursday, December 2, 2010, CBOE will commence trading of PM-settled End of Week (?Week-Ends?) SPX Options for expiration on Friday, December 10, 2010.
  • With the commencement of trading in Week-End SPX Options, CBOE will discontinue the listing of AM-settled SPX Weeklys options, although they will be available during the month of November (expiring November 5, November 12 and November 26), with the last expiring on Friday, December 3.

The listing of the initial Week-End SPX options on Thursday, December 2 will allow for a one-day roll period between the SPX Weeklys options that expire on December 3 and the initial Week-End SPX options that expire on Friday, December 10. Initially, Week-End SPX Options will be listed on Thursdays of the week prior to their expiration.



  • Symbol: SPXW
  • Description:
    • Week-End SPX options are PM-settled, European-style exercise options that may be listed for trading to expire on any Friday of the month, other than the third Friday of the month.
    • The Standard & Poor's 500 Index is a capitalization-weighted index of 500 stocks from a broad range of industries. The component stocks are weighted according to the total market value of their outstanding shares. The impact of a component's price change is proportional to the issue's total market value, which is the share price times the number of shares outstanding. These are summed for all 500 stocks and divided by a predetermined base value. The base value for the
    • S&P 500 Index is adjusted to reflect changes in capitalization resulting from mergers, acquisitions, stock rights, substitutions, etc.
  • Multiplier: $100.
  • Premium Quote: Stated in decimals. One point equals $100. Minimum tick for options trading below 3.00 is 0.05 ($5.00) and for all other series, 0.10 ($10.00).
  • Strike Prices: In-,at- and out-of-the-money strike prices are initially listed. New series are generally added when the underlying trades through the highest or lowest strike price available.
  • Strike Price Intervals: Five points.
  • Expiration Dates: Any Friday of the month, other than the third Friday of the month.
  • Exercise Style: European - Week-End SPX options generally may be exercised only on the expiration date.
  • Last Trading Day: Trading in End of Week SPX options ordinarily cease trading on the business day (usually a Friday) that the options expire.
  • Settlement Value: The exercise-settlement value, SPX, is calculated using the last (closing) reported sales price in the primary market of each component stock on the last trading day. The exercise- settlement amount is equal to the difference between the exercise-settlement value, SPX, and the exercise price of the option, multiplied by $100. Exercise will result in delivery of cash on the business day following the day the exercise notice is properly submitted.
  • Position and Exercise Limits, Reporting Requirements: As part of the SPX options class, there are no position limits for End of Week SPX options.
    • Positions in Week-End SPX options shall be aggregated with positions in SPX options for the purposes of satisfying the reporting requirements under Interpretation and Policy .03 to Rule 24.4, which, among other things, requires each TPH (other than a market maker) to submit a report to the CBOE whenever they maintain an aggregated position in SPX options in excess of 100,000 contracts. The TPH must report information as to whether such position is hedged and, if so, a description of the hedge employed, e.g., stock portfolio current market value, other stock index option positions, stock index futures positions, options on stock index futures; and for customer accounts, provide the account name, account number and tax ID or social security number. Thereafter, if the position is maintained at or above the reporting threshold, asubsequent report is required on Monday following expiration and when any change to the hedge results in the position being either unhedged or only partially hedged. Reductions below these thresholds do not need to be reported.
  • Position and exercise limits are subject to change.
  • Margin: Purchases of puts or calls with 9 months or less until expiration must be paid for in full. Writers of uncovered puts or calls must deposit / maintain 100% of the option proceeds* plus 15% of the aggregate contract value (current index level x $100) minus the amount by which the option is out-of-the-money, if any, subject to a minimum for calls of option proceeds* plus 10% of the aggregate contract value and a minimum for puts of option proceeds* plus 10% of the aggregate exercise price amount. (*For calculating maintenance margin, use option current market value instead of option proceeds.) Additional margin may be required pursuant to Exchange Rule 12.10.
  • Cusip Number: TBD
  • Trading Hours: 8:30 a.m. - 3:15 p.m. Central Time (Chicago time).
  • If you have any questions about this memorandum may be directed to the Help Desk at 1- 866-728-2263.

Information regarding restrictions on Swiss Warrants

Interactive Brokers supports cash settled standard warrants listed for trading on the SWX Swiss exchange.  This includes  a number of share warrants and all index, commodity and currency warrants.

Share Warrants with physical delivery are not supported at this time.

Overview of Fees

Clients and as well as prospective clients are encouraged to review our website where fees are outlined in detail. An overview of the most common fees is provided below:


1. Commissions - vary by product type and listing exchange and whether you elect a bundled (all in) or unbundled plan. In the case of US stocks, for example, we charge $0.005 per share with a minimum per trade of $1.00.

2. Interest - interest is charged on margin debit balances and IB uses internationally recognized benchmarks on overnight deposits as a basis for determining interest rates. We then apply a spread around the benchmark interest rate (“BM”) in tiers, such that larger cash balances receive increasingly better rates, to determine an effective rate.  For example, in the case of USD denominated loans, the benchmark rate is the Fed Funds effective rate and a spread of 1.5% is added to the benchmark for balances up to $100,000.  In addition, individuals who short stock should be aware of special fees expressed in terms of daily interest where the stock borrowed to cover the short stock sale is considered 'hard-to-borrow'. 

 3. Exchange Fees - again vary by product type and exchange. For example, in the case of US securities options, certain exchanges charge a fee for removing liquidity (market order or marketable limit order) and provide payments for orders which add liquidity (limit order). In addition, many exchanges charge fees for orders which are canceled or modified.

4. Market Data - you are not required to subscribe to market data through IB but if you do you may incur a monthly fee which is dependent upon the vendor exchange and their subscription offering. We provide a Market Data Assistant tool which assists in selecting the appropriate market data subscription service available based upon the product you wish to trade. To access, log into Account Management click on the Tools icon and then the IB Market Data Assistant link.

5. Minimum Monthly Activity Fee - as we cater to active traders we require accounts to generate a minimum in commissions each month or be charged the difference as an activity fee. The minimum is $10 per month for accounts maintaining a balance above $2,000 and $20 per month for accounts whose equity has fallen below $2,000.

6. Miscellaneous - IB allows for one free withdrawal per month and charges a fee for each subsequent withdrawal. In addition, there are certain pass-through fees for trade bust requests, options and futures exercise & assignments and ADR custodian fees.

For additional information, we recommend visiting our website at ww.interactivebrokers.com and from the Individuals page select the Fees menu option at the top of the page.


Equity & Index Option Position Limits


Equity option exchanges define position limits for designated equity options classes.  These limits define position quantity limitations in terms of the equivalent number of underlying shares (described below) which cannot be exceeded at any time on either the bullish or bearish side of the market.  Account positions in excess of defined position limits may be subject to trade restriction or liquidation at any time without prior notification.


Position limits are defined on regulatory websites and may change periodically.  Some contracts also have near-term limit requirements (near-term position limits are applied to the side of the market for those contracts that are in the closest expiring month issued).  Traders are responsible for monitoring their positions as well as the defined limit quantities to ensure compliance.  The following information defines how position limits are calculated;


Option position limits are determined as follows:

  • Bullish market direction -- long call & short put positions are aggregated and quantified in terms of equivalent shares of stock.
  • Bearish market direction -- long put & short call positions are aggregated and quantified in terms of equivalent shares of stock.

The following examples, using the 25,000 option contract limit, illustrate the operation of position limits:

  • Customer A, who is long 25,000 XYZ calls, may at the same time be short 25,000 XYZ calls, since long and short positions in the same class of options (i.e., in calls only or in puts only) are on opposite sides of the market and are not aggregated
  • Customer B, who is long 25,000 XYZ calls, may at the same time be long 25,000 XYZ puts. Rule 4.11 does not require the aggregation of long call and long put (or short call and short put) positions, since they are on opposite sides of the market.
  • Customer C, who is long 20,000 XYZ calls, may not at the same time be short more than 5,000 XYZ puts, since the 25,000 contract limit applies to the aggregate position of long calls and short puts in options covering the same underlying security. Similarly, if Customer C is also short 20,000 XYZ calls, he may not at the same time have a long position of more than 5,000 XYZ puts, since the 25,000 contract limit applies separately to the aggregation of short call and long put positions in options covering the same underlying security.


Notifications and restrictions:


IB will send notifications to customers regarding the option position limits at the following times:

  • When a client exceeds 85% of the allowed limit IB will send a notification indicating this threshold has been exceeded
  • When a client exceeds 95% of the allowed limit IB will place the account in closing only. This state will be maintained until the account falls below 85% of the allowed limit. New orders placed that would increase the position will be rejected.



Position limits are set on the long and short side of the market separately (and not netted out).
Traders can use an underlying stock position as a "hedge" if they are over the limit on the long or short side (index options are reviewed on a case by case basis for purposes of determining which securities constitute a hedge).
Position information is aggregated across related accounts and accounts under common control.


Definition of related accounts:

IB considers related accounts to be any account in which an individual may be viewed as having influence over trading decisions. This includes, but is not limited to, aggregating an advisor sub-account with the advisor's account (and accounts under common control), joint accounts with individual accounts for the joint parties and organization accounts (where an individual is listed as an officer or trader) with other accounts for that individual.


Position limit exceptions:

Regulations permit clients to exceed a position limit if the positions under common control are hedged positions as specified by the relevant exchange. In general the hedges permitted by the US regulators that are recognized in the IB system include outright stock position hedges, conversions, reverse conversions and box spreads. Currently collar and reverse collar strategies are not supported hedges in the IB system. For more detail about the permissible hedge exemptions refer to the rules of the self regulatory organization for the relevant product.

OCC posts position limits defined by the option exchanges.   They can be found here.

Priority or Professional Customer Orders

In the 4th quarter of 2009, certain U.S. option exchanges (CBOE, ISE) implemented rules which serve to distinguish orders originating from a group of public customers deemed to be "Professional" (i.e., persons or entities having access to information and/or technology which enables them to trade in a manner as a broker dealer) as opposed to retail.  In accordance with these rules, any customer account which is not a broker dealer and which places more than 390 listed option orders (whether executed or not) on a daily average across all option exchanges in a given month for its own beneficial account(s) will be classified as Professional. Since the original implementation by CBOE and ISE, most other U.S. options exchanges have similarly implemented rules to distinguish orders as "Professional" in origin.

Orders submitted on behalf of Professional customers to these option exchanges will be treated the same as broker dealers for purposes of execution priority and will be subject to a per contract transaction fee ranging from rebates of ($0.65) to a charge of $1.12 (depending upon the class of options). 

Brokers are required to conduct a review on a calendar quarter basis to identify those customers who have exceeded the 390 order threshold for any month in that quarter and who are to be designated as Professional for the next calendar quarter. Note that for purposes of this rule, spread orders are considered a single order, rather than each leg of the spread as an individual order. Customers impacted by these rules will be notified by IB.  In addition, IB's Smart order router is designed to take these new exchange fees into consideration when making routing decisions.

For additional details, please see the following links:

ISE Regulatory Circular 2009-179

CBOE Regulatory Circular RG09-148

Syndicate content