How do I find out about the status of my account application?

Once you have completed the on-line portion of the application, you will be provided with a list of any documentation required to be submitted in order to verify the identity and/or address of the account holder as well as forms of documentation which will satisfy the request. Documentation may be submitted via fax or email (i.e., scanned documents).

While waiting for this documentation, the application will be reviewed to determine whether clarification is required for any responses provided during the course of the application.  This is most often the case where the applicant  is unemployed or retired, warranting additional due diligence in order to ensure that the applicant's financial qualifications are sufficient. 

Once IB has received the necessary documentation and clarifying responses, a decision will be made regarding account approval.  Applicants will be informed of that decision via e-mail and may log in through the Complete Application link to view the current application status.

Margin oversight for U.S. listed securities & commodities products

The particular regulation which determines the minimum amount of margin collateral that each broker is required to collect from clients transacting in U.S. exchange listed products generally depends upon the following 3 factors:

1. Product Classification - the principal determinant of regulatory oversight is based upon whether the product is classified as a security or commodity. Security products, including stocks, bonds, options and mutual funds are regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).  Commodity products, which include futures contracts and options on futures contracts, are regulated by the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).  Single stock futures, a special class of futures contracts, are considered a hybrid product subject to joint regulation by the SEC and CFTC.

In the case of security products, the US central bank referred to as the Federal Reserve (FRB) holds responsibility for regulating the extension of credit by brokers and dealers.  This is accomplished through Regulation T, or Reg T as it is commonly referred, which provides for establishment of a margin account and which imposes the initial margin requirement and payment rules on certain securities transactions.  For example, on stock purchases, Reg T currently requires an initial margin deposit by the client equal to of 50% of the purchase value, allowing the broker to extend credit or finance the remaining 50%.  Reg T does not establish margin requirements for securities options which fall under the jurisdiction of exchange rules (subject to SEC approval).  In addition, the FRB has excluded from Reg T the authority to establish either initial or maintenance margin requirements on securities positions held in a portfolio margining account.  here margin authority resides with the security exchanges whose rules are subject to SEC approval. 

The authority for establishing margin rates on commodity products resides with the listing exchanges, with the exception of broad based stock index futures, for which the FRB has delegated authority to the CFTC.

In the case of single stock futures, margin is set by the listing exchange and subject to SEC approval to the extent the position is carried in a securities account, and subject to an agreement that the margin be equivalent whether held in a securities or commodities account.  Margin for single stock futures are currently set at 20% of the underlying stock value.

2. Initial or Maintenance - initial margin generally refers to the amount of money or its equivalent that the customer must deposit in order to initiate the position and maintenance margin the amount of equity which must be maintained in order to continue holding the position. As noted above, Reg T controls the initial margin requirement on securities transactions.  The rules of the listing exchanges specify the maintenance margin requirements on security transactions subject to SEC approval.  The maintenance margin requirement for long stock positions is currently set at 25% although brokers often establish 'house margin' requirements in excess of that, particularly where the security is considered low-priced or subject to volatile price changes.

Commodities exchanges establish both the initial and maintenance margin requirements for products which they list (subject to provisions for broad based index futures and single stock futures as noted above).

3. Listing Exchange - as noted above, in the case of US securities products the listing exchange has the authority to establish rules for the maintenance margin requirement on positions held in a Reg T margin account and initial and maintenance margin (currently the same) for positions held in a portfolio margin account. Exchange margin rules, however, require prior SEC approval which acts to ensure that margin requirements are set  in a consistent manner across exchanges.  

Subject to the provisions noted above, commodities exchanges maintain authority to establish both initial and maintenance margin requirements.  As a general rule, US commodities exchanges employ the same risk-based margining methodology referred to as SPAN for determining the margin requirement on listed positions with each exchange specifying the relevant SPAN input factors (e.g., Price Scan Range, Volatility Scan Range, Spread Charges, Combined Commodity offsets).

Glossary terms: 

Tips for selecting your security questions and answers

The security questions represent just one component of the security framework which IB has put into place to protect your account. We offer the following simple tips for selecting your security questions and answers in order to make the most effective use of this security measure:

1. Choose questions having answers that you can remember in the future and answer consistently.

2. Use one-word answers whenever possible.

3. Be careful with spaces. If you use "San Diego" as an answer to one of your security questions, the system will reject "SanDiego."

4. Avoid using quirky or nonsensical answers as they'll likely to be difficult to remember later.

5. Select a question which cannot be easily guessed or researched, has many possible answers and where the probability of guessing the correct answer is low.

6. Select a question for which the answer is unlikely to be known by others such as a family member, close friend, relative, ex-spouse, or significant other.

7. Choose a question having an answer which is stable and not likely to change over time.

What is the purpose of the security questions?

IB requires applicants to select and provide answers to three security questions each selected from a separate pool of questions having varying degrees of complexity. In the event we receive a telephone inquiry involving sensitive information, prior to acknowledging or discussing any account specific information with the caller we will first look to verify that caller's identity. This is accomplished through a multi-tier security process, one tier which requires that the caller answer a randomly selected security question.  The caller must provide an answer to the security question which exactly matches the answer we have on file. Otherwise, the request for information will be denied and a potential lock-down placed upon the account.

Am I required to fund my account prior to application approval?

While applicants are required to provide IB with notification as to the amount they intend to fund their account with and the manner in which they fund the account in order to have the application considered for approval, there is no requirement that the funding actually take place prior to approval.   

Applicants may nevertheless elect to remit funds via wire, check or electronic funds transfer (e.g., ACH, EFT) prior to receiving confirmation of account approval in an effort to accelerate commencement of any credit hold period. It should be noted, however, that deposits received prior to account approval are held in suspense and are not credited to the account nor eligible to accrue interest until the application has been approved.  In the case where the applicant has authorized IB to fund the account via asset transfer (e.g., ACATS, ATON) from another broker, IB will not initiate the transfer until the application has been approved.

Overview of Secure Login System

The security of your assets and personal information is of utmost concern to us and we are committed to taking the steps necessary to make certain you are protected from the moment you open up your account.  

To provide you with the highest level of online security, Interactive Brokers has implemented a Secure Login System (SLS) through which access to your account is subject to two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication serves to confirm your identity at the point of login using two security factors: 1) Something you know (your username and password combination); and 2) Something you have (an IB issued security device which generates a random, single-use security code). As both knowledge of your username/password and physical possession of the security device are required to login to your account, participation in the Secure Login System virtually eliminates the possibility of anyone other than you accessing your account.
 
Benefits of Enrollment
The principal benefit of SLS enrollment is to protect your account from unauthorized access. There is no fee associated with enrollment[1] and participants have the added benefits of: 1) higher withdrawals thresholds over both single and five day periods; 2) ability to change your banking instructions and email address without contact from a member of our Security Team; 3) ability to effect ACH & EFT funding transactions beyond an initial USD 20,000 account funding transaction; and 4) the ability to share a single device across multiple like accounts.
 
How to Enroll
Enrollment is easy. In the case of new applicants, you will be provided with an email link with instructions for printing and activating an on-line security card during the account configuration step of the online application. This on-line card is intended as a temporary device expiring 21 days after your account has been funded, during which time a permanent device will be shipped to you. Once you receive your permanent device and follow the instructions for its activation, your on-line card will be automatically de-activated and may be disposed. It’s important to note that the permanent devices are set to automatically activate after a set timeframe if not manually activated by the account holder. If this is the case and you encounter difficulties logging into your account, please contact our Technical Assistance Department via telephone.
 
If you are an existing user and haven’t already enrolled in SLS, you will need to log into Account Management and select the Manage Account, Security, Secure Login System and then Security Device menu options. You will be presented with a screen displaying the device that you will receive and through which you will confirm your address of record.
 
Lost, Damaged or Temporarily Unavailable Device
In the case of a lost, damaged or temporarily unavailable security device, you will need to contact your regional Customer Service Center via telephone to arrange for a replacement and/or to provide for interim access. Once your identity has been verified you will be provided a temporary passcode (i.e., a static alpha-numeric code which replaces the random code supplied by your security device) that will allow you to log into your Account Management and print the on-line security card. The on-line card will provide interim access for up to 21 days, sufficient time for a replacement device to be shipped or, should your device be temporarily unavailable, time to regain possession and re-activate your permanent device.  See KB1943 for instructions on requesting a replacement device.
 
Types of Devices
IB provides a range of security devices, each tailored to meet the portability and security needs of your particular account. Once funded, account holders will receive one of following three permanent security devices:  
 
1. Security Code Card - This resembles a credit card with 224 alpha-numeric codes.
 
2. Digital Security Card - This resembles a credit card with touch keypad and LCD display.
 
3. Digital Security Card+ - Similar to the Digital Security Card, but requiring entry of a challenge code as an additional layer of protection.
  
For Additional Information 
See KB1042 for video instructions on logging in with the Secure Code Card.

[1] If your device is lost, damaged or stolen or if you close your account and fail to return the device, a charge will be assessed to cover its cost. This charge, which is a function of the device provided, ranges from 20.00 – 150.00 USD.

 

Why am I required to provide a W-8 if I am not a US citizen or resident?

As IB LLC is a carrying broker domiciled in the U.S., it is required to report information and, in certain instances, make payment of withholding taxes to the U.S. tax authority, the Internal Revenue Service for all account holders. To certify oneself as a non-U.S. person, a Form W-8 is requested at the time of application and is required to be re-certified every three years thereafter. If IB does not receive the W-8 or the account holder fails to re-certify the W-8 in a timely manner, then the account holder is presumed to be a US person and, absent a W-9, may then be subject to back-up withholding taxes on interest, dividends and substitute payments in lieu, as well as gross proceeds.

By certifying yourself as a non-U.S. person through a properly completed W-8, your U.S. withholding is limited to dividends issued by US corporations. Note that virtually all countries apply withholding taxes when local companies seek to distribute dividends to externally based shareholders (whether those shareholders are corporate or not). The rate at which IB is obligated to withhold for a given payment depends largely upon whether there is a tax treaty in place between the country where the dividend paying country is based and the country of residence of the dividend recipient.

Application Assistance - Registration Confirmation Number

The Registration Confirmation Number is a random numeric code sent to the applicant's email address which serves to register the email address as valid once the number has been retrieved and entered into the application. Failure to receive the email containing this number can generally be attributed to one of two causes:

1. Service Provider Delay - Most email messages are delivered within a few minutes, although messages can sometimes be delayed as they move from point to point to their ultimate destination, the recipient’s email client. Once the email containing the Registration Confirmation Number is sent from the IB mail server it is tracked to ensure it reaches the mail server of the recipient’s service provider, however, IB is unable to track status beyond that point. Most cases of delayed email are due to slow or overloaded mail servers and in rare instances delays can last for several hours or more.
 
2. False Spam Detection – most service providers have spam filters and other checks they run on incoming emails and oftentimes legitimate messages can inadvertently be flagged as spam. The techniques used to block email traffic that is judged extremely likely to be spam vary by provider and as a general rule are not disclosed..
 
If, after a reasonable time, you fail to receive this email, the first step should be to review and ensure that the email address you’ve provided has been entered correctly. This address is displayed on the application page where token entry is required and if incorrect, simply re-enter the correct address on that page. If that address is correct you may wish to request that another Registration Confirmation Number be sent by clicking on the Request Confirmation # button.
 
If the problem persists, check the Junk or Spam folder in your email account. Most service providers also allow users to create a White List of contacts that the user deems as acceptable for delivery of messages to the In box. This can typically be accomplished by adding the following IB address to your Contacts List: help@interactivebrokers.com and then requesting another Registration Confirmation Number.
 
Should that step all fail, you may wish to contact your service provider and inquire as to the status of their mail server and whether they have a block in place on the IB mail address. If your ISP cannot provide a satisfactory answer to your inquiry, we recommend that you use an alternate email account to resend the email. You may then subsequently change your email address at a later date.

 

Which Tax Form Should I Select?

Overview: 

3 simple questions can help you choose a tax certification form.   Read the questions and select the form.  For more detailed help, see Tax Information & Reporting.

Question # 1:      Are you a U.S. Person or a U.S. Entity?

• U.S. Citizen • U.S. Business or Organization
• U.S. Green Card Holder • U.S. Domestic Trust
                                       • U.S. Legal Resident

If the answer is YES, complete Form W-9

If the answer is NO, go to # 2.

Question # 2:      Do you have a U.S. Visa?

 

• H-1B Visa Holder • TN Visa Holder         
                                         • O-1 Visa Holder

If the answer is YES, find your status by the "substantial presence test." See More U.S. Legal Resident Info 

If the answer is NO, go to # 3.

Question # 3:      Are you a Legal Resident or Entity of another country?

                                      *Question does Not apply to U.S. Citizens/Entities or Green Card Holders

• Permanent Home Outside of U.S • Entity Formed Outside of U.S.
                                      •Business or Organization formed outside of U.S.

If the answer is YES, complete Form W-8  (U.S. Citizens, Green Card Holders, and Entities still complete the W-9.)

NOT SURE because you work, live, or study in the U.S. then, see More U.S. Legal Resident Info 

 

Disclaimer:  IB does not provide tax advice. These statements are provided for information purposes only, are not intended to constitute tax advice which may be relied upon to avoid penalties under any international, federal, state, local or other tax statutes or regulations, and do not resolve any tax issues in your favor. We recommend that you consult a qualified tax adviser or refer to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.

Certify Your Tax Status

Overview: 

Filling out a tax certification form is required to open an IB account.  The forms confirm your tax status in relation to the United States.  Information provided by you may lower or exempt the U.S. tax withholding on your account.

Background: 

This article will help you to:

►Choose the correct certification form                            ►Find your tax treaty benefits

►Fill out and submit your form online                              ►Answer tax certification questions

 

 

 

 

Which Form Do You Pick?

Tax Treaty Benefits

Management of account activity differs for each account type.  IB is a U.S. broker and must follow U.S. guidelines.  3 simple questions help you choose the right form

Some countries have a tax treaty with the U.S.  Find out if you benefit from a lower tax-withholding rate. Tax Treaty Benefit Info

Filling Out The Form

Tax Certification – FAQ’s

The certification form is direct.  Supply basic account information on the true owner of the assets or entity.  Select  W-9 Instructions or W-8 Instructions for help. Seek professional advice for tax questions.  These common questions and answers may help you make an informed decision.  Tax Certification - Frequently Asked Questions

 

 

 

Disclaimer:  IB does not provide tax advice. These statements are provided for information purposes only, are not intended to constitute tax advice which may be relied upon to avoid penalties under any international, federal, state, local or other tax statutes or regulations, and do not resolve any tax issues in your favor. We recommend that you consult a qualified tax advisor or refer to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.

 

 

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