ACATS Transfer Guide (US brokerage account transfers)

ACATS Transfer Guide

Introduction

ACATS Transfer Benefits

Navigating The Process

Incoming Or Outgoing

Initiating Your Transfer

What To Expect

Who To Contact For Help

 

Introduction

Understanding the basic facts about transferring accounts between US brokerage firms can be help to avoid delays.  Through this article and other Knowledge Database resources, Interactive Brokers seeks to assist with your incoming and outgoing ACATS requests.

US brokerage firms utilize a standardized system to transfer customer accounts from one firm to another.  Known as the Automated Customer Account Transfer Service or ACATS, the process allows assets to move seamlessly between  brokerage firms in a unified time frame.   ACATS transfers are facilitated by a third party, the National Securities Clearing Corporation (NSCC), to assist participating members with timely asset transfers.

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ACATS Transfer Benefits

The majority of assets may be transferred between US brokerage firms and some banks through ACATS.  This standardized system includes stocks, US corporate bonds, listed options, unit investment trusts, mutual funds, and cash.  Information on assets eligible for transfer is provided at "Assets Eligible..."  Though impacted by multiple factors and time constraints, the accepted or rejected transfers finalize within 10 business days in most cases.

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Navigating The Process

4 simple steps of the ACATS process will help you understand the flow and minimize delays.  Familiarizing yourself with the transfer process helps to ensure a successful transition.

1.  Incoming or Outgoing

2.  Initiating Your Transfer

3.  What to Expect

4.  Who to Contact For Help 

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 1. Incoming or Outgoing

 

Incoming ACATS Transfers

The financial institution that is receiving your assets and account transfer is known as the "receiving firm."  Investors always work with and through the "receiving firm" to move full or partial account assets into a new broker. 

Contact the "receiving firm" (Interactive Brokers) to review the firm's trading policies and requirements.  You should verify that your assets are eligible for trading at the "receiving firm" before initiating the transfer request.   Not all ACATS transferable assets are acceptable for trading at every brokerage firm.

Outgoing ACATS Transfers

All outgoing ACATS transfers, full or partial, must be approved by the "delivering firm."  Investors, however, should work with and through the "receiving firm" in order to begin the the transfer process or to status the progress of the request.      

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2. Initiating Your Transfer

Investors must always begin the ACATS transfer with the "receiving firm."  An ACATS transfer form or Transfer Initiation Form (TIF) must be submitted.  The "receiving firm" takes your reqeust and communicates with the "delivering firm" via ACATS.  The process begins with this request for transfer of the account. 

For your Interactive Brokers Account, the transfer is usually submitted online.  Video instruction on submitting the transfer is provided at "How to deposit funds via a full ACATS/ATON Transfer."  or through Step-by-step instructions.

Note: Outgoing account transfers from your IB account should be directed to the other broker.  Your request will be submitted to IB from the other broker through the ACATS electronically.

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3. What to Expect

Your Account

Brokers ensure the safety and security of transfer requests by only authorizing requests between open accounts that meet the following criteria:

  • Same Account Title
  • Same Tax ID Number
  • Same Account Type

Transfer Approval

Ultimately responsible for validating the transfer,  the "delivering firm" may accept  information from the "receiving firm" correcting data originally entered.  Approved or validated requests result in the delivery of positions to the "receiving firm" for their acceptance.   Assets may not be accepted by the "receiving firm" for the following:

  • Non-marginable or Margin (credit) violation
  • Not Tradable
  • DTC Chill

Note: The most common reasons for ACATS rejections are outlined by clicking here.

Processing Time-frame

The processing time for each transfer request is fixed.  In general, approved transfers complete within 4 to 8 business days.  Almost all transfers complete within 10 business days.  Each firm is required to perform certain steps at specific intervals in the process.  Feel free to review the Full ACATS transfer process flow.

 

Fees

While Interactive Brokers does not charge a fee to transfer your account via ACATS, some brokers do apply a fee for full and partial transfers. Prior to initiating your transfer, you should contact the "delivering firm" to verify any charge.

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4.  Who To Contact For Help

Interactive Brokers Customer Service stands poised to assist with your incoming ACATS transfer reqeust.  Click here for Customer Service contact resources.

Note:  Outgoing or ACATS transfers sending accounts to another broker should be directed to the "receiving firm."  Their Account Transfer Group will work with Interactive Brokers directly to complete your outgoing request.

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How to Deposit Funds Via a Full ACATS/ATON Transfer

How to deposit funds to your Interactive Brokers account via a full ACATS/ATON Transfer

For information on how to initiate a partial ACATS/ATON transfer/ please click here

For Interactive Brokers tradeable products please visit the Contract Search Engine

For a detailed description of the Full ACATS/ATON process flow please click here 

For a list of the most common causes for ACATS/ATON rejects, please click here

 

 

European Assets Transfers

Overview: 

European Position Transfers

IB can accommodate transfers in the following countries on a manual basis:

  • Belgium: options, futures
  • France: stocks, options, futures
  • Germany: stocks, warrants, options, futures
  • Italy: options, futures
  • The Netherlands: stocks, options, futures
  • Spain: stocks, options, futures
  • Switzerland: stocks, options, futures
  • United Kingdom: stocks, options, futures
  • Austria: stocks
  • Sweden: stocks, options, futures

Customers wishing to transfer positions to an IB account must fill out the Interactive Brokers Transfer of Assets in Europe form and provide the following additional information:

  • customer contact information (phone number and e-mail address)
  • delivering broker contact information (contact person, phone number and e-mail address)
  • approximate value of the securities to be transferred
  • desired settlement date of the transaction(s)

The request is to be made either

  • by attaching the form to a Ticket via the Message Center in Account Management.
  • or by fax at +41-41-726-9599.

Upon receipt of the Transfer of Assets form, IB will verify the request to insure that we are able to support the transfer.

Once done, we will send a confirmation to the customer. And if we are able to support the transfer, we will thereafter contact the customer’s clearing broker to organize it.

Please note the following points:

  • All transfers to an IB account from another clearing broker must be delivered free of payment, FOP.
  • Interactive Brokers only accepts products that are available for trading on the IB system. Certain products cannot be held in your IB account including: money market deposits, many bonds and similar fixed income instruments, many mutual funds, limited partnership units and certain classes of stock. IB holds all positions in the firm accounts in non-registered form. We do not support individual registration of positions. Positions in registered shares will be converted to non-registered form by default.
  • For initial account funding, your transfer must meet our Minimum Initial Deposit requirements or the transfer will be rejected.
  • You will not be able to withdraw any funds or transfer any assets to another broker for ten business days after an account transfer is received.

 

Free of Payment (FOP) Transfers

Overview: 

Free of Payment (FOP) is term used by IB to refer to a process of transferring long US securities between IB and another financial institution (e.g. bank, broker or transfer agent) through the Depository Trust Company (DTC).

The FOP transfer method is often used when:

1. The delivering form is not a DTC ACAT (Automated Customer Account Transfer) Participant.

2. The customer would like to expedite the delivery of their securities.   The processing time frame for securities transferred via FOP may, in certain instances, be less than that associated with an ACATS transfer.

The following steps are to be followed in order to create a FOP notice:

1. Log into Account Management.

2. Select Funding or Funds Management and then Position Transfers.

3. From the drop-down list, select the Transfer Method: Free of Payment.

4. Select the applicable transaction Type: Deposit or Withdraw.

5. In the case of a FOP Withdrawal, the steps are as follows:

    - Select the Destination to whom the securities are being transferred.

    - Enter your account number of the Third Party Broker Acount Information.

    - Specify the security (Stock, Warrants or US Bonds).

    - Enter the Symbol, Shares and the Exchange (optional) and click Add.

    - Provide your electronic signature authorizing the transfer request and clicking on the Continue button.

    - Verify your identity by entering your password and clicking on the Confirm Request button;

    - If your account is enrolled in the Secure Transaction Program (STP), the processing of your request   will take place once you enter your confirmation code and click on the Confirm Request button.  If not STP enrolled, your request will be subject to security verification, requiring that you contact our Customer Service Center to validate your identity and request.

6. In the case of a FOP Deposit, the steps are as follows:

    - Select the Source to whom the securities are being transferred.

    - Enter your account number of the Third Party Broker Acount Information.

    - Specify the security (Stocks, Warrants or US Bonds).

    - Enter the Symbol, Shares and the Exchange (optional) and click Add.

    - Provide your electronic signature authorizing the transfer request and clicking on the Continue button.

    - A printable version of the FOP request is made available should your transferring firm require an authorization form.

7. Transfer requests are typically completed within five business days.

 
IMPORTANT NOTE:

While IB does not assess a fee to process FOP transfers, other firms may and we therefore recommend that you confirm with the contra-firm their policies in this regard prior to submitting a request.  In the event a contra-firm does charge a fee to IB, the fee will be passed to the IB account holder.

 

Glossary terms: 

What is a partial ACATS transfer and what is the typical timeframe for its completion?

A partial ACATS transfer exists when the customer elects to transfer only a select group of assets from one broker to another rather than the entire account. As this type of transfer requires that the customer specify those assets to IB, the Account Management interface through which notification is provided precludes the entry of any security not eligible to be carried by IB. This effectively minimizes the need for an asset review and accommodates a transfer time frame ranging from 2 to 4 business days.

 

 

Glossary terms: 

What is the typical timeframe for completion of a full ACATS transfer request?

A full ACATS transfer request will generally be completed or settled anywhere between from 4 to 7 business days. The actual time which any one request may take depends upon a number of factors, most notably being the speed at which the delivering broker responds to the initial request, the ability of the two brokers to successfully corroborate the customer’s account details (e.g., account title, account number, taxpayer identification number, etc.), whether the list of account assets requires adjustment due to the inclusion of securities not eligible to be carried by the receiving broker, and/or if the effect of the transfer would be to violate the receiving broker’s credit policy (i.e., create a margin deficiency).

 

Withdrawal restrictions applicable to assets transferred via ACATS?

Assets transferred to IB via ACATS are subject to a hold period of 10 business days, the count of which begins the day after the transfer has settled and ends at midnight of the 10th business day thereafter. Note that assets are often credited to an account holder’s equity and made available for trade prior to transfer settlement. The date at which a given ACATS deposit is eligible for withdrawal may be determined through the View Transaction History function within Account Management.

Assets eligible to be transferred through ACATS

Instruments handled by the ACATS system include the following asset classes: equities, options, corporate bonds, municipal bonds, mutual funds and cash. It should be noted; however, that ACATS eligibility does not guarantee that any given security will transfer as each receiving broker maintains its own requirements as to which asset classes as well as securities within a particular asset class it will accept.

Account holders are encouraged to use the Contract Search link on IB’s homepage to assess transfer eligibility prior to initiating a full account transfer request.  In the case of mutual funds, please click here for a list of fund families and funds offered by IB.

ACATS Rejections - Most Common Causes

The rejection of an ACATS transfer request is typically initiated by action of the delivering broker once that broker has had an opportunity to review the request and confirm the details of the account to be transferred.  In the case of certain rejection notices (i.e., categories 1-5 and 10 below), the ACATS process affords the receiving broker (IB) a 24-hour window within which revised information may be transmitted and after which time the transfer request will require resubmission by the client.  During this 24-hour window, IB will attempt to contact the transferring client in an effort to reconcile any discrepancies causing the initial rejection notice. Rejections generally fall into the following categories:

 
Rejections by the Delivering Broker:
  1. Social Security Number/Tax ID Mismatch - the client taxpayer identification number as provided by the receiving broker does not agree with that of the delivering broker’s records. 
  1. Account Title Mismatch - the client account title as provided by the receiving broker does not agree with that of the delivering broker’s records. 
  1. Documentation Needed – the delivering broker requires additional account documentation in order to process a transfer request (e.g., death or marriage legal documents). 
  1. Account Flat – account holds no transferable assets. 
  1. Invalid Account Number – the client account number as provided by the receiving broker is not on delivering member’s books. 
  1. Duplicate – delivering broker is already in receipt of a transfer request involving the same receiving broker and client account..
  1. Account in Distribution or Transfer – another ACATS transfer or other distribution of account assets directly to client is already underway. 
  1. Client Rescinded – client has submitted written request to cancel transfer request. 
  1. Missing Authorization Signature – transfer request requires an additional client and/or custodian signature.

 

Rejections by the Receiving Broker: 

10. Credit Violation - the result of the transfer if effected would be to place the account in margin deficit and subject to forced liquidation.

Glossary terms: 

PROCESS FLOW - FULL ACATS TRANSFER

Overview: 

An ACATS transfer request typically takes 4 business days to complete and may take as long as 7 business days depending upon the circumstances involved in the transfer.  Outlined in the table below is a process flow of the transfer process, including typical time frames for each stage of the process.

 

 PROCESS FLOW - FULL ACATS TRANSFER
 
Step

Transaction History

 

DTCC Stage

 
Description
 
Result
 
Time Frame
1
Token Confirmed

 

    -

Customer submits transfer instructions to IB via Account Management.
Begins transfer process.
Day 1.
2
Acknowledged Request
Receiving broker (IB) electronically transmits request via ACATS.
NSCC generates reports confirming transfer request to both IB and delivering broker.
Day 1 if Step 1 completed prior to 11:30 PM ET, else Day 2.
3
Acknowledged Request
Delivering broker has up to 1 day to review transfer request for accuracy of account details and accept or reject.
If validated, delivering broker submits asset list;
 
If rejected, delivering broker enters applicable rejection code.
Day 1 to Day 3, depending upon timing of customer submission, each brokers input relative to the ACATS multi-batch processing cycles and the ability of the two brokers to corroborate the customer’s account details.
4
Acknowledged Review
If transfer request was accepted by delivering broker, the receiving broker (IB) has up to 1 day to review asset list.
 
 
If asset list was received, receiving broker (IB) can either accept the account, request adjustments (e.g., where asset lists include securities not eligible at receiving broker), or reject the account (e.g., where account is not in margin compliance).
 
 
Day 2 to Day 4, depending upon events as noted above as well as decision of receiving broker to accept the account or request adjustments.
  Rejected Rejected If transfer request was rejected by delivering broker, depending upon the nature of the rejection the receiving broker may have up to 1 day to resubmit request.

 
If transfer request was rejected by delivering broker, receiving broker may correct and resubmit request or take no action and let request reject. Day 2 to Day 4, depending upon events as noted above as well as decision of receiving broker to accept the account or request adjustments.
5
Acknowledged
Settlement Prep
If receiving broker (IB) accepts the account the assets are staged and ‘locked’ for transfer. Assets begin to transfer.
Neither the delivering nor receiving firm can adjust or delete the ACATS transfer. Settlement will take place next business day.
Day 3 to day 6.
6
Processed
Settlement Close
Assets Settled.
 
Day 4 to day 8.
 

 

Glossary terms: 
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