Generally, many of the UK stockbrokers are not very helpful on this score, due to a combination of money laundering regulations and a tendency to regard overseas clients as a hassle. (The same problem is true for non-residents wanting to open an UK bank account.)
There are a handful of UK stockbrokers that indicate they will deal with non-residents, but investors report different levels of success opening and using accounts. It may depend on whether you are a UK citizen but non-resident, whether you are neither a citizen nor a resident, whether you are resident in the European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA), whether you have a UK bank account and even who you speak to at the company.
The following firms have been reported to open online trading accounts for at least some non-residents and are probably worth investigating first:
- TD Direct Investing (formerly TD Waterhouse) has an Overseas Resident Trading Account. Reports of success opening one vary and it may be available to EEA residents only. UPDATE: Some readers (see comments below) have reported that TDDI is now closing accounts held by some non-residents. References to the Overseas Resident Trading Account on the main TDDI site are few and links to TD Direct Investing International (formerly Internaxx) in Luxembourg are more prominent, suggesting they may be aiming to steer new non-resident clients there.
- SVS Securities says on its website that it offers an Individual Overseas Account for non-residents with a UK bank account.
- iDealing will accept EU residents, according to its account application page.
- A number of non-residents have said that Fastrade (recently rebranded to Charles Stanley Direct) is willing to open accounts for overseas clients. Stocktrade/Brewin Dolphin is a similar type of firm and has also reportedly opened accounts for non-residents in the past.
- Redmayne Bentley says in its FAQ that it will accept non-resident clients. The firm does not offer an online dealing service.
- HSBC’s InvestDirect service is available through its offshore arm. This requires an HSBC Expat bank account, which in turn requires a minimum of £60,000 in deposits and investments (including the share dealing service) for new clients.
- The multinational firms Interactive Brokers or Saxo Bank will accept most international clients and give you access to the UK market. Whether that would be through the UK office or whether they would allow you to link to a UK bank account (if you have one) may depend on where you are resident.
- One non-resident reader of this site has reported that Saga Share Direct was willing to open an account for him. However, the Saga service is operated by Barclays Stockbrokers who apparently do not deal with non-residents, so it seems possible that there may be some miscommunication involved and there might be a risk of the account being shut down on review by Barclays. UPDATE: It’s not clear whether Barclays will accept non-residents now or not – see comments below – but the Saga website now explicitly appears to rule out non residents.
- Another non-resident reader has reported opening an account with Sucden and finding staff there very helpful. Sucden’s online trading platform is a white label of the Saxo platform, but it also offers other services such as equity options trading by telephone.
Beyond these possibilities, it’s always worth approaching a specific firm to ask if they’ll deal with you. However be aware that some non-residents have reported success opening accounts, only to have it shut down months later, so make sure you get confirmation that non-residents are permitted from a member of staff who is in a position to know the company’s policies.
In general, you may find the traditional stockbrokers are more welcoming than many of the discount stockbrokers, because their business is less focused on maximising volume and minimising complications. However, some of these firms offer telephone dealing only, while online trading will often be more convenient for non-residents.
All the above assumes you are not a US resident. If you are, things get tougher due to foreign stockbrokers wanting to avoid issues with Regulation S and now FATCA. No UK brokers are confirmed to deal with US clients, although obviously you can trade UK stocks through some of the US international stockbrokers.
Any extra feedback from non-residents who have successfully opened accounts (or have confirmed that it’s not possible) with the stockbrokers mentioned above or any others is very welcome. Please add a comment below or use the contact email form.