International investing FAQ

 FAQs
 

Investing abroad can be confusing. Browse the articles below for answers to some of the most frequently asked questions. If you’re wondering about something that isn’t covered, email your question here.

Buying foreign shares

How do I buy foreign shares?
Getting started in international investing can be daunting, but it shouldn’t be. This article looks at three ways of buying into companies around the world.

Which foreign stock markets can I invest in?
Investors are often surprised to discover how many countries they can invest in. Read this to discover where you can and can’t buy shares.

What is an ADR or GDR?
Using American depositary receipts (ADRs) and global depositary receipts (GDRs) is one of the easiest ways to invest in foreign stocks. Find out exactly how they work here.

What is a CREST Depository Interest (CDI)?
Crest Depository Interests make it easier to trade some major US and European stocks through UK stock brokers. Understand exactly what CDIs are and how they work with this short guide.

Stock brokers and other services

What should I look for when choosing a broker?
Choosing the best stock broker means you need to think about more than just price. This short article suggests 10 things you should consider before signing up.

What fees will my broker charge?
Some stock brokers can baffle you with an endless range of different fees. Learn what to expect and what you should be paying.

How safe are stock broker nominee accounts?
Many investors are surprised to discover that their shares are not legally held in their name. This article explains how the nominee system works and what your rights are.

Investor compensation scheme limits
Whichever bank or broker you use, make sure you money is safe. Read on for a summary of investor protection rules in the major financial centres.

Holding shares through Direct Registration in the US
Holding US shares in your own name is known as Direct Registration. Discover how the system works in this guide.

What is a CREST Personal Account?
If you want to hold UK shares online in your own name, you need a CREST Personal Account. Find out how to open one here.

Other investment services

Will a currency specialist save me money on FX conversions?
Stock brokers and banks often make extra money by changing hidden fees every time you change currencies. Using a currency specialist could cut your costs significantly.

Where can I get news and information on international investing?
Good resources aimed at private investors who want to invest globally are few and far between. Discover the most useful ones in this review.

Where can I get price and fundamental data for foreign stocks?
Getting data on foreign stocks can be awkward and your broker may not be much help. Read this article for a look at some resources, from free to very expensive.

What is Direct Market Access (DMA)?
Several stock brokers advertise their services as offering “direct market access”. This article explains what this means and whether it matters to you.

What is Level 2 data and do I need it?
Information comes at a price and if you want detailed data from the market, you’ll pay a premium for it. Find out whether “Level 2″ is worth the cost here.

Offshore bank and stock broker accounts

How do I open a non-resident Singapore bank account?
Singapore is an excellent choice for anyone who wants an international bank account. This article explains how anyone can open one.

How do I open a non-resident Singapore brokerage account?
Singapore stock brokers are the best choice for anyone who wants to invest in every Asian market at low cost. Opening an account is easier than you think.

Can US citizens and US residents open overseas accounts?
While most people can open bank and brokerage accounts around the world, Americans are less welcome. Find out why and discover how you can duck the restrictions.

Tax on foreign shares

Do I have to pay tax on my foreign shares?
The taxman won’t let you duck income and capital gains taxes just because you hold foreign shares. But most people pay too much tax – make sure you’re not one of them.

Can I hold foreign stocks in an ISA or SIPP?
The UK has some of the most generous rules around when it comes to foreign stocks in low-tax accounts. Yet many investors have no idea how the system works.

Can I hold foreign funds and ETFs in an ISA?
HMRC is less helpful when it comes to sheltering your foreign funds in an ISA. This article explains why few offshore funds and ETFs are eligible.

How do I reclaim withholding tax on my international dividends?
The taxman may have deducted too much tax from your dividends, but the money isn’t gone forever. Find out which forms to fill for a refund in the US, France, Germany, Switzerland and more.

Can I reclaim withholding tax on foreign dividends in my ISA or SIPP?
You can still reclaim the excess tax if your stocks are held in an ISA or SIPP. Read on to discover an extra tax break for foreign dividends in SIPPs.

How will I be taxed on foreign funds?
Both UK and US investors risk falling into a tax trap with foreign funds. Find out why your capital gains could be penalised with excess tax.

Funds for international investing

What is a fund supermarket and why should I use one?
You may still be paying a broker or financial adviser hundreds of pounds a year for funds you bought ages ago. Learn why and see how you could cut costs with a fund supermarket.

Where can I find the best offshore fund supermarket?
While fund supermarkets can help you buy domestic funds more cheaply and easily, there are few supermarkets to help you buy offshore funds. Find why and discover the handful of firms that could help you.

How do I choose a good fund manager?
Most managed funds underperform the market – and for good reason. Learn why the fund management industry doesn’t act in your interests and read ten tips for picking better fund managers.

Does buying a foreign currency-denominated fund affect my investment risk?
Do you avoid buying some funds because of the currency they are priced in? You may be worrying about a risk that doesn’t exist. Read on to discover one of the biggest misunderstandings about international investing.