TD Ameritrade Account Outside of the US

Those of us outside of the USA can only wish on the sidelines when Americans and those who have access to the US securities market talk about their plans on investing in some famous blue chip and/or tech stock or how they plan on putting their retirement money in a low-cost index ETF like the VTI (Vanguard Total Market ETF). 

Well, I’m not about to just read about these amazing investments and be content with my lot in life. So I scoured the web and intensely researched how I, too, can invest in the USA even though I am a Non-Resident Alien (NRA).

Weeks and weeks of research led to me to the conclusion that the easiest way for me to do so is by opening a TD Ameritrade account.

TD Ameritrade is one of the oldest and most well-known US online brokerages and had been in business for 40 years. It has been consistently winning awards, including  the Best Online Broker for 2018 (Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Best Online Brokers Review) and topping Barron’s 2018 Online Survey for Long Time Investing, Novices, and Usability. 

Most importantly, it’s one of the few US online brokerage that allow Non-Resident Aliens to open accounts.

 

Related content:

For those of you who want to invest in international stocks but can’t open a TD Ameritrade account, read my post The Ultimate Guide to Philippine Feeder Funds for an alternative. 

WHY I CHOSE TD AMERITRADE

I surveyed the few online brokerages that allow Non-Resident Aliens to open accounts and found out the following by checking their websites as well as via emails and phone calls:

 

  • Vanguard only accepts accounts from a limited number of countries. In Asia-Pacific, people in Australia, China, Hong Kong, and Japan can open accounts.
  • Fidelity only accepts accounts from Hong Kong, Japan, and Taiwan.
  • Charles Schwab, for those who live in Hong Kong, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand. By the way, kudos to Charles Schwab because even though I stated in my email that live in Korea, they still called me the same day just to let me know how sorry they are that I can’t open an account. (Update: Non-residents outside of the above-mentioned countries can now open an account with Charles Schwab through Charles Schwab International. )
 
 

So I was basically left with two options: TD Ameritrade and Interactive Brokers. These are the online brokerages that allow people from the most number of countries to open accounts. 

Both have no minimum opening balance, unlike Charles Schwab that requires a minimum of $25,000. 

The trading commission for Interactive Brokers can be actually lower than TD Ameritrade’s because it is based on a percentage of the trade compared to a flat rate. Unfortunately, Interactive Brokers also charge a monthly inactivity fee.  

I plan to be a very boring investor by trading only once a quarter in index ETFs and I’d rather not pay inactivity fees. Good thing that despite the TD Ameritrade’s flat trading fee, they don’t charge inactivity fees.

Additionally, I’ve read online reviews about the usability of each brokerage’s platforms and people have been saying that Interactive Broker’s platform can be complicated and unwieldy. 

On the other hand, I’ve heard many good things about TD Ameritrade’s Think and Swim. 

Taken all together, I decided to open an account with TD Ameritrade first, and if that somehow fails (documents, too complicated, etc.), I will open an account with Interactive Brokers as a fall back.

 

 TD AmeritradeInteractive Brokers
Minimum Opening BalanceNo minimumNo minimum
Trading Commission

$6.95 per trade**

Update: As of October 2019, TD Ameritrade charges $0  commissions on online stock, ETF, and option trades for all new and existing clients.

Tiered based on monthly traded value and country where the account is based OR Fixed at 0.08% of trade value in Asia Pacific. For the full list, go here.
Inactivity FeesNoneYes. For computation of this fee, go here.

 

REQUIREMENTS TO OPEN AN ACCOUNT

To open an account with TD Ameritrade as a Non-Resident Alien, you have to submit the following documents:

1. Bank or brokerage statement dated within the past 6 months exactly matching the full name and address provided on the Account Application. The account does not have to be dollar-denominated. 

If you are unable to provide a bank or brokerage statement, then following documents may be accepted as long as they match the name and address on the application.
– Gas Bill
– Electric Bill
– Water Bill
– Household Register
– Letter from a Bank (must be on bank letterhead and signed or stamped by the bank)

If these documents are not in English, you have to have it translated and certified by a notary/certified translator.

2. Supporting documents: such as current government -issued ID such as your passport, visa, or driver’s license.

3. Filled out and signed application form

4. Filled out and signed W-8BEN form for the IRS

Either mail the documents to TD Ameritrade or send it to them via fax. Personally, I think fax is best because it’s faster.

HOW TO FILL OUT THE APPLICATION FORM

Filling out the application may be a bit confusing for some so I made this tutorial to help. First go to the application form site:

1.

This is the application form for those outside of the USA, Canada, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and China. So basically, everybody else. 

Click on No, I’m a new client.

Next you will have the option to indicate that you are a Non-Resident Alien, which means you are not a green card holder or did not have substantial presence in the US for the calendar year or in the past three-year period.

2. 

Then you have to select your country of nationality or citizenship, country of birth, and visa type. 

For visa type, just select None.

You will then have the option to select what type of account you wish to open. For those outside of the USA, we cannot open Roth and other tax-advantaged accounts, which are only for US citizens and tax residents.

3.

Choose whichever applies to you, click to indicate that you have read the TD Ameritrade Privacy Statement, and click on Continue.

4.

So that was page 1. For page 2 You have to fill out with personal and financial information.

5. 

Page 3 is to review all the information you put in. Make sure that your status is listed as Nonresident Alien.

6.

7.

Page 4 has all the Forms and Agreements. You can download them for later reading. Click to acknowledge that you read and understood the terms of your application.

8.

Here, you decide what you do with the idle cash in your account (sweep). I chose FDIC-insured deposit. Then click on continue.

9.

For the last page, you are given the instructions one last time as well as the printable version of the filled out form. You can also download the W-8BEN form from this page.

After printing application and the W-8BEN forms, you can mail them to: TD Ameritrade New Accounts Department, PO Box 2760, Omaha, NE 68103.

Or better yet, fax it to +1-866-468-6268, Attn: New Accounts Department. No, emailing the documents will not work.

MY EXPERIENCE IN OPENING AN ACCOUNT

First of all, I want to say that even though the process took me months to complete, the delay was mostly on my part.

I had some problems with one of the requirements and then procrastinated in following up on some things. The entire process took me around 4 months. 

The main cause of the delay of my application was the requirement to have the bank statement reflect my address. Banks in South Korea do not put people’s addresses on statements. 

Still, I tried submitting my bank statement hoping that TD Ameritrade will accept it if I can provide another document. They didn’t.

So I changed the names on my utility bills to reflect my name in FIRSTNAME, LASTNAME format used in the US instead of the LASTNAME, FIRSTNAME format in Korea. 

I then waited until my next bill came in. 

While waiting, I had an epiphany that TD Ameritrade does not actually require that the account is US-denominated. So I contacted my other bank where a fellow Pinoy works. 

With her help, the branch manager kindly added my address on the bank statement as a special accommodation. 

I started at the end of November and I finally got all the requirements together by mid-January.

The long(ish) wait

After putting together all the requirements, I faxed the documents to TD Ameritrade. I received an email within a week asking me to fill out my W-8BEN form correctly. 

After sending it back, they emailed asking me to send a bank statement with my address reflected. 

Apparently, they can’t find my mailing address on the statement I sent. So I emailed them a photo of the statement with the address highlighted in red. They finally accepted all my documents and endorsed my application for processing. That was Feb 1.

I was told that processing is 3-5 working days but 2 weeks went by and there’s no update from TD Ameritrade. On Feb. 18 I sent them an email following up on status of my application. On Feb. 28, I finally got the much-awaited notification that my application has been processed and that my account number and password/PIN will be sent via snail mail separately.

So everyday in March I’ve been pestering our security guard if he received letters addressed to me from TD Ameritrade. 

I received the letter for the password/PIN and waited for the account number to come in. After waiting for 2 weeks, I finally gave up and called TD Ameritrade customer service and requested for my account number over the phone.

My TD Ameritrade account finally went live on March 28. I immediately devoured the tutorials and downloaded Think or Swim on my laptop.

FINAL THOUGHT

Having an online brokerage account with access to US securities will allow me to diversify my investments and will help me achieve my financial goals faster. I think that the wait and minor inconveniences I experienced were totally worth it. 

I’ve dreamt of investing in US index funds even as a teenager and I always thought that this goal will be always beyond me. 

Now, with a TD Ameritrade account, I feel that I have more freedom in choosing my investments and I am no longer confined to investing in funds with astronomical management fees and with somewhat limited growth. 

I can now put my money in higher-yielding and more stable securities than what’s available to me previously when I can only invest in the Philippine market. I am sooo excited!

UPDATES FROM READERS

Since posting this article I have talked to a lot of readers who went on to open accounts with TD Ameritrade. Some, however, were unable to do so. Here I will post updates from readers who tried, but, alas! failed. The following countries do not allow residents to open an account with TD Ameritrade:


  • United Arab Emirates
  • Australia


Applicants may now also upload their forms through https://moveit.tdameritrade.com. Thank you Alexandra for alerting us about this development.

Another option would be for you to submit your documents using an online fax service, such as Fax Zero. A reader was able to open an account by submitting their documents this way.

To the readers who alerted me (you know who you are!), thank you so much!

Last updated: 17 November 2019

No time to read now? Pin for later! 

 

This post is part of my series on cross-border investing.

 

Post 1 (this post): How to Open a TD Ameritrade Account Outside of the US as a Non-Resident Alien

Post 2: Taxation on US Stock Investments of Non-Resident Aliens

Post 3: I Opened a TD Ameritrade Account – Now What?

Post 4: The Ultimate Guide to Philippine Feeder Funds

Post 5: My Experience Wiring Funds to TD Ameritrade Account with BPI

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Hi, I'm Katie Scarlett!

I'm a mother, feminist, bookworm, yogi, and a hoopy frood who knows where my towel is. I am on a constant quest towards self-improvement, to mixed results.

Hello! Thanks for visiting and reading my blog. I use affiliate links to maintain this site. If you believe in what I’m trying to do and to keep the FIRE burning, please consider supporting me by clicking on some links. 

You can also support the site by doing your online shopping through my affiliate links, where I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. 

Thank you for your support! 

169 Responses

  1. Great post as usual, Katie Scarlett. Thank you for sharing!

    You mentioned being able to buy VTI ETF. Would your account also allow you to invest in mutual funds like VTSAX?

      1. hello I almost had the same experience. It took me more than2 months to finally open an account after reconciling the address matching issue.

          1. As a Nigerian, residing in Nigeria, are you aware of any US stock options broker who will permit me to open an account with them?
            Choice Trade rejected my application for the second time.

          2. Did TD Ameritrade allowed you to open a margin account or cash account only?

            I have interactive brokers and Tradestation both as margin account. … It’s much easier to open an account since you can just upload the documents online. So to anyone who who is interested you can just visit their website.

      2. Hi KatieScarlett,

        Thank you for your insightful article. I just have a quick question on the W-8 BEN from because I already made an online application but I got lost when I filled-up the W-8 BEN from specifically the No. 10 part of Part II. What did you put on it? I am from the Philippines as well.

      3. Hi Katie, thanks a lot for your guidance.

        Want to ask you: when you compare VTI vs VTSAX fees and management on TD Ameritrade web page, VTSAX results much more expensive (VTSAX $333.02 vs VTI $66.73).

        Why so huge difference? expense ratio for both are basically the same (0.04%VTSAX vs 0.03% VTI)?

        I’ll appreciate your response.

        Regards,

        William

        1. William,

          VTI is an ETF while VTSAX is a mutual fund. Remember that the price of the shares and units have their own computations. For ETFS, the price is its net asset value – the total value of the fund divided by the number of shares. For ETFs, the number of shares is fixed. For mutual fund, it’s basically the same but for the crucial fact that mutual funds are open-ended, meaning, the number of units can be increased. The difference in the number of shares makes a difference in the share price but their value are still the same.

  2. Thank you for this informative post. I’ve been looking for ways to buy Vanguard ETFs and this post helps me out! Are you buying SPY? Or other ETFs as well? How are you funding your account? Really worried about fees on funding.

    1. Hi Cholo,

      Yes, there are other ETFs available not only from Vanguard but also from other companies. I buy Vanguard’s VOO S&P 500 ETF. For funding I just do wire transfer. The fees can be annoying but I think it can be mitigated if you transfer higher amounts, like in the thousands of dollars instead of hundreds so you can maximize the fees.

  3. Hello. Thanks a lot for sharing what you’ve researched!!! By any chance, have you tried comparing the costs of buying vanguard etf/index funds with feeder funds that track the said funds? For example, security bank has a feeder fund that tracks the vanguard total stock market etf. Do you think it is worth it opening a TD Ameritrade account to buy the said etf instead of going through security bank? Why? Thanks!

    1. When you buy through a feeder fund you basically pay double fees. One fee to the target fund (usually 0.04%) AND to the feeder fund, which is ridiculously high. So if you have the means to do it, just open a TD account that will let you invest directly.

  4. Wow, great info! Does investing in US index funds offer greater advantages or returns than investing in the PH like philequity, sun life, metro index funds etc?

    1. The US equities market is the biggest and most creative in the world. It’s past growth rate and potential future growth are enormous. I can’t imagine (although I hope) that the PH market will outstrip the US market.

  5. Hi Scarlett! Appreciate the detailed post and I share in your excitement as this is among my bucket list as well. What was the first US stock that you purchased? How does the payout work? Does TD ameritrade remit to your local bank account? In what currency / are there any charges to fund your TD account/ charges to withdraw from your TD account? Sorry that’s a lot of questions I am curious would love to read more!

    1. Hi George,

      I bought Vanguard ETFs, VTI and VOO (one’s for me and the other is for my son’s college fund). I haven’t cashed out yet because I’m holding the shares for long-term. TD should be able to transmit the funds to any USD denominated account anywhere in the world (except those under sanctions). There are associated transfer fees from my bank to the TD account since I don’t live in the US. I think if you have a US bank account you can link it to TD and transfers are free.

      1. Do you know how large you can wire transfer from PH bank to TD? Im just worried I will be flagged or investigated under AMLA if its too big – I would really like to just transfer one big amount to avoid expensive transfer fees.

        1. When I was working in finance people usually get flagged for money laundering when transferring money more than 10,000 usd at a time. I imagine they still follow the same threshold.

  6. Hi Katie,

    Thank you for this article! I’ve been wanting to invest in Vanguard for a while now and this gave me hope! May I ask how did you fill-up your W-8BEN and if it’s ok, can you share why yours was sent back the first time? I’m planning to send mine via DHL and it’s kind of pricey and I want to make sure that I fill it out correctly the first time. Thanks in advance!

  7. Hey,
    I just turned 18 and my bank account opens in two weeks so I wont have previous 6 months of statement since it was just made, amd all the utility bills except internet bill is to my father’s name, so how do I go past that step? Thanks.

  8. Amazing article! This is very helpful. I’ve always wanted to buy Vanguard ETFs but got no straightforward answer on the internet. A few questions Ms. Katie, were ALL your documents faxed (not mailed)? Second, what bank do you use for wire transfers and how much is the fee? What other fees do you pay in TD Ameritrade aside from the $6.95 per trade (which is actually expensive in terms of pesos)? I’m wondering if it’s worth the extra step to just open a US bank account.

    1. Dear Alexandra,

      I faxed ALL my documents.

      Regarding the bank fees, I’m using a Korean bank which has a branch in the US. Their rate depends on how much you will send, usually a small percentage of the total.

      Other than trading fee, there are no other fees charged by TD Ameritrade. I usually trade once a quarter to save on fees.

      Hope that helps.

  9. Hi Ms. Katie! Thanks for the detailed article. I have the same question as Alexandra regarding adding funds to my account. I’ve estimated the total charge if I go with Ameritrade to be about half of the total charge if I use Security Bank’s feeder fund (as long as I accumulate a certain amount first). I was wondering if you have suggestions on which bank to use and if you’ve found a cheaper way?

    1. Hi Pau,

      I, unfortunately, do not have any recommendations for you on which Philippine bank to use since I’m based overseas. Hopefully, other readers can sound off on this issue. Anyone?

  10. Hi Katie,

    Thank you for this inspiring article!
    I have become so excited to open an NRA trade account with Ameritrade, however, I have some concerns and I hope you may have some answers.

    Firstly, Should I fill out line-6 “foreign tax identifying number ” on the W-8BEN form?

    Secondly, Do you think they could offer a paid mail express shipping for the User/PIN, instead of regular post mail which is slow and unreliable?

    Finally, Is it safe to send such sensitive information using an online fax service, or do you think that information in the application form even if they include a verbal password, have no potential risk without the User/PIN?

    1. Hi Dina,

      Leave that item blank.

      I don’t think that there’s an option to use paid express mail for the PIN.

      I personally haven’t used an online fax service yet so I cannot answer your question. I used an old fashioned, dial fax machine.

      In any case, they send the user name and PIN separately to lessen risk.

      Good luck!

  11. Hi Katie,

    I have been working on my paperwork to get registered with TD Ameritrade, thanks to your article!
    But, I would rather start with a minimal investment just to test the water since I plan to ride the next economic expansion cycle, that should follow the next expected recession in late 2020, with some substantial investments 🙂

    As you know, the recession signals are now stronger than ever before and it might be unwise to own large equities in the US market now.

    Especially knowing that the “New York Federal Reserve’s probability model”, one of the most reliable recession indicators, is expecting recession pretty soon and it has never failed in its prediction over the last 60 years!

    You might want to take a look at this warning article, which provides more details:

    https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/next-recession-forecast-new-york-fed-model-highest-since-2009-2019-7-1028338398

    I just thought to think out loud with you.

  12. Hi Katie,

    This blog is the only sane investment advice blog for Pinoys that I’ve read. The rest of our financial pundits fail to inform readers about our crazy management fees. And few even bother to mention PERA accounts. The most you get are these useless “ano ang mutual fund” type advice. So thank you. This blog is the closest Pinoys will get to a Ramit Sethi or a JL Collins.

    Just a question about investing in VTI: what are your thoughts on using EToro to buy VTI shares?

    1. Thank Leloy!

      I’m not sure why they fail to mention the crazy management fees because those can sap your gains.

      Wow closest to Ramit and JL! I love those two writers!

      Regarding using EToro, I haven’t used it myself but according to its website you can’t trade VTI shares directly. Instead what you’re trading are CFDs or Contracts for Difference, which is an entirely different instrument from ETF. So you don’t directly trade VTI.

      I hope that helps and thanks for reading my blog.

  13. Hi Katie, thanks for this insightful article.

    I tried to sign up to TD Ameritrade today but seem to be struggling, seems like there is a slight difference to the forms now for us Australians that don’t live, work or reside in the USA??!!

    Are you able to walk me through this again please?

    Much thanks!

    1. Hi Jeff,

      As far as I know Australians can use the regular application form on the link I provided. Can you let me know what exactly are the differences? You can send me DM in my Facebook page or email in the contact box.

  14. Thanks po for answering! I did my homework and they now allow you to upload documents via https://moveit.tdameritrade.com, so no need to go back and forth with mailing in case something’s missing. Now the big headache is figuring out the taxes. They don’t deduct any capital gains so you have to declare that in the Philippines, and the default dividend tax rate for non-US residents is a whopping 30%(!) unless I can find the actual tax rate from the Phil-US tax treaty. They said I have to declare that on the W-8BEN. I’m wondering if you have any insights po on the taxes.

    If that’s the tax rate on dividends, I might have to opt for index funds that don’t pay dividends. ☹️ I know most Vanguard funds pay dividends though.

    1. Thank you so much for the update, Alexandra and it was also nice talking to you in reddit. I will write more about the IRS regulation and PH-US tax treaty in one of my next posts.

      Just to answer here what I explained in reddit, the PH-US tax treaty charges up to a maximum of 25% gross of the dividend. So we will not be charged 30% (which I believe is the maximum for non-treaty partners). You will be able to claim treaty status through the W-8BEN form since you’ll be able to put your address and nationality in there.

      Regarding the tax rate, although we have to take all measures to legally avoid pay taxing higher taxes, I think paying the dividend tax is a reasonable exchange for the privilege of being able to participate in the US’ very active and stable (in terms of the US government not seizing your property without cause) stock market.

    1. You need to be more specific about your question. Better than what? Than TD Ameritrade? If you mean to compare eToro to TD I think TD is better for long-term investing that eToro for the simple reason that TD has been around for a longer time. TD also has less fees than eToro.

  15. Hi Katie,
    I’m an OFW planning to invest in US stock market. I’ve open a paypal account so I could fund my stocks account if everything goes well. Base on my research Fedility investment is one of the best US stock broker but Filipino is not allowed. May I know from your experience any other US besy stock
    broker?

    1. Hi Katie, i have questions.
      1. How do I pay for my tax for dividends? How much percentage?
      2. Do I need to include capital appreciation from selling of my US stocks into my tax return? How much percentage?
      Im a Filipino. Thank you.

  16. Great post! So helpful.
    I do have a question. Are restricted to buy fixed income. As a non us investor can you buy fixed income products such as us treasury bonds, notes and bills?

    Thank for your answer.

  17. Hi katie,

    Good day! This is very informative, thank you.
    I’m having some trouble filling up Part II “Claim of Tax Treaty Benefits” of the W-8BEN form. I’m currently living in the Philippines. Would you know what should be inputted in this entire part?

    Thanks 🙂

  18. Hey! Great read. Thanks to you I was able to open account 🙂

    Question, have you had experience opening a margin account as a non-us alien?

    I was told I couldn’t because I live in the Philippines… I will call them to clarify, but I would love to hear your experience if any!

    1. Hi Elijah!

      Great to hear that I was able to help you.

      Regarding opening a margin account, I dont have any experience since that’s not part of my investing strategy.

      Please share with us any information you get from TD about opening a margin account.

      Katie Scarlett

  19. My wife is from Philippines. She was told she could not open a TDAmeritrade account as a European resident but could as a Philippine resident. She can provide a Philippine address, but must her funding of the account also be from Philippines? If so, how can she get round the Philippine exchange control regulations which prohibit her from just going into the bank and ordering or wiring foreign currency. Would she be allowed to fund her account from one of her banks in the EU. Or would it be better if she opened an account, using her address in Philippines, with a US bank, as a non resident alien?

    1. Anthony,

      I think TD would also check the funding source. If they see that your wife send money from her European account, there’s a chance they will halt/reject the transactions (but retain the portfolio and funds sent from the Philippines).

      She can certainly just walk into a bank and request to transfer funds from her Philippine account to her TD account. There’s no prohibition on money transfer except that for transfers more than 10k usd, there’s a waiting time due to money laundering laws. But transfering funds is not prohibited.

      Thanks for reading my blog!

  20. Hi, a 2 weeks ago I applied for a new td account but still no response and also I’m afghan but I live Turkey I have provided everything they asked but I’m still not sure what to do?

    1. It’s actually not there. Readers who were not allowed to open an account directly contacted TD Ameritrade to ask for reasons. Mostly, it’s national regulations preventing the opening of a US brokerage account.

  21. Hi Katie,
    I’m interested in opening a brokerage account too. Have you also considered Charles Schwab too? Their rates can be found here -> https://www.schwab.com/pricing. Also, what are tax implications when you’re an NRA? I’ve inquired with Schwab and they say it depends on the treaty rules of the country you are residing.

  22. Great information- Thanks for the post
    I have one query- I did not see any information on Bank account that is linked to the AT account- Do we have to open a US bank account ? or is it linked to your account in your country (Philippines)

    1. You can only link an account to TD Ameritrade if it’s a US bank account. If the bank account is in another country, you can’t link it. You can send the funds via wire transfer instead.

      Thanks for reading my blog!

  23. Hi Katie!
    This blog is very useful for me. Thanks for writing this.
    I would like also to ask if it is ok to send them my local bank statement for proof of address and after they approve my application, I am planning to fund my TD account with my newly opened dollar account (still from a local bank in Philippines)?

  24. Hello again!

    Is there a guide on how to upload documents for my account application using moveit.tdameritrade.com?
    I mean, when I get to the site, it requires me to sign in. If I click “don’t have an account” button it will ask for the recipient’s address. Where can I find the e-mail of TD ameritrade?
    For foxzero it ain’t free if it is more than 3 pages. And I have a total of 10 pages for my documents.
    Thank you very much for answering my qeustions.

    1. I personally haven’t uploaded anything through moveit.tdameritrade.com myself. It’s one reader’s recommendation.

      Unfortunately, you’d have to fork a little bit of money to used Fax Zero but I think shouldn’t be an issue since that’s part of doing business. That’s the easiest way to submit requirements to them and one reader mentioned that TD got the docs and already opened their brokerage account. If you’re not comfortable sending through Fax Zero, maybe you can find another online fax service? Please update us on what service you will use.

        1. Hi, just reporting in that I was able to open one using my UMID and an old personal copy of my NBI for good measure. You just need to send a letter stating that you don’t have a passport.

  25. Hi! Great read. It’s very insightful.

    For the W-8BEN form, I’m planning to use the platform to trade forex. With what I know there’s no taxes with that. So should I still fill out that part? Should I just state that I plan to get dividends when actually im just going to use it for forex just to be able to submit the form?

    Also, If I do put down that its for dividends, what am I suppose to put in the “explain the additional conditions in the article and paragraph the beneficial owner meet to be eligible for the rate of withholding part”?

    1. Hi Gab,

      Thanks for visiting my site. You can start by reading this post and the related posts. If you have specific questions please let me know in the comments. Good luck!

    1. Dear Danica,

      Since I’m not based in the Philippines at the moment, I haven’t funded by TD Ameritrade account through a local bank, but I think any big, national bank like BPI and BDO should be able to wire the funds to TD.

      KS

  26. Hi Katie, very helpful and informative article. Thank you!

    Was wondering – what’s the process in withdrawing funds from my TD Ameritrade account? Would a local Philippine Peso bank account suffice?

    1. Dear K,

      I haven’t tried withdrawing from my account yet since i’m holding for the long-term. But I’m sure that they can transfer the money to a local account. Just be mindful of the conversion rates.

      KS

  27. Hi Katie, Really loved your article, but unfortunately I live in Sydney Australia so do you have any recommendations. Further I would be happy to chat with you by email and might be able to pass on some lucrative US stock info if you are interested. My details are below

  28. Hi, I live in the Netherlands and the chat support mentioned that since 15/03/2018 it’s not possible to open an account for citizens of the Netherlands. Anyone from the Netherlands having the same problem? What alternative(s) is/are there ? Please help me out. I would like to daytrade us stocks (starting with low budget)..

    Kind regards,

    Mar

  29. Hi, it seems they are restricting my application. I get this error message after I selected that I am living in the Philippines and not a citizen/resident of US:

    We can’t open your account at this time.
    Based on the information you provided, you’re not eligible to open a TD Ameritrade account. If you have any questions or would like to speak to a New Client Consultant, call us at 800-454-9272.

    Do you know if there were recent changes for new applicants?

    1. Luis,

      That’s interesting. Can you share with us more information or updates on this?

      I know for a fact that Philippines-based Filipinos can open an account.

      Please let us know if you hear back from them.

      KS

  30. I am also a TD Ameritrade client and I think that we are both going to be royally screwed. Charles Schwab has a policy of abandoning clients who have moved to South Korea, as they are already abandoning clients in France and Italy. The merger will be finalized in June or July, so it is best that you look for other options. I am in the process of deciding when to fund an account at Interactive Brokers. I have opened an account at Brookfield Investments. I had an account in the US with Charles Schwab and I was compelled to move it. Fortunately, TD Ameritrade was there, but I expect to left up the proverbial creek without an oar due to this merger. I trade actively and I am really annoyed.

  31. Hello, great pos! I live in Japan and just tried to open an account with TD Ameritrade and was refused. I found the following after reading their small print:

    ‘This is not an offer or solicitation in any jurisdiction where we are not authorized to do business or where such offer or solicitation would be contrary to the local laws and regulations of that jurisdiction, including, but not limited to persons residing in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, UK, and the countries of the European Union.’

    So, looks like quite a few places are excluded from trading.
    Guess I’ll look into Interactive Brokers Pro (they don’t have IKBR Lite for people living in Japan).

  32. Thanks katie. Great blog! I have been dabbling in New Zealand and Australian shares for years but the fishing pool is small and no on-line brokerages seem interested in New Zealand residents. Responsible stewardship of our savings is a must. Your information is like a pot of gold to me as the pool of value stocks in the USA is so much larger. I have applied for an account on-line and posted away the required documents, so am waiting to see if TD Ameritrade can come through for me. Full credit to you for your diligent research and persistent door knocking. Regarding the ITIN or Individual Taxation Identification Number, it appears the IRS will settle for my New Zealand TIN as part of the W-8BEN application instead of me having to wait 4 to 6 weeks applying for a USA ITIN. We will find out. 🙂
    Thank you once again. In Christ Jesus, Hugh Wilson.

    1. Hugh, I’m a NZ-resident & Citizen and have a US brokerage account with Firstrade – Been with them since June 2019 and had no issues with signing up, nor any since with their service. If TDA doesn’t work out then give them a try: http://www.firstrade.com Cheers,
      Pete

    2. Hi Hugh, I am a fellow kiwi looking to open an account with TD Ameritrade also. I wanted to pick your brains and see if you were successful at all? Happy to see you thought they would accept a NZ IRD number instead of having to apply for a US ITIN number. Any other tidbits you learned along the way they may help me avoid the same pitfalls? I am at the stage of needing to send the forms back to them but don’t want to deal with the delays of incorrect info being sent and having to resend etc. Anyway, appreciate any help you can provide at all. Cheers…Damian

  33. Hello, my concern is about the taxes, how a non us citizen can handle taxes while investing in the US stock market ?? How do you pay taxes living outside USA, and is it easy to pay it? Or bureaucracy makes it harder ? I really liked your post and found it helpful and really interesting, thank you for sharing with us your experience !

    1. Hi Eddy,

      On the US side, I wrote a blog post regarding taxation of dividends and sale of US stocks. You can read it here: https://katiescarlettneedsmoney.com/taxation-on-us-stocks-of-non-resident-aliens/

      Basically, the US does not tax sales of US stocks of non-resident aliens (individuals) but dividends are taxed at 30% if your country does not have a bilateral income tax treaty with the US.

      You still have to check your country’s tax laws if you have taxes due for your US investments. Each country’s different, but most country only tax income earned within their territories.

      Best,

      KS

  34. Hello! Thanks for the tutorial !
    I am wonder if it’s possible pass through the problem from non resident & countries restrictions. We could subscribe a US shipping address (easy) and open a US bank account. With this, we could get the letter from the bank with the US shipping address and no problem with country restriction ?
    What do you think ?

    1. Sim,

      I haven’t heard of anyone opening an account with TD that way so I can’t say if it will work or not. Of course, there’s also the possibility that once they find out you opened an account fraudulently it will be suspended.

  35. Thanks for this!

    One of your commenters mentioned that PH residents were not allowed to open an account at one point – I had the same experience around June/July 2019. So it was a welcome surprise that I was able to complete the application (pending required docs) after attempting to create an account again (literally, just now) after seeing this post.

    I already have an Interactive Brokers account but it’s taking them long to approve my options trading request so I looked around for an alternative brokerage and it turns out TD Ameritrade has a better platform for options trading (and I can tell, based on watching videos on Think or Swim and the education resources they provide, that they are better).

    I’m planning to keep my IB account though, as I prefer to keep my retirement investing on non-US domiciled ETFs to avoid US Estate tax (look this up, if you haven’t yet – it’s a bummer, but as long as your assets don’t exceed $60,000 yet, you’re not liable to it).

    1. Hey!

      Not to ruin any celebrations here, but I’ll recommend sticking to IB if you want to trade options or day trade with margin (if you are from the Philippines).
      It seems like they don’t allow our place of residence for margin trading, which is the first step in the application for options.This is the same with Forex and Futures.

      However, this is not to discourage you or anyone. Keep trying as you did with the TD Ameritrade application! BUT, I found out according to TD Ameritrade that it is the Philippines’ law that does not allow its citizen to get a margin account in the US… Bizarre! (You can find this on TDA’s twitter.)

      I wish somebody told me this as well before investing my time in TDA, but I’m happy day trading with a cash account for now. I’ll probably move to IB one day if I decide I need margin for multiple day trades 🙂

      Happy trading!

  36. Hello,
    Thank you for your nice blog post. I also tried opening an account and got an email saying I had to submit my W8 BEN form again because I had inadvertently left a field blank. I initially sent all my documentation by post but to do things faster this time, I used FaxBurner. FaxBurner says the fax went through fine but I never got any confirmation from the bank so I sent it again the next day and still nothing. Now I would like to contact them by email to ask but I can’t find any email address to write to. What address did you use to get in touch with them and send them queries/documentation? I would really appreciate it!

  37. Hello! Thank you so much for the post! One quick question: what do you put for ‘Part II Claim of Tax Treaty Benefits’? I’m also in Korea but can’t find the information reagrding this section..

  38. Can anyone help, i am trying to register in moveit.tdameritrade to send my documents, they are asking for recipient Email(s). What should i put there?

    1. Hi Fuji,

      Several people mentioned they cant send the files there. I suggest you send the docs via an online fax service. You have to pay a bit but look at it as a small investment.

  39. Hello! Thank you so much for this information. I just wanted to ask if you think you would earn higher investing in Vanguard index funds via TD Ameritrade as a resident in the Philippines than say, investing in PSEI index funds? I heard you say that PSEI Index Funds have higher management fees than American index funds, however, considering that Filipinos in the Phils have to pay not more than 25% withholding tax when investing in the US, will we earn higher investing in PSEI or Vanguard via TD Ameritrade? Thanks in advance

    1. The 25% withholding tax is for dividends. Philippine dividend tax is 10%. But as you noted, there are other fees too, like the annual management fee and capital gains tax. Philippine index funds are so much more expensive than US ETFs. The lowest fees for PH index funds is .5% by FMETF. Vanguard’s is .03% annually. That’s more than 10x higher.

    2. Hi Joshue,

      I will address your second question first: if you’re investing in US index funds as a non resident alien, the only withholding that will be collected is for the dividends, which is 25% under the Philippines-US treaty on income tax. For Philippine investments, taxes against dividends is 10%. Again, these rates are for dividends and not for the sale of your stock holdings.

      About earnings, although the PSEi growth can be higher, it’s very volatile. US indices can also be described as volatile but not at the same level of volatility as ours.

      Also as you pointed out, Ph index funds charge expensive fees which eat your gains. Of course even in years when your holdings decreased in value, fees will still be taken out. So the lower the fees, the more of the money you keep.

  40. Hi, great article. I have one question, as for today, is TD Ameritrade the best option for a NRA to invest in US stocks and index funds, ETFs, etc. I want to buy and hold the stocks for a long long time.

    Cheers,
    Xavier

  41. Hi Katie, thank u very much for such an informative post! You made it sound doable and I’ve already initiated starting an account. However I’m not familiar with FTIN. Can you share more about this? It’s one of the requirements in the form. Thank you again !

    1. According to IRS, it’s a number they issue to tax payers who do not have a social security number. If you’re a non resident alien and applying for a TD account, you dont need it.

  42. Hi Katie, thank you for sharing your experience, it has been useful for me but I have 2 questions:
    1. I’m a Colombian currently working in Chile and I might stay here just for the next 2 years. I’m planing to send my application form to TD Ameritrade with the information of the Chilenian statement bank but I wanted to know, at the time I go back to my country, would I have any trouble if I withdraw the money from the TD Ameritrade account and I transfer it to a Colombian bank, that Of course, won’t be the same as the one of the statement sent? I read that you are from PH living in KR also wanted to know, in case you want to go back to your country, how will you manage this situation?
    2. Do you know any source of information where I could see the tax rates in the US that will be charge for investing in an index fund?

    Best regards,
    Martin

    1. Hello Martin,

      I cant dont foresee any problem with transferring money on an account in a third country. This is of course contingent on US policies, ex: is the third country under US sanctions? If not, there shouldn’t be any problem with money transfers to accounts under your name.

      2. You can check if your country of citizenship and residence have bilateral treaties on income taxes with the US. The list and copies of the actual treaties are in the IRS website (you can google the exact link). You have to read carefully bec some treaties only cover citizens while others cover non-citizens who are residents.

      Goodluck!

  43. Hi ,

    Just if you help me , want to know what is the requirements to open an account for UAE resident ? I am not from UAE but i am resident there .

    Thanks

  44. Hi Katie,

    I did the wire transfer from my bank account in Taiwan to my TD Ameri account in USA last week. Today the bank told me that remittance to USA was failed, even though I filled out all required information such as swift code, ABA code, bank name, bank address of TD Ameri in USA, my TD Ameritrade account number (9 numbers). I have no clue how to handle this issue. I paid some expensive fees for wire transfer, so I don’t want to make it waste like this. Please tell me how to solve this problem.

    1. Hi Hector,

      I have no idea why it would fail, you should probably ask your bank. For what it’s worth, my bank here in South Korea said that the transfer was also hard for them to process but they found a way to do it.

      Good luck.

  45. Hi Katie,

    I am Malaysian, so i guess that means i have to open TD ameritrade SG account instead of the US one? Apparently, TDA SG charges a flat $10.65 fee for stocks and ETF while TDA US charges zero. So there is a huge difference.

    Jason

  46. Hello,

    Is there another way for me to provide a proof of residence? I am living with my parents, so I definitely do not have any gas/electricity/utility bill named after me except for my credit card statement which they do not accept. Help..

    1. Hi Aldrin, I asked TD Ameritrade the same thing before and they said that the closest alternative is a letter from your bank addressed to you. Not sure tho what kind of letter but definitely not your credit card statement.

      1. Hello ma’am,

        It’s me again. I need some advice. I have some gains already from a few blue chip companies here in the PH Stock Exchange. Now my dilemma is should I sell all those now? Take profit and then convert to USD and invest in VOO instead? Or leave it to grow as it is and just set aside a portion of my salary every month to convert in USD and eventually VOO? I’m planning to leave FMETF only in my COL Financial (still invest half my salary here and half on VOO) and focus on VOO if ever… please advise 🙂

        BTW how long does TD Ameritrade usually process new accounts? My files are for verification since May 25. I wonder if I could still get rejected? (I hope not)

        1. Hi Aldrin,

          I think before I answer this, I urge you to think about your over-all investment strategy first. This will help you in deciding whether or not something is “wise”.

          For example, if you’re a Boglehead that follows the 3-fund investing, then you know what to do and where to put your money. Think about your investing framework and everything else will be easier.

          Regarding your TD application, I mentioned in the post that the overall process took months because of some complications. Other people’s application took weeks. So to answer your question, it depends on whether or not your requirements were deemed acceptable to the company. Anyway, they will contact you via email if they need additional documents.

          Good luck

          1. Hello Katie,

            Thank you for the help. Yes, I was able to decide about my investment strategy now. I guess I will just stick to my original plan. Time to accumulate VOO for now.

            By the way I just want to give you an update about my TD application, I received an e-mail that my application was approved already. It took roughly 2 weeks? Not bad considering the situation in the US. Either way, I’m thankful for this informative article you wrote because I honestly don’t have any idea investing in US stocks until I found your post. More power! 🙂

          2. Hi Katie,

            is it possible to have a US relative fund my td ameritrade account using their own online bank apps? I will provide my account number and name so that they can input those in their own bank apps to transfer any amount of USD in my td ameritrade account? Similar to funding COL financial here where anyone can fund my account as long as they have my account number? I’m not really sure if it is the same process.. please advise 🙂

  47. Thank you sa info Ms. Katie. Regarding w8ben form Item#10(special rates and conditions), meron pa bang other special rates and provisions na pwede ilagay para mabawasan pa ung income tax aside po dun Sa tax treaty na 25%. Thanks

  48. Hi Scarlett, Is there anyway you can fund Ameritrade account online? Im in Mexico and could create account but not sure how to use wire transfers and how expensive It Is. Also what the process would be if need to withdraw in the future??

  49. Hello Scarlett, can you really make a tax treaty (PH-US) claim if you are an OFW? In Philippines, OFWs are considered as not resident anymore. On the other hand, the country where you currently live and work is considering you as a resident. Can you kindly clarify this part please? Thank you in advance!

    1. Rap,

      The Philippines taxes all income you earn, regardless of where the income was earned (the reason why there is a special law that exempts OFWs from being taxed in the Philippines, in addition to double taxation treaties). Each country has their own taxation regime and different treaty terms with the US. This is why you have to check the local taxation laws as well as the bilateral treaty that your host country signed with the US.

      1. Hi Scarlett,

        For OFWs we file our taxes in our current country of residence right? ?Based on the W-8BEN form, the permanent residence address is the address in the country where you annually file your income tax return. Does this mean that you are still filing income tax return in the Philippines even if you are an OFW residing in Korea? I’m based in Malaysia and I file my tax income here so I thought this should be my tax residence and due to this I will not able to claim for the tax treaty for PH-US. Also, if you claim for this tax treaty does this mean your residence address in your W-8BEN form was your PH address?

        1. Rap,

          Cross-border investing is a gray area. There are many investments/money that simply cannot be taxed because nobody knows who has jurisdiction or right of taxation.

          In general, the income earned in one country is taxed in that same country, except in some exceptional cases, such as the US and the Philippines. The latter two countries tax the income of their citizens wherever the income is earned in the world, that is why there are treaties against dual taxation. Notice that I said income (money earned by exchanging labor with money, among others), because investments are taxed differently from income.

          But most countries do not follow this regime. Many countries cannot care less how much you earn when you are abroad and will not tax you for income earned when you are not in the territory.

          So in your case, I suggest you check the bilateral treaty of your host country with the US and check what it says. Does it cover only citizens or does it also cover permanent residents? I don’t know, so you better check the terms of the treaty.

          Best,

          KS

  50. Hi Katie,This is Leo from India. I’m planning to open account with TD Ameritrade as I am a Non-Us Resident. I have few questions i.) Does the commission fee is still Zero while trading equity Delivery ii.) Do they charge any extra fee while fund transferring to the Trading account and the vice versa while taking funds out.

  51. Hey Katie thank you for all the useful information. I am doing all the comparisons for international accounts and have ended up between TD, Shwab Intl and TastyWorks. Yet, tha last two don’t offer the ability to purchase mutual funds. Are you able to buy mutual funds in your account? Such as this one?

    https://www.morganstanley.com/im/en-gb/intermediary-investor/funds-and-performance/morgan-stanley-investment-funds/equity/global-opportunity.shareClass.A.html

    Thank you for the good content! Keep it up! 😀

  52. Hello Katie! Great Content! keep it up! You can purchase mutual funds as a non US citized in your TD Ameritrade Account? It is key for me to decide where to invest. Thank you, I am very curious about this one…:D It doesn’t have to contain that one specifically but I would like to understand what funds can I purchase through TDAmeritrade, thank you 😀

    https://www.morganstanley.com/im/en-gb/intermediary-investor/funds-and-performance/morgan-stanley-investment-funds/equity/global-opportunity.shareClass.A.html

  53. Hi Katie! Thanks for these words.

    I am familiarizing myself w investing in general, but I need some assistance with some of this jargon…

    I am a Korean citizen, living in Germany – I don’t really know what this means in terms of taxes… does that mean I just have to look at the double taxation relief for Korean citizens from this: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-trty/korea.pdf? It seems like based on dividends, I can get taxed 10% or at max 25%. I’m not sure how my residence in Germany will affect this….

    I am quite confused and very lost, and I really don’t want to get in any IRS troubles haha…

    Thanks for your help in advance..

  54. Hi Katie, thank you so much for this very useful content. May I ask what to put on ‘Part II Claim of Tax Treaty Benefits’? I’m a Philippine resident.

  55. Hi Katie,

    Great step-by-step tutorial explaining how to open a US brokerage account for non-US citizens or residents.

    I did it myself. Took me a 3 days to apply and have my account active. The following week, when I was able to link my US bank account to my TD Ameritrade account to transfer funds, I was notified that my TD Ameritrade account was going to be closed because my country of residence, Ecuador, was not allowed to apply.

    They should have a list of the countries clearly stated from first step. If I knew this, I would have not wasted my time and chosen Interactivebrokers.

    It’s not just: United Arab Emirates, and Australia not allowed.

Let me know what you think

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