Updated October 28, 2020:

If you want to learn how to get a stock certificate, you will need to be familiar with what a stock certificate is and how owning stock will affect your tax requirements.

What is On a Stock Certificate?

Specifically, a stock certificate is a document that is used to confirm ownership over shares of stock. Included on the certificate will be the following:

  • Your name
  • Business name
  • Number of shares you own in the business
  • Seal of authenticity
  • Signature from someone who has the authority to issue the certificate
  • A CUSIP or CINS number

Before the introduction of online brokers, physical stock certificates were necessary to authenticate stock ownership. While you need not hold a stock certificate to show proof of the number of shares you own in a business, you can still request a paper certificate if need be. Even if the stock is purchased electronically, you can still obtain a paper certificate if you wish to have one on hand. However, keep in mind that you can’t have both a digital registration and a paper certification registration for the same shares. You can only have one or the other.

While the business is required to send you a physical certificate if you request one, it does create additional work for the business to have to draft the certificate, print it out, and mail it to you. Furthermore, businesses are required to record all people who hold stock at the end of the trading day in the computer system; for this reason, businesses generally find it burdensome to have to issue physical stock certificates, particularly if the shareholder ends up selling the stock a few days after purchasing it.

A lot of companies will provide additional documentation advising that they no longer print physical stock certificates; moreover, brokerage firms discourage investors from owning such certificates.

Stock Certificate for Funding

You can use a stock certificate for funding after you have opened a new brokerage account. In fact, most brokers accept this certificate as a form of funding. In order to do so, you will need to mail the certificate to the company. Thereafter, the business will add the amount of money to the newly opened brokerage account. Note that the certificate name must match the name of the brokerage account holder. For example, John Smith can’t take his significant other’s stock certificate and use it to fund his brokerage account, even if his significant other is fine with him doing it.

Obtaining a Stock Certificate

There are a few ways in which to request a physical stock certificate. Below are the ways you can receive a certificate:

  • Ask your broker to obtain it on your behalf
  • Contact the business directly
  • Order the certificate through a transfer agent

You can reach out to your broker and ask that he obtain the certificate for you. This is the easiest way to obtain the certificate because you don’t have to do anything more than request your broker to obtain it for you. Regardless of the type of brokerage firm you are using, i.e. online or full-service brokerage firm, you can have him obtain it on your behalf for a nominal fee. Before you submit your request, you should speak to your broker to find out how long it could take and what the fee will be.

Alternatively, you can reach out to the company directly. If you buy stock from a specific company, you can reach out to that company and ask that it mail you a physical stock certificate. If you are unable to find contact information for the company, you can visit the Secretary of State website in the state where the business operates.

You also have the option of ordering a stock certificate through the company’s transfer agent. A lot of companies issuing shares utilize a transfer agent who handles the company’s stocks. You can find the transfer agent’s name by looking at the company’s annual report. In order to find the report, you can visit the SEC website and search the company’s website to find all of the applicable filings, including the annual report.

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