How to buy and trade US shares in the UK

The US stock market is home to many mega-cap companies, including Apple, Google and Amazon. Learn more about buying and trading shares in a US-based company with our guide: how to buy and trade US shares in the UK.

Buying and trading US shares in the UK: the basics

Buying or trading shares is an integral part of most investor’s overall wealth creation strategy. But what should you do if you live in the UK and you are interested in shares from a company listed in the US?

With IG, you could be trading or investing in thousands of US shares in the UK for less, and in the same way as you would UK shares. There are just a few extra considerations around tax rules, dealing costs and currency conversion. If you buy shares, you can also earn dividends if the US company pays them to shareholders. Plus, if you already have investments in US shares, you can transfer your existing holdings to IG quickly and easily.

Open a share dealing account

You need a share dealing account to buy US stock via our share dealing service. You can open an IG share dealing account through our website or app in just a few minutes and start buying shares right away.

Once you’re set up, you’ll be able to choose from over 10,000 shares, funds and investment trusts – all at a low cost. It’s easy to manage the account yourself, and you have access to dedicated 24-hour support if you need assistance.

Open your share dealing account

Complete a W-8BEN form

No individual can buy US shares without a W-8BEN form – it is a requirement of the American Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Therefore, the second step to buying US shares in the UK is to fill out this form. You don’t have to download anything; it can be completed on our online platform. The W-8BEN is to confirm that you are not a resident of the US. It enables us to process an individual tax benefit on your behalf – a reduction of up to 30% in the amount of US tax you’re charged on dividends from the US shares you buy.

Understand the charges to buy US shares

Charges (fees and commission) for US shares differ depending on whether you buy the shares online or over the phone. When trading US shares with IG, you will pay a minimum charge of $15, or 2 cents a share. We charge $50 when you buy US shares over the phone.

There may be other charges and taxes including custody fees, additional services and physical share certificate costs. We may also charge you a fee if we are required to perform a service on your behalf that is not set out in our product details.

Lastly, dividends may be charged a ‘withholding tax’, which is equivalent to your UK basic rate income tax liability but exempts you from paying any further tax on your foreign dividends.

View a full list of our charges for buying US shares

You can only buy US shares in US dollars. IG will automatically convert your pounds into US dollars, charging a foreign exchange fee of just 0.5%. Remember, because you’re holding non-sterling assets, you’re exposed to foreign exchange risk and any currency fluctuations will affect the value of your international shareholding.

View a full list of our FX charges

Choose the US shares you want to buy

You can choose from hundreds of popular US shares, including Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Google. Once you’ve opened and funded your account, you can go to the ‘finder’ panel and enter the name of the US shares you want to buy.

Buy US shares

You can buy US shares through the IG share dealing service. First, open your share dealing account online and deposit your funds. Next, log in and go to the share dealing platform and type in the name of the company shares you want to buy in the ‘finder’ panel. Finally, choose whether you want to buy the shares at the current market price or if you want to set an order to buy the shares at a specified price. A limit order, for example, sets the price you are happy to pay and executes automatically when the price level is hit.

One of the features of share dealing is dividend payments. If you are due to receive dividend payments from the shares you own, we will pay them straight into your IG account once received.

Benefits of buying US shares with IG

  1. Low costs and best possible prices
  2. Wide range of shares to choose from
  3. Dedicated support line, 24 hours a day (8am Sunday to 10pm Friday)
  4. Ease of access with a mobile app to manage your investments

Tax benefits

An IG share dealing portfolio can be placed in an Individual Savings Account (ISA), shielding your profits and income from capital gains tax. Likewise, investing in an IG self-invested personal pension (SIPP), you’ll receive tax relief on your contributions and pay no capital gains tax or income tax on your investments. Most foreign countries don’t charge stamp duty on your international share purchases, but if they do, it’s normally quite low.1

Trading US shares in the UK

Trading US shares in the UK is an alternative if you do not want to buy the shares outright.

Trading is different to share dealing in that you don’t own the underlying asset, so you can go long or short on the shares. When you decide to trade US shares, you can trade using leverage, which means you put down a small deposit to gain full market exposure.

However, leverage magnifies your exposure because your profit or loss will be based on the full size of your position. If you want to open a leveraged position, you can do so via a CFD trading or spread betting account.

CFD trading and spread betting on US shares

A CFD is a contract in which you agree to exchange the difference in the price of shares from when you open your position to when you close it. You can buy CFDs to go long or sell them to go short. When you trade shares via spread betting, you are placing a bet on whether its price is headed up or down. As the share price moves in your chosen direction, you make a profit. If it moves against you, you make a loss.

Find out more about CFD trading and spread betting

Benefits of trading US shares with IG

  • You can go long or short – speculating on rising or falling prices
  • Since you don’t own the underlying asset, you don’t have to pay stamp duty
  • When you trade CFDs, you can offset your losses against profits for capital gains tax liabilities
  • With spread betting, your profits are exempt from capital gains tax (UK only)
  • You can use spread betting or CFDs as a hedging tool
  • No commission payable when spread betting – only a spread, and overnight funding charges if your position stays open

Extended hours trading on US shares

The US stock market opens from 2:30pm to 9pm (UK time), so you can trade US shares trade up until 9pm. Extended hours are also available to share dealing clients, from 12pm to 10.30pm Monday to Thursday and until 10pm on a Friday.

CFD and spread bet clients can trade up until 1am Monday to Thursday and 10pm on a Friday (UK time).

Please note that the hours mentioned here depend on stock exchange opening hours, and may vary or change as countries shift to and from daylight savings time.

Learn about weekend trading with IG.

1Tax laws are subject to change and depend on individual circumstances. Tax law may differ in a jurisdiction other than the UK.


This information has been prepared by IG, a trading name of IG Markets Limited. In addition to the disclaimer below, the material on this page does not contain a record of our trading prices, or an offer of, or solicitation for, a transaction in any financial instrument. IG accepts no responsibility for any use that may be made of these comments and for any consequences that result. No representation or warranty is given as to the accuracy or completeness of this information. Consequently any person acting on it does so entirely at their own risk. Any research provided does not have regard to the specific investment objectives, financial situation and needs of any specific person who may receive it. It has not been prepared in accordance with legal requirements designed to promote the independence of investment research and as such is considered to be a marketing communication. Although we are not specifically constrained from dealing ahead of our recommendations we do not seek to take advantage of them before they are provided to our clients. See full non-independent research disclaimer and quarterly summary.

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