How to buy international and foreign shares in the UK
Some of the biggest stocks in the world are listed overseas, but that doesn’t mean that they’re out of the reach of the average UK investor. Read on to find out how to buy international shares and stocks from the UK.
What's on this page?
Choose how you want to buy international and foreign stocks
There are two ways to buy international stocks – by investing or trading derivatives.
When you are investing in foreign stocks, you are buying shares outright at their full value with the intention of holding onto these shares for a period of time. Trading international shares involves the use of derivative products such as spread bets and contracts for difference (CFDs). These products are traded using leverage, which means you only need a percentage of the value of the position to get started. However, your profits and losses will be calculated on the full position size, so you can lose much more than your initial deposit. Be sure to have an appropriate risk management strategy in place before opening position.
Why would I invest?
- You could receive dividends or income from your interest
- You want to diversify your investment portfolio
- You want to access investment opportunities in another market
- You plan to invest over a fixed period of time (eg 20 years)
- You want to own shares outright in a particular company
- You want voting rights in the companies you invest in
Why would I trade?
- You can open a position with a small initial deposit, called margin
- You’ll use leverage – which can magnify both profits and losses
- You could make a profit against the stock value, whether it goes up or down
- You generally don’t pay tax on spread bets
- CFD profits can be offset against losses as a tax deduction
Open an account
You can choose between opening a share dealing account or a trading account (or both). You can apply for an account on our website or via the IG app.
You’ll be asked a few questions to see whether you qualify for the account you’re applying for. If approved, you’ll have access to a wide range of trading tools, as well as our award-winning web platform.1
Buy international stocks
The process of buying international shares may vary slightly depending on which market you are interested in. Discover the details of buying foreign stocks below.
Buying international and foreign shares summed up
- International shares can help add diversity to your portfolio
- Many foreign markets can be accessed via our platform
- You can choose to either trade or invest in foreign shares
- Some of the larger international companies are dual-listed, which makes it easier to trade and invest
- However, Chinese regulation means that not all of China’s blue chips can be accessed by overseas investors
- You can open an account with us to start trading and investing in international shares
1 As awarded at the ADVFN International Financial Awards 2020 and Professional Trader Awards 2019.
Publication date :
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.
Explore the markets with our free course
Learn how shares work – and discover the wide range of markets you can spread bet on – with IG Academy's free ’introducing the financial markets’ course.
Put learning into action
Try out what you’ve learned in this shares strategy article risk-free in your demo account.
Ready to trade shares?
Put the lessons in this article to use in a live account – upgrading is quick and easy.
- Trade on over 16,000 popular global stocks
- Protect your capital with risk management tools
- React to breaking news with out-of-hours trading on 70 key US stocks
Inspired to trade?
Put your new knowledge into practice. Log in to your account now.
You might be interested in…
Find out what charges your trades could incur with our transparent fee structure.
Discover why so many clients choose us, and what makes us a world-leading provider of spread betting and CFDs.
Stay on top of upcoming market-moving events with our customisable economic calendar.