What is an American Share?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 07 February 2020
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An American share is a share of stock issued by a company that is based outside the United States, but issued to an American investor through the auspices of a transfer agent representing that foreign company. This arrangement for purchasing securities certificates issued by non-US companies must be conducted in accordance with regulations put in place by the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC. The certificates themselves serve as proof of the investor’s claim on the foreign equities and make it possible for investors who are US citizens to enjoy the benefits of owing shares in companies based around the world.


The process of purchasing American share investments requires working through a transfer agent. The agent will have authority from the issuer of the stock to sell shares to international investors, with the provision that the agent comply with any trade regulations that may apply. In the case of the American share, this means the agent must be aware of and willing to comply with the current trade regulations put in place by the SEC in the United States. Compliance with the regulations not only protects the interests of the investor who is making the purchase but also protects the transfer agent in the event of a default on the purchase. The protection afforded to the agent in turn helps to indirectly protect the interests of the issue of the stocks, ensuring the foreign company does not incur any type of inconvenience or loss as the result of the domestic investor from following through on the deal.

For US investors, the American share presents the opportunity to participate in investments that would be difficult if not impossible to secure otherwise. With trade laws varying from nation to nation, the ability to legally make direct deals with issuers may or may not exist. When this is the case, obtaining securities certificates in this manner makes it possible to comply with laws in both nations involved while also making sure that both parties are legally protected in their respective roles as buyer and seller.

Many investors in the United States utilize this American share model as a way to include international investments in their portfolios. Doing so can be a very lucrative arrangement, allowing investors to acquire interests in companies that in some cases have been in business for centuries. As with any type of investment activity, there is some degree of risk with this approach. For this reason, investors should research offers carefully before beginning to work with a transfer agent to acquire the desired securities.



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