When you buy stock and you receive the physical certificates for your own safekeeping, you can transfer that stock to anyone or change the name on the certificate in the event that you marry or set up a trust. Any change to the registration, whether transfer or name change, is called re-registration. If your brokerage house holds your stock for you in street name (in the name of the brokerage firm), you will not have to bother with re-registering certificates should you want to gift stock or change the name of the registered owner.
Check with your brokerage house or the company's investor relations department to find out the name and contact information of the transfer agent handling your stock. The transfer agent performs all re-registration of stock certificates for its client companies. If you choose to have your brokerage house handle the stock transfer, it will do it through the transfer agent and charge you a fee.
Download online, or obtain from your broker or the transfer agent, a Stock Power form for each stock certificate you wish to re-register. You may also need an information form that asks for current registration, new registration and other specific information needed for the re-registration. Check to see what the transfer agent will charge you to re-register the stock, because it may be worth just having your broker do it, if you have a broker who will perform those services. The charges may be comparable, and it would be more convenient for you.
Provide the exact registration information as listed on the certificate and the exact name to whom the stock is to be transferred or re-registered. Print legibly or type this information, and double-check the spelling. Do not use nicknames or abbreviations, unless that is part of the correct new registration.
Send in the certificate you wish to re-register to your broker or to the transfer agent, and keep a copy of it for your own records.
Sign the Stock Power and other forms, and have them Medallion signature guaranteed at your bank. A Medallion signature guarantee is a legally recognized stamp similar to a notary's stamp. Prepare two envelopes: one for the forms and one for the certificate. Once a certificate is signed, it is like an endorsed check. Include a copy of the certificate in the envelope with the forms, because a copy is non-negotiable and can assist the transfer agent or broker in pairing the certificates with the forms.
Mail your certificate and your filled-out Stock Power and registration information forms in the two separate envelopes to the transfer agent via certified mail. You can also take your certificate and forms to your broker's office, if the brokerage firm will be handling the process.
- Wait a few days, and then call your broker or transfer agent to be sure the certificates and forms arrived in good order and the re-registration will proceed. Ask when you can expect to receive the new certificates, and if you don't get them in the specified time frame, call again.
- Transferring stock also carries with it tax liability. Check with your accountant to determine the tax consequences. Because of this, if you are simply changing a name on the registration because of marriage, sign the Stock Power with your new name and your former name.
Victoria Duff specializes in entrepreneurial subjects, drawing on her experience as an acclaimed start-up facilitator, venture catalyst and investor relations manager. Since 1995 she has written many articles for e-zines and was a regular columnist for "Digital Coast Reporter" and "Developments Magazine." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in public administration from the University of California at Berkeley.