Written by The Inspired Investor Team | Published on December 11, 2020

A stock certificate issued by a company proves that you are a shareholder, but the physical pieces of paper are quickly becoming inconvenient in todays digitized world. What can you do? In most cases, you can convert your stock certificate to an electronic record of ownership through the Direct Registration System (DRS).

Why electronic ownership might make sense for you

Converting your certificate to an electronic form of ownership means you can see those Disney shares you got from your grandparents, for example, right in your investment account rather than having to check that valuable piece of paper you may have tucked away.

Having your shares electronically booked means:

  • Quick and easy transfer of ownership. If you want to sell your stock, you dont have to clear your shares for transfer of ownership ahead of time.
  • Security with less cost. No more keeping your share certificates under lock and key, which means potential cost savings.
  • Increased transparency. The market value of your shares, dividends and corporate actions such as stock splits will show up right in your investment account.

How to convert your paper-based certificate to a digital record

First, youll need to contact the companys transfer agent (found on either the face or back of your certificate) and follow their instructions. You can also find this information on a companys website under Investor Relations, or try an online search by entering the company name and transfer agent.

Once you know the transfer agent, here are the steps to follow:

  • Download and complete the DRS Transaction Request Form from the transfer agents website;
  • Submit the form, along with your original physical certificate(s), to the transfer agent as per their instructions;
  • Once your share certificate is converted, a DRS statement will be mailed to your address confirming the shares are registered to you and on the books of the companys transfer agent;
  • To authorize a digital transfer to your account, log into the RBC Direct Investing site. Find the Letter of Authorization to Transfer Security to Non-Registered Account under My Portfolio, Forms & Agreements, Transfer from Another Institution. Complete and sign it;
  • Please call RBC Direct Investing at 1-800-769-2560. A representative will send you a secure email to which you reply by attaching both your DRS statement and letter of authority. In most cases, you can expect to receive the shares in your RBC Direct Investing account within three to five business days.

Things to note:

  • Electronic booking of shares can only be made in non-registered accounts (you can contribute them to a registered account after the fact, if you wish)
  • Some companies do not participate in the Direct Registration System and therefore a DRS statement cannot be produced. You can contact the transfer agent to request that your certificated shares be moved to book shares and electronically transferred to your non-registered account.

View Legal Disclaimer

RBC Direct Investing Inc. and Royal Bank of Canada are separate corporate entities which are affiliated. RBC Direct Investing Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Royal Bank of Canada and is a Member of the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada and the Canadian Investor Protection Fund. Royal Bank of Canada and certain of its issuers are related to RBC Direct Investing Inc. RBC Direct Investing Inc. does not provide investment advice or recommendations regarding the purchase or sale of any securities. Investors are responsible for their own investment decisions. RBC Direct Investing is a business name used by RBC Direct Investing Inc. ® / ™ Trademark(s) of Royal Bank of Canada. RBC and Royal Bank are registered trademarks of Royal Bank of Canada. Used under licence. © Royal Bank of Canada 2018. All rights reserved.

The views and opinions expressed in this publication are for your general interest and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of RBC Direct Investing. Furthermore, the products, services and securities referred to in this publication are only available in Canada and other jurisdictions where they may be legally offered for sale. If you are not currently resident of Canada, you should not access the information available on the RBC Direct Investing website.

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