Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Dividend Reinvestment Programs and Direct Stock Purchase - Not So Easy For Canadians

I want to avoid brokerage costs as much as possible right now, as I would have to wait a long time to save up enough money to invest and to cover the brokerage costs. I investigated dividend reinvestment programs (DRIPs) and direct stock purchase programs. For a DRIP if you own at least one share, you can participate in dividend reinvestment through companies and their transfer agents. I found www.directinvesting.com is able to transact the one share and enroll me. Even better, in some cases with stock like General Electric (GE) you can participate in a direct stock purchase plan and buy stock directly from their transfer agent.

HOWEVER, you need to write a cheque, drawn in US funds on a US bank with a US address (Basically, the branch needs a 9 digit ABA transit number and has to be located in the US). Hmm, can't open accounts online anymore thanks to the Patriot Act and what not. No trips to the US planned in the near future. Alright, I've had an account with Bank of Montreal since I was six, maybe they can facilitate something....

"In regards to your inquiry, I can advise that, regrettably, BMO Bank of Montreal does not provide the facility you have requested. Please note that we do provide the option to open US Dollar accounts, however we are unable to set up accounts that are held at banks in the United States. I apologize for this limitation."

Well there goes that idea. I'm going to try RBC next, they have a program called RBC Access USA. It looks like it's set up for snowbirds and it looks like the accounts are held with RBC Centura bank. Not much information online, and you have to go in to the branch to set it up. Well Thursday is the day they're open late so wish me luck.

3 comments:

  1. Heh, my US Bank Account (through National City) which I opened while making a trip down does have my Canadian address on it.
    Then again, I requested that. Not sure if they would've been able to put on a US address if I would've liked.
    Keep in touch with what RBC lets you do, I'm interested as well.
    Hopefully you won't run into any tax issues without having a US SSN/Taxpayer ID.

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  2. I should clarify a bit further, the branch needs to have a US address and an ABA (9 digit) transit. So that's basically US banks or branches of foreign banks.

    I presume I can use my Canadian address on the account.

    I should be able to avoid the tax issues by filing a W-8BEN form and get the withholding tax reduced. If not I'll be filing a W-7 for a tax ID number.

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  3. Ah, you should be fine then. I thought you were going to have to pretend to be an American resident.

    The W8-BEN is no big deal.

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Thanks for your input into the discussion.