Opening account at Robinhood for foreign residents, E.U. and non-U.S. citizens. Can international investors sign up with Robinhood without SSN?

If you are a foreign investor outside the U.S. who wants to take advantage of Robinhood’s commission-free trading, you are out of luck because the app-based broker is currently only available to those residing in the U.S., United Kingdom, and Australia. There are, however, some alternative brokers that are growing in popularity that also offer discounted or commission-free trading and are open to most foreign investors. This article will go over two of the most popular options.

Who Qualifies for a Robinhood Account?

On their website, Robinhood indicates that you must have a valid Social Security Number (SSN) in order to open an account (Taxpayer Identification Numbers are not sufficient). This means that you must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident with a legal address within the 50 U.S. States or Puerto Rico. The only way for a non-US citizen to get an SSN, and therefore be able to open a Robinhood account, would be if you have a valid U.S. visa.

What is the Alternative to Robinhood?

For non-US investors that don’t meet the above qualifications to invest with Robinhood, we recommend opening an account with Firstrade or Zackstrade.

ZacksTrade Website

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Firstrade Website

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Firstrade Commissions

Stocks and ETFs $0
Options $0
Mutual funds $0
Treasury Bills, Notes, Municipal and Agency Bonds, Zeros & Strips net yield basis
CDs $30 for primary market CDs, net yield basis for secondary market CDs

Firstrade lowered their commission charges on stocks and ETFs to $0. Options are costing $0 per contract. All mutual funds are now free to buy and sell. Also free are real-time quotes, DRIP services, and e-statements. 

All fixed income products (like bonds) are subject to markup. One thing that is really nice about Firstrade is no minimum balance or deposit requirements - anyone can open an account with $0. Additionally, there are no account fees for account holders like you might see from many other brokers.

New Account Setup

New account setup is straightforward and painless. This can be done entirely on the website (might be different for your country) which guides users through each step of the process. During the setup process, new users may choose between a margin or a cash-only account and may decide to add options trading as well.

Mutual Funds, ETFs and Options Trading

Firstrade uses Morningstar, an independent investment research firm, to list and detail all mutual and exchange-traded funds. Firstrade has a powerful mutual and ETF funds screener. This screener allows users to search by numerous variables such as YTD returns, total number of assets, minimum possible purchase, as well as keyword searches.

For options traders Firstrade offers many really great tools. First, a feature called OptionsPlay gives suggestions and tips for any stock. Second, there is a profit/loss simulating tool that offered in the program. Strategies for calls/puts is available near the bottom of the program on the trade bar.

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Customer Service

At Firstrade telephone customer service is available from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. EST Monday through Friday. During these same hours, there is also the option to chat with a live agent online, including those who speak Cantonese or Mandarin. Traveling outside the U.S. should be no problem as Firstrade offers international numbers and the ability to receive a call directly from a Firstrade agent. Fax, mail, and email is also an option. The only branch locations, however, are in New York and are open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. EST. This makes it a bit difficult for those who wish to visit the location. They are also open select hours on Saturdays.

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Open Firstrade Account

Trading Technology

Firstrade’s website is very user-friendly. A trade bar at the bottom of the screen holds a ton of capabilities and will become your best friend. It may be used to complete many tasks including gathering information on securities’ spreads, volumes, graphs, price, etc. Orders involving limits, trailing, stops, and more can be made right from the trade bar. There is a built-in options feature that makes viewing options change and making put/call orders a breeze.

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A dashboard is available which gives information on daily market trends, big movers, account information, and big news. Next to this users can see their account balance, position standings, and transaction history. The search tool can be used to locate bids, fixed-income products, new issues, and contains a bond calculator.

Firstrade also offers a robust set of charting tools. Recent events, extended hours, trend visuals, technical indicators and studies (i.e. stochastic, MA, Williams) are all available here. As for charting styles, candlestick patterns, dot patterns, growth %, and dividend effects are all viewable and customizable. Even the cursor can be switched to show crosshairs that cover the chart or a simple circle/ball. Comparisons can be made and exported via a .csv file.

Again, thanks to Morningstar, Firstrade users have access to market research on economic sectors, heatmaps, treasury yields, and training videos. This research is highly robust and covers all types of securities from small to large companies.

Mobile Trading

Firstrade offers a free mobile app compatible with all Apple and Android devices. Users can buy and sell securities, build and maintain their watchlist, and view market indexes. The mobile app does lack the ability to transfer or deposit funds and view video news. Charting is available in the app and users can look back up to one year for any given security. Tick frequency, chart patterns, and technical indicators are all available on the mobile app and may be customized.

Firstrade Advantages

Firstrade is easily the most affordable U.S. stock broker for international citizens wanting to open an investment account at an American company. Other popular brokers may charge as much as $10 to make trades.

The usability of the online platform is a significant pro. The "Trade Bar", for instance, is a slick tool that places all the trading tools in one place. While many brokers do not offer an online chat service, Firstrade does and users should see this as a great benefit.

Alternative to Robinhood For Foreign Citizens Summary

Firstrade offers the best value for stock, ETF, and mutual funds investors. It is a top stock broker offering investment accounts for EU, and other foreign citizens or residents.

Firstrade Website

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