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How to buy international shares in Australia (2022)

Australia represents just 2% of global trade, leaving investors with various overseas opportunities. Here's how you can compare brokers, fees and products before buying international shares.

We’re reader-supported and may be paid when you visit links to partner sites. We don’t compare all products in the market, but we’re working on it!

4 steps to buying international shares from Australia

  1. Compare brokers with access to global stocks.
  2. Open your account by providing an ID.
  3. Fund your account by transferring money from your bank account.
  4. Search and select the shares you want to invest in and start trading.

Investing in the global share market is a lot like investing in the Australian market. But you'll need a broker that offers you the option to invest overseas.

This guide explains what to look for in an international share trading account, how to open one and what to do with the account once you've opened it.

Read on to learn more or start with the basics of share trading if it's new to you. If you already know how to buy international shares, you can simply compare brokers and open an account.

Share Trading Account Offer

eToro (global stocks)

USD 0

Standard brokerage - US shares

Share Trading Account Offer

Get $0 brokerage on US, Hong Kong and European stocks with trades as little as $50 when you join the world's biggest social trading network.

  • $0 brokerage for US, Hong Kong and European stocks
  • Trades starting from $50
  • Fractional shares
  • Copy top traders
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Important: Share trading carries risk of capital loss.

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Disclaimer: Trading CFDs and forex on leverage is high-risk and losses could exceed your deposits.

Why you should buy international shares

Investors are being urged to think globally as some of the largest opportunities are listed abroad.

Many of the household names that you would be familiar with such as Google, Ford, Unilever, Pfizer and BP are all foreign-owned and listed overseas despite their prevalence in Australia.

And while the Australian market offers opportunities to investors, it is less than 2% of global trade.

As a smaller market, if you exclusively focus on buying Australian shares, you could increase your exposure to Australian economic factors. For example, if Australia goes into a recession that does not impact the rest of the world, your exposure will be negatively impacted compared with an investor who buys shares in both Australia and overseas markets.

Despite the massive opportunities overseas, there is still a myth that investing overseas from Australia is more time-consuming and expensive.

But in fact, it is the complete opposite, with the cheapest brokerage and smaller minimums often being on foreign brokers.

The rest of this guide will help dispel some of these myths and help you buy international shares from Australia.

How to buy international shares

There are 3 main ways that you can access global shares from Australia.

You can invest directly in shares listed overseas such as Meta and Apple by using a broker with an international share trading platform.

Alternatively, investors can purchase a global-themed exchange traded fund (ETF) or managed fund.

Australians can also gain international exposure through contracts for difference (CFDs) that track global shares. (Note: This isn't the same as buying shares directly but instead you are tracking price movements. Investing in CFDs comes with more risk.)

Trade international shares with one of these brokers

1 - 7 of 7
Name Product Standard brokerage for US shares Currency conversion fee Markets
eToro (global stocks)
US$0
50 pips (US$0.50 for every AU$100 exchanged)
Global shares, US shares, ETFs
Zero brokerage share trading on US, Hong Kong and European stocks with trades as low as $50.
Note: This broker offers CFDs which are volatile investment products and most clients lose money trading CFDs with this provider.
Join the world’s biggest social trading network when you trade stocks, commodities and currencies from the one account.
IG Share Trading
US$0
0.70%
ASX shares, US shares, UK shares, ETFs, and more
Exclusive: Finder customers who apply for a share trading account in June will be able to trade Aussie shares from $2.50 commission until the end of August. T&Cs apply.
Enjoy some of the lowest brokerage fees on the market when trading Australian shares, international shares, plus get access to 24-hour customer support.
Tiger Brokers
Exclusive
Tiger Brokers
US$1.99
N/A
ASX shares, Global shares, Options trading, US shares, ETFs
Exclusive to Finder: Sign up to Tiger through Finder and on completion of your first deposit of any amount or transfer of shares receive 4 extra free grab shares. T&Cs apply.
Get started with $0 brokerage on ASX and US stocks for the first 3 months upon completion of your first qualifying deposit. Also receive a free Apple share if you deposit $3,000 or more.
SelfWealth (Basic account)
US$9.5
0.60%
ASX shares, US shares
Trade ASX and US shares for a flat fee of $9.50, regardless of the trade size.
New customers receive free access to Community Insights with SelfWealth Premium for the first 90 days. Follow other investors and benchmark your portfolio performance.
Bendigo Invest Direct
$0
0.60%
ASX shares, Global shares, Options trading, mFunds, ETFs, Warrants
Gain access to 12 markets from one account with Bendigo.
Invest in Australian shares and access major international markets through a trusted local brand. Plus, fine tune your investment knowledge with Bendigo’s advanced research and analysis tools.
Saxo Capital Markets (Classic account)
US$4
1%
ASX shares, Global shares, ETFs
Access 22,000+ stocks on 50+ exchanges worldwide
Low fees for Australian and global share trading, no inactivity fees, low currency conversion fee and optimised for mobile.
Superhero share trading
US$0
50 pips (US$0.50 for every AU$100 exchanged)
ASX shares, US shares, ETFs
Sign up & fund your account with A$100 or more and receive US$10 of Tesla stocks on Superhero. T&Cs apply.
Enjoy $0 brokerage on US stocks and buying ETFs as well as a flat $5 fee to trade Australian shares.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Important: Share trading can be financially risky and the value of your investment can go down as well as up. “Standard brokerage” fee is the cost to trade $1,000 or less of ASX-listed shares and ETFs without any qualifications or special eligibility. If ASX shares aren’t available, the fee shown is for US shares. Where both CHESS sponsored and custodian shares are offered, we display the cheapest option.

1 - 14 of 14
Name Product Minimum Opening Deposit Minimum Opening Deposit Commission - ASX 200 Shares Available markets Platforms
Vantage CFD
$200
$200
$8 AUD or 0.08%
Forex, CFD shares, Indices, Cryptocurrencies, Commodities
MetaTrader 4
MetaTrader 5
TradingView
Disclaimer: CFD Service. Your capital is at risk.
Vantage FX has some of the lowest CFD trading fees in Australia, plus you can place trades and find global trends through the new TradingView charts platform.
eToro CFD
US$200
US$200
No commission
Forex, Shares, Indices, Cryptocurrencies, Commodities, ETFs
eToro Trading Platform
Note: This broker offers CFDs which are volatile investment products and most clients lose money trading CFDs with this provider.
Join the largest social trading network in the world.
Plus500 CFD
$200
$200
No commission
CFD on Forex, Commodities, Cryptocurrency, Indices, Shares, Options and ETF's
Plus500 Trading Platform
Disclaimer: CFD Service. Your capital is at risk.
Trade CFDs on Australian and International shares, indices, cryptocurrencies, commodities and more.
Capital.com CFD
$0
$0
$0
Forex, Shares, Indices, Commodities, Crypto, ETFs
Mobile Trading Platform
Disclaimer: Volatile investment product. Most clients lose money trading with this provider.
Trade with an award winning platform that allows access to over 4,000 markets, across CFDs with leverage across the world’s most popular indices, commodities, cryptocurrencies, shares and currency pairs.
AvaTrade CFD
$100
$100
No commission
ASX shares, global shares, indices, metals, cryptocurrencies, commodities, ETFs, options, forex
AvaTradeGO
MetaTrader 4
MetaTrader 5
Disclaimer: Trading CFDs and forex on leverage is high-risk and losses could exceed your deposits.
Trade from an extensive selection of forex and CFD products, while getting access to extensive education resources, all for as little as $100.
ThinkMarkets CFD
$0
$0
$0 for standard account
Forex, indices, commodities, metals, share CFDs, ETF CFDs, futures
MetaTrader4, MetaTrader5, ThinkTrader
Disclaimer: Trading CFDs and forex on leverage is high-risk and losses could exceed your deposits.
Trade forex, commodities and CFDs using MetaTrader4/MetaTrader5 platforms or access advanced analysis tools through ThinkTrader.
IG CFD broker
$0
$0
0.08% with $7 minimum
Indices, FX, Shares, Commodities, Cryptocurrency, ETPs, Options, Interest Rates, Bonds
MetaTrader 4
ProReal Time
IG Trading Platform and Apps
L2
Disclaimer: CFD Service. Your capital is at risk.
Trade from over 15,000 markets with Australia's leading service for CFD trading and forex.
IC Markets CFD (True ECN Account)
US$200
US$200
0.1% per side
ASX shares, global shares, indices, commodities, forex, cryptocurrencies
MetaTrader 4
MetaTrader 5
cTrader
Disclaimer: CFD Service. Your capital is at risk.
Trade 230+ different products with fast execution under 40 milliseconds on average.
Go Markets CFD
$200
$200
$0
Stocks, Indices, Commodities, Crypto
MetaTrader 4
MetaTrader 5
WebTrader
Mobile Trading Platforms
Disclaimer: CFD Service. Your capital is at risk.
Trade over 600 products across CFDs, forex, indices, metals and commodities with award winning education and customer service provided.
Saxo Capital Markets CFD
3,000
3,000
0.10% with $6 minimum
Indices, FX, Shares & ETFs, Commodities, Cryptocurrencies, Options, Bonds
SaxoTraderGO
SaxoTraderPRO
Disclaimer: CFD Service. Your capital is at risk.
Award-winning trading platfrom with extensive charting tools and reliable execution.
City Index CFD
$0
$0
0.08% with $5 minimum
ASX shares, 4,500 global shares, indices
MetaTrader 4
At Pro
Advantage Web
Disclaimer: CFD Service. Your capital is at risk.
Trade CFDs on indices, FX, global & Australian shares and commodities, plus access other markets such as metals, bonds and interest rates.
Blueberry Markets CFD Trading
US$100
US$100
$20 per month subscription plus 2% of trade size
Indices, ASX200 Shares, Commodities, Cryptocurrency
MetaTrader 5
Disclaimer: CFD Service. Your capital is at risk.
Bottom of the market fees on forex, CFDs and commodities with 24/7 quality customer service.
CMC Markets
$0
$0
0.09% with a $7 minimum
Forex, Indices, Commodities, Cryptocurrencies, Global shares, ASX shares, Bonds
CMC Next Generation CFD, MetaTrader 4
Disclaimer: CFD Service. Your capital is at risk.
Share CFD and forex ideas with other traders and take your strategy to the next level with over 100 technical indicators and charts on CMC’s mobile-friendly Next Generation platform.
ACY Securities CFD
$50
$50
No commission
NYSE, Nasdaq, ASX, FX and CFDs across indices, commodities and ETFs.
MetaTrader 4
MetaTrader 5
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Compare up to 4 providers

Trading CFDs and forex on leverage is high-risk and you could lose more than your initial investment. It may not be suitable for every investor. Refer to the provider’s PDS and consider the risks before trading.

Step 1: Compare options and choose a broker

If you want to buy international shares, you'll need to find the right broker that allows you access to foreign markets.

But before you sign up it is worth comparing brokers on the following:

Brokerage fees

How much commission does the account charge for the execution of a trade? There may be flat rates, percentage rates or even no brokerage fees at all.

Access to markets

Make sure when you are buying international shares that your broker aligns with where you want to buy. This sounds obvious but signing up to a foreign broker won't automatically gain you access to all international markets. The big ones are the US markets like the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations (NASDAQ), which most providers will allow you to access, but not every account will let you trade everywhere in Europe and Asia.

Speed

How long does it take for a transaction to be executed? Timeliness can be important when buying international shares.

The buffer

How big is the buffer? Most international share trade orders will have a "buffer" applied to them by the share trading platform provider. The buffer is a percentage of the order value, which is added to the cost of the order to protect the provider from currency fluctuations while the trade clears, ensuring that they don't lose money on routine trades.

Exchange rates

How much of a cut does your provider take? When converting currencies, the provider may take a cut in the form of a percentage fee on currency converted. Often brokers that charge $0 commission will charge a higher foreign exchange (FX) fee.

Sign-up fees

Does the provider charge any fees for opening an account? The benefits it offers may not always be worth it.

Research tools

What investment research tools are available? Are you seeing real-time market information or is there a delay? Are the research tools free to use or do they cost extra? It's a lot easier to buy low and sell high when you've done your research, rather than relying on luck alone.

Customer service and access

Does your provider have a share trading mobile app or desktop access only? Can you contact the provider outside of business hours? What are your options for getting in touch? Is it known for being helpful or not so much? When you open an international share trading account you're using a service and you should expect a certain level of customer assistance.

Limits

Do you have to spend more than you want or not as much as you want? One of the main restrictions to look out for when choosing an account is the presence of limits, which may be minimums or maximums that apply. You may not be able to make trades above or below a certain dollar value.

Step 2: Open your account

Once you've decided on an online broker, you can open your share trading account. If you already have a bank account with that provider then you can usually sign in via its online banking portal. If not, you will have to open a new account.

To open an international share trading account you'll generally need to meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Be 18 or over
  • Have an Australian residential address
  • Have a mobile number

As part of the application process you will typically need to provide:

  • Personal photographic identification (such as your driver's licence, passport and/or proof of age card)
  • An Australian business number (ABN) and/or tax file number (TFN) if applicable

When opening the account you'll be asked to choose whether you'll be trading as an individual, with a joint account (for example, with your partner), as a company or organisation or on behalf of a trust, like a self managed super fund (SMSF). Because share trading has income and tax implications you must provide details of your income and occupation. Along with your personal information, you may be required to disclose the source of your income and the origin of your financial position.

After you've provided your personal details, you're up to the account set-up stage. This involves providing the details of your linked bank account, setting up financing options if applicable and choosing from the various options that may be available. Once you've confirmed everything and double-checked your details, you're ready to load your cash management account and start trading.

Already have a share trading account?

Sometimes, providers will require that you open an account for local shares and a separate account for international shares. Since you're already signed up to the broker, most of your information will already be saved meaning buying international shares should be a simpler process.

Step 3: Fund your account

If you want to start trading right away, you'll need to make sure you have enough funds in your linked account to execute the trades, plus any broker fees that will apply. Remember that when you transfer funds into your linked foreign currency account, you'll usually have to pay a currency conversion fee. It can take a few days for your funds to be loaded into the cash account, so keep this in mind when you decide you'd like to make a trade.

Step 4: Start buying international shares

Once you've set everything up, you can trade online through your new international share trading account. Expect to see a dashboard with features such as current share prices and changes over time and options to buy, sell or research. With the big banks and other trading accounts geared towards beginners, you may find tutorials and introductory material to help acquaint you with the available features.

What's the difference between Australian and international share trading?

When trading shares, you can choose to do it domestically or internationally.

Domestic

The Australian share market is made up of businesses listed on either the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX), National Stock Exchange (NSX) or Chi-X.

While not every business has to operate in Australia to list here, the majority do. Investors on the ASX trade between 10am and 4pm (Sydney time), Monday to Friday, with Australian investment options overall making up around 2% of the global trade.

International

Trade shares from global markets around the world 24 hours a day, subject to local market hours, including big global brands and household names. Gain access to more options, but also experience new risks and challenges.

International stock exchanges include the London Stock Exchange (LSE), NYSE, NASDAQ and many others.

Compared to domestic trading, there are both advantages and disadvantages to trading shares internationally.

Pros of buying international shares

  • Gain access to a wider variety of investment options.
  • Most of the largest companies in the world trade on foreign markets.
  • Gain exposure to different economic forces and protect yourself against downturns in the Australian market.
  • You can trade 24 hours a day rather than only within set business hours.
  • More buyers: The actual value of your shares depends on how much you can sell them for. When trading internationally, there may be a larger pool of investors and you might find it's easier finding a buyer.

Cons of buying international shares

  • Exchange rates can fluctuate and can significantly hurt (or help) your return on investment.
  • Foreign policy can affect your returns. It's possible that changes to another country's foreign policies, local instability or other issues can impact the value of your investment in ways beyond your control. This is a largely uncontrollable risk.
  • Taxation and related issues may be more complicated when trading international shares.
  • Added costs including foreign exchange fees and levies.
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Some extra tips

Making big trades? Look for lower exchange rates, research tools that allow you to make more reliable investments and flat broker fees rather than percentage rates. Where applicable, it may be worth accepting higher flat fees in exchange for lower percentage rates. Avoid low maximum limits which might constrain your trading.

Making a lot of small trades? You may want to avoid flat fees that take a big chunk out of the potential profits of each trade and stick to percentage rates that will cost you less. Low maximums are less of an issue, but high minimums might be a problem.

How will you diversify your portfolio? Not all accounts will give you the same options. Plan what kind of trades you want to make and consider whether a given account will let you trade CFDs, whether you can trade ETFs and if you are able to do forex trading through the same platform.

How stocks work in 60 seconds

Disclaimer: This information should not be interpreted as an endorsement of futures, stocks, ETFs, CFDs, options or any specific provider, service or offering. It should not be relied upon as investment advice or construed as providing recommendations of any kind. Futures, stocks, ETFs and options trading involves substantial risk of loss and therefore are not appropriate for all investors. Trading CFDs and forex on leverage comes with a higher risk of losing money rapidly. Past performance is not an indication of future results. Consider your own circumstances, and obtain your own advice, before making any trades.

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