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I have a brokerage account with Ameritrade (now owned by Schwab) that I’ve held for almost 25 years with almost all my savings there. Recently I left the US and have decided to settle in Spain. Can I continue holding my brokerage account? While the Ameritrade website says their accounts are only for people residing in the US, I’ve got some shaky messages from Ameritrade employees that as long as I have a US mailing address, I am good. Schwab, on the other hand, does offer international accounts for US citizens residing abroad (though they seem terribly slow to respond to inquiries). What is the truth?

update 1: the footnote on Ameritrade website (which, I noticed only just now) does say

This is not an offer or solicitation in any jurisdiction where we are not authorized to do business or where such offer or solicitation would be contrary to the local laws and regulations of that jurisdiction, including, but not limited to persons residing in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, UK, and the countries of the European Union.

Of course, fwiw, I am not responding to any of their offers or solicitations from here. I've had this account for more than a quarter century from long before I left the US.

update 2: I called up Ameritrade. The rep told me that if I move out of the US, my account will have to be converted to a liquidation-only account, that is, I will be able to sell my holdings but not buy new ones. I forgot to ask what would happen to trades that happen on auto-pilot such as DRIPs. But, there is an option, seemingly. I can open an international account with Schwab and transfer from Ameritrade to Schwab. It will be a no-tax transaction (that is, I won't have to pay any taxes as there will be no sale, just a transfer). And, since Ameritrade is now owned by Schwab, even though they are still separate entities, such a transfer would certainly be easier. I have to now contact Schwab and pursue this.

Oh, and the rep also said that as long as I have an address in the US, I can stay with Ameritrade. But when I pressed on the issue of my residence being outside the US, he hemmed and hawed and then seemed to grudgingly admit that having a residence outside the US would mean I would have to give up my Ameritrade account. That is, having a US mailing address would not be enough.

update 3: I called Ameritrade again and they told me that I can actually continue holding my accounts with them and continue business as usual even if I change my domicile to outside the US. The only difference will be that I won't be able to open a new account with them, but other than that, it won't affect me at all. I can also update my physical address to be the same as my mailing address (both in the US) and they (Ameritrade) won't care where actually live. So, now it seems I have two easy options forward.

Hope this helps someone in a similar situation.

Oh, and Ameritrade-Schwab integration will take two more years to complete. Sometime in 2023 the trading platforms of the two will merge.

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    My first thought is that any written policies are going to supersede anything an agent tells you. Why don't you contact the Schwab Support line and ask about transferring your Ameritrade account into a Schwab international one?
    – jwh20
    Aug 12, 2021 at 13:04
  • As long as you have a US mailing address, Ameritrade doesn't know that you're in Spain. I'm sure there will be tax complications, though, since they'll naturally presume that you actually live there.
    – RonJohn
    Aug 12, 2021 at 13:09
  • @RonJohn yes, except, from periodically they ask me to review my contact info which includes not just my mailing address but also where I live
    – punkish
    Aug 12, 2021 at 15:12
  • "but also where I live". You're right. It's been so long since I've lived away from my mailing address that such questions don't stick in my brain...
    – RonJohn
    Aug 12, 2021 at 15:26
  • Update #3 should be an Answer. (It's proper to answer one's own question.)
    – RonJohn
    Aug 12, 2021 at 16:12

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Turns out that I can actually continue holding my accounts with Ameritrade and continue business as usual even if I change my domicile to outside the US. The only difference will be that I won't be able to open a new account with them, but other than that, it won't affect me at all. I can also update my physical address to be the same as my mailing address (both in the US) and they (Ameritrade) won't care where I actually live. In the latter case, I can also open new accounts with them. So, now it seems I have two easy options forward. Hope this helps someone in a similar situation.

Oh, and Ameritrade-Schwab integration will take two more years to complete. Sometime in 2023 the trading platforms of the two will merge.

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