What is a 'Stock Certificate'

A stock certificate is the physical piece of paper representing ownership in a company. Stock certificates will include information such as the number of shares owned, the date, an identification number, usually a corporate seal, and signatures. They are a bit bigger than normal piece of paper and most of them have intricate designs to discourage fraudulent replication.

BREAKING DOWN 'Stock Certificate'

Stocks are the foundation of nearly every portfolio and they represent partial ownership in a company. Usually the records of ownership are kept in electronic form but you can request a paper version. Each certificate starts out as a standard design which might change throughout the years, then the date, identification number, and other information is added. Most signatures of executives are printed on the certificate but some will actually be signed with a pen.

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RELATED FAQS
  1. How do you get a hard copy of a stock certificate?

    Before online brokers and personally-directed accounts, holding a physical stock certificate was a necessity, as this was ... Read Answer >>
  2. What's the difference between shares and stocks?

    In today's financial markets, the distinction between stocks and shares has been somewhat blurred. Generally, these words ... Read Answer >>
  3. I hold stock certificates in a company that just had a stock split. What happens ...

    The short answer is that a stock split will have little effect on the holder of stock certificates. In most cases when an ... Read Answer >>
  4. What protects an investor’s interest in the case of terrorist sabotage, or act of ...

    Currently, most stock ownership is done electronically thru the combined effort of the brokerage firms and the transfer agents ... Read Answer >>
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