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T+1 (T+2, T+3) Explained: Definitions and Settlement Example

What Is T+1 (T+2, T+3)?

T+1 (T+2, T+3) are abbreviations that refer to the settlement date of security transactions. The "T" stands for transaction date, which is the day the transaction takes place. The numbers 1, 2, or 3 denote how many days after the transaction date the settlement—or the transfer of money and security ownership—takes place.

Key Takeaways

  • T+1 (or T+2, T+3) are abbreviations that refer to the settlement date of transactions.
  • The letter "T" indicates the transaction date; the numbers 1, 2, or 3 denote how many days after the transaction date the settlement takes place.
  • Stocks are usually T+2 and bonds, mutual funds, and money market funds vary among T+1, T+2, and T+3.

Understanding T+1 (T+2, T+3)

For determining the T+1 (T+2, T+3) settlement date, the only days counted are those on which the stock market is open. T+1 means that if a transaction occurs on a Monday, settlement must occur by Tuesday. Likewise, T+3 means that a transaction occurring on a Monday must be settled by Thursday, assuming no holidays occur between these days. But if you sell a security with a T+3 settlement date on a Friday, ownership and money transfer do not have to take place until the following Wednesday.

Knowing the settlement date of a stock is also important for investors or strategic traders who are interested in dividend-paying companies because the settlement date can determine which party receives the dividend. That is, the trade must settle before the record date for the dividend in order for the stock buyer to receive the dividend.

Note that the period between transaction and settlement is not flex time in which an investor can back out of a deal. The deal is done on the transaction day—it's only the transfer that does not take place until later.

In the past, security transactions were done manually rather than electronically. Investors would have to wait for the delivery of a particular security, which was an actual certificate, and they would not pay until receipt. Since delivery times could vary and prices could fluctuate, market regulators set a period of time in which securities and cash must be delivered.

Many years ago, the settlement date for stocks was T+5, or five business days after the transaction date. Until recently, settlement was set at T+3. Today, it's T+2 (i.e., two business days after the transaction date).

Settlement dates vary, according to the type of security. All stocks are currently T+2; however, bonds, mutual funds, and some money market funds will vary between T+1, T+2, and T+3.

The SEC has recently introduced a proposal to shorten stock and ETF settlement to T+1. If approved, the new rules would be in place by some time in 2024.

The settlement date is the date on which the investor becomes a shareholder of record. Weekends and public holidays are not included in the day count.

Example of T+1 (T+2, T+3)

As an example of how T+1 (T+2, T+3) settlement dates work, consider an investor who buys shares of Microsoft (MSFT) on Monday, April 5. While the broker would debit the investor's account for the total cost of the investment immediately after the order is filled, the investor's status as a shareholder of Microsoft will not be settled in the company's record books until Wednesday, April 7.

Correction—May 5, 2022: This article previously contained an error regarding the settlement date timeline for mutual funds.

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  1. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. "About Settling Trades In Three Days: Introducing T+3."

  2. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. "SEC Adopts T+2 Settlement Cycle for Securities Transactions."

  3. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. "Settling Securities Transactions, T+2."

  4. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. "Statement on Proposal to Shorten the Settlement Cycle."

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