Getting Started (Alpaca Securities LLC)

Q - What are the requirements to apply for an Alpaca brokerage account as a U.S. resident?

For a U.S. resident to apply for an Alpaca account, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years old,
  • Have a valid Social Security Number,
  • Have a legal U.S. residential address and ;
  • Be a U.S. citizen, U.S. permanent resident, or hold an eligible U.S. visa*.

***** Acceptable visa types:**** E-1, E-2, E-3, F-1, H1-B, TN-1, J-1, L-1, B-1, B-2, O-1

Q - How about non-U.S. residents and business entities?

<For non-U.S. residents: Invite only beta>

We started an invite-only beta program for non-U.S. residents to open live-trading accounts. Due to the nature of this beta program, there are several restrictions including that the Alpaca Securities LLC brokerage is available internationally on a limited basis for “non-solicited” customers* only (* Any customer onboarding for live brokerage must electronically sign a Non-Solicitation Agreement certifying that the customer was not directly solicited to open a live brokerage account and must indicate how they became aware of Alpaca).

Although we are working to remove certain restrictions that we have with today’s beta program, we start sending invites to the users who are okay with $30,000 initial funding and using international-wire transfer to deposit funds (This beta program does not support TransferWise or Revolut. ACH does not work with a bank account outside the US). Please read this announcement to learn more about the beta program.

Please fill out this form to be on the invite list.

<For business entities: Invite only beta>

We are currently running an invite-only beta program for the business trading account. This business trading account is prepared for business entities that intend to use Alpaca for trading purposes, but not for building apps/services. If you are ready to start integration and build apps using Alpaca API, please read Build Apps/Services with Alpaca .

Today’s beta program accepts select US Corporations, LLCs, and we continue to expand the coverage of eligible business entity types. There’s no charge to open a business trading account, but it does have a $30,000 account minimum . Additionally, please note that business accounts are considered professional data subscribers for which we currently are unable to provide Polygon’s consolidated market data. You would still have access to Alpaca Data API , but if you wanted a consolidated market data feed, you’d need to obtain this through another provider. Please read this announcement to learn more about the beta program.

Please complete this form to get on the list to receive an invite.

Also, please read Account Plans on the docs about accounts that are available at Alpaca.

Q - What’s the reason for providing a “trusted contact”? Is it mandatory?

A trusted contact is optional information you can provide. A “trusted contact person” is a person who you authorize us to contact if we have a reasonable belief that your account may be exposed to possible financial exploitation or fraud.

See the FINRA notice regarding Please Consider Adding a Trusted Contact to Your Account for more information.

If you have additional questions regarding Alpaca’s eligibility requirements, please send an email to support@alpaca.markets.

Q - How is Alpaca different from a traditional brokerage account?

Functionally an Alpaca Securities LLC (“Alpaca”) account is no different than any other brokerage account. However there are important differences and limitations that you should be aware of which may influence your decision to open an account.

Online Only

All interactions with Alpaca will be either online, via email, or through programing code that you must write. Access to Alpaca by telephone will be extremely limited as the company does not have a telephone system or publicly available telephone number.

The initial setup for your account will be through a web interface; there is no ability to open an account using paper documents and you must agree to sign all opening account documents electronically through the web interface.

When the account is setup, you are provided with a customer dashboard to link bank accounts, transfer funds to or from your bank, view account information, open orders, your account balance, your securities positions, trade confirmations, account statements, and tax documents. You should also know that there is no ability to place a trade through the customer dashboard.

Not a Full Service Broker

Alpaca does not provide certain services that other full service brokers provide, such as the ability to transfer securities positions and account balances from or to another broker, open a joint account, open an IRA account, or open an account for an entity or trust.

You Must Be Capable of Writing Your Own Code

In order to place trades, you must write your own program to place trades through the Alpaca API. We support most programming languages and have sample code available to modify to meet your own needs. Currently your program must run on your own computer and access the API through a commercially available internet service provider. Alternatively, you could purchase access to and run your program on a cloud service.

Please note that there are specific risks associated with running your own automated code which can be found here.

Finally, all investments involve risk and the past performance of a security, or financial product does not guarantee future results or returns. Keep in mind that while diversification may help spread risk it does not assure a profit, or protect against loss, in a down market. There is always the potential of losing money when you invest in securities, or other financial products. Investors should consider their investment objectives and risks carefully before investing.

Q - What types of accounts does Alpaca offer?

Alpaca currently offers free paper trading accounts and commission-free* individual (non-retirement) brokerage accounts.

To learn more about Alpaca accounts, visit Alpaca Docs > Account Plans.

Q - Can I have a cash account with Alpaca?

No, we do not offer cash accounts. All accounts are set up as margin accounts.

For those accounts with less than $2,000 in equity, we treat them as limited margin accounts, meaning you can trade on unsettled funds and are not limited to waiting for trades to settle before you can use the proceeds to purchase additional securities.

For example, if you bought security X three days ago and sold it today, just like a cash account you could purchase a new security, Y, today with the proceeds. However, if you sold security Y tomorrow, in a cash account you would have to wait until the purchase of security Y settles, before you can buy anything with the proceeds. With a limited margin account, you can immediately purchase another security with the proceeds of security Y.

To learn more about how margin works, visit Alpaca Docs > Margin & Shorting.

Q - What about business accounts?

We are currently running an invite-only beta program for the business trading account. This business trading account is prepared for business entities that intend to use Alpaca for trading purposes.

Please complete this form to get on the list to receive an invite for business trading accounts.

** Commission-Free trading means that there are no commission charges for Alpaca self-directed individual cash brokerage accounts that trade U.S. listed securities through an API. Relevant SEC and FINRA fees may apply.*

Q - How do I fund my Alpaca account?

Currently, for U.S. residents, Automated Clearing House (ACH) deposits/transfers from a linked bank account is the default method available to fund your Alpaca Account.

If you are a non-U.S. resident, today’s invite-only beta program supports international wire only and does NOT support TransferWise or Revolut option, but supports an international-wire only. ACH does not work with a bank account outside the US.

We do accept wire-transfers case by case basis when there are specific reasons that ACH does not work. Please contact support if you are eligible to do a wire-transfer.

Q - How does ACH work at Alpaca?

Prior to initiating an ACH deposit/transfer, you must have a bank account linked to your Alpaca Account. Alpaca utilizes Plaid, a third-party vendor for bank account authentication and identification services. Please note that maximum ACH transfer allowed is $50,000 per day .

Plaid utilizes two methods for verification of banking information, dependent upon the availability of your financial institution. Many major banks integrate with Plaid, allowing for quick electronic verification and funding of your account. However, in some cases verification must be completed through micro-deposits, which typically takes between 1-3 business days .

Refer to the links below for instructions on linking your bank account:

Q - What is the S.E.C. Rule 14b-1 preference and how does it affect me?

Under rule 14b-1© of the Securities Exchange Act, your name, address and relevant investment holdings are required to be disclosed to issuers whose investments you own.

You may opt out of this disclosure requirement. If you would like to change your preference on this disclosure at any time, please contact us at support@alpaca.markets.

Q - How can I check the status of my application?

To check if we’ve approved your account, log into the dashboard on the website to see the status of your application. We’ll follow up with you via email if we need anything else!

Please note, your account application may be the subject of further review for various reasons, including:

  • We need additional documentation to verify your identity
  • Due to a lack of credit history, we are unable to verify all of your information and may require additional documentation unrelated to credit applications
  • We’re reviewing your application in further detail to verify and protect your identity.

If you have any questions about your application status, feel free to send an email to support@alpaca.markets.