Investing in international markets

Investing in international markets

If you’re looking for investment opportunities outside the UK, investing in international markets could offer a number of benefits including greater diversification and gaining access to sectors that may be under-represented in the UK.

There are a number of different ways to invest in international markets. Each offer benefits but also come with their own risks.

The value of investments can fall as well as rise so you may not get back what you invest. This is not tailored financial advice so if you’re not sure about investing, seek independent advice.

International share trading

International share dealing lets you hold shares in individual companies listed on stock exchanges outside the UK. With Smart Investor you have access to 10 exchanges including ones in the US, Germany, and Canada.

Buying shares means you benefit from any dividends that may be paid and have the option of taking part in corporate actions. Shares can carry higher risks than other investment options, because of this they're more suitable for experienced investors.

What markets are available?

Country Currency Exchange Main Index
Canada CAD Toronto TSX 60
Canada CAD
Toronto Ventures TSX Ventures
Netherlands EUR Euronext Amsterdam CBOE Netherlands 25
France EUR Euronext Paris CBOE France 40
Germany EUR Xetra DAX 30
Spain EUR Bolsa de Madrid IBEX 35
Sweden SEK NASDAQ Stockholm OMX Nordic 40
Switzerland CHF SIX Swiss Swiss Market Index (SMI)

International share trading fees

When you buy and sell UK shares, ETFs and shares on international markets through on Smart Investor you pay £6 for every deal.

Buying international shares can incur additional costs which depend on the specific market you’re dealing in.

A foreign exchange (FX) is made wherever the shares don’t price in sterling, and there is a fee charged for each FX transaction made. So if you sell shares in a US company that prices in US dollars, and then buy shares in a different US company in US dollars, there would be two FX charges. Please bear this in mind if you plan to buy and sell frequently in international markets. Whichever exchange you deal on, and whatever currency the shares trade in, all deals you place will be settled on your Smart Investor account in sterling.

Some countries also charge specific taxes on buying or selling shares. These include, but are not limited to, transaction taxes payable on markets in France and Spain.

Shares are not a short-term investment, so they are usually best suited to investors who are able to hang on to them for at least five years or preferably longer.

Please note, the charges for all our funds (excluding ETFs) will remain unchanged; you can view these with on the Fees page

Further information

Market opening times – Many international markets open at different times to the UK. You’ll see a green indicator if the market is open and a red indicator if it’s closed. You don’t have to wait for markets to be open to place an order though – any orders placed outside of market hours will be dealt when the market re-opens.

If you’re placing an order outside of market hours, remember that the price the share opens at could be different to the price at the close on the last dealing day.

Foreign exchange rates – We’ll show you the most up-to-date foreign exchange (FX) rate available when viewing holdings, company information or placing an order. This rate will be an indication. If placing a deal the final FX rate, including the FX fee will be shown in your order history once complete.

Order types – When placing an international order, you’ll have a choice of either ‘At Best’ or ‘Limit Order’. ‘Quote and deal’ is only available when dealing in the UK market.

‘At Best’ orders are always dealt with the aim of achieving the best available price at the time the order is being completed. In some instances, it could result in a difference in price depending on market movement between an order being sent to the exchange and the price being confirmed at completion.

‘Limit Orders’ allow you to specify the maximum price for buying or minimum price for selling, and therefore may help minimise any impact of market movement during the time it takes for the deal to be placed. However, because a ‘Limit Order’ has a specified price it may not execute if the limit price isn’t reached. In this scenario the order would be held until the limit price has been reached or until the expiry date of your order has been reached. You can set this to be anything between 1 and 30 days on international markets.

Partial fill – Orders placed on an international market may require multiple ‘fills’ or smaller transactions to achieve the full amount requested.

If there are a number of fills, or multi fills, in the same day we’ll aggregate the total number at the end of the trading day. We’ll then arrange for the relevant FX conversion to be carried out. A contract note will be issued with details of the order which has been executed for that day – this will also include the percentage completion of the open order. For example, if you wanted to buy 100 shares in company A, but we can only complete the order in smaller tranches, of say 25 shares at a time, we would wait until the end of the trading day to total up the number of shares purchased and then do the foreign exchange.

Sometimes, it may not be possible to complete the full amount asked for by the time the market closes, or by the time an order has expired. In this scenario, any amount that has already been completed will be added to your account, but anything outstanding will be cancelled. So using the example above, if you wanted to buy 100 shares in company A, but by the end of the trading day we have only been able to deal 75, the order for the remaining 25 would be cancelled. If you still wanted to buy an additional 25 shares, you would have to place a new order.

You can see a full breakdown of your order and any partial fills in the order history section of your account.

Cancelling orders – Once an order is placed, it’ll go out to the market to be dealt. If you ask us to cancel it, we can’t guarantee that either some or all of the order won’t already have been dealt due to the partial fill approach mentioned before.

Explore CDIsBrowse the list of CREST Depository Interest (CDIs) investments that are available through Smart Investor.


While you can buy shares on 10 global exchanges, you can access many more markets around the whole world by investing in a fund. When you invest in a fund, your and other investors’ money is pooled together. A fund manager then buys, holds and sells investments on your behalf, or instead the fund may track the performance of a whole market or benchmark.

There are thousands of funds based in the UK which give you access to almost any market around the world. From highly developed economies to emerging markets - investing in shares, bonds or commodities - there are all kinds of investments to choose from. Grouped into sectors of similar investment focus to make them easier to compare.

You can find these in our asset search, or you can check out the Barclays Funds List which helps narrow down the huge range of funds available.

Please note, the charges for all our funds (excluding ETFs) will remain unchanged; you can view these within the “Customer and transaction fees” tab on the Fees page.

Exploring investments on Smart Investor

You have the choice of thousands of investments to help you achieve your financial goals. Once you’ve opened one of our accounts, we offer you various ways to explore and find the right investments for you.

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If you have any questions, you can give us a call on 0800 279 36671