UK law does not allow foreign stocks to be held directly in CREST. However, many foreign stocks can be held indirectly as CREST Depository Interests (CDIs) through CREST’s International Links Service.
Under this system, CREST holds the foreign stocks in a pool within the central securities depository of the relevant country (for example, DTC in the US or Clearstream in Germany). CREST then issues a CDI to each owner of the stocks, which can be traded within CREST like a normal stock.
However, CDIs are not available for all stocks and all countries. Those countries where at least some securities are available as CDIs are the US, Canada, much of Europe (Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland), Australia, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands.
Unlike UK and Irish securities held by a CREST member within CREST, holding a CDI does not mean that the member’s name will be on company’s shareholder register. Instead, the underlying shares are held in CREST’s name within the foreign central securities depositary.
This means that with CDIs, the member will not receive direct communications from the company, in contrast to the advantages of holding UK and Ireland Securities in a personal CREST account. The member will be dependent on their sponsor to pass along relevant information.