How to buy U.S. ETFs πŸ¦… from Europe?

In many countries, buying U.S. domiciled exchange traded funds (ETFs) is very hard or seemingly impossible to do. Are you also wondering how to buy U.S. ETFs from Europe/U.K.?

Like you, I was looking to spend some money on πŸ—½ liberty-containing financial instruments. Based on my findings, I have compiled a free and easy guide that will let you buy any U.S. ETF you like, such as:

  • Vanguard VOO, VTI and VXUS
  • ProShares UPRO, TQQQ, SPXU, and SQQQ
  • Direxion SOXL, DFEN, SPXL, and TECL
  • Invesco TAN, CQQQ, QQQM, and QQQJ
  • Covered call ETFs QYLD, QYLG, XYLD, RYLD, JEPI, KNG, …

Ways to buy U.S. ETFs

Despite all the boring πŸ’€ regulation (PRIIPs) requiring specific documentation for ETFs (Key Information Document, or KID/KIID), there still are ways for Europeans to legally buy U.S. domiciled πŸ“ˆ ETFs. It’s not even much of a hassle and has very little costs. Let’s have a look at the options.

Method #1: Buy ETFs cheap and easy via πŸ’ Tastytrade (formerly Tastyworks)

Difficulty: πŸ‘Ά Easy

Minimum: πŸ’Ά ~€2,000

Access: πŸ’― All ETFs

This method is by far the most accessible of all. It works by simply using a U.S. based broker instead of a European one. Besides offering ETFs, the broker has to support funding from Europe with low fees πŸ’΅ for this to be attractive. So far, I’ve found it works great with Tastytrade.

Tastytrade also doesn’t charge any fees for buying stocks and ETFs, a major advantage compared to most European brokers. Follow the steps below and you’re good to go.

Tastytrade also doesn’t charge any fees for buying stocks and ETFs, a major advantage compared to most European brokers. Follow the steps below and you’re good to go.

  1. Open a Tastytrade accountΒ here.

    Click here for detailed instructions.

  2. Open a CurrencyFair accountΒ here.

    Transfer €2,000+ for a €50 free bonus 🎁, click here for instructions.

  3. Transfer funds from your bank to Tastytrade.

    Initiate cheap transfers via πŸ’± CurrencyFair, click here for instructions.

  4. You can now start buying U.S. ETFs! πŸŽ‰

    Click here to read how to place an order on Tastytrade.

Still got questions? Place a comment below!

Method #2: Get U.S. ETF exposure 🌎 via CFDs

Difficulty: πŸ‘Ά Easy

Minimum: πŸ‘› ~€500

Access: πŸ›’ 250+ ETFs

Though CFDs aren’t available for all U.S. ETFs, it may still be a good option if you’re mainly interested in the popular ones. The ease and low minimum deposit makes this an attractive option for people looking to buy common U.S. ETFs through a European broker.

Click this link to check out the simple guide I wrote to help you setup your eToro account, and get 🧠 informed about what CFDs are and how to use them to trade U.S. ETFs.

Method #3: Obtain πŸ‘¨β€πŸ’Ό professional investor status, trade unrestricted

Difficulty: 🧠 Medium

Minimum: πŸ’° ~€500,000

Access: πŸ’― All ETFs

Got a large (€500,000+) πŸ’° portfolio and want to stick with a European broker when buying U.S. exchange traded funds? In that case, obtaining professional status might be suitable for you. Find the instructions here, but be aware this method will only suit a very select group of people.

Method #4: Buy ETFs by exercising options, for experienced traders

Difficulty: 🀯 Hard

Minimum: πŸ’³ ~€10,000

Access: πŸ”₯ Most ETFs

Still work in progress…

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  1. Tastyworks will accept applications from US citizens who are resident in the US and from British citizens who are resident in the US. Perversely, it will not accept applications from US citizens who are resident in the UK. It is precisely US citizens resident overseas who would benefit most from being able to invest in US ETFs through them, given the problematic US tax treatment of any non-US fund as a “passive foreign investment company”. (There’s an exception under the US-UK tax treaty for funds held within pension plans, but I was hoping to find a way to invest non-retirement savings in funds.)

    1. Hi Jules, indeed it used to be possible to do so, but it seems it isn’t possible any longer. Perhaps it’s possible to open up the account with a U.S. address (family?), but I’m not sure about this…

  2. This is amazing. I did step by step and I cannot belive I can invest in USA ETF now. Thank you so much for this info, it is absolute helpful.

  3. Thanks for the helpful info and answers. Are you aware of any Dutch brokers which offer access to US-domiciled ETFs within a Dutch pension product? As a US expat in the Netherlands, I want to make use of my Dutch pension allowance, and invest in US-domiciled ETFs, so as to not trigger the PFIC paperwork. Thanks!

    1. Hi Matt, as far as I’m aware it’s not possible. I once heard about the possibility to keep using a U.S. IRA from the Netherlands, but I’m not sure of all the specific requirements or whether it’s even viable anymore.

  4. Have anyone tried this with IBKR? I cannot trade with eToro anymore as they force-closed my account (due to my nationality, even though I am a legal resident in EU) but I want my QYLD. It is a big part of my investment strategy.

    Got permissions to trade CFD with IBKR, bought first 25 shares just as an experiment as overnight fees for non-leveraged CFDs is not something clearly explained in their FAQ so I decided to trial test it with a smaller CFD position for a month.

    Would appreciate comment from someone doing the same thing with them.

    1. Hey Sergey, don’t have any experience myself, but feel free to share you experiences. Hope it works out well for you!

      1. they did, QYLD dividends were still profitable but it brought a few % less than owning it as pure ETF. i changed my strategy since when πŸ™‚

  5. Hi,
    Thank you for the guide. I was just curious how Tradeworks can circumvent PRIIPS regulations and why it is the only firm offering this service to EU citizens. Also understand that this way of investing does not get you in any legal trouble with your local finance authorities? (e.g. Germany)
    Many thanks

    1. Hi Manfred, Strictly speaking they’re not the only ones. I did try a few other options as well (TrandeStation, Firstrade, …). It’s just that Tastyworks ultimately is the cheapest to deposit money, and it offers fee-free trading on top. Yes, the interface is suboptimal if you’re not interested in stocks, but I can live with that. They don’t have to deal with EU regulation since they’re not based in the EU nor do they operate there in any way. This is the main difference between these alternatives and all the well known banks like TD or Schwab, that have at least some form of EU operations going on. I do also have accounts with both of them, but they have disabled my ETFs access…

    1. Hi David, I had an account with them at some point. I think at the very least it used to be possible at some point, but I ended up using Tastyworks because the fees were astronomical in comparison. Also, could be that nowadays they won’t let you buy them anymore, but if you want to be sure, might be best to shoot them an email.

      1. Hi TradeStation still works
        High fees though as per above post, pre market trading only from 07:00am Eastern (so miss three whole hours), no portfolio margin accounts for supporting delta hedged and lower portfolio risk strategies, much manual handling of requests etc (time consuming) so if you are used to eg Interactive Brokers will suffer
        Biggest issues for me: 1) the premarket trading hours, 2) lack of margin management options for delta hedged strategies and lower risk portfolios
        On the plus side low fees for US futures (0,50USD /contract)

  6. Hi, and thanks a lot for the great site!

    Do you know if the Tastyworks account for a European (Austria) is still working to buy Etfs as UPRO now? I am a TDAmeritrade customer for many years and my order was rejected because auf the EU regulatorys yesterday – and i wonder, what the difference is between Tastyworks and TDAmeritrade before opening an account there.
    Thanks a lot and best regards

    1. Hi, I also used to use TD instead, but yes, they disabled access. Still works fine with Tastyworks! Interface is very different and arguably worse, but I can put up with that.

  7. Hey,
    if i use tastyworks. Am i subject to PDT rules?
    I want to daytrade SPY from germany, it seems to be impossible.

    (1) If i use CFDs, then fees are higher and there is a stupid new tax rules on gains vs. losses on CFDs in germany, which makes high volume scalp trading not feasible.

    (2) If i use an american broker like tastyworks, i am probably subject to PDT rules? Cant daytrade…

    (3) Anywhere else i cant trade SPY because that thing is not UCITs (MIFID rules).

    This is such a stupid mess. German and European legislature hates daytraders.

    1. Hi, PDT applies, just make sure to deposit over 25k if you do not want to be bothered by it. Of course this is an issue that only affects people placing many trades on a daily basis.
      Good luck!

      1. Hi,

        Thank you for all the great information. I’m also looking into opening an account at Tastyworks. Just trying to avoid any pitfalls. Does the PDT also apply to options trading?


        1. Hi, it does. If you don’t want to be bothered with PDT rules, you can either deposit at least 25k, or simply not make use of margin.

  8. I think you are from Belgium so one Belgium specific question: is it correct that TOB on all US ETF’s are 0,35%?

    Thanks alot for this guide!

    1. Hi Arne, good to hear you’re liking the guide, and sorry for my late response. I’m actually not from Belgium and so am not sure of their exact tax regulations. Best to ask your tax authorities directly in this regard!

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