Holding Shares in a Street Name: What Does it Mean?

Holding shares in a street name is the way that most individual investors hold ownership of stocks in today's stock market. With this method, you do not physically have your name on the shares of stock that you own. Instead, the shares will be in the name of the company that you purchase. 

Direct Ownership

It is possible to purchase shares of stock directly from the company and have your name applied to the ownership of these shares. This is possible through a dividend reinvestment program, or some other type of direct purchase program. With this type of ownership, your name is in the investor database of the company.

Street Name

In contrast to purchasing the shares directly from the company, many investors purchase shares of stock through an online broker. When this occurs, the broker is the one that is actually purchasing the shares on your behalf. When the company looks at the ownership of the stock, they will simply see the name of your broker for the number of shares that you own. The broker is then in charge of keeping track which stocks you own and how many shares you own of each. This is referred to as owning shares in a street name.

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