FAQs for Companies and Investors

Market Questions

What types of companies are traded on the OTCQX, OTCQB and Pink markets?

Companies that trade on our markets span a broad range of sectors, from the ADRs of large cap conglomerates to small and micro-cap growth companies, SEC reporting companies and community banks; and across all major industries, including metal and mining, financial services, oil & gas, utilities, telecommunications, media, pharma & bio tech, and many others. To create clarity in the investment process, we organize these securities into three tiered markets - OTCQX, OTCQB and Pink - based on the quality and quantity of information companies make available. The 10,000 securities on our markets are traded through our SEC-registered Alternative Trading System, OTC Link® ATS.

What is a Verified Company Profile?

The information in a Verified Company Profile has been confirmed by a representative of the OTCQX, OTCQB or Pink company within the previous 6 months. A Verified Company Profile is identified by a green checkmark on the company's profile page on otcmarkets.com. OTCQX and OTCQB companies are required to maintain a Verified Company Profile. Company representatives can learn how to update their company's profile here.

What does it mean when there is a skull and crossbones warning on a company’s quote page?

The skull and crossbones warning indicates that a company has a Caveat Emptor (or buyer beware!) status. This means that there is a public interest concern involving the security, company or its management. Click here to learn more about the Caveat Emptor Policy.

When is the Caveat Emptor warning removed?

Generally, OTC Markets Group will remove the Caveat Emptor designation once the company meets the qualifications for Pink Current Information, has verified the information on its company profile on www.otcmarkets.com, and OTC Markets Group has determined that there is no longer a public interest concern, typically no sooner than 30 days. Information on how to qualify for the Pink Current Information market designation can be found here. During the time it is labeled Caveat Emptor, any stock that is not in Pink Current Information will also have its quotes blocked on www.otcmarkets.com.

Click here to learn more about the Caveat Emptor Policy.

What is an American Depositary Receipt (ADR)? How do Sponsored vs. Unsponsored ADRs differ?

An American Depositary Receipt (ADR) represents ownership in the shares of a non-U.S. company that trades in U.S. financial markets. ADR programs are created by depositary banks in order to help global companies gain access to U.S. investors and to respond to market demand. An ADR program issues American Depositary Shares (ADS) which carry prices in U.S. dollars, pay dividends in U.S. dollars, and may be traded like the shares of U.S.-based companies. Since the ADR is based on the common shares of the non-U.S company, the price of an ADR will often move in sync with the price of the underlying common shares once the ADR to common share ratio and currency rate is considered.

A sponsored ADR is where the company has a formal agreement with the depositary bank issuing the shares of the ADR. Conversely, no agreement is in place for an unsponsored ADR. For unsponsored ADRs, the depositary bank establishes the ADR with or without the consent of the company. Unsponsored ADR programs may not provide shareholders with all the benefits of direct ownership (i.e., voting rights) that are often granted to sponsored ADR shareholders.

To learn more about how an ADR works and the value to a company and its investors, click here.

What is an F Share?

While some U.S. investors can trade directly in a foreign company’s local market, many U.S. investors prefer to see quotes in U.S. dollars during their regular trading hours. To provide this access and to facilitate trade reporting, broker-dealers create trading symbols, or tickers, of foreign securities in the U.S. These tickers are 5 letters long and end with the letter “F”. As such, they are traditionally called F shares.

U.S. broker-dealers continuously price F shares in accordance with local market share price movements and available liquidity. While trades are executed in U.S. dollars by U.S. broker-dealers, the shares are settled, cleared and custodized in the local market or, under certain conditions, in the U.S. (Canadian or DTC eligible F Shares).

U.S. investors can trade F shares in U.S. dollars during U.S. trading hours through the retail, online or institutional broker-dealer of their choice. Read our FAQ on F Shares.

What is the Alternative Reporting Standard (ARS)?

When SEC registration is not required, companies must generally still make information publicly available pursuant to Rule 10b-5 under the Exchange Act and pursuant to Rule 144(c)(2) under the Securities Act. OTC Markets Group offers the Alternative Reporting Standard for companies who choose to make material information publicly available to investors. The Alternative Reporting Standard is available for OTCQX U.S. companies and for Pink companies seeking to qualify for the Current Information tier. For more information, see Reporting Requirements.

Trading Questions

What happens to shares when a company is delisted from an exchange?

If an investor owns a stock that has been delisted from an exchange and is now quoted on OTC Link® ATS, nothing has changed with the shares themselves. Investors are still the beneficial owner of the stock and may trade it through the broker-dealer of their choice, but should check with their broker-dealer to make certain that they provide services in off-exchange traded securities. If not, investors will need to identify a broker-dealer that does provide services in these securities and is a FINRA member and SEC-registered.

How can I see real-time quotes?

Real-Time Level 1 Quotes can be found on www.otcmarkets.com on a company’s quote page. All companies traded on the OTCQX Best Market and the OTCQB Venture Market sponsor Real-Time Level 2 quotes, free for investors on www.otcmarkets.com or on a company’s corporate website. Many Pink companies also sponsor Real-Time Level 2 quotes for investors. Just check their quote page. Click here to learn more about how companies can sponsor Real-Time Level 2 Quotes.

Investors may also access Real-Time Level 1 and Level 2 quotes for OTCQX, OTCQB and Pink securities on various financial portals. For more information on where to access OTC Markets Group Market Data, please visit OTC Market Data Distributors & Websites.

Why are there no quotes for some securities?

Quotes for securities may not be available on www.otcmarkets.com for two reasons:

  1. The security is an OTC, Other OTC, or Grey market security. "OTC", "Other OTC" or "Grey Market" describe securities that are not currently traded on the OTCQX, OTCQB or Pink markets. Broker-dealers are not willing or able to publicly quote OTC securities because of a lack of investor interest, company information availability or regulatory compliance. OTC securities are indicated on www.otcmarkets.com by a grey triangle next to the symbol or on the top right of the quote page.
  2. There is no inside market for the security. For securities without the Level 2 quote display, a best bid and ask will not be shown if there is not an “inside” market. An “inside” market is defined by OTC Markets Group as two priced quotation on the respective side of the market (either bid or ask). If the security does not satisfy this requirement then “No Inside” will be displayed on www.otcmarkets.com

Is short selling allowed for OTCQX, OTCQB and Pink securities?

Yes – short selling is allowed for OTCQX, OTCQB and Pink securities. You may find the short interest (amount of shares sold short) for specific securities by selecting the “Short Sale” tab within the Quote page or by going to the Short Sales Data page.

Are OTC trading volumes double counted?

No - trade reporting rules designed to limit the double-counting of volume went into effect in 1999. In light of the growth and evolution of the structure of Nasdaq and the over-the-counter (OTC) market, the NASD (now FINRA) extended the riskless principal exception to Market Makers. Thus, certain matching principal trades involving a Market Maker are now explicitly included within the riskless definition, and reported to the public tape only once. Read the NASD Notice here.

Why do some symbols have five letters?

The fifth character is a special identifier which is assigned by FINRA and designed to give more information about the security. To determine what fifth characters are used in our markets, visit our Symbology Guide. A few of the most common can be found below:
F – Foreign Ordinary
P – Preferred Share
Q – Bankruptcy
Y – American Depository Receipt (ADR)

How do trading halts work on OTC Link® ATS?

Only FINRA or the SEC can halt trading in OTCQX, OTCQB and Pink securities. Unlike exchange-listed securities, OTC traded securities are not halted for the dissemination of company news, except in the case of non-U.S. securities, which may be halted for news in conjunction with a halt on the home-country exchange.

What happens when the SEC suspends trading or FINRA halts trading in a security?

When a security is suspended or halted, OTC Markets Group removes all quotes from the system and displays a "Halted/Suspended" message.

SEC suspensions for OTCQX, OTCQB and Pink securities have a duration of 10 business days. After the suspension ends, broker-dealers may re-enter their quotes if they comply with Rule 15c2-11. This rule requires the filing, with FINRA, of a new Form 211 which must include the company’s current financial information.

What are the market hours for the trading of OTCQX, OTCQB and Pink securities?

Trading in OTCQX, OTCQB and Pink securities may take place Monday-Friday from 6:00 AM to 5:00 PM. The majority of quoting and trading occurs between the open market hours of 9:30 AM to 4:00 PM (Eastern); however, market participants are free to quote and trade at any time as long as they comply with current regulations (e.g., FINRA Best Execution). For updates on holidays and hours, click here.

OTCQX and OTCQB Blue Sky Securities Manuals: How can I access historical data regarding companies that have ceased trading?

A number of jurisdictions recognize the OTCQX and OTCQB markets as securities manuals for purposes of each jurisdiction’s manual exemption. All OTCQX and OTCQB companies are required to have current financial and business information displayed on the www.otcmarkets.com website. When a company ceases to be traded on the OTC market, OTC Markets Group maintains a historical archive of its information but no longer displays the information on the www.otcmarkets.com website.

OTC Markets Group maintains the historical archive and will make it available to market participants by submitting a request to issuers@otcmarkets.com with the subject line: “Blue Sky Archive Request.”

Submit Request

Fees: There is no charge for this service for smaller requests that can be accommodated quickly and easily by staff. There may be a fee for archive requests that require significant time to complete or for requests that involve multiple securities or dates.

Company Questions

What are the requirements for the OTCQX, OTCQB and Pink markets?

Securities traded on OTC Link® ATS are organized into three markets to better inform investors. The OTCQX Best Market is for established, global, and growth companies. OTCQX companies must meet high financial standards, follow best practice corporate governance, demonstrate compliance with U.S. securities laws, and have a professional third-party sponsor introduction. The OTCQB Venture Market is for entrepreneurial and development stage companies that are not yet able to qualify for OTCQX. OTCQB companies must be current in their reporting and must undergo an annual verification and management certification process. The Pink Open Market is for broker-dealers to trade all types of securities without requiring company involvement.

How does a company get quoted on OTCQX, OTCQB and Pink?

To get quoted as a OTCQX, OTCQB and Pink security, a company must find one broker-dealer willing to quote their stock on OTC Link® ATS. Only SEC-registered broker-dealers, that are members of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), can quote securities. The broker-dealer must file a Form 211 with FINRA in order to initiate the process. Once FINRA approves the Form 211, the market maker that filed the form can begin quoting the security on OTC Link® ATS. Click here to learn more about how to get traded.

Do financial statements have to be audited?

Current FINRA rules do not require the financial statements of non-SEC reporting issuers to be audited in order for them to clear a Form 211, but they should be prepared in accordance with GAAP or, for foreign issuers, in accordance with their home country's accounting standards. Audited financials must be available for companies in the OTCQX and OTCQB markets. To qualify for Pink Current Information, companies that do not file with the SEC and do not publish audited financials must provide an Attorney Letter with Respect to Current Information. Audited financials are not required for Pink Limited Information companies. Companies in Pink No Information may not have recent financial information available.

Can SEC Reporting companies follow the Alternative Reporting Standard (ARS) to upgrade their market designation?

No. The company must file a Form 15 with the SEC before they can use the Alternative Reporting Standard to upgrade their market. The market for SEC-Reporting issuers is tied directly to the timeliness of their filings through the EDGAR system. The OTC Disclosure & News Service should not be considered an alternative to a reporting company’s SEC filing requirements. When a company deregisters via a Form 15 filing, their market is then determined by prior SEC filings and/or filings through the OTC Disclosure & News Service.

Can companies get "delisted" from the OTCQX, OTCQB and Pink markets?

Companies that no longer meet the requirements, or request to be removed, will be removed from OTCQX and OTCQB. Generally, those securities will begin trading on the Pink market. The only way to remove a company from the Pink market is for all of the broker-dealers to stop quoting it. Companies are required to contact FINRA Operations if their securities no longer exist, but are still being quoted. FINRA will investigate and, if appropriate, eliminate the trading symbol and inform OTC Markets Group that they have done so. OTC Markets Group will then remove the quotations in this security.

How are trading symbols assigned?

FINRA assigns all trading symbols for companies trading on our markets. Any security that does not already have a symbol will be assigned one when FINRA clears the Form 211. FINRA does not permit issuers or broker-dealers to choose trading symbols but may offer voluntary symbol changes for a fee. To request a symbol change, a company must contact FINRA Operations at +1 866-776-0800.

How do companies change their trading symbol or name?

The company should contact FINRA's Operations Department at +1 866-776-0800 in order to change its trading symbol or name.

Who do companies contact about a merger, stock split, dividend or other corporate action?

Companies should contact FINRA's Operations Department at +1 866-776-0800.

OTCQX and OTCQB companies should also notify OTC Markets Group's Corporate Services at 212-896-4420 (or by email at issuers@otcmarkets.com).

OTC Markets Group must receive confirmation of corporate actions from FINRA for all corporate actions before any change will be made on the OTC Link® ATS OTC Link® ATS or on OTC Markets Group's website or data feeds.

What is the Policy on Protection of Information Contained in OTCQX and OTCQB Application Materials?

OTC Markets Group uses information provided by an issuer during the OTCQX and OTCQB Application process, including Personal Information Forms (PIFs) and Shareholder Lists (the "Information"), solely for the internal purpose of reviewing and processing the issuer's application. OTC Markets Group will not publish, disseminate or otherwise distribute the Information to a third party other than at the request of a court, securities regulator or other state or federal agency. OTC Markets Group maintains this policy to ensure access to the Information is as limited as possible.

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