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Understanding What A Demat Account is & How it Works

how to use demat account

For those entering the realm of online trading, understanding how to use a Demat account is paramount. This article aims to provide insights into the workings of Demat accounts. It offers a roadmap for novice investors navigating the intricacies of online trading.

What is a Demat Account?

The term “Demat” is an abbreviation for dematerialization. It signifies the conversion of physical securities like shares and bonds into electronic form. These electronic securities can be held and traded securely using a Demat account. Unlike traditional methods involving paper share certificates, a Demat account streamlines the entire process, making it more efficient and convenient.

How does it work?

A Demat account functions as a digital repository, transforming the traditional realm of physical share certificates into a seamless electronic format. The process involves a straightforward set of actions that govern the crediting and debiting of securities within the account.

Crediting the Demat account

Purchase of securities

When an investor decides to buy securities, whether it be stocks, bonds, ETFs, or other financial instruments, the transaction initiates through the trading account.

Conversion from physical to electronic form

In the case of physical certificates, these securities undergo a dematerialization process. The investor’s ownership is converted from tangible certificates to electronic entries, representing the same quantity of securities.

Crediting process

The Demat account is then credited with the equivalent electronic shares, providing a secure and digital means of holding these assets.

Debiting the Demat account

Sale of securities

When an investor decides to sell their holdings, the process begins through the trading account, initiating a sell order.

Debiting process

The Demat account is debited with the quantity of securities sold. The electronic entries are adjusted accordingly to reflect the transaction.

Secure record-keeping

Throughout these processes, the Demat account serves as a secure ledger, maintaining a transparent and tamper-proof record of the investor’s holdings and transactions.

Facilitating seamless trading

The electronic nature of the Demat account facilitates quick and efficient trading. It eliminates the need for the physical transfer of certificates, reducing paperwork and the potential for errors in the transaction process.

Understanding this operational flow is crucial for investors to navigate the stock market with confidence, knowing that their digital holdings are securely managed in the Demat account.

Is a trading account the same as a Demat account?

While the terms “trading account” and “Demat account” are often intertwined in discussions about online trading, they play distinct and complementary roles in the investment landscape.

Trading account

  • Execution of orders: The trading account functions as a financial intermediary, facilitating the execution of buy and sell orders by investors in the stock market.
  • Handling monetary transactions: It manages the financial aspect of transactions, including the transfer of funds for stock purchases and the receipt of funds for stock sales.
  • Real-time market access: The trading account provides real-time access to the stock market, allowing investors to place orders based on market conditions.

Demat account

  • Electronic Storage: In contrast, a Demat account is a digital safe where securities bought through the trading account are stored in electronic form.
  • Elimination of Physical Certificates: It simplifies the holding and transfer of securities by doing away with the requirement for actual share certificates.
  • Secure Record of Ownership: The Demat account maintains a secure record of ownership, simplifying the verification of holdings and ensuring transparency in transactions.

Trading account vs. Demat account

  • Integrated Trading Experience: Both accounts work together seamlessly to offer investors an integrated trading experience. The trading account handles the financial transactions, while the Demat account manages the ownership and storage of securities.
  • Efficiency in Transactions: The integration ensures efficiency in the buying and selling process. Investors can swiftly execute trades without the hassle of physical paperwork and delays associated with traditional methods.
  • Comprehensive Portfolio Management: Together, they form a comprehensive solution for portfolio management, combining the financial agility of the trading account with the secure digital storage provided by the Demat account.

Investors can traverse the intricacies of the stock market with accuracy and assurance when they comprehend the distinct functions of these accounts. The synergistic interplay between the trading and Demat accounts is the backbone of modern online trading.

Is there a Demat account in the USA?

The concept of a Demat account, although synonymous with the Indian stock market, raises curiosity about its existence in the US. The US financial system doesn’t use the term “Demat account,” but the functionality exists. In the US, investors use brokerage accounts to hold and trade securities electronically, a system analogous to the Demat account.

Can a foreigner open a Demat account?

The accessibility of Demat accounts extends beyond Indian borders, prompting the question of whether foreigners can participate in India’s dynamic stock market by opening Demat accounts. The affirmative answer opens the doors to global investors seeking opportunities in the Indian financial landscape.

Specific regulations for foreigners

  • Repatriable and Non-Repatriable Options: Foreigners have the option to open both repatriable and non-repatriable Demat accounts. The choice depends on the individual’s status and the desire to repatriate funds outside India.
  • Repatriable Demat Account (Linked to NRE Account): For those seeking the flexibility to repatriate funds, a repatriable Demat account linked to a Non-Resident External (NRE) account is the suitable choice. This allows the transfer of sale proceeds and investment gains abroad.
  • Non-Repatriable Demat Account (Linked to NRO Account): Non-repatriable Demat accounts, linked to Non-Resident Ordinary (NRO) accounts, come with restrictions on transferring funds to foreign countries. For people who do not plan to repatriate money outside of India, this option is appropriate.
  • Portfolio Investment Scheme (PIS) License: Foreign investors must acquire a Portfolio Investment Scheme (PIS) license from designated banks to trade in the secondary markets. This license facilitates compliance with the regulatory framework governing foreign investments.
  • Stringent Documentation: The process of opening a Demat account as a foreigner involves stringent documentation, including passport details, visa information, and additional identification and address proofs.
  • Designated Depository Participants (DPs): Foreign investors must engage with designated Depository Participants (DPs) to facilitate the account opening process. These DPs, often financial institutions or banks, play a crucial role in administering Demat accounts for foreigners.
  • Compliance with FEMA Regulations: Compliance with regulations outlined in the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) is imperative for foreigners. Comprehending and following these guidelines guarantees a seamless and legal procedure for creating and managing Demat accounts.

What are the requirements for opening one?

The process of opening a Demat account, particularly for foreigners, involves a series of prerequisites. Meeting these requirements ensures a seamless and compliant experience in navigating the Indian stock market.

Essential documentation

  • Passport Details: Providing clear and authenticated passport details is a fundamental requirement. This serves as a primary identification document for foreigners.
  • Visa Information: Valid visa information is crucial for establishing a foreigner’s legal presence in India. This documentation ensures compliance with the regulatory framework.
  • Identification and Address Proof: Additional identification and address proofs, recognized by Indian authorities, are necessary for the verification process. This may include utility bills, bank statements, or any other documents meeting the specified criteria.

Account Linkage

Non-Resident External (NRE) or Non-Resident Ordinary (NRO) Account: Foreigners are required to link their Demat accounts to either Non-Resident Ordinary (NRO) or Non-Resident External (NRE) accounts, depending on the repatriability requirement. Whereas the latter places limitations on overseas money transfers, the former permits repatriation.

Portfolio Investment Scheme (PIS) License: Foreign investors must get a Portfolio Investment Scheme (PIS) license from designated banks. This license facilitates compliance with the regulatory framework and enables seamless trading in Indian securities.

Depository Participants (DPs): Foreigners must engage with designated Depository Participants (DPs) for account opening. These entities, authorized by depositories, play a pivotal role in administering Demat accounts for foreign investors.

Know what a Demat account is

A Demat account is more than just a repository for electronic securities; it is a gateway to efficient and secure online trading. Everybody starting in the world of stocks and bonds has to know how to use a Demat account. Whether you’re in India or the US, the principles of dematerialization resonate, providing a common ground for investors globally. As financial markets evolve, the Demat account remains a cornerstone, offering a seamless and digitized approach to managing investments.


  • RJ Sinclair

    RJ is our resident money guru, with a knack for keeping finances neat and organized. With previous experience as a budget manager in supply chain companies, he brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the table. Count on RJ as a trustworthy source for valuable money tips and advice to help you make the most of your financial journey.