Are CFDs legal?


CFDs are contracts between two parties in which the seller agrees to provide certain benefits, known as performance rights, upon receiving payment. The buyer also pays money but receives equity (profit) or loss (losses).

The value of CFDs derives from price fluctuations in the underlying assets that they are based on. These assets can be currencies, shares, indices, and even other commodities. Many trading platforms have different assets available for trade, while others may only offer one type of asset.

Based on each contract’s terms, it is possible to lock into either gains or losses based on whether an underlying asset increases or decreases in price over a given period. Prices are quoted in pips – representing how much an asset moves up or down against the base currency.

While CFDs are used for speculation (purposefully trying to make gains), they can also be used for hedging (protecting existing investments from losses). They can also be used for arbitrage (taking advantage of different prices on two or more markets, taking into account fees and exchange rates).

CFDs have several benefits

  • No need to manage stocks
  • Speculation in both rising and falling markets
  • Hedging protection against price decreases
  • Make profits from fluctuations in the market without actually investing in the market itself.

CFD drawbacks

The main drawback with CFDs is that you do not necessarily own any assets when contracts expire, so there is no guarantee of making profits. These are usually risky products; therefore, it is essential to use the money you can afford to lose if you become involved in CFDs.

Losses may also be more significant than gains for short-term investors. Small investors and traders may not carry out the same degree of diversification as with other investments.

A trader will benefit from leverage when trading CFDs.

Leverage is when you borrow money from your broker to make trades with it. Your maximum loss is based on how much you initially put down, and the amount of money borrowed is not yours (known as having ‘synthetic equity’).

Unregulated CFD brokers can go bust overnight, leaving their customers without access to their funds or with failed positions. It is one of the reasons why some financial experts feel they are dangerous for people to trade in. However, if done correctly, CFDs can be highly profitable.

CFD varies across different countries

CFD usage varies across different countries because of differing regulations, so whether or not they are legal depends on where you live. Some jurisdictions require them to be traded on an exchange and officially listed and approved for this use by the government, which is where the CFTC (Commodity Futures Trading Commission) comes in.


The SEC has outlawed US-based customers trading with offshore brokers because they feel there is not enough regulation of them involved and other security problems. They have made it illegal for a broker to market its services directly to consumers within one of their jurisdictions.

To allow Americans access to offshore brokers, the National Futures Association has authorized certain companies as Introducing Brokers who can provide those services.

Personal information

Additionally, some service providers may ask for specific personal information such as ID cards, addresses, and bank account details, while others may require a minimum deposit. Some platforms require registration using your full name and social security number, which could be problematic depending on the laws of your country or state/province where you live or operate from.

Countries such as China, Singapore and Japan have banned specific trading platforms due to the risk of using unregistered accounts and the potential for money laundering.

In conclusion

Overall, CFDs are legal across most countries in the world. However, restrictions on who is permitted to trade with which platforms and what forms of payment will be accepted when trading.

Some countries may require traders to declare gains made from CFD trading if their financial position would change significantly before filing a tax return (e.g., unemployed and trying to claim benefits). Ensuring that you fully understand all relevant requirements in your country or state/province before engaging in this activity is essential.

Find more info on CFDs here.

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