Stock Market - Demat Accounts

Demat refers to a dematerialized account. 

Though the company is under obligation to offer the securities in both physical and demat mode, you have the choice to receive the securities in either mode.

If you wish to have securities in demat mode, you need to indicate the name of the depository and also of the depository participant with whom you have depository account in your application.

It is, however desirable that you hold securities in demat form as physical securities carry the risk of being fake, forged or stolen.

Just as you have to open an account with a bank if you want to save your money, make cheque payments etc, Nowadays, you need to open a demat account if you want to buy or sell stocks.

So it is just like a bank account where actual money is replaced by shares. You have to approach the DPs (remember, they are like bank branches), to open your demat account. Let's say your portfolio of shares looks like this: 150 of Infosys, 50 of Wipro, 200 of HLL and 100 of ACC. All these will show in your demat account. So you don't have to possess any physical certificates showing that you own these shares. They are all held electronically in your account. As you buy and sell the shares, they are adjusted in your account. Just like a bank passbook or statement, the DP will provide you with periodic statements of holdings and transactions.

Is a demat account a must?

Nowadays, practically all trades have to be settled in dematerialised form. Although the market regulator, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), has allowed trades of upto 500 shares to be settled in physical form, nobody wants physical shares any more.

* So a demat account is a must for trading and investing.

Most banks are also DP participants, as are many brokers. You can choose your very own DP. To get a list, visit the NSDL and CDSL websites and see who the registered DPs are. A broker is separate from a DP. A broker is a member of the stock exchange, who buys and sells shares on his behalf and on behalf of his clients. A DP will just give you an account to hold those shares.  You do not have to take the same DP that your broker takes. You can choose your own.

Banks are also advantageous because of the number of branches they have. Some banks give the option of opening a Demat account in any branch, while others restrict themselves to a selected set of branches.

Some private banks also provide online access to the Demat account. So, you can check on your holdings, transactions and status of requests through the net banking facility. A broker who acts as a DP may not be able to provide these services.


The cost of opening and holding a Demat account. There are four major charges usually levied on a Demat account: Account opening fee, annual maintenance fee, custodian fee and transaction fee. All the charges vary from DP to DP.

Depending on the DP, there may or may not be an opening account fee. Most players levy this when you re-open a Demat account, though the Stock Holding Corporation offers a lifetime account opening fee, which allows you to hold on to your Demat account over a long period. This fee is refundable.

Annual maintenance fee: This is also known as folio maintenance charges, and is generally levied in advance.

Custodian fee: This fee is charged monthly and depends on the number of securities (international securities identification numbers – ISIN) held in the account. It generally ranges between Rs. 0.5 to Rs. 1 per ISIN per month. DPs will not charge custody fee for ISIN on which the companies have paid one-time custody charges to the depository.

Transaction fee: The transaction fee is charged for crediting/debiting securities to and from the account on a monthly basis. While some DPs, charge a flat fee per transaction.  The fee also differs based on the kind of transaction (buying or selling). Some DPs charge only for debiting the securities while others charge for both. The DPs also charge if your instruction to buy/sell fails or is rejected.

In addition, service tax is also charged by the DPs.

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