How do I know if a share certificate has any value?

NOTE: The information below may only apply in Ontario. If you live in another province or territory, contact your local securities regulator.

A stock certificate may have value even if the company's shares no longer trade on a stock exchange, or the company has merged or changed names. To find out, you’ll need to know:

  1. the current (or most recent) name of the company;
  2. if the company is still active; and
  3. if its shares are still tradeable.
Start by confirming the name of the company and its status. Check the OSC’s Reporting Issuer List to see if the company is currently a reporting issuer in Ontario (publicly traded company).

If the company is not on the list, it may have changed its name, merged with another company or is no longer publicly traded. The company may also never have been a reporting issuer in Ontario. An investment adviser may be able to help you find information about the company. You can also research the company through the organizations listed below. The OSC does not endorse the services of these companies. A fee may apply.

Financial Post Data
Infomart, a division of Postmedia Network Inc.
5th Floor, 365 Bloor Street East
Toronto, ON  M4W 3L4
Toll Free: 1-800-661-7678
Email: helpdesk@infomart.com
www.fpinfomart.ca (click on “Predecessor & Defunct”)

Cyberbahn Inc.
300, 268 Adelaide Street W.
Toronto, ON M5H 1X6
(416) 595-9522

OnCorp Direct Inc.
316, 1033 Bay Street
Toronto, ON M5S 3A5
(416) 964-2677

Companies incorporated in Ontario
Companies and Personal Property Security Branch
Ministry of Government Services
200-393 University Avenue
Toronto, ON M5G 2M2
Companies Helpline: (416) 314-8880 or toll free 1-800-361-3223
TTY: (416) 212-1476 (speech/hearing impaired)

Federally-incorporated companies
Industry Canada, Corporations Directorate
Corporations Branch
365 Laurier Avenue West
9th Floor, Journal Tower South
Ottawa, ON, K1A 0C8
Bankruptcy Division: (613) 941-2863 or toll free 1-866-941-2863
Corporations Branch: (613) 941-9042

The OSC’s Reporting Issuer List will tell you if a cease trade order (CTO) has been placed on a company. If there is no CTO, you may be able to trade your shares. If the shares are registered in your name on the certificate, you have three options:

  1. Keep the certificates in a safe place until you want to trade them;
  2. Deposit the shares into an existing brokerage account; and
  3. Open a brokerage account and deposit the shares.
If the shares are registered in someone else’s name, you can have them transferred to you. To do this, contact the company’s transfer agent (if it has one) or the company directly.

You can find transfer agent and company contact information for publicly traded entities on SEDAR. From the SEDAR homepage:

  • click "Company Profiles" in the top navigation bar
  • under “Public Company”, choose the first letter of the company’s name
  • scroll down the list and click on the company name
You can also find contact information for many transfer agents in Canada on the website of The Securities Transfer Association of Canada.

If there is a CTO issued against the company you will not be able to trade your shares in Ontario. Learn more about what it means when a public company has a cease trade order (CTO) issued against it.