Registered shares are shares of stock that carry detailed information regarding the holder of the shares in the stock register maintained by the company that issues the shares. The maintenance of this information by the issuer makes it possible to interact directly with the shareholder, in terms of providing communications regarding upcoming general meetings and other matters. There is also some difference in the proxy privileges of the shareholder when the stock is registered, versus investors who hold bearer shares.
The information required for registered shares does vary somewhat depending on regulations put in place by the jurisdiction where the issuing company is headquartered. Generally, data such as the full name of the shareholder and the current physical address is considered basic. If the mailing address is different, it is often also included in the detail. It is not unusual for information such as the current profession of the shareholder to also be included in the data recorded in the share register. In all situations, the number of shares that are held by the investor will appear, along with any identifying characteristics of those shares, such as serial numbers or other means of identification.
With registered shares, the process of communication is somewhat different than with bearer shares, or shares where the name and other information of the holder is not maintained in a register kept by the issuer. Rather than being notified of upcoming meetings via a depository bank, which is the case with investors holding bearer shares, an investor holding registered shares is notified directly by the issuing entity. The means of notification will depend on local legal requirements, but is often in the form of an admission card that is sent through postal mail to the attention of the shareholder.
There is a slight difference in the way proxy votes are handled when registered shares are involved. While general proxy voting rights are allowed with bearer shares, that is not the case with shares of stock that are registered. Instead, it is necessary for the shareholder to appoint a proxy in advance, and submit the name of that proxy according to the instructions provided by the company issuing the shares. This often results in the issuing of a new admission card, which identifies the representative by name as the proxy for the shareholder.
One benefit of holding registered shares is that in the event that the physical documents in the possession of the shareholder are destroyed or lost, replacement is a relatively easy process. The shareholder applies for replacement copies, submitting documentation that establishes his or her identity. If the documentation is in compliance with the requirements of the company that issued the registered shares, replacement copies of the shares owned by the investor are prepared and forwarded to the mailing address that is recorded in the share register.