Can Shares In Physical Form Be Sold In India?

Shares have long been considered a valuable investment instrument, representing ownership in a company. Traditionally, shares were issued in physical form, which meant that investors received share certificates as evidence of their ownership. However, with the advent of technology and the need for a more efficient system, shares can now be held and traded in dematerialized form. In this article, we will explore the process of selling shares in physical form in India and discuss the advantages of holding shares in dematerialized form.

What are shares?

Shares, also known as stocks, are units of ownership in a company. When individuals or institutions purchase shares of a company, they become shareholders and have certain rights, such as voting in company decisions and receiving dividends.

Traditional way of holding shares

In the past, shares were issued in physical form, represented by share certificates. Investors would hold these physical certificates, which served as proof of their ownership. However, this method had several drawbacks, including the risk of loss, theft, damage, and the cumbersome process involved in transferring shares.

Evolution of dematerialization

To overcome the limitations of physical shares, the concept of dematerialization was introduced. Dematerialization is the process of converting physical share certificates into an electronic form, allowing investors to hold and trade shares electronically.

Dematerialization of Shares

Meaning and process of dematerialization

Dematerialization involves the conversion of physical share certificates into electronic form. This process is facilitated by depositories, such as the National Securities Depository Limited (NSDL) and the Central Depository Services Limited (CDSL), which hold shares in dematerialized form on behalf of investors.

Advantages of holding shares in dematerialized form

Holding shares in dematerialized form offers numerous advantages. Firstly, it eliminates the risk of loss, theft, or damage associated with physical certificates. Additionally, it provides ease of transfer and reduces paperwork, making transactions faster and more efficient. Moreover, dematerialization allows investors to access their shares electronically and participate in online trading.

Legal Framework for Dematerialization in India

Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI)

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is the regulatory authority that oversees the securities market in India. SEBI plays a crucial role in promoting and regulating dematerialization of shares to ensure transparency and investor protection.

Depositories Act, 1996

The Depositories Act, 1996 is the legislation that governs the functioning of depositories in India. It provides the legal framework for the dematerialization of securities, including shares, and establishes the rights and obligations of depositories, investors, and other market participants.

National Securities Depository Limited (NSDL)

NSDL is one of the two depositories in India and was the first to be established. It provides electronic custody and settlement of securities, including shares, and acts as a central depository for the Indian capital market.

Central Depository Services Limited (CDSL)

CDSL is the second depository in India and offers similar services as NSDL. It competes with NSDL to provide depository services, ensuring efficient and secure dematerialization of shares.

Process of Selling Shares in Physical Form

Challenges and limitations of selling physical shares

Selling shares in physical form can be challenging due to various reasons. Firstly, physical shares are subject to the risk of loss, theft, or damage, which can result in financial loss for the investor. Additionally, the process of selling physical shares involves multiple steps and paperwork, making it time-consuming and cumbersome.

Procedure for selling physical shares

To sell physical shares, investors need to follow a specific procedure. Firstly, they must submit a duly filled transfer deed, along with the physical share certificates, to the registrar and transfer agent (RTA) of the company. The RTA verifies the documents and processes the transfer of shares to the buyer’s name.

Role of a registrar and transfer agent

A registrar and transfer agent (RTA) is an intermediary appointed by the company to handle the transfer of shares. The RTA verifies the authenticity of the share transfer documents and ensures compliance with the necessary legal requirements.

Converting Physical Shares to Dematerialized Form

Steps for converting physical shares to dematerialized form

Investors have the option to convert their physical shares into dematerialized form. To do so, they need to open a demat account with a depository participant (DP) and submit the physical share certificates along with a dematerialization request form. The DP verifies the documents and converts the shares into electronic form, credited to the investor’s demat account.

Benefits of converting physical shares to dematerialized form

Converting physical shares to dematerialized form offers several benefits. Firstly, it eliminates the risks associated with physical certificates and provides a secure and convenient way to hold shares. It also enables investors to participate in online trading and access a wide range of financial services offered by depository participants.

Online Trading and Demat Account

Introduction to online trading

Online trading refers to the buying and selling of securities, including shares, through an internet-based trading platform. It provides investors with direct access to the stock market and allows them to execute trades in real-time.

Role of demat account in online trading

A demat account is a prerequisite for online trading. It serves as an electronic repository for holding and transacting shares in dematerialized form. When investors trade shares online, the shares are debited or credited to their demat account accordingly.

Benefits of online trading and demat account

Online trading and demat accounts offer several advantages. They provide investors with real-time market information, convenient access to trading platforms, and faster execution of trades. Additionally, online trading platforms offer advanced features, such as research tools, live stock quotes, and portfolio management, empowering investors to make informed decisions.

Taxation on Sale of Shares

Capital gains tax on sale of shares

When shares are sold, they may be subject to capital gains tax. The tax liability depends on the holding period of the shares and whether the gains are classified as short-term or long-term capital gains.

Difference in tax treatment for physical and dematerialized shares

From a taxation perspective, there is no distinction between physical and dematerialized shares. Both are treated similarly for the purpose of capital gains tax calculation. The tax liability is determined based on the holding period and the applicable tax rates.


In conclusion, while shares in physical form can still be sold in India, the process comes with certain challenges and limitations. Dematerialization of shares has revolutionized the securities market by providing a more efficient and secure way to hold and trade shares.

By converting physical shares to dematerialized form and embracing online trading through demat accounts, investors can benefit from greater convenience, speed, and access to a wide range of financial services. It is advisable for investors to consider dematerializing their shares to leverage the advantages offered by modern technology.


Can I sell physical shares directly without converting them to dematerialized form?

No, to sell physical shares, you need to go through the process of converting them to dematerialized form.

Is it necessary to open a demat account for selling shares in India?

Yes, a demat account is mandatory for selling shares in India, whether they are in physical or dematerialized form.

How long does it take to convert physical shares to dematerialized form?

The process of converting physical shares to dematerialized form typically takes a few weeks, depending on the efficiency of the registrar and transfer agent.

Are there any additional charges for converting physical shares to demat form?

Yes, there may be nominal charges associated with converting physical shares to demat form. These charges cover the administrative costs of the conversion process.

Can I sell shares online without a demat account?

No, a demat account is essential for online trading and selling shares electronically. It acts as a repository for holding and transferring shares in dematerialized form.

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