Find unclaimed assets Shares and dividends

Shares and dividends

Tracing shares and dividends is complex, but it can be done

Shares and dividends

Tracing shares and dividends is more complex than finding lost bank accounts or pensions, but it can be done.

If you think you have shares in a company, but have lost your share certificate, you can check by applying to the company registrars. They'll search their records and, for a fee, will supply you with a replacement certificate.

There are three main share registrars – Capita Registrars, Computershare and Equiniti. You can find out which registrar deals with the company you’re interested in by using the company profile search on the London Stock Exchange's website. Alternatively, call the company in question.

If you've got old share certificates in a company that you can no longer track down, contact the registrars named on the certificate. Usually, they'll be able to trace the history of the company. They'll also be able to search for any unclaimed dividends that you may have missed. Failing that, try calling each of the three big registrars.

If you have any out-of-date dividend cheques, or you've lost any dividend cheques, you can ask the registrar to replace them for you – there may be a fee for this. The time limit for claiming back unclaimed dividends is usually 12 years.

Computershare also operates the government's scheme for tracing lost gilts. If you think you have a claim, write to Computershare giving as much information as possible.

How to find building society windfalls

There are still many people who haven't claimed their share entitlement following building society and life company demutualisations. Time has run out for many as after 12 years, the entitlement (which will now be to cash rather than shares) reverts to the company and can be used for general purposes.  

If you want to claim after this time, you'd need to satisfy the court that you're entitled to the money. Birmingham Midshires went public in 1999 and Bradford and Bingley in 2000, which means that the 12-year time limit runs out very soon. If you think you may have a claim, contact the provider concerned.

Likewise, there are some unclaimed shares in life companies, such as Friends Provident and Standard Life, which have also demutualised. Standard Life launched a campaign in September 2008 to find 200,000 people who have yet to claim a total of £184 million. If you think you may have a claim, contact Standard Life direct to avoid any fees.

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