Who Has to Register

The Commodity Exchange Act (CEA) requires certain firms and individuals that conduct business in the derivatives industry to register with the CFTC. CFTC regulations also require, with few exceptions, CFTC registered firms to be NFA Members. The CFTC has delegated registration responsibility to NFA.

All futures professionals required to register with the CFTC are granted registration only after a thorough investigation of their background to determine if they meet the fitness standards set forth in the CEA.

Depending on a firm's business activity, registration is required unless it qualifies for an exemption or exclusion. If you have any questions as to whether you qualify for a particular exemption or exclusion from registration, refer to the appropriate section of the CEA, CFTC Regulations or consult NFA's Information Center.

Requests for an exemption or for a "no action" opinion related to registration requirements should be submitted to the CFTC and a copy should be provided to NFA's Registration Department.

Click on the links below to obtain specific information to help determine CFTC registration is required and, if so, in which category.

Firm Registration

Commodity Trading Advisor (CTA)

A commodity trading advisor (CTA) is an individual or organization that, for compensation or profit, advises others, directly or indirectly, as to the value of or the advisability of buying or selling futures contracts, commodity options, retail off-exchange forex contracts or swaps.

Commodity Pool Operator (CPO)

A commodity pool operator (CPO) is an individual or organization that operates a commodity pool and solicits funds for that commodity pool. A commodity pool is an enterprise in which funds contributed by a number of persons are combined for the purpose of trading futures contracts or options on futures, retail off-exchange forex contracts, or swaps, or to invest in another commodity pool.

Exempt Non-U.S. Firm

A non-U.S. firm is a non-U.S. organization that transacts business directly with U.S. customers solely in futures contracts and options traded on non-U.S. exchanges. Under certain circumstances, some non-U.S. firms are exempt from CFTC registration.

Futures Commission Merchant (FCM)

A futures commission merchant (FCM) is an organization that solicits or accepts orders to buy or sell futures contracts, options on futures, retail off-exchange forex contracts or swaps, accepting money or other assets from customers to support such orders.

Introducing Broker (IB)

An introducing broker (IB) is an individual or organization that solicits or accepts orders to buy or sell futures contracts, options on futures, retail off exchange forex contracts, or swaps but does not accept money or other assets from customers to support these orders.

Notice Registered Broker Dealer, Futures Commission Merchant (FCM) and Introducing Broker (IB)

Notice registered broker dealers are registered CFTC FCMs and IBs that limit their security related transactions to trading security futures products. Notice registered futures commission merchants (FCM) and introducing brokers (IB) are registered SEC FCMs and IBs that limit their futures related activities to the sale of security futures products on contract markets or derivative transaction execution facilities (DEF).

Retail Foreign Exchange Dealer (RFED)

A retail foreign exchange dealer (RFED) is an organization that acts, or offers to act, as a counterparty to an off-exchange non-U.S. currency transaction with a person who is not an eligible contract participant and the transaction is either:

  • a futures contract, an option on a futures contract or an option contract (except options traded on a securities exchange); or
  • offered or entered into, on a leveraged or margined basis, or financed by the offeror, counterparty or person acting in concert with the offeror or counterparty on a similar basis.  

Swap Dealer (SD)

A swap dealer (SD) is an organization that holds itself out as a dealer in swaps, makes a market in swaps, regularly enters into swaps with counterparties as an ordinary course of business for its own account, or engages in any activity causing the organization to be commonly known in the trade as a dealer or market maker in swaps.

Individual Registration

Associated Person (AP)

An associated person (AP) is an individual who solicits orders, customers or customer funds (or who supervises persons so engaged) on behalf of a futures commission merchant (FCM), retail non-U.S. exchange dealer (RFED), introducing broker (IB), commodity trading advisor (CTA) or commodity pool operator (CPO).

Floor Broker (FB)

A floor broker (FB) is an individual who purchases or sells any futures contracts, options on futures or swaps on any contract market for any other person.

Floor Trader (FT)

A floor trader (FT) is a person who purchases or sells any futures contracts, options on futures or swaps on any contract market for such person's own account.

Principal

An individual's status as a principal is determined by the individual's 1) ability to control a registrant's business activities; 2) formal title or position with the registrant; and 3) financial or ownership interest in the registrant. Individuals who, through their conduct or activity, directly or indirectly control a registrant are principals of the registrant, irrespective of their formal title or financial interest in the registrant. Similarly, individuals who hold specific positions or titles with registrants are also principals of the registrant, irrespective of their ability to control the registrant's business.

This list is not inclusive of all firm and individual categories required to register with NFA.
For additional details regarding who has to register, contact NFA.