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How to Close a Vanguard Account


Vanguard account closing fee. How to delete a Vanguard account online in 2022.


How to Close a Vanguard Account


Leaving a brokerage account open without monitoring it creates the possibility of unauthorized use. In this situation, it’s advisable to close the account. Vanguard offers several methods to close an account, so there’s no excuse for leaving an unused account open. Here’s how to accomplish the task in short order:


Step 1: Remove Securities


It’s best for an investment account to have a $0.00 balance before attempting to close it. Therefore, the first step is to remove any securities that are still there. This can be accomplished by selling any long positions or buying to cover any short positions. Keep in mind that inside a taxable account, liquidating positions can have tax implications, so be sure to talk with a tax counselor before opting for this route.

Securities could also be moved to a second Vanguard account. This option would avoid liquidating them. To do this, log into the broker’s website and click on the specific account from which assets are to be moved. On the next page, find the link in the middle of the page to transfer money. Click on this to produce a drop-down menu with several choices, once of which is to move assets between two Vanguard accounts. Selecting this link will create Vanguard’s internal transfer form. This can be used to move securities from one account to another. Make sure to select the correct receiving account.

If the internal transfer involves two accounts of the same type, such as individual account to another individual account, there will be no tax consequences. However, if the move is a rollover, such as going from a 401(k) to an IRA, there might be tax consequences. Once again, this is a good time to consult with a tax pro before making the move.

Another method to remove securities from an account is via an ACAT transfer. This will move the securities to a second brokerage firm. The assets won’t be sold (assuming these are self-directed accounts), so there are no tax implications. An ACAT transfer is started with the incoming firm.


Step 2: Withdraw Cash


After all securities have been taken out of the account, it’s time to remove available cash. This is, once again, fairly easy to do on Vanguard’s website. There is a withdrawal tool on the mobile app, although it tends to be rather buggy, so we recommend using the website.

On Vanguard’s site, go back to the account’s profile page and once again click on the “Transfer money” link. This time, select “Send me money,” which is the tool to withdraw cash. On the next page, you can choose to have the cash withdrawn by check or sent to an external bank account via ACH.


Step 3: Close the Vanguard Account


Once the account has been completely drained of all assets, it’s time to close it. This is simple enough to do on the website (it can’t be done on the mobile app). At the top of the site, there is a “Profile & account settings” link. Click on this, and you’ll get a new page with a lot of links for various account services. Scroll down to the “Personal profile” section and click on the link to close the account. You’ll need to select the specific account to close in case you have more than one.


How to Close Vanguard Account


Once an account at Vanguard is closed, you won’t be able to access account statements anymore, so you may want to download these documents first. Other documents, such as trade confirmations and tax forms, can be viewed after the account has been closed.


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Closing Vanguard Account with a Full ACAT Transfer


An easier method than following the steps outlined above may be to do a full outgoing transfer through the ACAT network. A full ACAT transfer automatically closes the outgoing account. The ACAT transfer must be requested with the incoming brokerage firm, so there are no instructions on Vanguard’s website. Most online brokerage firms nowadays have online ACAT tools to request a transfer.

Once the incoming brokerage house receives the ACAT request, it will notify Vanguard, who will then close the account and transfer its holdings.

Either a self-directed or robo account at Vanguard can be closed using a full outgoing ACAT transfer. Even better, Vanguard does not charge a dime to perform a full outgoing ACAT transfer, so this method is free of charge.

The outgoing account will be closed only if several ACAT rules are followed. First, the two accounts must be of the same type (such as traditional IRA to traditional IRA). Second, the names on the accounts must be the same. Third, the transfer can’t be a partial transfer. And finally, the receiving brokerage account must be fully prepared for the transfer. This means options trading and margin must be enabled if you have these issues in the targeted Vanguard account.

As an example, see how to transfer Vanguard account to TD Ameritrade.


Closing Vanguard Advisory Accounts


Besides self-directed accounts, Vanguard also has managed accounts in both robo and old-school formats. These, too, can be closed and transferred. Because Vanguard is responsible for trading inside of advisory accounts, it is the party that would sell securities. Thus, it may take longer to process a sale or transfer of securities from these accounts.


Special Note about Taxation


Selling securities inside a taxable account can, and probably will, have tax implications. Withdrawing securities out of a tax-deferred account could also have tax consequences. We recommend visiting with a tax professional before making a decision on withdrawing or selling securities.


Closing an Account for a Deceased Person


If you need to close an account for a Vanguard customer who has recently died, the process is a little more involved. Nevertheless, Vanguard has tried to simplify this rather bureaucratic process as much as possible. The starting point is the company’s online notification form, which will freeze the account and begin the process of transferring assets to heirs.

Updated on 9/17/2022.


About the Author
Chad Morris is a financial writer with more than 20 years experience as both an English teacher and an avid trader. When he isn’t writing expert content for Brokerage-Review.com, Chad can usually be found managing his portfolio or building a new home computer.