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Regulation SHO: Definition, What It Regulates, and Requirements


Regulation SHO is a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulation that governs the practice of short selling in the United States. It aims to prevent market manipulation associated with short selling and reduce instances of naked short selling. Key requirements include implementing a “locate” rule to verify availability of a security for borrowing prior to short selling, and enforcing “close-out” rule to close short positions in securities that have not been delivered within a specified time.


Regulation SHO: /ˌrɛɡjʊˈleɪʃən ˈʃoʊ/Definition: /ˌdɛfɪˈnɪʃən/What It Regulates: /wɒt ɪt ˈrɛgjʊˌleɪts/and: /ænd/Requirements: /rɪˈkwaɪərmənts/

Key Takeaways

  1. Regulation SHO Definition: Regulation SHO is a set of rules established by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that aims to prevent short-selling from being used to manipulate the market. It provides a legal structure to govern short-selling of securities, ensuring that fraudulent practices are minimized and market integrity is maintained.
  2. What It Regulates: Regulation SHO regulates the practice of short-selling, particularly “naked” short selling in the U.S. securities market. Naked short selling involves selling securities that the seller does not actually own and has not borrowed to cover the sale. Regulation SHO requires that a broker-dealer must have grounds to believe that the equity to be short sold can be borrowed before the short sale can occur.
  3. Requirements: Under Regulation SHO, brokers and dealers must comply with “locate” and “close-out” requirements. The “locate” requirement compels brokers and dealers to have a reasonable belief that the equity can be borrowed and delivered on a specific delivery date before short selling occurs. The “close-out” requirement mandates that brokers and dealers must promptly purchase or borrow securities to deliver on short sale delivery obligations.


Regulation SHO is a critical provision by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that guards against wrongful practices in stock trading, particularly ‘naked short selling’. This regulation is vital to uphold the integrity of the stock market as it puts restrictions on short-selling – a practice used by investors to speculate that a security’s price will decline. Naked short selling often creates artificial downward pressure on stock prices, which Regulation SHO effectively prevents. Therefore, it establishes an equitable trading environment by ensuring a uniform standard for settling short sales. It also provides safeguards to prevent market manipulation, improving overall investor confidence and stability in financial markets.


Regulation SHO was implemented by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as a way to govern and maintain control over the practice of short-selling in the market, which involves selling borrowed securities with the plan to re-purchase and return them once their price decreases. The primary purpose of introducing Regulation SHO was to prevent manipulative practices and provide a fair and efficient market system for all stakeholders, by laying down a stringent framework for short-selling. One of the chief concerns being addressed by this regulation was “naked short selling,” where the seller does not borrow the securities before they sell them, thus potentially creating false supply and market manipulation.The regulation includes several key requirements intended to control short sales. Firstly, the “locate” requirement mandates brokers to have reasonable ground to believe that the security can be borrowed and delivered before a short sale occurs. This is done to prevent naked short selling. Secondly, the “close-out” requirement obligates brokers to close out failure-to-deliver positions by purchasing securities of like kind and quantity. The rule also provides a framework for penalizing participants who do not comply with the mentioned requirements. As such, Regulation SHO provides structure and prevents potential abuse in the short selling market, promoting transparency and a balanced financial trading environment.


1. Example 1: New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) NYSE is directly impacted by Regulation SHO. The NYSE, a marketplace for buying and selling public company shares, is regulated by the SEC to ensure transparency and protect investors from fraudulent practices. Regulation SHO helps to achieve this by imposing rules on how and when short-selling can occur. For instance, if a trader wanted to short sell a stock listed on the NYSE, they would first need to locate a similar stock they could borrow, or have reasonable belief (termed a “locate” under Regulation SHO) that they could borrow the stock before the settlement of the transaction.2. Example 2: Goldman Sachs Group Major global investment banking, securities, and investment management firms like Goldman Sachs are also impacted by Regulation SHO. If Goldman Sachs or its clients participate in short selling activities, they have to strictly comply with the requirements set forth by this regulation. They must fulfill the pre-borrowing condition or at least they should have a reasonable ground for belief before taking forward the short selling process. 3. Example 3: Interactive Brokers This online discount brokerage, like many others, had to significantly modify its platform and trading procedures to be in compliance with Regulation SHO. Before the regulation, it was easier for traders to quickly short sell stocks. After the SEC enacted Regulation SHO, however, Interactive Brokers had to develop a system of determining whether a given stock is available for short selling (the aforementioned “locate” process) and manage a list of stocks with delivery failures (threshold list), among other new requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Regulation SHO?

Regulation SHO is a set of rules established by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that governs short selling of securities. The regulation aims to provide a legal framework to reduce fraudulent short-selling practices.

What does Regulation SHO regulate?

Regulation SHO regulates all aspects of short selling, including, but not limited to, enforcing the locate and close-out requirements, marking requirements for equity security sales, and setting out a regulatory framework for dealing with ‘naked’ short selling.

What are the specific requirements of Regulation SHO?

There are several key requirements of Regulation SHO: 1. Locate Requirement: a broker must have reasonable grounds to believe the security can be borrowed before allowing a short sale.2. Close-Out Requirement: if a broker is unable to deliver the securities sold short within a certain period, they are required to buy-in shares to close out the position.3. Marking Requirement: All sale orders must be marked ‘long’ , ‘short’ , or ‘short exempt’.

What is short selling?

Short selling is a trade, where a trader sells securities they do not own, with the intention of buying them back at a lower price in the future.

What is ‘naked’ short selling?

Naked short selling is selling a stock without first borrowing the shares or ensuring that the shares can be borrowed. It is considered illegal under Regulation SHO.

Why was Regulation SHO introduced?

The SEC introduced Regulation SHO to curb abusive short selling practices and reduce failures to deliver securities, which can negatively affect market confidence.

Does Regulation SHO apply to all types of securities?

Regulation SHO primarily applies to equity securities, but some of its provisions like the close-out requirements also apply to options and other securities.

What are the penalties for violating Regulation SHO?

Penalties for violating Regulation SHO can range from fines to trading bans, and in severe cases, criminal charges. The specific penalties vary based on the severity and frequency of the violations.

Related Finance Terms

  • SEC: The Securities and Exchange Commission, a U.S regulation body for Regulation SHO.
  • Short Selling: An investment strategy that is regulated by Regulation SHO, which involves selling stock you don’t currently own.
  • Close-Out Requirement: A rule under Regulation SHO which requires short sellers to close-out their positions if they’re not delivered within a certain period.
  • Threshold securities list: A list of securities which have significant fail to deliver positions, a key focus of Regulation SHO.
  • Locate Requirement: Under Regulation SHO, investors must located the shares before short selling to ensure they can be borrowed.

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