BaFin Futures Rules


On September 30, 2022, a General Administrative Act was adopted by BaFin that restricts the marketing, distribution and sale of futures with an Additional Payment Obligation (APO). The act became effective on January 1, 2023

The act affects MiFID retail clients who have their country of legal residence listed as Germany, and covers all exchange-traded futures worldwide with the exception of positions opened prior to January 1, 2023.

APO means the contractual obligation of a retail client to compensate a brokerage firm for losses in excess of the capital deposited by the client for futures trading. In other words, Retail clients in Germany will not have to compensate IBKR for losses related to futures in excess of the funds specifically deposited for futures trading. Any excess losses must be covered by IBKR.

To manage its risk, IBKR has increased the Initial and Maintenance margin requirements for all new Futures positions after 1 January 2023 that are entered into by Retail Clients domiciled in Germany. The margin changes are:

(1)    Intraday Margin no longer applies, only overnight requirements will be used for the calculation

(2)    Margin requirement above the threshold EUR 50'000 will be doubled

Example #1: Normal margin requirement is EUR 75'000, we will require EUR 100'000 in margin (50'000 + (2 x 25'000))
Simply double the amount of margin that is above 50k

(3)    Futures with the same underlying (e.g S&P 500, DAX etc) will be margined together as one 'class'. The increase and calculation would apply to this grouped position (class).

Under the BaFin Futures Rule, only cash allocated for futures trading is at risk. Cash allocated for futures trading equals the initial margin requirement for the future, meaning that only the Initial Margin will be used to cover losses from futures trading. If a loss exceeds the cash allocated to meet the initial margin, IB will not require the client to cover excess losses.

Initial margin requirements for futures must be met with Free Cash. Free cash is your positive cash balances less initial margin for other open positions, and does not include equity in other instruments. If your account does not have sufficient Free Cash to cover the initial Margin requirement the order will be rejected. Note in particular, that if your account has a margin loan (negative cash) you will not be able to trade futures as IBKR is not allowed to increase a margin loan to generate cash for the futures margin requirement.

Futures positions that no longer meet the maintenance margin requirement will be liquidated. Note however, that only futures can be liquidated to cover a margin deficit in futures. By contrast, futures can be liquidated to cover deficits in other instruments.

Clients can opt-in to have all their free cash available to be used to cover variation margin requirements for their futures positions. This reduces the likelihood of liquidations but increases your potential total losses up to your entire available Free Cash.

To request to Opt-In, you will need to login to the Client Portal and select Settings, then select “BaFin Futures for German Retail Investor” and follow the prompts. This will allow you to complete the agreement and confirm the request.