Understanding Guaranteed vs. Non-guaranteed Combination Orders


Provides information about multi-leg orders specifically relating to guaranteed vs non-guaranteed orders.

Multi-Leg Orders

A multi-leg order, also known as combination order, is a special order type comprising two or more components or legs that execute as a single transaction.  Each leg of a multi-leg order is defined with an asset, a leg side, and a ratio relative to other legs.  IB currently supports multi-leg orders with legs that belong to the following asset types: stocks, options, futures, future options and US CFDs.

Guaranteed and Non-Guaranteed Multi-Leg Orders

A guaranteed multi-leg order is an order in which executions are guaranteed to be delivered simultaneously for each leg and in proportion to the leg ratio.  This guarantee is fulfilled by IB or the exchange depending on the way the guaranteed multi-leg order is routed and executed.

Non-guaranteed multi-leg orders are not guaranteed to be executed proportionally to the required leg ratio although every effort is made to execute the order that way. 

Guaranteed multi-leg orders can be SMART routed or directed to a specific exchange, while non-guaranteed multi-leg orders can only be SMART routed. See the table below.

Guaranteed Multi-Leg Order Support by Routing Type

Routing Type



SMART Routed



Exchange Directed



Directed Multi-Leg Orders 

A directed multi-leg order is an order that is routed to a specific exchange that has native support for such an order. Directed multi-leg orders follow the exchange’s rules in terms of allowed number of legs, permitted asset types, and allowed combinations of leg ratios and leg sides. IB never attempts to execute individual legs of a directed multi-leg order separately.

Directed multi-leg orders are guaranteed by the exchange to be executed following the specified leg ratio.  IB does not accept non-guaranteed directed orders.

SMART Guaranteed Multi-Leg Orders

IB supports SMART routed guaranteed multi-leg orders of up to 6 legs. Based on the order marketability, these orders can be routed by the IB system to one of the competing exchanges that support them natively. In addition, 2-legged SMART routed guaranteed US stock/option and US option/option orders can be executed by IB on different exchanges, where each leg is routed separately. Any risk of resulting execution that does not satisfy the required order ratio is taken over by IB.  

SMART Non-Guaranteed Multi-Leg Orders

IB supports SMART routed non-guaranteed multi-leg orders of up to 2 legs. Legs must trade in the same currency and must be stocks, options, futures, or futures options. Supported currencies are: USD, EUR, AUD, CAD, CHF, GBP, HKD, and JPY.

Non-guaranteed multi-leg orders can only be SMART routed.  These orders may be executed natively on an exchange if supported there or executed by IB on one or more exchanges with each leg routed separately. The IB system makes every effort to execute the order according to the specified order ratio, but does not guarantee such an execution. Clients must acknowledge the inherent risk of non-guaranteed multi-leg orders upon order entry.

Combo orders with stock and option legs.


Combo orders which involve a stock and an option leg are accepted natively only at ISE.  So if you would like to create a covered call position, and wish to buy the stock and sell the option simultaneously, ISE is the exchange to which these orders will be sent if, in fact, the specific options trade at the ISE.


In the event that the option in question does not trade at ISE, the order can't be sent to that exchange.  These orders will stay on IB's system until the point at which the possibility exists that both legs may be executed simultaneously. 

For example, if you are long XYZ stock and short an XYZ call against it, you might choose to close this position using a combo order.  This order will be sent to ISE since it has a stock and option component.  However, if XYZ options don't trade at ISE, they can't accept the order.  In this case the order will stay on IB's server until the system reads that the XYZ stock can be sold and the XYZ option bought, at which point the system will send the orders simultaneously to the respective exchanges.  Please note that although it is possible that both orders will be executed simultaneously at the combo price, there is no guarantee of fill simply because the displayed quotes from each exchange indicate the combo price is available. 

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