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Manage a Branch Office Registration

Firms must register each of their branch offices with FINRA, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), and states that require branch registration. This is accomplished with Form BR, the Uniform Branch Office Registration Form.

You can electronically file Form BR via the Central Registration Depository (Web CRD) with a single filing, which covers all the necessary registrations. The form also allows you to amend, close or terminate a registration, or withdraw a filing with the appropriate jurisdiction and SRO.

Registering and Notice Filing

Form BR enables firms to register a branch office, either by “registering” or “notice filing.” Although SROs and jurisdictions may use these terms interchangeably, registering typically refers to a process that requires an approval by FINRA or another SRO, or a jurisdiction before a branch office may begin doing business. Whereas, when a firm notice files it notifies an SRO or jurisdiction of the existence of a branch office, but an approval is not required.

FINRA OSJ or Non-OSJ Branch Offices

Firms must indicate on Form BR whether a branch office is a FINRA Office of Supervisory Jurisdiction (OSJ) or a non-OSJ branch. The number of OSJ branches a firm must maintain depends on the nature and scope of the firm’s business conducted at the branch office.

An OSJ branch must have at least one on-site supervisor who is a qualified and registered principal with the firm. The main office of each firm is always considered an OSJ, and has supervisory jurisdiction and responsibility over all of the firm’s non-OSJ branch offices.

Filing a CMA When Adding a Branch Office

When your firm adds a branch office it may be considered a material change and require the filing of a Continuing Membership Application (CMA). That depends on how many offices your firm currently has, how many your firm has added in the past year, as well as whether your firm is subject to a restriction. A material change also can result from the specific facts and circumstances involved with adding a branch office.

Your firm might be able to take advantage of the safe harbor for business expansion (see IM-1011-1), allowing you to open branch offices without filing a CMA. Under the safe harbor, some expansions are not considered material and do not require FINRA approval. Find out the details of the safe harbor.