How to File Communications with Advertising Regulation
Firms can file communications for review via Advertising Regulation Electronic Files (AREF), an online application. In addition, firms can use AREF to view, print and save the department’s review letters.
The vast majority of communications are filed electronically through AREF. However, firms still wishing to submit hard copies must use the Advertising Regulation Filing Cover Sheet. Effective September 28, 2015, FINRA migrated the AREF system to a new platform that allows firms to submit advertising-related files through a wide variety of formats and to submit larger files.
Advertising Regulation Electronic File (AREF) Application Modernization – Help Us Help You!
Advertising Regulation is currently in the process of modernizing both our internal workflow application for our Filings Review, Complex Review and Sweeps programs as well as our external facing Advertising Regulation Electronic File (AREF) Application that firms use to electronically file communications for review with the Department.
Share your ideas and current challenges through solution-building activities. Early 2022, the AREF Modernization initiative will begin with user-centered research so our solution supports your firm’s needs and goals when interacting with AREF. User research is accomplished through surveys, interviews, focus groups and design thinking activities.
We invite you to be part of this journey. No special design skills needed only a willingness to share your experience and ideas. Please sign up if you are interested.
On This Page
- About Advertising Regulation Electronic Files (AREF)
- Training Guides and Documentation
- Frequently Asked Questions
Advertising Regulation Electronic Files (AREF) is a Web-based application that enables FINRA member firms to file communications with the public for review by FINRA's Advertising Regulation Department. In addition, firms may use AREF to view, print, and save letters about communications filed for review. Firms may also access real time filing fee information via AREF.
Effective October 16, 2017, FINRA enhanced AREF to allow firms the option to submit websites and web pages in their native format (e.g., .html). Firms that choose to use the new capability will package websites or web pages in a compressed file format and submit them through the AREF System for review by FINRA. Firms will include in their submissions a manifest that lists each unique web page address (Uniform Resource Locator or URL) submitted for review. FINRA also enhanced AREF to allow firms the option to submit the Android version of their mobile application file (e.g., .apk) as supporting documentation when filing the point-in-time capture of the application.
The enhanced AREF system provides firms with the ability to:
- submit audio and video files in formats such as mp4, wmv and wav, as well as files in MS Office formats such as Excel and PowerPoint and, not be limited only to PDF files;
- submit file sizes up to 500MB;
- save filings in draft status prior to submission to FINRA;
- upload more than two supporting documents on an initial filing; and
- perform improved searches and filtering functions on filings submitted.
Use of the systems is voluntary. FINRA will continue to send comment letters by mail (and, for expedited filings, by facsimile) unless you choose to receive electronic copies only.
- You may go directly to FINRA Gateway via the following URL: https://gateway.finra.org.
- Questions regarding obtaining access to the system can be directed by phone to (800) 321-6273 or by email.
- Questions regarding the comment letters that appear on AREF or about the advertising rules may be directed to the Advertising Regulation Department staff at (240) 386-4500.
- Batch Submission
Four changes are being made to the AREF Filing Submission Form as a result of new rule changes identified in FINRA Regulatory Notice 16-41. These rule changes eliminate several filing requirements, and the associated form changes allow filers to indicate if they are voluntarily submitting a filing that is no longer required.Effective on 1/9/17
- 1. How do I file communications for review by FINRA?
- Firms file most communications for review using the Advertising Regulation Electronic Files (AREF) system. You may also call the Advertising Regulation Department at (240) 386-4500 to learn more about how to file using AREF.
- 2. How will FINRA respond to communications that firms submit for review?
- FINRA provides a written "Review Letter" electronically via the AREF system. The Review Letter provides necessary comments as to the compliance of the submission. In addition, the review letter documents the cost of the review.
Our expedited review service provides for a response within three business days (or other negotiated time period) after the day FINRA receives the material. FINRA will send expedited responses no later than close of business on the third review day. However, response time for regular submissions may vary depending on the volume of filings FINRA receives.
- 3. What are the filing fees for the submission of communications to FINRA?
- As set forth in Section 13, Schedule A of the FINRA By-laws, the following fees apply to each communication submitted:
- $ 125.00 for the first ten pages of material
- $ 10.00 for each additional page
- $ 125.00 for the first ten minutes of each video and audio item
- $ 10.00 for each additional minute of each video and audio item
- $600.00 for all requests for expedited review for the first ten pages/minutes
- $ 50.00 per page/minute in excess of the first ten pages/minutes
- 4. How are filing fees paid?
- Each month, your firm's Super Account Administrator will receive an email notification that an Advertising Regulation invoice is available in E-Bill via FINRA Gateway. The Advertising Regulation Invoice will provide detailed transaction charges incurred during the billing period along with the total amount due. You may pay your Advertising Regulation fling fees online using E-Bill:
- Firm Bank Account (ACH payment)
- Credit Card Payment (Visa, MasterCard or American Express)
- FINRA Flex-Funding Account
The FINRA Flex-Funding Account, formerly known as the CRD/IARD Daily Account, allows firms to view invoices and pay fees formerly paid through the Web CRD system.
- Wire Payments
Funds may be wired for payment of filing fees. To pay Advertising invoices by wire transfers, provide your bank with the following information:
Bank Name: Bank of America
Transfer funds to: FINRA
Wire ABA Number: 026009593
ACH ABA Number: 054001204
- Check Payment
Checks can be sent by regular mail or by courier/overnight delivery. Checks sent by regular mail must be sent to the P.O. Box address provided below. All checks sent by courier or overnight delivery must be sent to the alternative address provided below, as the P.O. Box address will not accept courier or overnight deliveries. We encourage the use of the P.O. Box address as it facilitates more timely automated processing of your remittance.
Include the invoice number on the check and send the payment to:
P.O. Box 418911
Boston, MA 02241-8911
(Note: P.O. Box does not accept overnight/courier deliveries)
For courier/overnight CHECKS only:
Bank of America Lockbox Services
2 Morrissey Blvd.
Dorchester, MA 02125
- 5. How do I access additional information about my Advertising Regulation fee transactions?
- Firms may view online in AREF a real time listing of current and past transactions. If your firm incurred filing fees prior to December 2012, you may also view historical Advertising Regulation Fee Account statements.
- 6. How do I contact the Department?
- Our contact information is:
Advertising Regulation Department
9509 Key West Avenue
Rockville, MD 20850-3389
Telephone: (240) 386-4500
Fax: (240) 386-4568