What is a Form 3?

The federal securities laws require certain individuals (such as officers, directors, and those that hold more than 10% of any class of a company’s securities (“insiders”) to report purchases, sales, and holdings of their company’s securities by filing Forms 3, 4, and 5.

When a person becomes an insider (for example, when they are hired as an officer or director), they must file a Form 3 to initially disclose his or her ownership of the company’s securities. Form 3 must be filed within 10 days after the person becomes an insider.

What’s a Form 4?

In most cases, when an insider executes a transaction, he or she must file a Form 4. With this form filing, the public is made aware of the insider’s various transactions in company securities, including the amount purchased or sold and the price per share. Form 4 must be filed within two business days following the transaction date. Transactions in a company’s common stock as well as derivative securities, such as options, warrants, and convertible securities, are reported on the form. Each transaction is coded to indicate the nature of the transaction.

What’s a Form 5?

A Form 5 is generally due to the SEC no later than 45 days after the company’s fiscal year ends and is only required from an insider when at least one transaction, because of an exemption or failure to earlier report, was not reported during the year. For example, some transactions, such as certain purchases by an insider of less than $10,000 in a six-month period, don’t have to be reported on Form 4 when they occur but do have to be reported on Form 5. The Form 5 filing doesn’t have to disclose transactions that have been previously reported. When reporting transactions on Form 5, insiders use the same transaction codes as when reporting on Form 4.