Definition of Record Date
(1) Date by which a shareholder must officially own shares in order to be entitled to a dividend. For example, a firm might declare a dividend on Nov. 1, payable Dec. 1 to holders of record Nov. 15. Once a trade is executed, an investor becomes the "owner of record" on settlement, which currently takes five business days for securities and one business day for mutual funds. Stocks trade ex-dividend the fourth day before the record date, since the seller will still be the owner of record and is thus entitled to the dividend. (2) The date that determines who is entitled to payment of principal and interest due to be paid on a security. The record date for most MBS is the last day of the month, although the last day on which an MBS may be presented for the transfer is the last business day of the month. The record dates for CMOs and asset-backed securities vary with each issue.