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I don't deal with a transfer agent, so I can't comment on their services and prices, but how do these prices differ from using a broker? If you have these services performed by a broker, they will charge you too.

My broker allows automatic dividend reinvesment for free on companies that allow such. No cost. We use the same transfer agent as Fidelity does - National Financial.

We do charge for the processing of certificates (as any broker/transfer agent will do) at $50 a cert - I am authorized to waive/eat that fee at my discretion.

For stock already in an account, there is no cost for the processing of change of ownership, splits, or mergers so there is no delay (everything is done electronically).

They will issue me certificates, which I don't want to hold so I keep my shares as book entry, free of charge.

Free of charge for you, but it will cost the other person to put them into deposit in many cases.

If I did have them issue me a certificate for my shares, could I not open an account with a broker and mail them the certificate?

Yes, but they may charge you to deposit it.

To even obtain certificates from a broker you need to pay them to change them to your name and issue. If you lose those shares will they not charge you as well?

Yes, the transfer agent (the company that issues the certs, not the broker) will charge you to replace them - that is why I believe you would be better to gift any shares of stock via an account than certificate form.

I see clients too frequently that have lost their certs and can either NEVER recover them - total loss of all principle - or get hit with significant fees to replace them.
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