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A procedure that allows firms to file one registration statement covering several issues of the same security. SEC Rule 415, adopted in the 1980s, allows a corporation to comply with registration requirements up to two years prior to a public offering of securities. With the registration "on the shelf," the corporation, by simply updating regularly filed annual, quarterly, and related reports to the SEC, can go to the market as conditions become favorable with a minimum of administrative preparation and expense.
A method the SEC uses to allow a publicly-traded company to register several new issues of stock and actually offer them at any time over a two-year period, subject to compliance with other appropriate regulations. These offerings are covered by a single prospectus, but may be offered to the public in different tranches. See also: Rule 415.
A simplified method of registering securities that permits corporations to file a relatively uncomplicated registration form with the SEC and, during the subsequent two years, issue the securities. Shelf registration is supposed to provide more flexibility for corporations when they are raising funds in the capital markets. Shelf registration is permitted by SEC Rule 415.