A Guide to Finding the Best International ETFs

Estimated read time 5 min read


Investors seeking exposure to international markets often turn to Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs) as a convenient and diversified option. International ETFs offer a gateway to foreign economies, allowing investors to tap into the growth potential and opportunities beyond their home country. In this article, we’ll explore how to identify the best international ETFs and provide valuable insights into making informed investment decisions in global markets.

  1. Determine Your Investment Objective

Before delving into the world of international ETFs, it’s crucial to identify your investment objective. Are you looking for long-term growth, income, or diversification? Do you prefer developed or emerging markets? Understanding your goals will help narrow down your choices.

  1. Geographic Focus: Developed or Emerging Markets

International ETFs can broadly be categorized into those focusing on developed markets and those targeting emerging markets. Developed market ETFs offer stability and often include countries with established economies like the United Kingdom, Japan, and Germany. Emerging market ETFs include countries with growing economies, such as China, India, and Brazil. The choice between the two depends on your risk tolerance and growth expectations.

  1. Understand Currency Exposure

When investing in international ETFs, you’re also exposed to currency fluctuations. It’s important to be aware of the potential impact of currency exchange rates on your investment returns. Some ETFs use currency hedging to mitigate this risk, while others don’t. Consider whether you want exposure to foreign currencies or if you prefer a hedged approach.

  1. Research the Underlying Index

Every international ETF tracks an underlying index, which defines the selection of countries, sectors, and stocks included in the fund. Research the index to understand the ETF’s composition and its alignment with your investment objectives.

  1. Consider Expense Ratios

Expense ratios represent the annual cost of managing the ETF and are deducted from your returns. Lower expense ratios can significantly impact your long-term investment returns. Compare the expense ratios of different international ETFs to minimize costs.

  1. Liquidity and Trading Volume

Liquidity is a key factor in ETF selection. ETFs with higher trading volumes tend to have tighter bid-ask spreads, reducing the cost of trading. Consider whether the ETF you’re interested in has sufficient liquidity for your trading needs.

  1. Evaluate Historical Performance

While past performance is not indicative of future results, it can provide insights into an ETF’s historical returns and volatility. Analyze the fund’s performance during different market conditions to gauge its resilience and growth potential.

  1. Review Holdings and Sector Exposure

Examine the holdings within the ETF and assess their alignment with your investment strategy. Consider sector exposure to understand whether the ETF focuses on specific industries or provides broad diversification.

  1. Tax Implications

International ETFs can have tax implications for U.S. investors, particularly if they invest in certain countries or receive foreign dividends. Consult with a tax advisor to understand potential tax liabilities and deductions.

  1. Diversification Benefits

One of the primary advantages of international ETFs is diversification. Evaluate how the ETF contributes to diversifying your overall portfolio and reducing risk.

  1. Social and Environmental Considerations

If you have a preference for socially responsible or ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) investing, research whether the ETF aligns with your values. Some international ETFs incorporate ESG criteria into their investment approach.


Finding the best international ETFs requires careful research and consideration of your investment goals, risk tolerance, and preferences. Whether you seek developed or emerging market exposure, understanding currency risk, and evaluating the fund’s underlying index and historical performance, these factors play a vital role in making informed investment decisions.

International ETFs provide access to a world of investment opportunities, but it’s important to select the ones that align with your individual financial objectives. Consulting with a financial advisor can help tailor your international investment strategy and ensure it complements your overall portfolio. By following these guidelines, you can confidently navigate international markets and identify the best international ETFs for your investment goals.


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