9 of the Best International ETFs to Buy in 2023

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Best International ETFs

Diversification is essential for an investment portfolio, and international exchange-traded funds (ETFs) provide a simple way to add geographic diversification.

International stocks aren’t perfectly correlated to US stocks. It’s impossible to predict when stocks from different countries will rise or fall, so geographic diversification is essential.

In this article, we’ll cover some of the best international ETFs you may want to consider adding to your portfolio.

This article highlights ETFs that may be a good fit if you’re looking to invest in companies outside of the US. This is not investment advice, and losing money with these ETFs is possible. If you have questions about your situation, seek personalized help from a financial advisor.

You may also be interested in our other lists of the best small-cap ETFs, best ETFs for long-term growth, and best tech ETFs.

The Best International ETFs

With these ETFs, you can get far-reaching geographic diversification in a single fund. However, there are some significant differences among these ETFs. You can choose to invest globally or specifically in developed or emerging markets.

When you find something you like, it’s straightforward to purchase an ETF through an online brokerage like Public, Webull, or Moomoo. You can read our article How to Buy an ETF for more details.

The details for each ETF listed below are from VettaFi. They are valid as of the day this article was updated, February 23, 2023. Be sure to check the current details, as they will change with time.

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1. Vanguard Total International Stock ETF (VXUS)

Vanguard is known for its low-cost mutual funds and ETFs. VXUS is a solid international ETF for investors who want a simple fund with broad exposure and a very low expense ratio (0.07%).

This fund tracks the FTSE Global All Cap ex US Index. It includes developed and emerging markets outside the United States, providing broad exposure to international stock markets.

VXUS holds shares of thousands of companies. However, it is heavily weighted toward large-cap companies with little exposure to small or medium-cap companies.

VXUS Details:

Price: $54.18
Expense Ratio: 0.07%
Annual Dividend Yield: 2.46%
1 Year Return: -7.92%
3 Year Return: 8.43%
5 Year Return: 9.86%

2. iShares Core MSCI Total International Stock ETF (IXUS)

The iShares Core MSCI Total International Stock ETF is another excellent option for those wanting broad exposure to international stocks. It tracks the MSCI ACWI ex USA Investable Market Index.

Like VXUS, IXUS also includes developed and emerging markets outside the US. It also offers the same low expense ratio of 0.07%. And it’s also highly diversified with thousands of holdings.

IXUS Details:

Price: $60.71
Expense Ratio: 0.07%
Annual Dividend Yield: 2.11%
1 Year Return: -8.10%
3 Year Return: 7.77%
5 Year Return: 9.26%

3. Vanguard FTSE Developed Markets ETF (VEA)

Here is another low-cost (0.05% expense ratio) Vanguard ETF. While VXUS offers global exposure, VEA focuses exclusively on developed markets like Japan, Australia, and the countries in Western Europe.

Because this fund includes only developed markets, it doesn’t provide as much diversification as VXUS. However, if you’re specifically looking to invest in developed international markets, VEA is a solid choice.

VEA includes nearly 1,000 holdings, which is significantly less than VXUS. However, like VXUS, it’s heavily weighted toward large caps.

VEA Details:

Price: $44.37
Expense Ratio: 0.05%
Annual Dividend Yield: 2.41%
1 Year Return: -5.34%
3 Year Return: 11.71%
5 Year Return: 15.05%

4. Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets ETF (VWO)

While VEA focuses on developed markets, VWO invests in emerging markets by tracking the FTSE Custom Emerging Markets All Cap China A Inclusion Index.

The expense ratio of this international ETF is slightly higher (0.08%) than the others we’ve looked at so far, but still very low.

Investors may want to hold both VWO and VEA to get exposure to emerging and developed for greater diversification. Emerging markets offer greater diversification benefits for US investors than developed markets. Emerging markets are less correlated with the US stock market but tend to be more volatile.

VWO Details:

Price: $40.06
Expense Ratio: 0.08%
Annual Dividend Yield: 2.17%
1 Year Return: -14.72%
3 Year Return: 1.22%
5 Year Return: -2.77%

5. iShares Core MSCI EAFE ETF (IEFA)

The iShares Core MSCI EAFE ETF tracks the MSCI EAFE Investable Market Index. This fund invests only in developed markets outside the US, excluding emerging markets. In this way, it’s similar to VEA.

This fund is a younger and cheaper version of BlackRock’s EFA. With a very low expense ratio of 0.07%, IEFA intends to appeal to the long-term buy-and-hold investor.

IEFA currently includes around 3,000 companies among its holdings, so it’s well diversified in that sense.

IEFA Details:

Price: $65.25
Expense Ratio: 0.07%
Annual Dividend Yield: 2.21%
1 Year Return: -4.45%
3 Year Return: 10.56%
5 Year Return: 13.95%

6. Vanguard Total World Stock ETF (VT)

The Vanguard Total World Stock ETF is unlike any of the others we’ve covered so far. It tracks the FTSE Global All Cap Index and it includes investments in the US as well as other global markets. This broad fund includes developed and emerging markets.

Some long-term investors may prefer a global ETF like VT rather than having separate funds for US stocks and foreign stocks.

Although VT offers extensive geographic diversification, it’s heavily weighted towards large-cap stocks with little exposure to small or medium caps.

VT Details:

Price: $90.08
Expense Ratio: 0.07%
Annual Dividend Yield: 1.59%
1 Year Return: -6.74%
3 Year Return: 17.32%
5 Year Return: 34.48%

7. SPDR Portfolio Developed World ex-US ETF (SPDW)

As indicated by its name, SPDW focuses on the developed world and excludes the United States and emerging markets. This fund from State Street Global Advisors tracks the S&P Developed Ex-U.S. BMI Index.

SPDW is a diversified fund with thousands of holdings, including growth and value stocks. The expense ratio of 0.04% is tied for the lowest among funds on this list.

SPDW Details:

Price: $31.41
Expense Ratio: 0.04%
Annual Dividend Yield: 2.21%
1 Year Return: -5.53%
3 Year Return: 10.94%
5 Year Return: 14.71%

8. iShares Core MSCI International Developed Markets ETF (IDEV)

IDEV tracks the MSCI World ex USA IMI and focuses on developed countries outside the United States. The fund has around 2,000 holdings in countries like Japan, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

This international ETF boasts an extremely low expense ratio of just 0.04% (tied with SPDW for the lowest on this list).

IDEV Details:

Price: $59.12
Expense Ratio: 0.04%
Annual Dividend Yield: 2.23%
1 Year Return: -4.70%
3 Year Return: 11.54%
5 Year Return: 16.44%

9. Schwab Fundamental International Large Co. Index ETF (FNDF)

This fund tracks the Russell RAFI Developed ex-U.S. Large Company Index. As noted by the name, it focuses on large-cap companies, so it does not provide exposure to small or mid-caps.

FNDF includes around 1,000 holdings in developed countries with the heaviest concentration in Japan and the United Kingdom.

It’s worth noting that the expense ratio of 0.25% is significantly higher than the other funds covered in this list.

FNDF Details:

Price: $30.98
Expense Ratio: 0.25%
Annual Dividend Yield: 2.10%
1 Year Return: -2.89%
3 Year Return: 21.30%
5 Year Return: 19.60%

Holding Multiple International ETFs

If you decide to invest in multiple international ETFs (for example, one for developed markets and another for emerging markets), it’s important to look at the details of the funds. For example, Canada is included in some ETFs and excluded in others. And South Korea is considered a developed market in some cases and an emerging market in others.

Investors who want to hold separate foreign ETFs for developed and emerging markets may want to stick with one issuer to avoid over-exposure or under-exposure in these situations. For example, investing in Vanguard’s VEA and VWO may be better than choosing funds from two different issuers.

Final Thoughts on the Best International ETFs

Most balanced portfolios include international investments. ETFs are generally the easiest and cheapest way to get exposure to global markets. In this article, we’ve featured several options so you can choose the best international ETF for your portfolio.

Of course, it’s important to consider factors like your risk tolerance and your overall investing strategy before choosing any exchange-traded fund. But the funds on this page provide solid options for many long-term buy-and-hold investors.

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