If the shares are able to be sold (ie. "vested"), then yes, you can typically sell them. However, some companies place limitations on how many shares, when, and how often you can sell shares or exercise options. But in most cases, once shares that have been granted to you vest, you are free to sell them. Just be aware of the tax consequences of selling shares.
Congratulations on your award! There are a couple of issues you face with the award. In no particular order, are the shares registered for sale? Some companies in my experience will award stock that has not yet been registered with the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC). You need to find from either the documentation you got with the award or from your Chief Financial Officers officer if you have registered or restricted shares. If they are restricted, you have a lot of paperwork to complete to free up the shares for sale. The shares were most likely awarded under a document filed by the company. Does the document place any restrictions on the sale of the shares you received? Again, if you don't have a copy of any paperwork regarding the shares, the CFO's office can answer questions about any required holding period. Who actually holds the shares you were awarded? Most company's today do not issue old fashioned paper certificates. Who has your shares and is there any special arrangement with the holder to help you sell your shares? What is the cost basis for the shares? You will pay a capital gains tax on the difference between the award price and the sale price, so you need to allow for taxes in your profit/when do I sell calculation. If the award is sizable enough, it may have federal tax consequences also. A CPA can best help you figure that out. Can the shares be given to someone else? Can you transfer them for example to your family members who might have a need for the funds or be in a better position tax wise to sell the shares? Again, questions your company can answer for you. But don't let these questions take the pleasure away from your efforts! Enjoy your new found wealth!!
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