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What Is Forced Liquidation in Crypto Trading?

What Is Forced Liquidation in Crypto Trading?

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Forced liquidation is a fundamental aspect of crypto trading that’s essential to understand, particularly if you’re involved in leveraged trading. In this guide, we’ll explore what forced liquidation is, how it works, its implications, and how to avoid it.

What is Forced Liquidation?

Forced liquidation in crypto trading is when an exchange automatically closes a trader’s open positions to ensure their losses do not exceed their account balance. This typically happens in leveraged trading, where traders borrow funds to trade larger positions than their actual account balance would allow. If the market moves against the trader’s position and they cannot meet the margin requirements, forced liquidation is triggered.

How Does Forced Liquidation Work?

Let’s dive deeper into how forced liquidation works. A leveraged trader must maintain a certain margin level, the ratio of the trader’s equity (the total value of their holdings) to the borrowed funds. This ratio is a safety measure that ensures the trader can cover potential losses.

A margin call is triggered if the market moves unfavorably for the trader and their margin level drops below a specified threshold (known as the “Maintenance Margin“). A margin call warns the trader to close their positions or deposit more funds to maintain the required margin level.

If the trader doesn’t act promptly and the margin level continues to fall, reaching the “Liquidation Margin,” the exchange will initiate a forced liquidation. The trader’s open positions will be closed, and the borrowed funds will be repaid from the trader’s account. This can lead to significant losses, and in worst-case scenarios, the trader’s account balance could be reduced to zero.

Implications of Forced Liquidation

The implications of forced liquidation are severe. Traders can lose a substantial portion, or even all, of their trading capital. Moreover, forced liquidations can cause significant volatility in the market as a large number of positions are closed abruptly.

In addition, forced liquidations can trigger a chain reaction. If many traders use high leverage and the market moves sharply, forced liquidations can exacerbate the price movement as positions are closed. This phenomenon was observed during the Bitcoin price crash in March 2020, when a cascade of forced liquidations amplified the drop.

How to Avoid Forced Liquidation

To avoid forced liquidation, traders should adhere to a few key practices:

  1. Use Leverage Judiciously: Leverage amplifies potential profits but also potential losses. Use it wisely, and take on only what you can handle.
  2. Maintain Adequate Margin: Ensure your account has enough equity to cover potential losses. Regularly monitor your margin level and be ready to top up your account if necessary.
  3. Risk Management: Implement a sound risk management strategy, including stop-loss orders and taking profits at predetermined levels. This can help control losses and reduce the likelihood of forced liquidation.
  4. Stay Informed: Keep an eye on market news and trends. Major events can cause significant price swings and trigger forced liquidations.
  5. Diversify: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Diversify your portfolio across different assets to spread the risk.


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Forced liquidation is a crucial aspect of crypto trading that traders must understand and manage. With careful risk management and sound trading practices, mitigating the risk of forced liquidation and safeguarding your trading capital is possible.

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