Date set by a company on which the investor must own shares, to be eligible for dividend, share split, bonus, rights issue or other capital gains as declared / announced by the company. It is the date established by the company for determining the shareholders who are entitled to receive dividend, bonus or rights shares of the company.
In this case, it is also important to know what an ex-date is. Ex-date is the date on which the seller, and not the buyer, of a stock will be entitled to a recently announced dividend, bonus or other corporate action. The ex-date is usually a business day prior to the record date, since T+2 trading cycle is followed for clearing and settlement of trades in India.
If record date for dividend is set by a company as 4th March, then those investors, whose names appear on the shareholder list of 4th March, as received by the company form the depository will be entitled to the dividend. Doing a back-calculation, for an investors name to feature in the 4th March shareholder list, he should be holding the shares two days prior to that date i.e. on 2nd March (due to T+2 cycle). Thus, those shareholders holding shares at end of day 2nd March, will be entitled to the dividend. The ex-date, in this case, will be 3rd March, a date on which the buyer will not be entitled to the dividend declared.