Bonds, Stamps, and Journals – Tools of the Trade

Bonds

In order to apply for a new or renewal notary commission, you must obtain a NOTARY SURETY BOND to submit with your application and other required information.

  • Statutory Amount – $25,000
  • Approximate Cost – $50 – 70 for the four-year term of the commission
  • Available from insurance agents or bonding companies
  • The effective date, if the bond has one, must be within 30 days before or after the date your Application for Appointment as a Montana Notary Public is received in the Secretary of State’s office.
  • When you receive your bond, be sure to sign it (on the line for “Principal”) with the signature you will use when notarizing documents.
  • Montana notary surety bonds must be on a standardized form that includes the notary’s statement and oath of office which must be notarized.

A bond is not insurance to protect the notary.  It is a financial guarantee that a person who suffers a financial loss because of a Notary’s misconduct will be reimbursed up to the bond’s limit.  If damages are paid to a signer from the surety bond, the Notary may be required to pay back the amount to the bonding company.

Montana does not require notaries to obtain or carry liability insurance – Errors & Omissions Insurance – to protect themselves; however notaries should discuss the need for such insurance with their employer and their insurance agent.

Stamps

Once the notary has received a Certificate of Commission, the notary must obtain an OFFICIAL SEAL/STAMP.

  • The Secretary of State does not provide the seal/stamp.
  • It is the notary’s responsibility to ensure that the seal/stamp is correct and complies with the requirements described below.
  • The Secretary of State has compiled a list of Recommended Vendors who have agreed to provide only the prescribed types of stamps to Montana notaries.

Montana notaries are required to have an ink stamp unit, rectangular in shape and approximately 1” x 2 ½” in size, that contains a seal (as described below) and the additional statutorily mandated information: the notary’s printed name; the title, “Notary Public for the State of Montana”; the words, “Residing at” with the name of the city or town where the notary lives; and the notary’s commission expiration date, shown as Month/Day/Four Digit Year. The stamp may be either blue or black ink only.

The following is an illustration of the combination seal/stamp unit that is require for Montana notaries:

IMPORTANT NOTES:
  • All information as shown in the above image must be included. The commission expiration date must be complete. It is not acceptable to “fill in” the year.
  • If any of the information contained in the seal/stamp changes during the notary’s term of office, the stamp must be replaced. Handwritten corrections are not allowed.
  • The rectangular border is a REQUIRED part of the seal/stamp.
  • Notaries must purchase a new seal/stamp for each term of office.
  • When the seal/stamp is used, the information does not need to be entered by hand again on a notarial block.
Journals

Montana law requires notaries public to chronicle all notarial acts in a NOTARY JOURNAL.

  • A notary may keep one or more journals, and the journals may be either a permanent, bound paper journal designed to deter fraud or a permanent, tamper-evident electronic journal.
  • See below for our Recommended Vendors of Montana compliant journals
  • Entries in a journal must be made at the same time as the notarial act. Each journal entry must include:
    1. The date and time of the notarization.
    2. The type of notarial act. Only a few possibilities exist: taking an acknowledgment in an individual or representative capacity (“Acknowledgement”); administering an oath/affirmation (“Oath”); taking a verification on oath/affirmation (“Jurat”); witnessing/attesting a signature in an individual or representative capacity (“Signature”); certifying/attesting a copy of certain tangible or electronic records (“Certification of Copy”); Certifying of Facts, a Photograph, and Certification of Life. Two other notarial acts – certifying/attesting a transcript of an affidavit or deposition (“Deposition”) and noting a protest of a negotiable instrument (“Protest Instrument”) require additional training and may only be performed by notaries who are knowledgeable about these processes.
    3. A description of the document. Typically, this is the date of the document and the type of document such as “contract,” “deed,” “power of attorney,” “affidavit,” etc. If more than one document is being notarized, each document should be described.
    4. The type of identification used. If identification is based on personal knowledge, an entry of “P.K.” is acceptable. If identification is based on satisfactory evidence, a brief description of the method of identification used (credible witness or ID document) should be noted, as well as the date of issuance or expiration of any ID document used.
    5. The signature, printed name, and address of the person for whom the notarial act was performed. This information should be entered by the person who is requesting the notarization. Exception: Certifying a copy of a document does not require the signature of the individual for whom the notarial act is performed.
    6. The fee (if any) charged for the notarization.

An example of a completed block-style journal entry:journal-record-notary-actImage from the Privacy Protected Notary Journal© published by the Montana Land Title Association Foundation.  Used with permission.

If a notary’s journal is lost or stolen, the notary must notify the Secretary of State of that fact. Lost or stolen journals may be reported by calling (406) 444-1877 or emailing [email protected].

Journal Retention
  • Journals must be kept for 10 years after the performance of the last notarial act in the journal.
  • Notaries must keep all journals in their possession while holding an active commission unless the notary has notified the secretary of state’s office and received approval for transferring custody to an approved repository.
  • Notaries have the choice of either retaining their journals themselves or transferring custody of their journals to an approved repository for retention when they cease to be an active notary.
  • Upon resignation or when intending to relinquish custody of a journal, notaries must complete a journal retention form [link] to notify the Secretary of State of the journals’ location.
  • On the death or adjudication of incompetency of a current or former notary, the notary’s personal representative or guardian (or any other person knowingly in possession of the notary’s journals) must transmit all journals to the Secretary of State’s office.
Recommended Providers and Vendors – For Notary Bonds, Stamps, and Journals
Montana Secretary of State – Corey Stapleton
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