Notary Help Center

…About your Notary Commission

Follow the steps described here.

Follow the steps described here.

With the implementation of our Online Notary system, all notaries currently in the database have been assigned a notary commission number.  You may find your commission number by searching for your name.  The commission number will show on the Certificate of Commission for all new notaries and for renewal notaries.

The main difference is the notary bond protects the public and notary public errors & omissions insurance protects you, the notary. A notary bond is a type of surety bond issued by an approved surety company to protect the public against any wrongdoing on the part of the notary. The surety company guarantees to the public that if you, as a notary public, do not perform your duties in accordance with the law, the company will pay any damages caused by the incorrect notarization up to the amount of the bond. Notary public errors & omissions insurance is an insurance policy offering protection for the notary public in the event of unintentional mistakes. Montana notaries are required to obtain a $25,000 notary surety bond. E & O insurance is optional.

EFFECTIVE OCTOBER 1, 2019:  All new and renewing applicants are required to pass the Montana Notary Exam before submitting the application for a commission.  At this time training is not required, however, we do encourage notaries to review the notary laws, rules and other best practices information to assure that you are cognizant of the current requirements of the office.

EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 2020:  All new notary applicants must complete an approved training course and pass the Montana Notary Exam prior to applying.  Renewing notaries must complete at least four hours of continuing education in the 12 months preceding application or two hours in each of the 3 years preceding renewal.

Start by contacting your insurance agent or bonding company and requesting a “name change rider.” Once you receive the rider, sign it with your new signature, then login into the Notary Online Portal, select  “File an Amendment” and enter the information.  You will be asked to upload the rider, so once you’ve singed it, scan it and upload it to your computer for easy access.  You will be notified by email when your amended certificate is available.  Then you can order a new stamp.

Yes. The law requires notaries to notify the Secretary of State’s Office within 30 calendar days of any change in name, physical or mailing address, personal email address, telephone number, and any change in employment information. To do so, login to the Notary Online Portal and select, “File and Amendment”  Follow the steps to enter your changed information.. A name change also requires that you obtain a rider from your bonding company and submit that with the update form.

Yes. The bond was issued to you in an individual capacity, regardless of who paid for it, and can only be cancelled by you, the state of Montana, or the bonding company, generally for limited reasons such as non-payment, or if the bonding company has paid out a claim against your bond. Your previous employer cannot cancel your bond when you leave employment and you do not have to get a new bond. So long as your bond is still active, you may continue to notarize documents.

Stamps may be purchased from most stationery, stamp, or office supply stores. We have developed a list of Recommended Vendors who have agreed to provide only statutorily compliant stamps for Montana notaries.

Your journals are your responsibility and unless you have received approval from the secretary of state’s office to relinquish a journal to an employer or other custodian, you must keep them in your possession at all times while you hold an active commission.  Once a journal is filled, you must keep it in a secure location where you have access. Journals must be stored for 10 years from the date of the last entry; after that they may be destroyed.

If you choose to leave your journal(s) with your employer or other custodian, you must complete the Journal Retention Agreement Form, have the employer or designated custodian sign it, and submit it to the Secretary of State’s office by uploading the agreement to your file through the Notary Online Portal.

When you resign your commission or choose not to renew it you have the same options:  Keep the journal(s) yourself or relinquish custody to your employer or other approved custodian.  You will have to complete the Journal Retention Agreement Form, have the employer or designated custodian sign it, and submit it to the Secretary of State’s office by uploading the agreement to your file through the Notary Online Portal.

…About Performing Notarizations

As long as you are not named in, or a direct beneficiary of, the transaction referenced in the document being signed, the law permits a notary to notarize for family members.  We do caution you that the old adage, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should” may apply to notarizing certain documents transferring ownership of property or other financial transactions.

Yes. Every notarial act must be journalized.  For more information on  the specific requirements for journal entries, please refer to the  Montana Notary Public Handbook.

A person receiving a commission as a Montana notary has jurisdiction to perform notarial acts and official duties in every county in Montana, regardless of the notary’s place of residence or employment. You may also perform notarial acts on tangible documents in Wyoming and North Dakota.  RON, remote and IPEN notarizations may only be performed when the notary is physically within the state of Montana, although the signer may be located anywhere.  See the information on technology-based notarizations for more information.

Possibly. You may take the person’s acknowledgment that he or she was the one who signed the document without actually seeing the document being signed if the notarial act called for is an acknowledgement. However, the person must appear before you to declare that he or she is the signer and you must still verify his or her identity. This may not be done by phone, fax, or comparison of signatures – ever.

If the document requires a jurat or a signature witnessing, you must have the document signed in your presence. More information about the requirements for various notarial acts can be found in the Montana Notary Public Handbook, Chapter 4.

No. A notary may not notarize the acknowledgement, signature, or oath of a person who does not personally appear to the notary at the time the notarization takes place.

No. A medallion signature guarantee is not an official notarial act and may not be performed by a Montana notary public. A medallion signature guarantee is only available from someone who has been authorized by the Securities Transfer Association to verify signature on certain transactions involving stocks, bonds, or other securities.

Yes. Notaries may charge up to $10 for performing an acknowledgment, witnessing a signature, verifying on oath or affirmation, certifying a transcript or certifying a copy or any of the other notarial acts enumerated in 1-5-603, MCA. You may also charge travel fees at the rate authorized by the IRS, and you may charge a “reasonable” fee to cover the cost of performing a remote or remote online notarization, if the fee is agreed to by the signer in advance.  A list of fees charged by a notary must be displayed in English. There are some other conditions applicable to charging for notary services. More information regarding the laws pertaining to notary fees can be found in the Montana Notary Public Handbook.

Yes, however there are additional responsibilities imposed on you. In addition to identifying the person who is in your presence, you must also determine that the person has been authorized to act for the named individual or entity and that he or she is authorized to sign that particular document. You should ask to see the original or a certified copy of the POA and verify that the person in your presence is a named agent and that the POA covers the type of transaction involved in the document and is still in effect to the agent’s knowledge. NOTE: A Power of Attorney automatically terminates on the death of the principal, so your first question when someone wants to sign using a POA should be, “Is this person still alive?” If the answer is no, you must not proceed with the notarization.

No.  Completing an I-9 requires the employer or authorized agent to attest to certain things that are not authorized notarial acts in Montana – i.e., that the documents presented “appear to be genuine” and that “the employee is authorized to work in the United States”.

However, many prospective employers have adopted separate verification forms that Montana notaries may complete as “certification of facts”. Be very careful to read these forms thoroughly to determine that the information they are asking you to certify falls within your statutory authority. Remember that Montana notaries do not verify identification documents – we use those documents to verify the identity of the person who signs the document.

If you are unsure whether you can complete a verification statement for an employment verification form, please contact the secretary of state’s office before proceeding with the notarization.

Notaries do not “do” apostilles or authentications. If your customer is requesting one, your responsibility is to properly notarize the document. The customer will then need to submit to the Secretary of State’s Office, where we will certify that you are a currently commissioned notary for the state of Montana and that you completed the notarial block correctly by attaching an apostille or authentication to the document.

More information can be found here.  The customer will have to submit the notarized document to the Secretary of State’s Office in order to obtain the apostille or authentication.

You cannot tell someone how to make their signature. Your job as a notary public is to verify that the person named in the document is the person who signed the document and that the signature is theirs. Montana law says a signature can be any mark, symbol, or electronic signature that evidences the signing of a record.

This can be frustrating and confusing, but if you remember that the reason for notaries way back in history was that most people were illiterate and could not write their names, so they used “marks” to indicate that they had signed the document and the notary verified who the mark was made by. Our role hasn’t changed that much over the centuries – and even today some people’s signatures bear very little resemblance to their name, but a notary is still able to attest that the signature on a particular document was made by the person who was properly identified as the person who was named in, or authorized to sign, that document.

You may change any information that does not accurately reflect the particular details of the notarization, with one exception: You may not change the type of notarial act you are instructed to perform. You may (must) change the venue, the date, or the named signer if that information was previously entered in the notarial certificate and is not correct. For example if the venue reads, “State of Colorado, County of Arapahoe” and you are in Billings, Montana performing the notarization, you have to line through “Colorado” and put “Montana” and “Arapahoe” and enter “Yellowstone.” Or, if the notary block reads, “Signed before me by John Smith…” and you actually witnessed his wife signing on his behalf with his Power of Attorney, you have to insert that information: “… by Mary Smith as Attorney-in-Fact for John Smith.” You also must change the date if one is already inserted in the notarial certificate and it is not the date on which you are doing the notarization.  However, if the notarial certificate reads, “This record was signed before me on…” and the person has already signed it, you may not change the word “signed” to “acknowledged” – you must have the person sign the document again in your presence.

The notarial certificate is your official statement regarding the details of the notarization and it must be completely accurate and truthful.

No. As ministerial officials, notaries must take instruction from the document originator or the customer as to the type of notarial act they must perform. If the document has a pre-printed notarial certificate on it, calling for the notary to witness the signer affix his/her signature to the document (”Signed (subscribed, or executed) before me”), then you must have the signer re-sign the document while in your presence.

If you are able to verify the signer’s identity and determine that the signer is knowingly and willingly signing the document for the purposes intended, you may notarize a foreign language document as long as: 1.) The notarial certificate is in English, and 2.) The notarial act is one that is authorized by Montana law.

You may never complete a notarial certificate in any language other than English – even if you are fluent in that language.

You must carefully read the notarial language or associated instructions to the notary to ensure that you are not exceeding your authority under Montana law. Notaries in many other countries have powers and duties that American notaries do not have and often documents originating in other countries call for the notary to verify information that is beyond the authority of our laws.

Montana Secretary of State – Corey Stapleton
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