Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

...About Your Notary Commission

How do I apply to become a notary?

Follow the steps described here.

How do I renew my commission?

Follow the steps described here.

What is my commission number?

Montana does not issue commission numbers to notaries. If you are asked to provide a commission (or similar number), you should enter “N/A” in the space provided.

What is the difference between a notary bond and insurance?

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 $10,000 notary surety bond. E & O insurance is optional.

Do I have to take a class before I renew my commission?

If you submit your renewal application, bond, and filing fee within the statutorily allowed renewal period (thirty days before to thirty days after your current commission expiration date) you are not required to take any training or the exam. We do encourage notaries to review the notary laws, rules and other best practices information at least every four years to assure that you are cognizant of the current requirements of the office. If your previous commission expired more than thirty days before you are able to submit the documents for renewal, you will be required to take and pass the Montana Notary Exam as a prerequisite for obtaining a new commission.

How do I change my name on my commission?

Start by contacting your insurance agent or bonding company and requesting a "name change rider." Once you receive the rider, send it and a completed Notary Information Update form to the Secretary of State's Office. An amended certificate reflecting the name change will be emailed to you, and then you may you replace your official Notarial Seal/Stamp.

Do I have to notify the state if I move or change jobs?

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, complete and submit the Notary Information Update form. A name change also requires that you obtain a rider from your bonding company and submit that with the update form.

I’ve changed jobs and my former employer paid for my bond – can I still notarize?

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.

How do I get a notary stamp?

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.

What do I do with my journal when I quit being a notary?

Montana law gives you two options:  1.) You may keep your journal(s) for a period of ten years from the date of the last entry and then destroy them, or; 2.) You may send them to the secretary of state’s office for archiving.  If you choose to keep your journals, you must notify the secretary of state’s office and advise us where the journal(s) will be stored. 

If you choose to send them to us, the address is:

Montana Secretary of State
Notary & Certifications Division
PO Box 202801
Helena, MT 59620



...About Performing Notarizations

Can I notarize my spouse’s or other family member’s signature?

Yes – as long as you are not named in, or a direct beneficiary of, the transaction referenced in the document being signed.

Do I have to keep a notary journal?

Yes. Every notarial act must be journalized.

Can I notarize something if I am in a different county from where I work or live?

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.

Can I notarize something when I didn’t actually see the person sign the document?

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.

If a person brings in the driver’s license of another person, can I notarize that other person’s signature?

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.

Can I do a "medallion signature" notarization?

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.

Can a notary charge for performing a notarial act? How much?

Yes. Beginning October 1, 2015, 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. You may also charge travel fees at the rate authorized by the IRS 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.

Can I notarize something for a person who has a Power of Attorney?

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.

Can I complete an I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification form if asked to do so because I am a notary?

No. Completing an I-9 form is not an authorized notarial act. I-9 forms should be completed by the prospective employee and the employer. Many prospective employers have adopted separate verification forms for notaries to complete. Be very careful to read these forms thoroughly to determine that the information they are asking you to verify fall 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 I-9 form, please contact the secretary of state’s office before proceeding with the notarization.

How do I do an apostille or authentication on a document?

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 the notarized document 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 with the Certification Request form that will need to be completed and submitted with the notarized document in order to obtain the apostille or authentication.

What if the signer’s printed name is different from the signature?

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.

Can I correct or change the pre-printed information on a notarial block?

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 block 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 block and it is not the date on which you are doing the notarization.

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

Can I change the notarial act if the notary block calls for a signature witnessing (“signed before me” and the customer has already signed the document?

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 block 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.

Can I notarize a document written in a foreign language?

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 block is in English, and 2.) The notarial act is one that is authorized by Montana law.

You may never complete a notarial block 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. For instance, as a Montana notary you cannot complete a notarial block that says that you are verifying that the signer is alive, or that they are living at a particular place, or that they are employed somewhere, etc.