How to Become a Notary in Montana
The Montana Notary Process:
Are you interested in becoming a Montana notary? Are you interested in generating extra income, starting your own Montana notary business, adding a notary title to your resume, or helping people in your community? The State of Montana appoints notaries to serve the public as unbiased impartial witnesses to document signing. Becoming a notary in Montana is a straightforward process, and as long as you meet the eligibility requirements listed below, you can apply to become a Montana notary. The American Association of Notaries has been helping individuals become notaries since 1994.
This guide will help you understand:
- Who can become a Montana notary
- The process to become a Montana notary
- Basic Montana notary duties
What are the qualifications to become a Montana notary?
To become a Montana notary public, a notary applicant must meet the following requirements:
- Be at least 18 years old.
- Be a citizen or permanent legal resident of the United States.
- Be a resident of Montana; be the spouse or legal dependent of an active duty military personnel stationed in Montana; maintain a place of business in Montana; be regularly employed at an office, business, or facility located in Montana; or hold a current professional license to practice the profession in Montana issued by an appropriate Montana authority.
- Be able to read and write English.
- Not be disqualified to receive a commission pursuant to MCA §1-5-621.
- Have passed the Secretary of State’s online examination and meet the education requirements as provided in MCA §1-5-620.
What is the process to become a Montana notary?
In order to become a Montana notary and receive a Montana notary commission, a notary applicant must:
- Meet the eligibility requirements provided in the previous section.
- Successfully pass the online notary exam before applying for a notary commission. (The exam cannot be taken more than six months before submitting the notary application).
- Obtain a $25,000 surety bond. (The notary application must be submitted within thirty days of the effective date of the surety bond.)
- Execute an oath of office before a notary public.
- Complete the online notary application and print it out.
- Submit to the Secretary of State the following: the notarized original application, the surety bond, the exam certificate, and the $25 filing fee.
Very important: The name on the application, bond, statement, and oath, and the signatures on those documents must match exactly because these will become the applicant’s “official notary name and signature” when performing notarial acts. The Certificate of Commission will be emailed at the email address listed on the notary application within ten to fourteen days.
Can a non-resident become a notary in Montana?
Yes. A non-resident may apply for a Montana notary public if the non-resident: (1) maintains a place of business in Montana that is registered pursuant to Title 35 and meets any applicable business licensing requirements of the local government where the business is located; (2) is regularly employed at an office, business, or facility located in Montana by an employer registered and licensed to do business in Montana; (3) is a spouse or legal dependent of military personnel assigned to active duty in Montana; or (4) holds a current professional license to practice the profession in Montana issued by an appropriate Montana authority.
A non-resident must:
- Meet the eligibility requirements provided in the previous sections.
- Follow the same application procedures provided in the previous sections.
- Provide a copy of the business licensing requirements of the state and/or local government where he or she maintains a business or is employed.
- Provide a copy of a professional license by appropriate Montana authority, if applicable.
- Provide proof of spouse or legal dependent of active duty military personnel stationed in Montana, if applicable.
How much does it cost to become a notary in Montana?
A Montana notary applicant’s expenses include the following: (1) a $25filing fee to process an application for appointment or reappointment; (2) a $25,000 surety bond; (3) a notary seal; (4) a journal; and (5) an E&O insurance policy if a notary wishes to obtain one for his or her own personal protection against liability.
How do I renew my Montana notary commission?
Montana notaries may not renew their commissions more than thirty days prior to the expiration date of their current commissions. The application for reappointment process is the same as the initial application for appointment process. If a notary public fails to renew his or her notary commission in a timely manner, the notary will be considered a new applicant. Beginning July 1, 2020, all notaries will have to take an approved notary education training course as a prerequisite for obtaining a new or renewed commission. To begin the renewal process, go to https://sosmt.gov/notary/forms/.
Are there any exams or notary courses required to become a Montana notary public or to renew my Montana notary public commission?
Yes. Effective October 1, 2019, all new applicants seeking an appointment as a notary public and renewing notaries in Montana must pass an examination to prove their understanding of the duties and responsibilities of the office. These individuals will have up to sixty minutes to complete the fifty-question examination. If these individuals cannot achieve a passing score of 80% after three attempts, they will be blocked for three months before they can try again. There is no cost for the examination administered by the Secretary of State. An individual’s application for appointment or reappointment must be submitted within six months of passing the examination. It is recommended that the individuals take the exam before applying for his or her notary bond. To assist a new applicant in passing the examination, the Secretary of State offers the Montana Notary Handbook. To take the examination, go to https://www.classmarker.com/online-test/login/. To download the Montana Notary Handbook, click here.
There is currently no mandated requirement for notary education training. However, effective July 1, 2020, in addition to passing the notary examination, all new applicants for appointment as notary public are required to successfully complete at least four hours of approved notary education training within the previous 12 months. Effective July 1, 2020, in addition to passing the notary examination, all renewing notaries are required to have successfully completed: (1) at least four hours of an approved notary public continuing education within the previous 12 months or (2) at least two hours of an approved notary public continuing education course in each of the previous three years (MCA 1-5-620). The notary training completion certification must be attached to the application for appointment or reappointment.
Can I perform electronic notarization in Montana?
Yes. The State of Montana authorizes notaries public to obtain an electronic signature and electronic seal to notarize electronic documents in the physical presence of the individual seeking the notarization like a traditional/pen and paper notarization. Before a Montana notary performs the notary’s initial electronic notarization using an electronic notarization system, the notary must notify the Secretary of State that he or she will be performing notarial acts with respect to electronic records and identify the electronic notarization system he or she intends to use. A notary must complete an approved course of instructions and pass an examination regarding electronic notarizations. The course may be completed in conjunction with any course required by the Secretary of State for a notary public commission. A notary public must submit proof to the Secretary of State that he or she has successfully completed the course and examination (MCA §1-5-615).
Can I perform remote (online) notarizations in Montana?
Yes. Beginning October 1, 2019, Montana notaries may perform a remote online notarization for a remotely located individual by means of communication technology: live, two-way, audio-visual transmission.Montana notaries who wish to perform remote notarizations must: (1) notify the Secretary of State that the notary will be performing notarial acts using a communication technology; (2) select one or more audio-video communication technologies; (3) complete an approved course of instructions provided by the technology provider(s); (4) pass an examination; and (5) submit the notary public information update form and proof of completion of the course training. Montana notary law requires that all remote online notarizations utilize “multi-factor” identification using twoor more different types of technologies if the signer is not identified by personal knowledge.
Moreover, when performing a remote notarization by means of audio-video communication technology, a Montana notary must comply with the state’s statutory requirements: (1) the audio-video communication technology used must allow the persons communicating to see and speak to each other simultaneously; (2) the signal transmission must be in live, real time; (3) the notary public must be physically located in Montana, even though the principal may be geographically located in any state or country while visually in the presence of the notary through the use of audio-visual communication technology; (4) the principal’s identity must be established based on satisfactory evidence of identity using two or more different types of technologies; (5) the notary must complete a notarial certificate that indicates that the notarial act was performed remotely for a remotely located individual; (6) the notary must make a record in a journal of the performance of the remote notarization; and (7) the notary must retain an audiovisual recording of the remote notarization. Montana is one of only two states that allow the remote notarization of tangible documents.
How long is the term of a notary public commission in Montana?
The term of office of a Montana notary public is four years commencing with the date specified in the commission. However, a notary’s commission may be rendered void: (1) by resignation; (2) by death; (3) by revocation; (4) when a notary ceases to reside in Montana; (5) when a non-resident notary ceases to be regularly employed or maintain a place of business in Montana; or (6) when the notary is no longer a citizen or permanent legal resident of the United States.
Is a Montana notary bond required to become a notary in Montana?
Yes. An assurance in the form of a surety bond or its functional equivalent in the amount of $25,000 is required for all new applicants seeking an appointment as a notary public and for renewing notaries in Montana. The surety bond must be issued by a surety company qualified and authorized to do business in Montana (MCA §1-5-619[d]). The notary application must be submitted within thirty days of the effective date of the surety bond.
Do I need a Montana notary errors and omission insurance?
Errors and omissions insurance is optional and not required by Montana state notary law. The American Association of Notaries strongly recommends that Montana notaries public obtain errors and omissions insurance policies for their personal protection against liability. Errors and omissions insurance is designed to protect notaries from liability against unintentional notarial mistakes or omissions that result in financial or other type of loss to the public or a client for which a notary public is sued for recovery. An E&O policy customarily covers legal fees and damages based on the coverage a Montana notary public selects.
Where can I perform notarial acts in Montana?
Montana notaries may perform notarial acts in any county in the state or in any bordering state if the border state recognizes the notary’s authority within that state (MCA §1-5-605). In some cases, a Montana notary public may perform a traditional notarial act on a tangible document when the notary is physically in either of two adjoining states-North Dakota and Wyoming. Likewise, North Dakota notaries and Wyoming notaries may perform notarial acts in Montana. Even when performing a notarization in either North Dakota or Wyoming, a Montana notary must always follow the laws and rules of Montana. The statutes that allow this practice are dependent on both Montana and the reciprocal states.
Who appoints Montana notaries public?
The Secretary of State appoints Montana notaries public, processes all applications for appointment and reappointment, issues notary public commissions, and maintains records relating to notaries. To contact the Secretary of State, use the following information:
Montana Secretary of State
Certifications and Notary Services
P.O. Box 202801
Helena, MT 59620-2801
(406)444-5379 or (406)444-1877
Do I need to purchase a notary stamp in Montana?
Yes. Montana law requires all notaries to affix an official stamp on tangible records and/or electronic records to authenticate all notarial acts performed. Section 1-5-616 of the Montana Code Annotated and Section 44-15-107 of the Administrative Rules of Montana provide the legal specifications regarding the layout and the information required on all notary stamps.
The official stamp of a notary public, whether the impression is on a tangible or electronic record must:
- Be rectangular in shape and approximately 1” x 2 ½” in size.
- Be in blue or black ink.
- Have a circular seal to the left that includes the words "notarial seal," the words "State of Montana," and the notary public's name as it appears on the notary public's certificate of commission.
- Have a block of text to the right of the seal that includes: (i) the notary public's printed name as it appears on the notary public's certificate of commission; (ii) the words "Notary Public for the State of Montana"; (iii) the words "Residing at" immediately followed by the name of the city or town and state where the notary public lives; and (iv) the words "My Commission Expires" immediately followed by the notary public's commission expiration date, expressed in terms of the month (spelled out), day, and four-digit year.
- Have a plain rectangular border enclosing the text and seal.
Note: The position of the notary’s name and the words “notarial seal” may be interchanged within the circular seal. The official notarial stamp must be: (1) able to be reproduced in any legibly reproducible manner and (2) capable of being copied together with the record to which it is affixed or attached or with which it is logically associated.
Is a notary journal required in Montana?
Yes. Montana notary law requires each notary public to maintain one or more journals in a tangible medium or in an electronic format to chronicle all notarial acts, whether those notarial acts are performed regarding tangible or electronic records. The format of a journal maintained in a tangible medium must be a permanent, bound register designed to deter fraud. A journal maintained in an electronic format must be in a permanent, tamper-evident electronic format that complies with the rules adopted by the Secretary of State. Montana notary statute also allows notaries to use electronic journals that create chronological, sequential, non-modifiable records that can be stored securely and accessed if needed. All electronic journals must meet the minimum criteria established by state notary statute and adopted rules. Montana notaries must retain a notary record book ten years after the performance of the last notarial act. For Montana notary supplies, visit the American Association of Notaries website at www.usnotaries.com or call 800.721.2663.
How much can a Montana notary charge for performing notarial acts?
Montana notary fees are set by statute (MCA §1-5-626). The maximum allowable fees that a Montana notary public can charge for notarial acts are listed below:
- Acknowledgments - $10
- Oaths or affirmations - $10
- Verifications upon oath or affirmation - $10
- Certifying copies - $10
- Witnessing signatures - $10
- Certifying transcripts - $3.50 per page
Note: A notary public may charge an additional fee in accordance with MCA §1-5-626(2): (a) for traveling to perform a notarial act; (b) for performing a notarial act using an electronic notarization system or communications technology; or (c) to recover the cost of providing a journal entry or audiovisual recording (ARM 44.15.109). Notaries who charge for notarial work must publish their fee schedules in English.
What notarial acts can a Montana notary public perform?
A Montana notary public is authorized to perform the following notarial acts (MCA §1-5-603):
- Take acknowledgments
- Administer oaths or affirmations
- Witness or attest signatures
- Take verifications upon oath or affirmation
- Certify transcripts of depositions or affidavits
- Note protests of negotiable instruments
- Certify or attest copies
- Certify copies of certain private tangible or electronic records
- Certify facts or events
- Make certifications of life
- Certify photographs
- Perform marriages (MCA §1-5-630)
Note: The notarial acts of certifying or attesting a transcript of an affidavit or deposition and making a protest of a negotiable instrument may be performed only by notaries who are knowledgeable of the applicable associated legal requirements and have received appropriate training.
How do I update my address for my Montana notary commission?
The Montana notary statute requires a notary public to update his or her information as necessary during the term of office if any of the following changes: physical residence address, mailing address, email addresses, personal telephone number, employment information, and whether electronic or remote notarization services are offered. A Montana notary must notify the Secretary of State within thirty days of any changes. The Notary Information Update form is a fillable form on the website at https://sosmt.gov/notary/forms/.
Do I have to change my name on my notary commission in Montana?
A Montana notary is required by state notary law to notify the Secretary of State within thirty days of a name change and include with the notification the following: (1) a Notary Information Update form; (2) a rider bearing the notary’s new name; and (3) an example of the notary’s new official signature. The notary will receive by mail an amended Certificate of Commission with the notary’s new name, which is required to obtain a notary stamp with the new name. Click here to download the Notary Information Update form.
Revised: September 2019
Legal disclaimer: The American Association of Notaries makes no claims, promises, or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this page. Information on this page is not intended as legal advice. We are not attorneys. We do not pretend to be attorneys. Though we will sometimes provide information regarding federal laws and statutes and the laws and statutes of each state, we have gathered the information from a variety of sources. We do not warrant the information gathered from those sources. It is your responsibility to know the appropriate laws governing your state. Notaries are advised to seek the advice of an attorney in their states if they have legal questions about how to perform notarial acts.
Notary bonds and errors and omissions insurance policies provided by this insurance agency, American Association of Notaries, Inc., are underwritten by Western Surety Company, Universal Surety of America, or Surety Bonding Company of America, which are subsidiaries of CNA Surety.