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How To Become A Notary Public In Montana

If you are interested in becoming a Notary Public in Montana, this practical guide will answer many common questions. Learn about notarial duties, and find out how you can become a commissioned Notary. Once you are ready to begin the process of becoming a Montana notary or renewing your Montana commission, we'll walk you through step by step.

Montana Notary Process | Requirements to be a Notary in Montana | General Notary Public Information

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Montana Notary Process

What is the process to become a Notary Public?

If you want to apply to become a Montana Notary, you must complete the following steps:

  1. Make sure you meet all of your state’s requirements (see below).
  2. Consider taking a Notary training class (optional, but strongly recommended).
  3. Review the Montana Notary Handbook (optional, but strongly recommended).
  4. Take and pass the Notary exam online.
  5. Get a $25,000 surety bond.
  6. Take your bond form to a Notary. They will administer your oath of office and notarize your signature.
  7. Complete an application form. Make sure your name and signature on the bond and application are an exact match.
  8. Submit your documents to the Secretary of State’s office. Be sure to include the $25 fee with your application, exam completion certificate, and the notarized surety bond form with your oath of office.
  9. Receive your commission certificate via email.
  10. Buy your Notary seal and journal.
  11. Consider getting errors and omissions insurance (optional, but strongly recommended).

How long does a Montana Notary commission last?

The term of a Montana Notary commission is four years.

How long does it take to become a Notary in Montana?

It depends on how much time you need to review the Montana Notary Handbook, pass the exam, get your bond and submit the application form. The Secretary of State’s office knows there are a lot of steps to complete and recommends planning for more than a few days to get everything done.

Once you pass the exam, you'll have 90 days to complete the process. Once you buy your surety bond, you'll only have 30 days to submit your application package. You may want to plan on a 30 day window of time from start to finish so you don't miss deadlines.

How much does it cost?

There is a $25 fee to apply for a Notary Public commission. The exam is free. Additional costs for your surety bond and Notary supplies vary depending on the vendor(s) you choose to work with.

The cost of commissioning can differ depending on whether you are a new or renewing Notary, too. Supply package prices vary among vendors. New Notaries may need more “how-to” assistance than experienced Notaries. Books, training and live expert assistance are often must-haves for most new Notaries.

Some vendors may package items with additional fees — processing fees for example.

What kind of training will I need?

All Notary applicants are encouraged to take a training course and review the state's Notary handbook before taking the state-required exam. Notary education classed are not a current requirement.

Starting on July 1, 2020, four hours of Notary education will be reqired for all new and renewing Notary applicants. Renewing Notaries can also meet the requirement by taking at least 2 hours of continuing education for each of the 3 years leading into their renewal.

Do I need to take an exam?

Yes. All applicants, new or renewing, must take and pass an exam based on the Montana Notary Handbook. You'll have one hour to complete the 50-question test. You must get a score of at least 80% to pass.

If you take it 3 times and don't pass, you'll have to wait 3 months before trying again.

What kind of supplies will I need?

Montana Notaries must use an official seal and maintain a record of all notarial acts in an official journal. The seal must be a blue or black ink stamp. The journal may be electronic or paper-based, and must be tamper-evident to deter fraud.

Supplies are sold by most vendors in packages, which can sometimes provide savings. However, not all vendor packages are created equal — they can vary greatly in terms of quality and content. If you are a new Notary or renewing your commission, the types and quantity of notarizations can require different tools of the trade. For example, if you are a mobile or retail Notary, an ID checking guide is recommended because you are constantly dealing with different people, as opposed to someone who notarizes in the same setting for the same group of people day after day.

When purchasing a journal, there are a few important features to which you must pay close attention. A journal with numbered pages and tamper-proof sewn construction allows Notaries to identify missing pages in their journals, which becomes extremely helpful if you’re ever named in a lawsuit.

When shopping for seal stamps, quality and durability can vary greatly among vendors. Stamps should not bleed during or after use, as this can cause county officials to reject documents due to smudging.

What is a surety bond and do I need one?

Montana Notaries are required to buy a $25,000 surety bond to protect signers against financial damages resulting from the Notary’s negligence or misconduct. A surety bond is a financial guarantee that the Notary will fulfill his or her obligations to notarize in compliance with state laws. This Notary bond specifically protects the public, not the Notary. Any damages paid from the bond go to cover any signer’s losses and must be paid back to the surety company by you.

Notaries can insure themselves against possible legal costs or damages by purchasing a separate, optional errors and omissions (E&O) insurance policy. Though not required by law, an E&O policy covers a Notary’s legal fees and damages up to the amount of the policy.

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Requirements to be a Notary in Montana

Who can become a Notary?

If you're applying to be a Notary Public in Montana, you must meet the following requirements. You must be:

  • At least 18 years old
  • A citizen or permanent legal resident of the United States
  • Able to read and write English
  • A resident, employee, have a licensed business or practice in Montana, or the spouse or legal dependent of an active duty military person stationed in MT
  • Free from any disqualifying offenses listed in 1-5-621 MCA

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General Notary Public Information

Which state government office handles Notaries?

The Montana Office of the Secretary of State, Notary and Certifications Division, located in Helena.

May I become a Montana Notary if I am not a U.S. citizen?

Yes. You do not have to be a U.S. citizen to become a Montana Notary Public. If you're not a citizen, you must be a permanent legal resident of the United States, and you must meet all other application requirements.

Where will I be able to notarize?

A Montana Notary can perform notarial acts anywhere within the state’s borders, or in North Dakota or Wyoming, which are bordering states that permit Montana Notaries to act in their jurisdictions. Even when in North Dakota or Wyoming, Montana Notaries must always follow the laws and rules of Montana when notarizing.

If you are physically in MT, you may use a state-approved Remote Online Notarization provider to perform notarization services for signers located in the U.S. or in a foreign jurisdiction. There are different rules, procedures and certificates, so be sure to carefully read all of the state's information about what you need to do.

How to become a remote online Notary in Montana

As of October 1, 2019, remote online notarization (RON) is allowed in MT. New Notary applicants can indicate on the application form whether or not they plan to offer this service. If so, there are a few additional steps in the application process. If you want to offer RON services, you must:

  • Choose the technology system(s) you intend to use
  • Complete an approved training course provided by the technology vendor(s)
  • Pass a test based on the course(s)
  • Provide a sample of your signature, which must match your application and bond form

If you're already commissioned but want to offer RON services, you must submit a Notary Public Information Update form with proof that you've completed the class(es) and exam(s).

The Montana Notary Handbook provides more detail about technology based notarizations. We've also published an article with more general information about RON and what's happening across the country.

Who can I notarize for?

Any member of the public, as long as the request meets all statutory requirements for notarization.

What is the process to renew my Notary Public commission?

To renew your Notary commission, you'll need to submit a renewal application, renew your $25,000 surety bond, submit your application renewal fee and buy a new Notary seal. You can start the renewal process 30 days prior to your current commssion expiration date.

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If you're not quite ready yet, we have additional resources where you can learn what a Notary is, what they do and why you should become a commissioned Notary.

Are you ready to get started?

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