Montana Notary Public Bond: A Comprehensive Guide

January 4, 2023

This guide provides information for insurance agents to help their customers obtain a Montana Notary Public bond.

At a Glance:

  • Average Cost: $50 for a four-year term
  • Bond Amount: $25,000
  • Who Needs it: All notaries public operating in Montana
  • Purpose: To ensure the public receives compensation for financial harm if the notary fails to properly perform their duties
  • Who Regulates Notaries Public in Montana: The Montana Secretary of State

Background

Montana Code 1-5-619 requires all notaries operating in the state to obtain a commission from the Secretary of State before providing notarial services. The Montana legislature enacted this requirement to ensure that notaries engage in ethical business practices. To provide financial security for the enforcement of the commission requirement, notaries must purchase and maintain a $25,000 surety bond to be eligible for a commission.

What is the Purpose of the Montana Notary Public Bond?

Montana requires notaries to purchase a surety bond as a prerequisite to obtaining a notary commission. The bond protects the public from financial harm if the notary fails to comply with the regulations outlined in Montana Code 1-5-619. Specifically, the bond protects the public if the notary signs any documents for persons committing fraud or does not actually witness the signatures on documents being notarized. In short, the bond is a type of insurance that protects the public if the notary violates the terms of their commission.

Montana Notary Public Bond Form
Montana Notary Public Bond Form

How Can an Insurance Agent Obtain a Montana Notary Public Surety Bond?

BondExchange makes obtaining a Montana Notary Public bond easy. Simply log in to your account and use our keyword search to find the “Notary” bond in our database. Don’t have a login? Enroll now and let us help you satisfy your customers’ needs. Our friendly underwriting staff is available by phone at (800) 438-1162, email, or chat from 7:30 AM to 7:00 PM EST to assist you.

At BondExchange, our 40 years of experience, leading technology, and access to markets ensures that we have the knowledge and resources to provide your clients with fast and friendly service whether obtaining quotes or issuing bonds.

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Is a Credit Check Required for the Montana Notary Public Bond?

No, a credit check is not required for the Montana Notary Public bond. Because the bond is considered relatively low risk, the same low rate is offered to all notaries in the state regardless of their credit history.

How Much Does the Montana Notary Public Bond Cost?

The Montana Notary Public bond costs just $50 for a four-year term.

Who is Required to Purchase the Montana Notary Bond?

Montana requires notaries public to purchase a surety bond as a prerequisite to obtaining a notary commission. To paraphrase Montana Code 1-5-602, a notary public is a public official authorized to provide the following services:

  • Take acknowledgments and verifications
  • Administer oaths and affirmations
  • Witness or attest to the signing of documents
  • Note a protest of a negotiable instrument
  • Certify or attest a copy
  • Certify or attest a transcript of an affidavit or deposition

Notaries who wish to perform electronic or remote notarizations do not need to purchase an additional surety bond. These types of technology-based notarizations are defined as:

  • In-person Electronic Notarizations: The notary and signer use a digital signature on an electronic document while both parties are physically present
  • Remote Online Notarizations: The notary and signer use a digital signature on an electronic document while both parties are present via audio-visual transmission
  • Remote Notarizations: The notary and signer use wet signatures on a physical document while both parties are present via audio-visual transmission

Notaries should visit the Secretary of State’s website to find more details on the different types of notarizations. Only traditional notaries public are required to purchase a surety bond.

How Do Notaries Apply for a Commission in Montana?

Notaries public in Montana must navigate several steps to obtain a commission. Below are the general guidelines, but applicants should refer to the Secretary of State’s website and the Montana Notary Public Handbook for details on the process.

Commission Term: All Montana Notary Public Commissions are valid for four years from the date of issuance.

Notaries Public

Step 1 – Meet the Qualifications

To be eligible to apply for a notary public commission, applicants must meet all of the following criteria:

    • Be at least 18 years old
    • Live or work in Montana
    • Be a citizen of the United States
    • Be able to read and write English
    • Do not be disqualified under Montana Code 1-5-621

Step 2 – Complete Notary Training

Notaries are required to complete four hours of an approved training course on notary laws and procedures prior to obtaining a notary public commission. After completing the training, notaries will receive a certificate of completion which they must include in their application.

Step 3 – Take the Exam

Notaries must pass a written exam prior to submitting an application for a notary commission. To prepare for the exam, notaries should refer to their training or the Montana Notary Public Handbook. Notaries will have three attempts to achieve a passing score of 80% and must submit their application within six months of taking the exam. After passing the exam, notaries will receive an exam certificate which they should include when submitting their application.

Step 4 – Purchase a Surety Bond

Notaries public are required to purchase and maintain a $25,000 surety bond.

Step 5 – Complete an Application

Notaries must create an account with the Secretary of State’s Online Notary Portal to access their commission application. Notaries must complete the application in its entirety and upload the following items:

    • Training certificates
    • Exam certificates
    • Surety bond form
    • $25 fee by credit card or eCheck

Once the application is approved, notaries will receive an email with instructions on how to download their commission certificate along with purchasing their notary seal/stamp and journal. The notary public may begin providing notarial services after obtaining their commission certificate and supplies.

Technology-Based Notarizations

Step 6 – Select an Approved Electronic Notarization System

After receiving their notary commission, notaries public can register to provide technology-based notarizations by first selecting an electronic notarization system to use. The system must meet the minimum criteria, and notaries may choose from the approved vendor list provided by the state.

Step 7 – Complete a Training Course

Notaries are required to complete an approved training course on technology-based notarizations. After completing the course, notaries will need to pass an examination based on the course curriculum. Notaries must complete the course along with the exam and obtain proof of completion which will be submitted to the Secretary of State.

Step 8 – Submit an Information Update Form

After completing a training course, notaries must submit an Information Update Form in their online portal along with proof of completion of the course. Once the form is approved, notaries will be registered to provide the type of electronic notarization applied for.

How Do Montana Notaries Public Renew Their Commissions?

Notaries must apply for a new commission before their existing one expires, as there is no specific renewal process. Notaries are encouraged to re-apply for their commissions 30 days before the expiration date and must complete four hours of continuing education before re-applying. All Montana Notary Public Commissions are valid for four years from the date of issuance. Electronic notary registrations run concurrently with existing notary public commissions and will expire on the same day.

What are the Insurance Requirements for Notaries Public in Montana?

Montana does not require notaries to purchase any form of liability insurance as a prerequisite to obtaining a commission. Notaries public must purchase and maintain a $25,000 surety bond.

How Do Montana Notaries File Their Bonds?

Notaries public should file their completed bond forms, including the power of attorney, with the Secretary of State through their online portal.

The bond requires signatures from both the surety company that issues the bond and the notary. The surety company should include the following information on the bond form:

  • Legal name of the entity/individual(s) buying the bond
  • Surety company’s name
  • Date the bond is issued
  • Date the bond is signed

What Can Montana Notaries Do to Avoid Claims Against Their Bonds?

To avoid claims on their bonds, notaries public in Montana must adhere to all state regulations, including some of the most important issues below that tend to cause claims:

  • Do not leave any notary supplies (seal and journal) in a place where they can be easily stolen
  • Do not perform notary services for entities/individuals who are engaged in acts of fraud
  • Ensure that the signers of documents are who they say they are and are not misrepresenting themselves
  • Witness the signatures of all documents being notarized
  • Record all transactions in a notary journal

What Other Insurance Products Can Agents Offer Notaries in Montana?

BondExchange offers free notary E&O insurance with the surety bond purchase for notaries in Montana. Unlike a surety bond, E&O insurance protects the notary rather than the public.

How Can Insurance Agents Prospect for Montana Notary Customers?

Montana conveniently provides a public database of commissioned notaries operating in the state. Contact BondExchange for additional marketing resources. Agents can also leverage our print-mail relationships for discounted mailing services.

What Other States Require Notary Bonds?

29 states and the District of Columbia require notaries to purchase a surety bond as a prerequisite to obtaining a commission. Insurance agents should utilize our Main Notary Bond Page for a detailed analysis of the Notary Bond requirements nationwide.