Helena Express

Notary FAQ

Some common questions (and answers) about notarial services in Montana.

Do I need to show ID?

The easiest way to prove who you are is with a valid government-issued photo ID.

You can use a:

  • driver’s license (from any state)
  • passport or passport card (including passports from other countries)
  • state ID
  • U.S. military ID
  • student ID (issued by a public school)
  • tribal ID
  • green card
  • other government-issued ID

Under Montana law an ID can be accepted as long as it’s current or is expired for less than three years.

Credit cards, bank cards, and government IDs without a photo are not accepted.

What if I don’t have ID?

If you have no form of acceptable ID, a third party can be present at the notarization to identify you. The third party must be personally known to the signer, must have acceptable ID, must be personally present at the time of the notarization, must be unbiased, and must swear under penalty of perjury to the signer’s identity.

My document is printed with “State of” followed by a state that isn’t Montana. Is this a problem?

No, it’s okay. Montana law allows us to cross that out and write “State of Montana, County of Lewis and Clark” instead.

The signer has a physical disability. How do they sign?

Montana law defines a signature as any tangible or electronic symbol made with the intent to sign. If the signer is lucid, understands what they’re signing, and is willing to sign, any mark can be used as a signature, such as an X or a stamp. If they are incapable of even that, the signer can verbally authorize a third party to affix a signature for and in the presence of the signer and the notary. For example, if the signer’s name is John Smith, the third party would sign the document with “John Smith” and the notary would modify the document to indicate that it was signed by a third party.

The signer has a condition affecting their mental capacity. Can they sign?

If the signer is not lucid or does not understand what they are doing, their signature is not valid and cannot be notarized. However, someone with power of attorney can sign on their behalf.

My business, corporation, trust, etc needs to sign a document. How does this work?

Someone who has a power of attorney or similar, or who can otherwise prove that they are authorized, is allowed to sign on behalf of a business or trust. For example, if the document being signed refers to you in print as the CEO, that would be proof you are authorized to sign on behalf of the company. Information on a government website, such as the Montana Secretary of State’s business registry tool, can also be used. For example, if the Secretary of State’s records list you as a key official of the business, you may sign on the business’s behalf.

I have power of attorney for my deceased parent. Can I sign a document on their behalf?

No. A power of attorney automatically terminates upon death.

Can I have a vehicle title notarized without the buyer’s name and signature?

Yes (even if the title says otherwise), but it’s not recommended. This is called an open title. If a title doesn’t have the buyer’s name, anyone who has physical possession of the title is legally the owner of the vehicle. It’s like signing a check but not filling in the “pay to…” line; anyone could cash the check.

It’s the seller’s responsibility to ensure the title is filled out correctly by writing the buyer’s name and address and the vehicle’s mileage (odometer reading) at time of sale.

I’m a co-owner of a car I’m selling, but the other owner isn’t available to sign the title. How does that work?

All owners listed on the title must have their signatures notarized. However, they do not all need to be notarized at the same time, or by the same notary. If the co-owner is dead, you’ll need to contact the County Treasurer’s office or the Motor Vehicle Services in Helena to obtain a new title. If the co-owner is alive and gave you power of attorney, you can sign on their behalf.

If the vehicle is owned by a business, see the “My business, corporation, trust, etc needs to sign a document. How does this work?” answer above.