Montana law requires notaries public to chronical all notarial acts in a journal. A notary may keep one or more journals, and the journals may be either a permanent, bound paper journal designed to deter fraud or a permanent, tamper-evident electronic journal.
Entries in a journal must be made at the same time as the notarial act. Each journal entry must include:
- The date and time of the notarization.
- The type of notarial act. Only seven possibilities exist: taking an acknowledgment (“Acknowledgement”); administering an oath/affirmation (“Oath”); taking a verification on oath/affirmation (“Jurat”); witnessing/attesting a signature (“Signature”); certifying/attesting a copy (“Certification of Copy”); certifying/attesting a transcript of an affidavit or deposition (“Deposition”) and noting a protest of a negotiable instrument (“Protest Instrument”).
- A description of the document. Typically, this is the date of the document and the type of document such as “contract,” “deed,” “power of attorney,” “affidavit,” etc. If more than one document is being notarized, each document should be described.
- The type of identification used. If identification is based on personal knowledge, an entry of “P.K.” is acceptable. If identification is based on satisfactory evidence, a brief description of the method of identification used (credible witness or ID document) should be noted, as well as the date of issuance or expiration of any ID document used.
- The signature, printed name, and address of the person for whom the notarial act was performed. This information should be entered by the person who is requesting the notarization. Exception: Certifying transcripts of depositions and certifying copies do not require the signature of the individual for whom the notarial act is performed.
- The fee (if any) charged for the notarization.
Below are illustrations of two popular types of paper journals – the linear style and the block style – that show how the mandated information should be entered in the journal
Linear Style – each entry is recorded on one line across both sides of the book. Generally, the printed name, address, and signature of the person requesting the notarization are in the middle so that it is impossible to remove or add a page to the book, making it highly tamper-proof.
Block Style – each entry is recorded within a defined block. The specific designs of this type of journal will vary, but all will contain space for the necessary information.
Lost or Stolen Journals
If a notary’s journal is lost or stolen, the notary must notify the Secretary of State of that fact. Lost or stolen journals may be reported by calling (406) 444-1877 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Journals must be kept for 10 years after the performance of the last notarial act. Notaries have the choice of either retaining their journals themselves or sending their journals to the Secretary of State’s office for retention. If a notary elects to retain his or her journals, upon resignation of a commission or revocation or suspension of a commission, the notary must notify the Secretary of State of the journals’ location.
On the death or adjudication of incompetency of a current or former notary, the notary’s personal representative or guardian (or any other person knowingly in possession of the notary’s journals) must transmit all journals to the Secretary of State’s office.
Journals to be retained by the Secretary of State’s office should be sent to:
Montana Secretary of State
Certification and Notary Services
PO Box 202801
Helena, MT 59620-2801