Over 1.4 million Americans have surveillance cameras in their homes and businesses. That’s just one of many mechanisms used to protect the health and safety of our family, friends, and businesses.
Another method used to protect our loved ones is legal documents. Legal documents such as contracts, deeds, and wills are legally enforceable agreements between two or more parties, requiring that certain actions are required or restricted.
In most cases, these documents require either a wet or electronic signature to make the document legally binding.
While signatures are the norm for most legal and business docs, some documents require an additional layer of security in the form of a witness and a medallion signature guarantee stamp (MSG for short) or a notary public stamp.
You might be wondering, what’s the difference between medallion signatures vs notary stamps? And are they the same thing?
Good questions? Below we’ll explore the unique aspects of both stamps and how to know which one to use in a given situation:
- What’s the difference between a medallion signature guarantee and a notary?
- What is a medallion signature guarantee?
- Is a medallion signature guarantee the same as a notary?
- What is a notary?
- What is a notary public stamp?
- What are the requirements to get a document notarized?
- Where can I get a notary public stamp?
- How to get a notary public stamp online?
What’s the difference between a medallion signature guarantee and a notary?
Medallion signature guarantees and notary stamps use different authentication methods to protect individuals and their assets from fraudulent transactions and activities.
A notary stamp indicates that the notary witnessed the signing and verified the signer’s identity using a photo ID. In contrast, a medallion signature guarantee takes the authentication process further by confirming that the signer has the legal authority to transfer securities or assets by requiring additional documentation, such as bank statements and tax returns.
Let’s dive deeper into the major differences between a medallion stamp vs notary public stamps.
What is a medallion signature guarantee?
A medallion signature guarantee (MSG) is a signature and stamp combo that authorizes the transfer of securities (bonds, stocks, or other financial assets).
Documents endorsed with a medallion signature guarantee warrant that the endorser’s signature is genuine and the endorser has the legal capacity and authority to transfer securities.
When do you need a medallion signature guarantee?
Investment firms and other financial institutions require an MSG whenever a sale or change of ownership of a bond or stock occurs. The most common uses include: transferring securities to a new account, gifting a stock or bond, or when the owner of the securities has passed away.
What do you need to get a medallion signature guarantee certification?
Medallion signature guarantee requests require the following documentation:
- A valid government-issued photo ID (driver’s license, passport, military ID)
- The original copy of the document you wish to have stamped
- Verification documents (certificate, bank statement, canceled check) from the issuer or transfer agent that identifies the owners of the securities
Some banks have specific verification requirements based on the type of transfer. For example, Bank of America requires a statement for the account holding the securities with a post-date within a year of the MSG request and, if applicable, a divorce decree or court-approved domestic relations order when a requester wants to give shares of a stock to a child or charity.
MSG review and approval can take anywhere from one to seven business days to complete.
Where can you get a medallion signature guarantee?
While almost any U.S. citizen over 18 years old can become a notary and perform notarial acts, only authorized bank or financial institution personnel can become certified to issue medallion signature guarantees.
Investors and brokers can only obtain a medallion signature guarantee from a certified bank or financial institution (commercial banks, credit unions, or broker-dealers). For a bank to become certified, it must be a member of The Medallion Signature Guarantee Program (STAMP).
This program makes it harder for fraudsters to steal securities with forged signatures. There are only three recognized Medallion Signature Programs that a bank or financial institution can join: Securities Transfer Agents Medallion Program (STAMP), Stock Exchange Medallion Program (SEMP), or New York Stock Exchange Medallion Signature Program (MSP)
When a Guarantor endorses documents with a medallion signature guarantee stamp, it limits the liability of the transfer agent if the signature is later determined to be forged. In the case of forgery, the bank or issuer accepts liability for the full monetary amount of the securities.
Most financial institutions require the endorser to be an active account holder for at least six months before issuing a medallion signature guarantee.
How much does it cost to get a medallion signature?
The cost of a Medallion Signature Guarantee ranges from $50 for a $100,000 guarantee from a credit union to $75 from a bank, and it roughly doubles from there; for example, if you are transferring $200,000 in stocks, bonds, or other securities, you should pay around $100 for the Medallion Signature Guarantee.
Is a medallion signature guarantee the same as a notary?
No. A medallion signature guarantee and a notary stamp are not the same.
Medallion signature guarantee stamps are backed by bank assets and require a thorough screening, including document verification. A notary stamp only confirms the signer’s identity and is backed by a surety bond that protects the public, not the notary.
What is a notary?
A notary is an individual who serves as a natural, third-party observer to a document signing and applies their own signature and seal to ensure the documents are legally binding.
A notary is a public official that serves as an impartial witness for legal documents, including life insurance policies, ownership of a vehicle, or notice of a lien. The duties performed by a notary public vary from state to state, but there are three types of notarial acts.
Types of notarial acts
Acknowledgment is the most well-known duty of a notary. Notaries perform this act when transferring control of valuable assets. Common documents associated with acknowledgment include real estate property deeds, power of attorney, and trusts. This notarial act requires the signer(s) to appear in person and verify any revisions made to the document before signing the agreement.
Jurat notarial acts are for evidentiary documents such as depositions and affidavits in civil and criminal legal proceedings. Jurat acts require the signer to appear in person and state an oath or affirmation similar to being sworn in to testify in a court hearing.
- Certified Copies
The final notarial act a notary can perform in select states is certified copies. As the name suggests, this act requires the notary public to verify the original documents and certify that any copies made in their presence are authentic.
It’s important to note that notaries cannot certify copies of the following items: college degrees, passports, and one-and-only personal papers like birth certificates or social security cards.
What is a notary public stamp?
A notary public stamp is a unique seal that contains a notaries commission information that will be applied to a document to ensure it is legally permissible.
To make the notarial act official, the notary must sign the document and stamp it with a notary seal embosser, sometimes referred to as a notary seal stamp.
In traditional notarization, a notary stamp is an inked rubber stamp that imprints state-required information such as the notary public’s name, state of commission, and date of commission expiration.
Under Texas law, the seal of office must meet the following criteria: the words “Notary Public, State of Texas” around a five-point star, the notary’s name, and the date the notary public’s commission expires. The seal must also have serrated borders and print a legible seal that receivers can view using photographic methods.
Utah has similar requirements as Texas, but they also require a copy of the state’s seal to be featured on the notary stamp.
When a document is notarized, it indicates that everything within the document is correct, the client was competent and provided property identification, and the notary physically witnessed the signing process.
When do you need a notary public stamp?
A notary public serves as an impartial witness that oversees the signing of important documents such as:
- Mortgage closing documents
- Property deeds
- Custody and guardianship agreements
- Power of attorney (in select states)
- Wills and trusts
- Articles of incorporation
- Vendor contracts
- Commercial lease
- Construction agreements
- Memorandum of understanding
- Field trip permission slips
What are the requirements to get a document notarized?
For a notarization to occur, the signer(s) must provide the notary with the original document they want to have notarized and proof of identity in the form of a photo ID such as a passport, driver’s license, or military ID.
The notary will screen the appropriate parties for identity, volition, and awareness with the provided documentation. Once screening is complete, the signer or signers can proceed to review and sign the document.
With the notary’s signature and stamp of approval, the notarial act is official. It’s important to note that if the stamp is illegible, the receiving party of the document may reject the notarization.
The final step in the notarization process requires the notary to note the notarial act in their notary journal and securely store the journal for a given period. For example, Colorado requires a notary to keep a written record of the notarial act for at least ten years.
Where can I get a notary public stamp?
Anyone with an active notary public commission from your state can perform a notarial act unless they are the parent, child, or spouse of a signer or can benefit financially from the document (outside of the notarial act fee).
Up until recent years, notarization was strictly an in-person act, but thanks to technological advancements, you can now find a notary public online. Currently, the majority of states have enacted some form of permanent remote online notarization (RON) law, including Arizona, Florida, Hawaii, Michigan, Ohio, Texas, and Tennessee.
How to get a notary public stamp online?
Remote online notarization (RON) providers like PandaDoc Notary can help your business get documents notarized right from the comfort of your home. Here’s how it works.
Similar to traditional notarization, RON requires that the signer and notary meet face-to-face online, in real-time, using audiovisual technology.
From there, a multi-point identity verification, including personal identification, is performed to confirm that the signer is the appropriate person to endorse the document. The notary proceeds to confirm that the document is authentic and complete before allowing the involved parties to eSign the documents.
Once everyone has eSigned the documents, the notary will continue by eSigning the notarial certificate with an electronic signature and affixing their electronic seal.
Upon completion, the RON provider will create an electronic notary journal entry for the notarization. The notary must also save all audio-visual recordings of the notarial act in a safe, secure place for future reference.
How much does it cost for a notary stamp?
Notary stamps can vary in cost but are generally inexpensive to acquire. Most often, notaries will order their stamps from a notary supply website, and stamps usually begin around $20 and up.
Each state has its own requirements for stamps when it comes to notary law, so it is important to ensure you get a stamp that is in compliance with these laws from a reputable supplier.
Why is it so hard to get a medallion signature guarantee?
Medallion stamps are difficult to obtain because the institutions that provide them, such as banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions are reluctant to provide them, as it exposes the institution to large financial liabilities.
For this reason, most financial institutions will not simply provide a medallion stamp guarantee to any person off the street. Instead, they will provide them to individuals who have been a reliable customer for at least a few months.
What banks offer medallion signature guarantee?
Many of the major banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions in the U.S. offer medallion signature guarantees, though not all banks will offer this service. In addition to this, not all branches of a given bank that offers medallion signature guarantees will offer this service, so you should always double-check with your financial institution in advance.
Since most banks and institutions require you to have an account for a period of time before they will offer these services, you should plan for extra time in advance if you think you will need one.
Can you get a medallion signature guarantee online?
Medallion guarantees must be performed in person at a financial institution that offers this service.
Does a medallion signature guarantee expire?
A medallion that has been carried out within accordance of state law will not expire. However, a medallion signature guarantee is only good for the date that it was signed and dated.
Where can you get a medallion signature guarantee without an account?
You will be unlikely to get a medallion signature guarantee from any institution where you have not been an established member for at least a few months. This is because MSGs expose the financial institution providing them to financial liability with little incentive to do so.
For this reason, most banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions will only offer medallion signature guarantees to known members.
Where can you get a medallion signature stamp?
You can obtain a medallion signature stamp from a wide variety of financial institutions, provided you are a member of their institution. While many types of businesses may offer this service, you should always double-check and leave yourself plenty of time to account for any potential delays.
Some examples of institutions that may provide medallion signature stamps include:
- Credit Unions
- Transfer Agents
- Loan Agents
Can a notary attest documents?
Some states may allow a notary to attest a document, though it is generally inadvisable and more secure to have another neutral third-party individual attest documents. You should always be sure to check your state’s notary laws prior to attesting a document.