If you hold stock certificates with the shares in your name, you need to get a signature guarantee for the certificates before you can sell or transfer the shares. Although you do not need much in the way of identification to get the guarantee on your certificates, there are a couple of considerations that will make the process go smoothly and prevent any delays if you want to unload your shares in a timely manner.
Medallion Signature Guarantee
The signature guarantee for your stock certificates must be what is called a Medallion signature guarantee. The name comes from the imprint stamp in the form of a medallion used to show that the guarantee is of the acceptable type. The financial institution where you get the guarantee will be a member of a Medallion Signature Guarantee Program. This type of signature guarantee can be obtained at many commercial banks, credit unions, trust companies and stock brokerage offices. A Medallion signature guarantee is not the same as a notary signature verification.
Financial Institution Considerations
A bank, credit union or brokerage firm will not give you a signature guarantee for your stock certificates unless you have an account with the institution. You cannot go into any bank or brokerage firm and get a Medallion guarantee. The financial firms with Medallion signature guarantee authorization operate under very strict standards and will only provide this service to their customers. There may be a fee involved to receive the signature guarantee from your bank or brokerage firm.
All you need to get a signature guarantee on shares of stock are the stock certificates and some form of identification, such as a driver's license. Because you must have an account where you get the guarantee, the financial firm officer providing the guarantee stamp will confirm your identity using bank resources. You must provide a signature that matches how your name is spelled on the stock certificates.
One Extra Form Recommended
Although it is acceptable to sign the back of a stock certificate and have the signature on the stock shares guaranteed, it can be a good idea to use a separate form for your signature and the Medallion guarantee. Using a stock power form for the signature information gives the same result as signing the back of the stock certificate. With the stock power form, you can sign another if for some reason the signature is not correct, for example if you forget to sign with your middle name. It is very difficult to fix a mistake on the actual stock certificate.
Tim Plaehn has been writing financial, investment and trading articles and blogs since 2007. His work has appeared online at Seeking Alpha, Marketwatch.com and various other websites. Plaehn has a bachelor's degree in mathematics from the U.S. Air Force Academy.