Medallion Signature Guarantee Explained
A Medallion signature guarantee authenticates authorized signatures for transferring securities, available at your bank. Usually needed for physical share certificates, but electronic records are now more common.
The authenticity of a signature for transferring securities like stocks or bonds in physical certificates is certified by a medallion signature guarantee. It's usually required for sales or transfers. However, securities held through a broker don't require this guarantee.
Obtaining a Medallion Signature Guarantee
To obtain a Medallion signature guarantee, visit a financial institution that participates in one of three programs: Securities Transfer Agents Medallion Program (STAMP), Stock Exchanges Medallion Program (SEMP), or New York Stock Exchange Medallion Signature Program (MSP). Generally, you can acquire this guarantee at your bank, with fees varying from $0 for loyal customers to higher amounts.
If the bank has on-site stamps, you can typically obtain the guarantee on the same day, unless there are pending requirements or errors to address. In such cases, expect a review period of two to five business days.
Medallion Signature Guarantee Providers
Securing a guarantee stamp can be challenging due to the requirement for financial backing by the institution providing the guarantee. Institutions that offer Medallion Signature Guarantee include:
- Capital One
- Merrill Lynch
- Navy Federal Credit Union
- Northeast Credit Union
Reasons for Medallion Guarantee
A Medallion Signature Guarantee is typically required for three common reasons:
- Gifting securities.
- Transferring securities from one account to another.
- When the security owner passes away.
A Medallion signature guarantee is often associated with a share certificate, a legal document confirming ownership of a specific number of a company's shares. Unlike bonds, which represent a debt, share certificates provide ownership rights and typically include:
- Certificate number
- Company name and registration number
- Shareholder name and address
- Number of shares owned
- Class of shares
- Issue Date
- Amount paid for the shares
Ownership and Proxies
Owners of share certificates may grant proxies to others for voting on company matters. If a certificate is lost, damaged, or stolen, the company can issue a replacement after the shareholder returns the damaged document. Share certificates may be registered or bearer, with bearer certificates granting all legal rights to the holder. Today, most individual investors prefer electronic records over physical share certificates.
Some companies offer multiple share classes, each with distinct shareholder rights. For example, Berkshire Hathaway has Class A (BRK.A) and Class B (BRK.B) shares. Google's parent company, Alphabet (GOOG), has three share classes.
The identity and signature of those transferring securities are verified through a Medallion signature guarantee. To offer this service, financial institutions must belong to one of three Medallion signature guarantee programs. Due to financial risks, institutions are cautious in issuing these guarantees, which are primarily required for gifting securities, transferring assets after the owner's death, and moving assets between accounts.