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Notary Public Definitions and Information

General information
Mobile Notary information
Worldwide Notary information of interest
Become a notary information

State Specific Inforamtion on How to Become a Notary Public

Washington DC
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
West Virginia

Mobile Notary Information

Notary Public: General Definition
An official authorized by law to act as an impartial witness to signatures, administer oaths, authenticate copies of documents, attest to signatures made by individuals, and perform other notary acts permitted within his or her jurisdiction.

Notary Public: Definition specific to the United States
A notary public is a public official who can perform a variety of notary acts including certifying copies of documents, acknowledging signatures, executing Jurats, administering Oaths and Affirmations, Protests, witnessing signatures, executing Proofs of Execution, and even witnessing the opening of safety deposit boxes in states such as New York. Notaries in many states have an official notary seal which they affix to notary certificates and record all transactions in their notary journal.

Notaries in the United States can be appointed by their state or residence, or in some cases by neighboring states, or a state wherein the notary has employment, or runs a business. Notaries are often independently employed, but often work for the government, or a private employer.

Term of office
Notaries in the United States have a term of office that is usually four or five years depending on their state legislature. However, in some states, the term of office could exceed five years, and even be for life in the exceptional case of Louisiana.

Notaries in Louisiana may only perform notary acts within the parishes they are designated to practice in. All other states permit their commissioned notaries to practice anywhere within the boundaries of their state, twenty-four hours of the day.

Public Official
A notary serves the public and may not pick and choose jobs. A notary must accept any notary job that will pay the fees set by their state with the condition that the signer must meet all identification requirements, and appear before the notary.

Notaries must require the signer to be identified. Standards for identification vary across state lines. Most states will consider a signer to be positively identified if they are personally known by the notary, have a current government issued identification, or were identified by credible witnesses

Many states do not require journal thumbprints, however, California now requires a journal thumbprint for Deeds effecting real property as well as Powers of Attorney.

Journals and Seals
Most states require notaries to have a journal and official notary seal. The states that don't, generally require the notary to sign each notary certificate as well as handwriting their commission information including their expiration date.

A certificate can be a loose piece of paper with notary wording on it, or could be notary wording embedded into the end of a document, or the end of a section of a document. Notary certificates are required for most notary acts and are where the notary must sign as well as affix his or her notary seal.

A notary public can attest to a signature made in a document in the form of an acknowledged signature. An acknowledgment is the most common notary act in the United States.

A notary public may administer oaths as an independent notary act, or, in conjunction with other notary acts. Other notary acts requiring Oaths include: Jurats, Proof of Execution, and the swearing in of credible witnesses used for identifying a document signer. Acknowledged signatures can include an oath, but rarely do. The added Oath would require additional verbiage to the certificate wording in many states to indicate that an Oath took place.

For certain notary acts, part of the function of the notary is to witness signatures such as when performing a Jurat. Witnessing in itself is not considered an official notary act, but many individuals choose to employ a notary to witness a signature since the notary is considered by the state to be a trustworthy, reliable, and impartial witness. Although not an official notary act, it is possible for the notary to note in handwriting in a document that they are a notary public and witnessed a particular signature.

Other acts
Other notary acts include Proofs of execution where a third party swears that they witnessed a second party signed a particular document. Protests of non-payment is an antiquated notary act which is an official notary act in most states, although it is almost never performed anymore. Witnessing the opening of safety deposit boxes is only an official notary act within in the state of New York.

Mobile Notary Information

Mobile Notary
A notary public can also become a mobile notary by being willing to drive to client's locations.

Signing Agent
If a notary learns how to facilitate loan signings, they can be considered a signing agent. Signing agent's can make anywhere from $50 to $250 per signing. A typical signing takes anywhere from twenty minutes to an hour and a half depending on how long the loan package is and depending on how carefully the borrower scrutinizes the documents. 123notary.com has a variety of loan signing courses on http://www.123notary.com/loansign.html

Worldwide Information of Interest

Notaries worldwide
The powers of a notary in the United States are much more limited than those of notaries in other parts of the world which are generally civil law notaries. In fact, the differences are so critical, that it is illegal to use the Spanish translation of notary public in many states, so that people are less likely to become confused about the notary's powers. It is relatively easy to become a notary in most parts of the United States. Some states have an exam, while others only require an application to be filed. In most other countries, a notary public is more similar to an attorney and enjoys a prestigious and high position.

In India, notaries can function as arbitrators, conciliators, mediators, and commissioners for recording evidence in addition to performing notary acts.[1]

United States
The United States has 4.5 million notaries[2] which is a number much larger than other countries on a per capita basis. Each state sets its permitted notary fee for each notary act and the notaries must abide by those fees under penalty of law.

International Issues
It is often necessary for a document coming from a foreign country to be notarized before it can be admissible in a court of law. In addition, it is common to require an apostille or authentication certificate from the notary's county or local notary authority to prove that the notary's information on the document is consistent with what they have in their official records. The Hague convention member countries participate in an agreement regarding authentication which mandates that each country will recognize each other's official authentication.

Become a Notary Public

Training to become a notary varies from state to state and country to country. In the United Kingdom, it used to be necessary to apprentice to become a notary public[3]. A notary in the United Kingdom is often a Solicitor who received additional training to become a notary public. Their work deals frequently with legal transactions in association with foreign jurisdictions[4].

Each state has slightly different standards for what a disqualifying crime would be. However, having a felony will disqualify a notary applicant in any state, and having a misdemeanor involving dishonesty, fraud, deception, or moral torpitude would often be grounds for denying a notary commission. Being under the age of eighteen would also disqualify an applicant in all states.

To become a notary in California, it is necessary to take a six hour government approved training seminar. Seminars are generally live, but it is possible to take an approved online course or take home course. California notary applicants must file an application with the Secretary of State, get livescan fingerprints taken, and pass a proctored exam. Only California residents can be eligible to become a California notary public, but there are no minimum residency requirement, nor are there citizenship requirements.

The address for the California Notary Division is:

Office of Secretary of State
Business Programs Division
Notary Public Section
P.O. Box 942877
Sacramento, CA 94277-0001


New York
To become a notary in New York, it is necessary to file an application with the Department of State. There is a proctored exam that must be taken as well. Applicants must be eighteen years of age. The applicant must either be a resident of New York, be employed in New York, or run a business or office within New York.

The address for the New York Department of State is

Department of State
Division of Licensing
84 Holland Avenue
Albany, NY 12208-3490



[1] Parliament of India
XIII LOK SABHA DEBATES, Session II (Winter Session) Friday, December 10, 1999/Agrahayana 19, 1921 (Saka)
Retrieved on 3-06-08
[2] About the NNA > History of the NNA Retrieved on 3-06-08
[3] UK government Office of the Public Sector Information. Retrieved on 3-06-08
[4] http://pj-price.co.uk/notary_index.htm Retrieved on 3-06-08