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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Notary laws and requirements by State


Florida Notary Laws Summary

Abbreviation: FL   |   27th State   |   Statehood: March 3, 1845   |   
Eligibility:
All applicants must meet all of the requirements listed below:
  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Be a legal resident of Florida
  • If a permanent resident alien, file a recorded Declaration of Domicile with the application
  • Be able to read, write, and understand the English language
  • Not have been convicted of a felony
 
Qualification:
In order to receive a notary public commission, a person must:
  • Meet the eligibility requirements
  • Properly complete and submit a notary application form to the Department of State with a filing fee of $39.00 and include a copy of a $7,500 bond. Click here to download the notary application form - 
    http://notaries.dos.state.fl.us/appdwnld.html
 
Non-Residents:
Not Permitted.
 
Bond:
Required. A bond in the amount of $7,500 is required for new and renewing notaries public. Please visit www.floridanotaries.com.
 
Errors & Omissions Insurance:
Although insurance is optional, the American Association of Notaries recommends that Florida notaries insure themselves against claims of negligence through Errors and Omission insurance. Visit www.usnotaries.comfor more information.
 
Filing Fee:
A $39 filing fee is required for new and renewal notary applications. No commission fee is required from a veteran who has served in wartime service and who has a disability rating of 50%
 
Term:
4 years.
 
Jurisdiction:
Statewide.
 
Appointment:
The Governor of Florida 
Office of the Governor, 
Notary Section, LL06 Capitol, 
400 South Monroe Street, 
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001 
            (850) 922-6400       
http://notaries.dos.state.fl.us/
 
Renewal:
A notary may apply 60 days before the expiration of his current commission by completing a renewal application form.
 
Education/Testing:
Required. First-time applicants are required to take a 3 hour course. Click here to take course online 
http://notaries.dos.state.fl.us/education/instructions.html
 
Notary Seal:
Required.
Type – rubber-inked stamp
Ink color – black
Embosser – may be used with rubber stamp seal but may not be a substitute for the rubber-inked stamp. The notary seal must be kept under lock and key to avoid its loss or misuse by another individual. Neither a rubber stamp nor an impression-type seal is required for an electronic notarization.
Required elements - Name of the notary, commission expiration date, the notary’s commission number, and the words “Notary Public--State of Florida.” The name of the notary’s bonding company may be included on the seal, but that is not a legal requirement. No emblem or symbol is required, but nor are they prohibited. However, the use of the Great Seal of the State of Florida on the notary seal is strictly prohibited.
Note: If a notary seal is lost or stolen, the notary is required to submit a written notification to the Governor’s Office, Notary Section. The notice must include the notary’s name and number, date of birth, and the last date the seal was in the notary’s possession. If the seal was stolen, the notary must file a report with the local law enforcement agency.
 
Record Book:
None Required. The American Association of Notaries recommends that Florida notaries maintain a permanent, bound notary journal of all notarial acts performed. Under the electronic notarization laws, a notary must maintain a sequential journal of all electronic notarizations. For notary supplies contact the American Association of Notaries by calling             800.721.2663       or visiting our website at www.usnotaries.com.
 
Notary Fees:
Notary fees are set by state law. A notary public is allowed to charge for each notarial act, but not more than:
  • Acknowledgments $10.00
  • Oaths or affirmations $10.00
  • Jurats $10.00
  • Protests $10.00
  • Copy Certification $10.00
  • Solemnizing Marriage $20.00
  • Verifying a VIN $20.00
Note: A notary public who collects fees higher than the maximum authorized fees will have to pay $100 and be removed from office by the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.
 
Authority:
Florida notary has the authority to:
  • Take acknowledgments
  • Administer oaths or affirmations
  • Attest to photocopies of non-recordable documents
  • Solemnize marriages
  • Verify vehicle identification numbers
  • Certify the contents of a safe-deposit box
 
Address Change:
Required. A notary must submit notification to the Secretary of State within 60 days of any change of home or business address. If the notary moves out of the state of Florida, the notary must resign his notary commission.
 
Name Change:
A notary who lawfully changes his name must complete a notice of name change form from the Secretary of State within 60 days after such change, which must also include the current commission, a rider to the notary bond, and a $25 check or money order. http://notaries.dos.state.fl.us/pdf/namechan.pdf.
 
Death/Resignation/Removal:
To resign the office of notary public, the notary is required to submit a letter of resignation with the original commission to the Governor’s Office. The notary must destroy or deliver the notary seal to the Governor’s Office.
 
Prohibited Acts:
A notary public may not:
  • Prepare, draft, select, or give advice concerning legal documents
  • Perform acts that constitute the practice of law
  • Use the phrase “notario” or “notario publico” to advertise notary services
  • Overcharge for notary services
  • Notarize a document without the signer being present at the time of the notarization
  • Use a facsimile signature stamp unless the notary has a physical disability
  • Notarize blank forms
  • Provide notary services for a signer who has been adjudicated mentally incapacitated by a court
  • Provide notary services for a signer who is mentally incapable of understanding the nature and effect of the signing of such document
  • Provide notary services to a signer who does not speak or understand the English language
  • Change anything in the document after it has been signed by anyone
  • Amend the notarial certificate after the execution of the notarization
  • Notarize a signature on a document unless the notary personally knows the signer or has established the identity of the signer through satisfactory evidence of identification
  • Attest to the trueness of a photocopy of a recordable document
  • Sign under any other name than his or her commissioned name
  • Notarize a document that is incomplete
  • Notarize a document that contains blank spaces
  • Notarize for immediate family
  • Notarize a document in which he or she has a financial or beneficial interest or is named as a party to the transaction
  • Notarize his or her own signature
  • Notarize a photograph
  • Guarantee a signature
  • Certify the authenticity of objects, such as art or sports memorabilia
  • Judge contests or certify contest results
  • Certify a person’s residency or citizenship status
 
Criminal Penalties:
Includes, but are not limited to the following:
  • No person shall obtain or use a notary public commission in other than his legal name, and it is unlawful for a notary public to notarize his own signature. Any person applying for a notary public commission must submit proof of his identity to the Department of State if so requested. Anyone who violates this provision is guilty of a felony of the third degree.
  • Any person who acts as or otherwise willfully impersonates a notary public while not lawfully appointed and commissioned to perform notarial acts is guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree.
  • Any person who unlawfully possesses a notary public official seal or any papers or copies relating to notarial acts is guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree.
  • Any notary public who knowingly acts as a notary public after his commission has expired is guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree.
  • A notary public who falsely or fraudulently takes an acknowledgment of an instrument as a notary public or who falsely or fraudulently makes a certificate as a notary public or who falsely takes or receives an acknowledgment of the signature on a written instrument is guilty of a felony of the third degree.
  • A notary who notarizes the signature of a signer who is not in the presence of the notary at the time of the execution of the notarization is guilty of a civil infraction, punishable by a penalty not exceeding $5,000.
 
Notarial Certificates:
Click here to view your state's notarial certificates.

Revised: January 2010

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