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Notary Public Educational Information

This slide show may be advanced by clicking on the right arrow, reversed by clicking on the left arrow, and paused or stopped by

clicking on the disk (rectangle) in the lower left hand corner.

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A notary public is a public servant and an officer of the state.
  • Each notary public takes an oath of office to faithfully perform the duties of the office.
  • To insure such performance, each notary public is required to secure a bond in the amount of $10,000.
slide3
What are the potential penalties or liability for failing to faithfully execute the duties of the office or violating the Notary Public Act?
  • Revocation of the commission of the notary public or other disciplinary action;
  • Claim against the notary bond;
  • Personal liability in a civil action for the full extent of any damages caused by a breach of official duty; and
  • Criminal prosecution if the conduct is a violation of the Penal Code.
slide4
The primary duty of a notary public is to serve as a disinterested party in authenticating the acts of a signing party.
  • You should not have a personal interest in the transaction.
  • You should avoid notarization when related to a party and that relationship may cause you to have a personal or financial interest in the transaction.
  • You should not receive a monetary or financial benefit from the transaction.
  • You should not notarize your own signature.
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Under section 406.014 of the Texas Government Code, a notary public is required to maintain a record book which includes the following information:
  • Date of each instrument notarized;
  • Date of the notarization;
  • Name of the signer, grantor or maker;
  • Residence of the signer, grantor or maker;
  • Whether the signing party was personally known, identified by a governmental identification card, or was introduced and the name of the introducing party;
  • Name and residence of the grantee; and
  • Brief description of the instrument.
slide6

Additional Information Required in Record Book

If the instrument is proved by a witness, the record book must contain the following information:

  • Residence of the witness;
  • Whether the witness was personally known to the notary public or was introduced; and
  • If introduced, the name and residence of the individual introducing the witness.
slide7

Additional Information Required in Record Book

If land is conveyed or charged by the instrument, the notary record book must include:

  • Name of the original grantee; and
  • County where the land is located.
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The notary record book is public information.
  • If a request is made to view the book, you must produce the book and allow the requesting party to view any information included in the book.
  • If a request is made for copies of any pages of the book, copies must be produced.
  • The record book must be maintained and produced whether or not a notary charges for services. You must record a notarization even if the notarization is for a friend, employer or co-worker.
  • Since the information in the book is public information, you should not record any personal identifying information, such as SSN, Texas Driver’s license number or passport number.
slide9

Notarization of a Criminal Complaint

A notary who administers an oath for a criminal complaint issued under article 45.019 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure does not need to record the notary’s action in the notary record book.

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May a notary charge a fee for viewing the notary record book?

No. There is no statutory provision which authorizes a fee for inspection of public records.

May a notary charge a fee for copies of pages of the notary record book?

Yes. A notary may charge a fee of $0.50 per page and $6.00 for the certificate for certified copies.

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Notary Seal

Each notary public must have a seal and use it to authenticate the notary public’s official acts.

  • The seal of a notary is personal to the notary and must not be shared with others.
  • Your seal should be stored in a secure place so that it cannot be misused.
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The Appearance of the Notary Seal

Section 406.013 of the Government Code requires a notary seal to clearly show:

  • The words “Notary Public, State of Texas” around a star of five points;
  • The notary public’s name; and
  • The date of expiration of the notary public’s commission.
slide13

Shape of the Notary Seal

  • A notary seal may be a circular form not more than two inches in diameter.

OR

  • A notary seal may be in a rectangular form not more than one inch in width and 2 1/2 inches in diameter.

All seals must have a serrated or milled edge border.

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How should the seal be affixed to the document?

  • The seal must be affixed by a seal press or stamp.
  • When embossed or printed, the required elements of the seal must be capable of being legibly reproduced under photographic methods.
  • An indelible inkpad must be used when using a stamp to affix the seal. No disappearing ink!
slide15

Use of a Seal on Electronic Notarizations

A seal on an electronically transmitted authenticated document is not required to be affixed by a seal press or stamp; however, it must legibly reproduce the required elements of the seal.

slide16

Jurisdiction of a Notary

A Texas notary public has statewide jurisdiction and you may perform notarial acts in any county in the state of Texas.

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Authority of a Notary

A notary public has the same authority as a county clerk to:

  • take acknowledgments or proofs of written instruments;
  • protest instruments permitted by law to be protested;
  • administer oaths;
  • take depositions; and
  • certify copies of documents not recordable in the public records.
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Official Acts that a Notary May Perform

These definitions are included to enhance understanding of the transactions that you may be requested to perform.

Acknowledgment: A formal declaration before an authorized official, including a notary public, by someone who signs a document and confirms that the signature is authentic.

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Sample Acknowledgment Forms

Form for Ordinary Certificate of Acknowledgment

State of Texas

County of _______________

Before me, (insert the name and character of the officer), on this day personally appeared ___________________, known to me or proved to me on the oath of _______________ or through (description of identity card or other document) to be the person whose name is subscribed to the foregoing instrument and acknowledged to me that he (she) executed the same for the purposes and consideration therein expressed.

Given under my hand and seal of office this ____ day of _________, (year).

_____________________

(Personalized Seal) Notary Public’s Signature

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For a natural person acting in his/her own right:

State of Texas

County of _______________

This instrument was acknowledged before me on (date) by

(name or names of person or persons acknowledging).

_____________________

(Personalized Seal) Notary Public’s Signature

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For a natural person as principal acting by attorney-in-fact:

State of Texas

County of _______________

This instrument was acknowledged before me on (date) by (name of attorney-in-fact) as attorney-in-fact on behalf of (name of principal).

_____________________

(Personalized Seal) Notary Public’s Signature

slide22
For a partnership acting by one or more partners:

State of Texas

County of _______________

This instrument was acknowledged before me on (date) by (name of acknowledging partner or partners), partner(s) on behalf of (name of partnership), a partnership.

_____________________

(Personalized Seal) Notary Public’s Signature

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For a corporation:

State of Texas

County of _______________

This instrument was acknowledged before me on (date) by (name of officer), (title of officer) of (name of corporation acknowledging), a (state of incorporation) corporation, on behalf of said corporation.

_____________________

(Personalized Seal) Notary Public’s Signature

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Affidavit: A statement in writing of a fact or facts signed by the party making it, sworn to before an officer authorized to administer oaths, and officially certified to by the officer under the officer’s seal of office.
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Jurat: Certification from a notary public or other official administering an oath or affirmation added to an affidavit or a document stating when, where and before whom the affidavit was made.
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Sample Jurat

State of Texas

County of ______________

Sworn to and subscribed before me on the __________ day of _______________, (year), by (name of signer).

_____________________

(Personalized Seal) Notary Public’s Signature

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Oath: A solemn declaration, accompanied by a swearing to God or a revered person or thing, that one’s statement is true or that one will be bound to the promise. The person making the oath implicitly invites punishment if the statement is untrue or the promise is broken.

“Oath” includes an affirmation.

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Affirmation: The act of affirming the truth of a document, not an oath. “ I solemnly affirm and declare the following to be a true statement…” Note that an affidavit may appear in two forms: a sworn affidavit with an oath, or an affirmed affidavit with affirmation. Each has the same legal import.
slide29

Sample Oath or Affirmation of Office

State of Texas

County of _______________

I, (affiant), do solemnly swear (or affirm), that I will faithfully execute the duties of the office of ___________________ of the State of Texas, and will to the best of my ability preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States and of this State, so help me God.

_____________________

Signature of Affiant

Sworn to and subscribed before me by (affiant) on this __________ day of _______________, (year).

_____________________

(Personalized Seal) Notary Public’s Signature

slide30
Protest: A notary public’s written statement that, upon presentment for payment or acceptance, a negotiable instrument was neither paid nor accepted.
slide31
Verification: A formal declaration by which one swears to or affirms the truth of the statements in a document. Also, the statement of a notary public that the person appearing before the notary has been properly identified as being the person appearing.
slide32

Sample Verification

State of Texas

County of _______________

Before me, a notary public, on this day personally appeared _______________, known to me to be the person whose name is subscribed to the foregoing document and, being by me first duly sworn, declared that the statements therein contained are true and correct.

_____________________

(Personalized Seal) Notary Public’s Signature

slide33

Subscribing Witness

Section 121.009 of the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code provides for proof of an acknowledgment by a subscribing witness under the following circumstances:

(1) when the subscribing witness either saw the grantor or person who executed the instrument sign it or such person acknowledged in the presence of the witness that the person executed the instrument for the purposes and consideration expressed in it; and

(2) that the subscribing witness signed the instrument at the request of the grantor or person who executed the instrument.

slide34

Certificate Used When the Execution of a Written Instrument is Proved by a Witness

The State of Texas

County of ____________

Before me, ________ (here insert the name and character of the officer), on this day personally appeared ____________, known to me (or proved to me on the oath of ____________), to be the person whose name is subscribed as a witness to the foregoing instrument of writing, and after being duly sworn by me stated on oath that he (she) saw ____________, the grantor or person who executed the foregoing instrument, subscribe the same (or that the grantor or person who executed such instrument of writing acknowledged in his (her) presence that he (she) had executed the same for the purposes and consideration therein expressed), and that he (she) had signed the same as a witness at the request of the grantor (or person who executed the same.)

Given under my hand and seal of office this ______ day of ____________, 20____.

_________________________________

(Personalized Seal) Notary Public’s Signature

slide35

Certification of Copies by a Notary

A notary has the same authority as a county clerk to certify copies of documents not recordable in the public record.

  • A copy of a letter or contract may be certified by a notary.
  • Birth certificates and marriage licenses cannot be certified by a notary. These documents are recorded in the public record of a governmental agency, such as the Texas Department of State Health Services, and certified copies of the document should be obtained from the agency.
certification of copies by a notary
Certification of Copies by aNotary

Do not certify to copies of:

  • Birth or death certificates
  • Marriage certificates or divorce decrees
  • Passports, social security cards, or military identification cards
  • Visas, certificates of naturalization or other identification cards or documents issued by the US Department of Homeland Security
  • Wills, deeds and other documents filed for public record with the county
  • Articles of incorporation, certificates of formation or other business documents recorded with the SOS or other state official
  • College or high school transcripts or diplomas
slide38

Step 1

A notary must always insist that the person for whom the notarization is performed personally appear before the notary at the time the notarization is executed.

  • Do not perform a notarization on an unsigned document.
  • Do not perform a notarization when the signing party has already signed the document and is not present at the time the notarization is performed.
  • Do not perform a notarization when presented with a previously signed document that the presenter assures you was signed by the named party.
slide39

Telephone Acknowledgement?

A notary cannot take an acknowledgment over the telephone. The person whose signature is notarized must personally appear before you at the time the notarization is performed.

slide40

Electronic Acknowledgement?

A notary may add a signature and seal to an electronic document so long as the person for whom the notarization is performed personally appears before the notary to sign the document or acknowledge his or her signature on the document.

slide41

Step 2

A notary must identify the person for whom the notarization will be performed.

  • You may notarize a document if the signing party is personally known to you, has been introduced to you or the signing party has provided proper identification.
  • Proper identification includes an identification card issued by a governmental agency or a passport issued by the US.
slide42

Acceptable Identification

  • A state driver’s license
  • An identification card issued by the DPS or equivalent agency in another state
  • A passport issued by the US government

Unacceptable Identification

  • A credit card
  • A US social security card
  • A private company’s security badge
  • A letter of introduction
slide43

Step 3

The notary must have the signing party acknowledge to or swear to the statements in the notarial certificate.

  • You cannot modify or draft a document or notarial certificate and should not determine whether a document should be acknowledged, verified or signed under oath.
  • You may add the notarial certificate of the maker’s choosing if the document fails to include the certificate.
  • You may correct the notarial certificate if the information in the certificate is not complete or accurate.
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Step 4

After the person has signed the document, you must:

  • Fill in any blanks in the notarial certificate (date of notarization, name of person appearing, name of notary);
  • Sign the notarial certificate in the same name under which you were commissioned; and
  • Affix your notary seal.
  • Do not sign and affix seal to a document without a notarial certificate.
  • Do not sign and affix seal to a notarial certificate that is not true and accurate.
slide45

Signing a Document for an Individual with a Disability

A notary may sign the name of an individual who is physically unable to sign or make a mark on a document presented for notarization:

  • if directed to do so by the disabled individual; and
  • in the presence of a witness who has no legal or equitable interest in the transaction.

You must include the following beneath the signature for the individual:

“Signature affixed by notary in the presence of (name of witness), a disinterested witness, under section 406.0165, Government Code.”

slide46

Step 5

After completion of the notarial certificate, you should record the required information in the notary record book.

  • Required information is set forth in section 406.014 of the Texas Government Code. Please review the slide outlining those statutory requirements.
  • Do not record personally identifiable information in the record book (e.g. Social Security Number) or financial information related to the transaction that should not be made public (e.g. credit card number for fee payments).
slide47

Step 6

Collect your Fees.

  • Section 406.024 of the Government Code authorizes a notary or the notary’s employer to charge for notary public services, but sets a maximum fee for those services.
  • Section 603.008 of the Government Code requires a notary public to post the fees that a notary is authorized by law to charge.
  • Section 603.006 requires a notary who charges a fee for notary services to keep a fee book.
  • Section 603.007 requires that a notary must itemize or be prepared to itemize fees that the notary charges.
slide48

Maximum Fees that a Notary May Charge

Acknowledgments or proof of any deed or other instrument in writing, for registration, including certificate and seal

  • $6.00 for the first signature
  • $1.00 for each additional signature
slide49

Maximum Fees that a Notary May Charge

Administering an oath or affirmation with certificate and seal

  • $6.00

All certificates under seal not otherwise provided for

  • $6.00
slide50

Maximum Fees that a Notary May Charge

Copies of all records and papers in the notary public’s office

  • $0.50 for each page
slide51

Maximum Fees that a Notary May Charge

Taking the deposition of witness

  • $0.50 for each 100 words

Swearing a witness to a deposition, certificate, seal and other business connected with taking the deposition

  • $6.00
slide52

Maximum Fees that a Notary May Charge

Protesting a bill or note for non-acceptance or non-payment, register and seal

  • $4.00

Each notice of protest

  • $1.00

Protesting in all other cases

  • $4.00

Certificate and seal to protest

  • $4.00
slide53

Maximum Fees that a Notary May Charge

All notarial acts not provided for

  • $6.00

What if a notary charges in excess of the maximum fees?

Overcharging is grounds for the secretary of state to take disciplinary action against the notary, including the possibility of suspension or revocation of the notary commission.

slide54

Prohibited Acts

Section 406.008 of the Texas Government Code sets forth prohibited acts for a notary as discussed on the upcoming slides. Engaging in these acts can result in revocation of the notary commission, a claim against the notary bond, personal and criminal liability.

slide55

Don’t Do This!

Notaries should not engage in the unauthorized practice of law.

  • Do not perform acts, which constitute the practice of law.
  • Do not prepare, draft, select, or give advice concerning legal documents.
slide56

Unauthorized Practice of Law by a Notary

Under section 406.017 of the Government Code, a notary public commits a criminal offense if the notary:

  • states or implies that the person is an attorney licensed to practice law in Texas;
  • solicits or accepts compensation to prepare documents for or otherwise represent the interest of another in a judicial or administrative proceeding, including a proceeding relating to immigration;
  • solicits or accepts compensation to obtain relief of any kind on behalf of another from any officer, agency or employee of Texas or the United States.
slide57

Notario Publico

You should not use “notario” or “notario publico” to advertise your notarial services.

You should not advertise services in a language other than English if you do not post or otherwise include the required notice with the advertisement that you are not an attorney.

slide58

Penalties for the Unauthorized Practice of Law

or the Use of Notario Publico

Unless the notary is also an attorney in good standing, criminal penalties provided in section 406.017 of the Government Code:

  • Class A misdemeanor
  • Felony of the third degree if previously convicted

Violations may be deceptive trade practices and actionable under chapter 17 of the Texas Business & Commerce Code.

slide59

Remember the Maximum Fees

You should not charge fees in excess of the maximum fees set forth in section 406.024 of the Government Code.

Overcharging is good cause for revocation of the notary commission or other disciplinary action.

slide60

Personal Appearance

You should never perform a notarization without the signer being in the notary’s presence.

slide61

Identification Cards

As a notary you have no authority to issue identification cards. Section 406.016 Texas Government Code specifically prohibits this practice.

slide62

Signature of the Notary

You must always sign a notarial certificate under the name you were commissioned.

The secretary of state has provided for a notary public to change the name on the commission by following the procedure set forth in the Texas Administrative Code:

  • Complete and file a form for change of name with the SOS along with the $20 fee for issuance of a commission and filing a bond;
  • File a rider or endorsement to the notary bond;
  • Surrender the original commission or sign a statement that all future notarial actions will be taken under new name; and
  • Obtain a new seal with the new name.
slide63

Address of the Notary

You are required to notify the secretary of state of any change of address within 10 days of the date on which the change is made. Complete and file the SOS Notary Public Change of Address form or send a letter with your name, social security number, old address and new address to the SOS.

slide64

Renewals

The term of a notary commission is four years from the date of qualification. You may apply for reappointment not earlier than 90 days prior to the expiration date of the commission by submitting a new application to the secretary of state. A notary who is not reappointed prior to expiration will be appointed for a new term expiring four years from qualification.

slide65

Complaints Against a Notary

The Secretary of State has authority to suspend or revoke a notary public’s commission or take other disciplinary action against the notary for good cause.

slide66

Good Cause

Good Cause includes:

  • Final conviction for a crime involving moral turpitude;
  • False statement on an application for appointment or reappointment;
  • Final conviction for the violation of any law concerning the regulation of the conduct of notaries public in this state or any other state;
  • Failure to comply with the restrictions imposed on the advertising of notary services in a foreign language and the use of “notario” or “notario publico.”
slide67

Good Cause

  • Failure to fully and faithfully discharge any of the duties or responsibilities required of a notary public;
  • Unauthorized practice of law;
  • Failure to utilize a correct notary seal;
  • Failure to administer an oath or affirmation as required by law;
  • Collection of a fee in excess of those authorized by law;
  • Execution of any certificate as a notary public containing a statement that the notary knows is false;
  • Failure to complete the acknowledgment at the time the notary signs and seals the document;
slide68

Good Cause

  • Advertising that the notary public is an immigration specialist, immigration consultant or other title or description that reflects an expertise in immigration matters;
  • False or misleading advertising, either oral or written, that represents that the notary has duties, rights, powers or privileges that are not authorized by law;
  • Performing any notarization when the person for whom the notarization is performed did not personally appear before the notary at the time the notarization is executed; and
  • Failure to comply with or violation of a previous disciplinary action.
slide69

Complaint Procedures

A person harmed by the actions of a notary public may file a complaint against the notary. The secretary of state may also initiate a complaint under certain circumstances (e.g. knowledge of an undisclosed or new criminal conviction).

slide70

Right to Respond

If the secretary of state determines that a complaint facially states good cause for disciplinary action against a notary, the notary will be notified of the complaint and given an opportunity to respond.

Failure to respond can result in a default action against the notary.

slide71

Notary Response

The notary response to a complaint should be:

  • Timely (within 20 days)
  • In writing
  • Identify any disputed allegations
  • Identify any witnesses to the alleged misconduct
  • Offer evidence to support the notary’s position, including copies of relevant pages from the notary record book
slide72

Notary’s Right to a Hearing

After reviewing the notary’s response, the secretary of state will determine whether disciplinary action is warranted and shall notify the notary and complainant of that determination.

If revocation or suspension of the notary commission is proposed by the secretary of state, the notary will be informed of the notary’s right to a hearing to contest the revocation or suspension. Hearings are adjudicated before the State Office of Administrative Hearings. The notary has a right to be represented by legal counsel.

slide73

Disciplinary Actions

The secretary of state may seek disciplinary action other than revocation or suspension:

  • official reprimand;
  • consent decree to cease from engaging in any further misconduct;
  • agreement to voluntarily surrender the notary commission;
  • agreement to complete a course of study related to notary responsibilities;
  • agreement not to seek reappointment for a period of time; or
  • agreement to take other corrective action.
slide74
Notaries have existed since ancient times and continue to serve an important and necessary function in nearly all developed countries. As a public official, a notary public is held to high standards consistent with the degree of trust that is attached to the notary’s action. The secretary of state hopes that this educational material equips you to fully and faithfully execute your duties with confidence. Thank you for your commitment to public service.
slide75
Comments regarding this presentation or requests to reproduce should be submitted to:

Notary Public Unit

Office of the Secretary of State

P. O. Box 13375

Austin, Texas 78711-3375

[email protected]

slide76
This PowerPoint presentation is provided to inform notaries public of the basic powers, duties, and responsibilities of a notary public. It is intended for the personal, educational non-commercial use by notaries and their employers. Any other copying, redistribution, publication or retransmission of any portion of this material, is strictly prohibited without the express consent of the Office of the Secretary of State.

© 2007 Office of the Secretary of State of Texas

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