SECTION TWO - Qualifications and Requirements of Being a Notary
You may be commissioned in your legal name (or a nickname of your legal name). You must sign notarial certificates and any other documents that you notarize in your commissioned name and your notary seal must bear that name.
I do solemnly (swear) (affirm) that I will support, protect and defend the Constitution and the Government of the United States and of the State of Florida; that I have read Chapter 117, Florida Statutes, and any amendments thereto, and know the duties, responsibilities, limitations, and powers of a notary public; and that I will honestly, diligently, and faithfully discharge the duties of Notary Public, State of Florida, on which I am now about to enter (so help me God). I accept the office of Notary Public, State of Florida.
The Governor may require other information necessary for determining whether you are eligible for a notary commission.
B. Appointment and length of Term.
Your term of office is four years. If you are appointed October 22, 2001 your commission will expire October 21, 2005 (12:00 a. m.) If your name changes, you must request an amended commission by submitting the appropriate application form, a rider to the notary bond, and a fee of $25. If your permanent address changes you must also report that to the State in writing as well. You should contact Huckleberry Associates for assistance. (1-800-422-1555)
C. Application Process.
As of July 1, 1996, applications must be submitted to the state by an approved bonding agency. You may contact Huckleberry Associates to receive your application. After completing your application, you mail it to us with your online notary course certificate of completion. We will then process your application electronically to the state. The state will notify us once your commission is issued. At that time, we will manufacture your notary seal and mail to you via first class mail along with your notary certificate, notary seal and any other supplies that you ordered.
The application has three sections:
When it is time to renew your commission, the process is exactly the same as the first time application process except, upon renewing, you do not have to take this course. The application form is the same and all the required information must be submitted again. You should submit your application for renewal about two months in advance of your expiration date. Huckleberry Associates will notify you in advance of your renewal date. We maintain an extensive database so that we can keep notaries well informed.
E. Change of Address and Resignation
You must submit any change of address in writing to the Notary Commissions and Certifications Section. You are required to keep your home and business addresses and telephone numbers updated. If you move out of state you must resign your notary commission. When you resign your commission you must submit a resignation in writing to the Governor's office and return your notary commission certificate. It is important when you resign that you also destroy your notary seal so no one else can use it to commit fraud. The address for the Notary Commissions and Certification Section is as follows:
Office of the Secretary of State
Notary Commissions & Certifications Section
Room 1902, The Capitol
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0250
A Florida notary can perform official duties only within the geographical boundaries of the state. You are not limited to the county in which you reside and you have the authority to notarize in any county in the State of Florida. Also, you may perform notarizations on a boat or other vessel up to 50 miles offshore.
You must obtain a surety bond in the amount of $7,500 and maintain that bond throughout the term of appointment. The bond is included in your application fees. The bond does not protect the notary. The bond is designed to protect the public. Again, it does not protect you. In fact, when a notary bond is paid to an individual who was harmed as a result of an improper notarization, the bonding company will demand repayment from the notary. There is protection for the notary by obtaining errors and omissions insurance. You can acquire a $25,000 policy that will cover you for your four-year term. This policy will repay your notary bond if it is paid out due to a mistake on your part and it will also cover legal expenses and court cost if you need to defend yourself in court.
H. Notary Seal and Notary Fees
The official Notary seal is a self-inking seal with four elements: the words, "Notary Public-State of Florida", the notary's exact commissioned name, the notary's commission number and the notary's expiration date. You may sign notarial certificates with any color ink, but the notary seal must always be in black ink. You may use an embosser in addition to the self-inking seal but not in place of it. If you choose to use an embosser, your name should be correct and the seal should contain the words, "Notary Public-State of "Florida. " Most people like the embosser seal that "crimps" the paper. They feel that it makes the notarization more official. Huckleberry Associates offers either a handheld embosser or an elegant desktop model.
Be sure to keep your seal under your protection at all times. Keep your seal in a secure place so that no one else can use your seal to improperly notarize or to commit fraud. If your seal is lost or stolen you must report this in writing to the Department of State. You should include your commission name and number, date of birth and the last time that you used your seal when it was in your possession. Then if someone tries to use your seal to commit fraud you will have some protection to prove that you did not misuse your seal. We recommend keeping records of you notarizations in the Journal of Notarial Acts, which we discuss later in this course.
Florida allows notaries to charge up to $10 for each notarial act performed. Notaries may also charge $20 to solemnize a marriage. Fees are optional and many notaries prefer not to charge for their services or they offer them at no-charge to their clients and customers. All fees charged must be reported to the IRS as income.
I. Authentication of a Notary's Authority
When a document is traveling out of the country it may need authentication, verification or legalization of your notarial status or seal. There is a process that makes this simple. An international treaty called The Hague Convention governs it. A single certificate called an Apostille (a French word meaning "note") is attached to the notarized document. The Apostille entitles the document to full recognition in the country of intended use and no further authentication or legalization by the Embassy or Consulate of that country is required. Documents being sent to another state or a country not participating in The Hague Convention may also require certification. That document would require a Certificate of Notarial Authority. This certificate would also be issued by the Secretary of State's office.
The notary is not responsible for requesting an Apostille or a Certificate of Notarial Authority. The person who signed the document or the document bearer may request authentication of documents. These persons should contact the Department of State located in Tallahassee. The phone number is (850) 413-9732. There is a $10 fee for an authentication certificate.