Frequently Asked Questions
Texas Notary Public Duties and Practices
A notary commission is a four-year term of office. The term begins on the date the Secretary of State issues the commission.
The primary responsibilities of a Texas notary public are to prevent fraud by confirming that the signer�s identity is who he or she claims to be, and
- to ensure that the signer acknowledges, in the presence of the notary, that he or she understands and has voluntarily signed a document on a given date, or
- to place the signer under oath or take an affirmation of the truthfulness of a statement made.
A notary public has the authority to:
- take acknowledgments;
- administer oaths and affirmations;
- take depositions;
- certify copies of documents not recordable in the public records; and
- protest instruments.
You may begin notarial duties as soon as you receive your official notary public commission, take the required oath of office, and obtain a valid notary stamp and journal.
No. A notary CANNOT notarize his/her own signature.
No. There is no statute that addresses this question, but the general rule is that a notary public cannot perform a notarization on any document in which he/she is a party to the instrument or in which he/she has a personal or financially beneficial interest in the transaction.
There is no specific answer to this question in the state statutes; you must determine if you have any financial or beneficial interest in the transaction.
No. A notary public may only perform notarial acts by requiring the personal appearance of the signer at the time the transaction takes place. The document signer must always appear before you for the notarization. Remember that the primary function of a notary public is to prevent fraud. Notaries do this in part by requiring the personal physical presence of the signer, making a positive identification of the signer, and placing the signer under oath or affirmation, or taking the acknowledgment of the signer that the document was signed willingly for the purposes stated in it. Often, forgeries occur because the notary fails to require the document signer to be present for the notarization.
Any document requiring an oath or affirmation must be signed in the presence of the notary. A document requiring an acknowledgment of a signature may have been signed prior to the appearance of the signer before the notary, but in order for the acknowledgment to be made, the signer must appear before the notary to acknowledge having signed the document. A notary may not complete any notarial certificate without the appearance of the signer at the time the notary act takes place and the certificate is completed.
No; simply request that the signer sign the document again. The notary may add the notation, �second signature at the request of the notary� or something to that effect.
Absolutely not. A notary commission does not impart any legal authority whatsoever; a notary who is not a lawyer does not have this authority. The only notary who may prepare legal documents or give any legal advice or guidance is a notary who is also an attorney. All documents presented to you to notarize should have the correct form of notary certificate on them; if the document has an incorrect form or no form at all, you may not advise the signer on the form needed. As a notary your only duty is to perform the notarial act and complete the notarial certificate. (You may, however, show the signer a certificate for an oath and an acknowledgment, and let the signer select one).
No. As stated above, a notary public who is not an attorney should only complete a notarial certificate which is already on the document or type or attach a certificate of the signer's choosing. If a notary public is presented with a document without a certificate and the notary makes the decision of which certificate to attach, that notary public would be "practicing law" without a license, which is against the law.
No. A notary public may not prepare, draft, select, or give advice concerning legal documents. This is an unlawful practice called the Unlicensed Practice of Law and is punishable by law.
No. Do not notarize a signature on a document containing blank spaces. The signer should complete the blanks or seek legal counsel for advice.
No. These are recordable documents, and a certified copy can only be issued by the governmental agency which is custodian of these records. However, a notary public has the authority to certify copies of original documents that are not recordable in the public records.
Yes. A notary public has statewide jurisdiction and may perform notarial acts in any county in the state of Texas.
No. A Texas notary public has jurisdiction ONLY in the State of Texas. Other states have their own notary laws regarding their notaries.
You may notarize signatures on documents that originate in other states if you perform the notarial act in Texas.
No; Texas notaries are not authorized to perform marriage ceremonies.
- Demand Personal Appearance
- Properly Verify Identity of the Signer
- Review the Document
- Determine Signer�s Awareness and Understanding of the Transaction
- Perform the Verbal Element of the Ceremony
- Have Signer Sign Your Record Book
- Record All Details of Transaction in Record Book, Including Fees Charged
- Fill in, Sign, and Stamp/Seal Your Notarial Certificate
No. Once a document is notarized, it must not be altered. If changes are necessary, a new document must be executed with a new notarization. All steps must be followed properly, including the personal appearance of the signers involved.
Yes, a notary may serve as a translator, but only if another notary performs the notarial duties required for the execution of the document. A notary must not perform both notarial and translation duties for the same document.
Yes, a notary may notarize for a minor, if the notary can determine that the minor understands the act taking place, and if the notary is able to properly identify the minor.
You must refuse to notarize if:
- A signer you don�t know personally has no identification.
- A signer presents a document with blank spaces.
- A signer appears frightened or confused about the notary act or appears unwilling to sign the document.
- A signer behaves in a threatening manner toward you.
- You do not have your notary seal with you at the time.
- A signer refuses to appear before you personally.
- A signer refuses to take an oath as required, or to verbally acknowledge signing the document presented.
- You have information about the transaction that reveals it as fraudulent or unlawful.
- You and the signer are unable to speak the same language and have no interpreter.
- A document presented to be copied is a public record or publicly recordable document.
- You are involved in the transaction or stand to gain in any way.
No. Your notarial certificate must bear the date the notarization actually took place.
Venue is the location (county and state) that you and your signer are standing on when the notary act takes place. It is commonly shown in a notarial certificate as:
State of Texas
County of ______________
Yes, Tex. Gov Ann. 406.013 requires a notary public to use a seal of office to authenticate all his/her acts. A notary public shall provide a seal of office that clearly shows, when embossed, stamped, or printed on a document, the words "notary public, State of Texas" around a star of five points, the notary public's name, and the date the commission expires. The seal may be a circular form not more than 2" in diameter or a rectangular form not more than one inch in width and 21/2 inches in length.
Yes. Call The American Association of Notaries at 1-800-721-2663, email us at [email protected]
, or click here
for additional notary stamps, embossers, and all other notary supplies.
Yes, a Texas notary public is required by law to maintain a record book, or journal, of every notarial act performed. This record book must be maintained whether or not any fees are charged for your notary public service. We recommend that you record every notarization in your journal. This is self-protection against possible suits.
You must keep your journal(s) during the entire period for which you are a notary public in the state of Texas. Upon resignation or removal from office, the journal must be turned over to the County Clerk's office in which the Notary resides.
No. The seal, commission certificate, journal are the property of the notary. Your commission is issued to you, not to your employer, and your employer has no legal right to keep any of your notarial items, even if the employer paid for your commission. Your commission will expire upon the expiration date, regardless of where you work or if you are employed or not.
Permanent ink must be used when using a rubber stamp type notary seal; black ink is strongly recommended.
Yes, Texas law states that either a rubber stamp-type notary seal or an embosser seal may be used. The American Association of Notaries recommends a self-inking notary stamp if only one seal is used, but many notaries prefer to use both. However, when using an embossing seal, either alone or along with your self-inking notary stamp, you must be sure to darken the raised letters of the embosser�s impression so that it is legible on a photocopy. (Embossers are recommended for all documents destined for overseas recipients).
To order a self-inking stamp, an impression seal, or impression inker, contact our office at 1-800-721-2663 or click here.
Maintenance of Your Notary Commission
A notary public may change the name on his or her commission by sending the Secretary of State a name change application Form 305, his or her certificate of commission, a rider or endorsement from the insurance agency or surety company, and a $20.00 filling fee. Call The American Association of Notaries at 1-800-721-2663 or email us at [email protected]
for a name change rider.
A notary public shall notify the Secretary of State of a change of notary public�s address no later than the 10th day after the date on which the change is made. You can update your address online
or by mail
to download and complete the Texas notary commission renewal forms, or click here
to apply online. It is strongly recommended that you apply for renewal far ahead of your notary expiration date (but no more than 3 months ahead!) to ensure that no lapse occurs.
Send a letter stating your intentions to the Secretary of State, Notary Public Unit, P.O. Box 13375, Austin, Texas 78701.
You can request a duplicate copy of your notary commission certificate online
or by mail
The notary may not charge fees above the fees set forth in Texas notary law for each act. Notaries may incur severe penalties for overcharging notary fees. Texas law states that if a notary overcharges for notary fees, the notary will be required to pay the overcharged client four times the amount charged.
Yes. Notaries are required to keep a journal of all fees charged. The notary�s record book of details of all notarial transactions is sufficient rather than maintaining two separate books, and serves well to meet the requirements of fee records.
Although notary fees are optional, Texas law sets the maximum fees that notaries may charge for their services. Notaries are also required to post their fees for the public, and you should give a written itemized invoice for your notarial services. Here is a list of allowable fees for the most common notarial services.
Taking acknowledgments or proofs
for the first signature
for each additional signature
Administering oath or affirmation
Swearing a witness for a deposition
Taking a deposition of a witness (for each 100 words)
Certifying a photocopy
Providing an uncertified copy of an entry from a notary�s record book (per page)
If you are going to charge a fee, the law requires you to keep fees posted at all times in a prominent location visible to your notary clients. To order a fee schedule to post in your area, click here
Texas law gives the employer a say on how much to charge, if anything, as long as the customer is not charged over the legal amount. Texas law does not specify who keeps the fees. So be sure to reach an agreement with your employer on this issue.
Your fees, if not turned in to your employer, are taxable. Please consult your tax advisor for details.
Texas law requires �state officers� to bill clients for all expenses. Therefore it is recommended that you always prepare a detailed bill for any services you perform as a notary public. Discuss your fees with your signers before performing the notarial act to avoid confusion or conflict afterward. Always provide a written receipt for fees charged, completely separating any non-notary business fees such as travel expenses from the actual notary fees charged.
If the signer is not personally known by the notary public or identified by a credible witness, the best form of identification is one issued by a state or federal government agency that includes a physical description, photograph, and signature. The card should typically detail eye and hair color, height, weight, and date of birth.
The notary may use either a credible witness or personal knowledge to identify a signer.
If you don�t know the signer personally, you may take the oath of a �credible witness� that is personally known to you, and there is a form to attach to the document for this purpose. You must actually place the credible witness under oath; simply asking them to identify the signer is not sufficient. If this form of identity is used, document that on the notarial certificate and in your record book. Have the credible witness sign an entry in your record book for that transaction, detailing the oath of credible witness, and of course have the signer of the document being executed sign in the next entry for that notarial act.
Be certain to attach the credible witness affidavit securely to the document being notarized to prove your method of identification of the signer.
Personal knowledge is always the best form of identification, but must only be used if the notary knows the signer personally. The notary may not take the word of a friend, family member, or co-worker as to the identity of a signer unless that person stands as a credible witness and swears an oath regarding the identity of the signer. DO NOT mark a certificate �personally known� unless the notary knows with a strong certainty that the signer is actually who he or she says he is. You must have actual knowledge of a signer in order to claim �personally known� as a method of identification.
No. Texas law DOES NOT require notaries to take fingerprints from persons whose signatures they notarize. Even the person's signature in the notary journal is no longer required. Many notary journals or records books allow space for a thumbprint or signer�s signature, but this feature is optional. You should not refuse to provide notarial services based solely on the person's refusal to provide a fingerprint in your record book.
Notary Bonds and Errors and Omissions Insurance Policy
The American Association of Notaries offers bonds and errors and omissions insurance policies to Texas notaries. We offer an excellent package deal for only $79.99 plus shipping that includes the bond, state filing fees, and required supplies. No discounts are given on bonds or errors and omissions insurance policies. Notary package excluding the bond is available for $29.99 Plus $5.95 for shipping (item P101). Requests for refunds on all incomplete orders must be in writing.
To obtain more information about obtaining a notary bond or Errors and Omissions insurance policies, please contact:
The American Association of Notaries (AAN)
PO Box 630601
Houston, Texas 77263
Telephone 1-713-644-2299 or 1-800-721-2663
or email us [email protected]
A surety bond guarantees to any third party that if the notary public fails to perform the duties allowed by law, the surety company will provide coverage to the third party for any damages up to $10,000. The bond company then would proceed to demand payment from the notary public, and if necessary sue the notary public to recover the $10,000 paid to the third party.
An errors and omissions insurance policy protects the notary public and pays for any charges the notary might owe for legal fees and court costs should the notary be sued
Texas notaries are required to maintain a $10,000 bond for the term of the notarial commission.
Note: State employees follow different procedures to obtain or renew a notary commission. For more information on state employee notary requirements and procedures, call us at 1-800-721-2663.
Notaries are not required to take a class to become commissioned. However, for the notary�s protection, training is highly recommended. For an inexpensive but comprehensive course,
Notaries protect themselves from liability by learning proper procedures and understanding the laws that govern them. Notary training is available at a very low cost and the benefits are high. Avoid lawsuits, errors, and notarize with confidence after completion of our Online or Home Study Notary Course. To take the Online Course,
To order our Home Study Course,
No. Unlike other associations, we feel that all notaries should have access to low prices without having to purchase a membership. We believe that membership should be a tool to educate and inform notaries.
We�ve made the ordering process convenient for you by offering four options:
We produce only top-quality supplies that comply with Texas notary law requirements. We manufacture all our stamps and seals in-house and we stand behind them. Our notary seals and stamps come with a lifetime replacement guarantee for your complete satisfaction.
AAN gives a lifetime guarantee for all notary seals and stamps. Lifetime guarantee means that the product will work as designed for the entire term of the notary�s commission. If you request a replacement, we ask that you pay the shipping charges of the replacement product.
We customize certain products and may be able to accommodate your request. Please call our Customer Service Department at 1-800-721-2663 for special orders.
Yes. Download an
complete it, and then mail it with your check to:
P.O. Box 630601
Houston, TX 77263
Paying by check may cause a short delay with your order. The fastest methods of ordering are online or by fax or phone using a credit card.
We accept purchase orders from government entities only. Purchase orders must clearly indicate the name of the government agency, the purchase order number, the billing and shipping address, and the telephone number for the agency�s accounts payable department.
Yes, absolutely. We are firmly committed to preserving your privacy and security. Our system utilizes state-of-the-art encryption technologies, protecting data you submit and preventing access to your information. Furthermore, our company does not share your information with any service or product providers, and you will find no pop-ups or advertising on our site. Read our
complete privacy statement
Exit the program, close all other programs, and restart your computer. Disable any pop-up blockers and privacy control features on your antivirus security program. Try to place your order again. If this doesn�t solve the problem, email us at [email protected]
, or call our customer service experts at 1-800-721-2663 between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. CST.
To cancel or make changes to an order, call us as soon as possible at 1-800-721-2663 with the order number. Any order that is canceled with our approval must be returned at the customer�s expense. Shipping charges will be deducted from any refund for a canceled order.
We use UPS and USPS. For faster service, we recommend shipping to a business address. We can ship overnight for an additional charge, or if you provide us with your shipper account number. Please call our Customer Service Department for more information about shipping options.
to view our shipping and delivery instructions.
If you receive a product that is damaged or not made to your specifications, simply return it for a replacement with no additional shipping charges. If you are unhappy with a product, you may return the undamaged, unused product within 30 days and receive a full refund for the product. Shipping charges are NOT refundable, unless we are at fault. For a refund, please call our Customer Service Department at 1-800-721-2663, or email us at
Texas Notary Bonds and errors and omissions insurance policies provided by this insurance agency, the American Association of Notaries, Inc., are underwritten by Western Surety Company (established 1900). American Association of Notaries, is owned by Kal Tabbara, licensed insurance agent in Texas.