Indiana - Notary Law


Letter from the Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita

Dear Notary Public,

 

The largest single group of public officials in our state, with over 80,000 members, is the group of notaries public. As a notary public, your duties serve a crucial function within the state.

To assist you in rendering professional service, my office maintains this guide outlining the laws governing the official acts of notaries. Please take a few minutes to read this for your knowledge and protection.

This document, although a good reference, does not provide guidance for every question, problem, or situation you might face as a notary. If at any time you are unsure how to proceed, I recommend you seek legal advice; as a notary you may be liable both criminally and civilly for any negligent or fraudulent acts.

If you need further assistance, please do not hesitate to call my office at (317) 232-6542. We are always available to serve you and the public.

Sincerely,

Todd Rokita

Secretary of State

General Information

A Notary Public is an officer of the state, authorized by law to certify documents, take affidavits, and administer oaths. (Ind. Code 33-16-2-5) Notaries public are appointed for eight-year terms. (Ind. Code 33-16-2-1 (b)) A notary public has statewide jurisdiction but may not be compelled to act outside the limits of the county in which he/she resides. (Ind. Code 33-16-1-1)

Notarization serves to protect all parties involved in any manner or transaction by assuring the identity of each. Notaries are expected to be impartial, unbiased, and without financial interest in the documents they notarize.

 

Qualifications for Appointment as a Notary

An applicant for commission to become a notary public must meet the following requirements:

          be at least eighteen (18) years of age

          be a legal resident of Indiana (Ind. Code 33-16-2-1 (a))

No person holding a lucrative office or appointment under the United States or the State of Indiana can be a notary public; civil, school city, and town officials of the State of Indiana may serve as notaries public. These officials are prohibited, however, from notarizing any document in connection with the official business of such office. (Ind. Code 33-16-2-7 Supp. 2001)

No person convicted of a crime receiving a sentence exceeding six months imprisonment may be a notary public. (Ind. Code 5-8-3-1)

Procedure for Becoming a Notary Public

 An application may be obtained from the Secretary of State's office or click Notary Kit.

It is suggested that a notary use either one of the following:

          Both his/her first and middle names

          First name with middle initial 

          Initial and middle name along with his/her surname

A person should not use both first and middle initials only (for example: J.S. Smith).

 After the application has been completed, the applicant shall personally appear before an officer authorized to administer oaths, who shall administer the oath of the office to the applicant. (Ind. Code 33-16-2-1(d))

 The applicant shall secure an official bond with freehold or corporate security, to be approved by the Secretary of State, in the sum of five thousand dollars ($5000). The bond shall be conditioned upon the faithful performance and discharge of duties of the office of the notary public, for the use by any person injured by a breach of the notary's duties. (Ind. Code 33-16-2-1 (e))

 Each application requires a five dollar ($5) fee. Each duplicate commission also requires a five dollar ($5) fee. Fees are payable by check or money order.

 A seal must be used in all official acts of the notary public.

If any notary changes his/her name or county of residence during his/her term of commission, he/she shall notify the Secretary of State in writing of the change. The Secretary of State will issue a revised commission valid only for the remaining term of the original commission. (Ind. Code 33-16-2-8)

If the notary misplaces his/her commission, he/she should notify the Secretary of State's office of the loss. A duplicate commission will be issued, valid only during the duration of the original commission.

Duties and Responsibilities

Before taking acknowledgement or oath of any person, the notary public shall ascertain whether the person executing the instrument knows the contents of the instrument. If the person does not know the contents, the notary shall take steps to ensure the person knows the contents before taking the oath or acknowledgement.

In the event a notary public does not know the person presenting the instrument for notarization, the notary should do the following:
          Ask the person for identification (driver's license), or

          Have another person identify the party requesting notarization.

          If neither option is available or satisfactory, the notary may ask the person to take an oath as to his/her identity. If these attempts at identification are unsuccessful, the notary may refuse service for his/her own protection.

A notary public shall at the time of signing the certificate of acknowledgement, oath, or instrument, append to the instrument the date of expiration of his/her commission, his/her county of residence, and the date the instrument was notarized.

Each notary, in addition to affixing his name, expiration date, and seal, shall print or type his name immediately beneath his signature on a certificate of acknowledgement, jurat, or other official document, unless his name appears in one of the following places:

          In printed form on the document; or

          As part of his stamp in such form as to be legible when the document is photocopied.

The notary also shall indicate his county of residence on the document. (Ind. Code 33-16-2-9)

When notarizing documents for the purposes of recording, the notary public must ensure the following:

          The name of each person (typed, printed, or stamped) executing the instrument is immediately beneath the signature

          That the person's name written in the body of the instrument matches the signature

          That the name of each witness (typed, printed, or stamped) is beneath the signature

          That the name of the notary (typed, printed, or stamped) is beneath the signature

Fees

The maximum fee a Notary Public may charge is two dollars ($2) per individual notarization. (Ind. Code 33-16-7-1).

Prohibited Acts (Ind. Code 33-16-2-2)

 A notary public shall not do any of the following:

          Use any other name or initial in signing acknowledgments, other than that by which the notary has been commissioned.

          Acknowledge any instrument in which the notary's name appears as a party to the transaction.

          Take the acknowledgment or administer the oath to any person whom the notary actually knows has been adjudged mentally incompetent by the court; and is under the guardianship of another.

          Take the acknowledgment of any person who is blind, without first reading the instrument to the blind person.

          Take the acknowledgment of any person who does not speak or understand the English language, unless the nature and effect of the instrument to be notarized is translated into a language that the person does speak or understand.

          Acknowledge the execution of the following:

                       An affidavit, unless the person acknowledges the truth of the statements in the affidavit; or

                       an instrument, unless the person who executed the instrument does the following:

                                   Signs the instrument before the notary; or

                                   Affirms to the notary that the signature on the instrument is the person's own.

          Affix his/her name or signature to a blank certificate, affidavit, or acknowledgement and deliver that form to another person with intent for the document to be authenticated. (Ind. Code 33-16-4-2).

          Post-date or antedate any document.

          Exceed the scope of the duty of a notary by preparing or filling in blanks of legal documents.

Note: A notary public may notarize documents of family members.

Definition of Terms

Acknowledgment:  A formal declaration before a notary public that the instrument presented is the free and voluntary act of the party executing it and the signatures on the document are genuine.

Affidavit:  A signed statement made under oath or affirmation.

Affirmation:  An oral or written declaration made by a person who has an objection to taking oaths, certifying that under penalty of perjury the declarations are true.

Jurat:   An attached written statement of the notary public that the oath or affirmation was taken before him/her.

Oath:   Oral or written appeals before God that the declarations made are true.


2005 Notary Express. All Rights Reserved