1. How do I become a Notary Public?
A person shall submit an application to the secretary of state on a form prescribed by the secretary of state – Form 2301. An individual qualifies by:
A. properly completing the application form;
B. executing the statement ;
C. providing the bond;
D. paying the required filing fees; and
E. meeting the eligibility requirements.
Contact the Office of the Secretary of State, County Clerk, or call Texas Notary Express at 800/499-1505.
Your cost to be a Texas notary public (including the Secretary of State fees of $21.00) is $85.99.
2. How do I renew my Notary Public Commission?
A notary public may renew his or her commission by filing a new bond and paying the required fees no earlier than 90 days prior to the expiration date of the notary’s term.
Contact the Office of the Secretary of State, County Clerk, or your insurance agency/surety company for the required form.
3. May I change my name from the name shown on my Notary Public Commission?
A notary public may change the name on his or her commission by sending the secretary of state a name change application Form 2305, his or her certificate of commission, a rider or endorsement from the insurance agency or surety, and a $20.00 filing fee.
4. Do I need to keep a record book?
Yes, a Texas notary public is required to maintain a record book. This record book MUST be maintained whether or not any fees are charged for your notary public service. The person for whom a notarization is performed is no longer required to sign the record book.
5. Is a Notary Public required to maintain a Notary record book for Notarizations that are performed in the scope of his/her employment?
Yes. Texas Government Code Section 406.014 requires a notary public to keep a record book containing information that pertains to every notarization that the notary public performs. It also specifies the information that must be recorded.
6. Is a Notary Public Seal required?
Yes, 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 notary public’s commission expires. The notary public shall authenticate all official acts with the seal of office.
7. May I Notarize my spouse’s signature? May I notarize for my spouse’s business? May I Notarize for my relatives?
The basic rules are: the act of taking and certifying acknowledgments cannot be performed by a notary public financially or beneficially interested in the transaction; and one who is a party to an instrument, cannot act as a notary public. There is no specific prohibition against a notary public notarizing another spouse’s signature or a notary public notarizing for a spouse’s business. The facts in each situation will determine whether such action is proper.
8. Is a Notary precluded from notarizing a document in which his or her employer has an interest?
No. In fact, there are statutes that specifically permit such notarizations. For example: Section 121.002 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code authorizes an employee of a corporation to take an acknowledgment of a written instrument in which the corporation has an interest; and Tex. Rev. Civ. Stat. Ann. Art. 342a-8.004 specifies that a notary public is not disqualified from performing a notarization of a document, solely because of the notary public’s ownership of stock or participation in or employment by a state trust company that has an interest in the underlying transaction.
9. Can an employer require a Notary Public who works in his or her place of business to notarize documents only for patrons of that business?
No. A notary public is a public servant. It is fundamental that a public servant cannot refuse to execute a duty imposed on him or her by law. In accepting a notary commission, a notary public accepts the burdens and obligations of that office. The public has a right to expect a notary to perform the duties attached to that office. However, a notary can execute those duties at such reasonable time that is consistent with the other duties imposed on the notary by reason of his or her particular employment.
10. May I make a certified copy of a birth certificate or a marriage license?
No. A birth certificate and a marriage license are recordable documents. A recordable document is one that is recorded with some type of entity whether it be the Secretary of State’s Office, a court of law, a county clerk, or the Bureau of Vital Statistics. Certified copies may be obtained by contacting such entities.
A non-recordable document is one that has not been nor will ever be recorded with any type of entity. For instance, a letter is not recorded with anyone but there are times the sender of the letter would like to maintain a certified copy of that letter for his or her file.
11. May I take an acknowledgement over the telephone?
No. A notary public may not perform by telephone those notarial acts which require a personal appearance.
12. Does a person have to appear before a Notary to have a notarization performed?
Yes. A person for whom a notarization is performed must personally appear before the notary public at the time the notarization is executed.
13. May I perform notarial acts in other counties?
Yes. A notary public has statewide jurisdiction and may perform notarial acts in any county in the state of Texas.
14. May a Notary Public determine which type of Notarial certificate should be attached to a document?
No. A notary public who is not an attorney should only complete a notarial certificate which is already on the document or type a certificate of the maker’s choosing. If a notary public is brought a document without a certificate and decides which certificate to attach, that notary public would be “practicing law”. However, a notary public is provided copies of sample notarial certificates with his or her notary commission. The person for whom the notarization is performed may choose the certificate, and the notary may add such certificate to the document.
15. May I advertise in a language other than english?
A notary public who is not an attorney and who advertises the services of a notary public in a language other than English, shall post or otherwise include with the advertisement a notice that the notary public is not an attorney. The notice must be in English and in the language of the advertisement and be in the letters of conspicuous size. The notice must include the fees that a notary public may charge and the following statement:
“I AM NOT AN ATTORNEY LICENSED TO PRACTICE LAW IN TEXAS AND MAY NOT GIVE LEGAL ADVICE OR ACCEPT FEES FOR LEGAL ADVICE.”
Literal translation of the phrase “Notary Public” into Spanish is prohibited. This prohibits the use of “Notario Publico”.
16. How much does it cost to get a document notarized?
Texas Government Code Section 406.024 specifies the maximum fees for an official act that is performed by a notary public. A lesser fee is allowed or no fee at all may be charged.
17. Does the employer or the notary determine the fee charged for notary services that are performed during the employer’s office hours?
Texas Government Code Section 406.024 specifies that the notary public or its employer may charge the specified fees.
18. How do I obtain an Apostille/certificate on my school transcript or diploma?
A school transcript or diploma may only be certified by the educational institution that issued the transcript or diploma. However, this office cannot certify to a school registrar. Therefore, the certifying official for the institution must complete the certification before a Texas notary public. This office may then issue an Apostille/certificate for the document verifying the notary public’s term of office. After obtaining the notarized certification, please follow the instructions stated in Question #19.
19. How do I obtain an official certificate or Apostille certificate on a Texas Notary Public?
If you have a document that is notarized by a TEXAS notary public you may obtain such certificate by sending a written request to the Office of the Secretary of State at P.O. Box 13375, Austin, Texas, 78711, or 1019 Brazos, Austin, Texas, 78701. Form 2303 may be used for the request, or you may submit the following information:
Name of the Texas notary public, who notarized the document;
Commission expiration date of the notary public;
Date the document was notarized; and
State or foreign country where the document will be filed.
A fee of $10.00 per certificate is required with each request for certification.
It is not necessary to submit your notarized document if the above information is provided.
The Texas secretary of state cannot provide certification for notaries licensed outside the state of Texas.
20. Is a Notary Public prohibited from performing the notarization of real property closing documents at a borrower’s home?
HJR 5, passed by the 77th Texas Legislature and approved by the voters, amended Section 50, Article 16 of the Texas Constitution to add a subsection that states a homestead is protected from a forced sale for the payment of debt for an extension of credit unless such extension of debt is closed at the offices of the lender, an attorney at law, or a title company. This change does not specifically preclude the execution of the closing documents at other locations. However, an extension of credit where the closing is performed at such other locations is subject to the homestead protection, which prevents a forced sale of the homestead. Thus, lenders who furnish extensions of credit, secured by a lien on a homestead, may instruct notaries public not to acknowledge a borrower’s signature at other locations, such as the borrower’s home.
Frequently Asked Questions Relating to Notary Public Complaints
1. How do I file a complaint on a Notary Public?
For information on filing a complaint against a Texas notary public, click here.
2. Why would I file a complaint against a Notary Public?
A person who has been harmed by the actions of a notary public in performing a specific notarization may file a complaint with the secretary of state. The person must complete a complaint form and file it with the Legal Support Unit.
The complaint will be reviewed to determine if the complaint states facts which, if proven, constitute grounds for the secretary of state to take disciplinary action.
3. What type of action may the Secretary of State take?
The most severe action that the secretary of state can take is to revoke the notary’s commission. The secretary cannot determine the validity of the notarized document nor obtain restitution for the complainant.
The secretary of state may determine that the actions of the notary public are not sufficiently egregious to warrant formal disciplinary action. The secretary may determine to take no action on the complaint, or informally advise the notary public of the appropriate conduct and the applicable statutes and rules governing the conduct.