National Notary Day November 7th
- Thank Your Notary!

Probably before you ever bought a home, signed mortgage documents, or made a will, you needed the services of a Notary Public. Today, with the instances of lawsuits, identity theft and fraud, many more forms are requiring notarization – if you can believe it, even grade school forms! Without a Notary Public, some of these everyday transactions would be impossible.

In 1974, the American Society of Notaries established every November 7th as
National Notary Public Day, as a way to recognize notaries for their public service and contribution to national and international commerce.  This particular date was chosen because it was supposedly the day America’s first Notary Public, Thomas Fugill was appointed.

There are over 4.3 million notaries nationwide, with almost 400,000 notaries in the State of Florida alone.  Since the Greeks and Romans thousands of years ago, notaries have been the official record keepers of important public and private transactions. Today, notaries perform a vital function in many of our highly personal transactions where honesty and integrity are a must – and an added deterrent for anyone contemplating fraud.

So say, Thank You”  to your local Notary today!

Be on the Lookout – What to Watch Out for Before Notarizing

As a Notary, you need to be observant when it comes to the document you are going to notarize, as well as the people who’s signature you will be notarizing. Following are some of the things you should be looking out for before you agree to notarize anything.

What kind of document is it? Does the person know what they will be signing? Remember – you are not a lawyer and you cannot give any legal advice. If the person who is to sign the document has any question regarding the content, you should advise them to speak with the preparer of the document, or an attorney. If the document is in a language the signer does not understand, you should not
perform any notary services.

Is the person competent to sign? If there is any question about the signer’s competency, whether they are mentally incapacitated, or appear mentally unaware, disoriented, intoxicated or drugged, you should not proceed.

Is the document complete? You do not have to read every word, just look it over to make sure that there are no missing pages or blanks that were not filled-in. The document needs to be complete before notarization. Also check that it is dated correctly – it is improper to notarize pre- or post-dated documents.

Is the notary acknowledgement on the document? Most documents contain the Notary paragraph at or near the end, while a few still use what is called a loose certificate. If it is missing, it is your choice on how to proceed. You can refuse, if you are not comfortable, or if there is room you can try to write the wording underneath the signature, or on the back of the document. If you choose to use a loose certificate (be very careful), make sure you are using one that pertains to your notarial act. It would also be wise to reference the document and add an additional seal imprint in this manner: After you notarize and affix your seal, line up both pages side by side and stamp in the middle so that both pages would be required to show the full seal.

Is the signer present? Anyone/everyone who is to sign the document should appear before you and provide a valid ID (if they are not personally known, of course). Nothing should be signed prior to this point.

Remember, you can refuse to sign anytime you suspect that something is wrong, deceptive, or illegal. Some people think that Notaries cannot refuse their services, but that is absolutely wrong. In fact, Florida law requires notaries to refuse services in certain situations.

Requirements to Become a Notary Public in Florida

So you want to become a Notary Public! Well, if you are in the State of Florida, applicants must:

1 Be at least 18 years of age

2 United States Citizen (if not a U.S. Citizen, the applicant must also submit a recorded Declaration of Domicile from the local courthouse)

3 Florida Resident (A FL driver's license number is required. If the applicant does not have a FL driver's license, a photocopy of one of the following is required: FL identification card, FL voter's registration card, FL homestead exemption, income tax form, recorded Declaration of Domicile, or a sworn Affidavit of Residency.)

4 No Felony Record (if an applicant has a felony conviction, or one which adjudication was withheld, additional documentation is required)

New applicants are required to complete a three hour course on the duties of Notary Public. The State of Florida offers a free online notary education course here – upon successful completion they also provide the certificate necessary to apply for your notary commission.

Florida state law also requires that a notary public post bond in the amount of $7,500.00, usually something you would purchase at the time you buy your seal/stamp.

Good luck to you!