Wedding Season in Florida

Wedding season is here again!

Are you a Florida Notary Public planning to participate in your first wedding? Maybe you have performed ceremonies before, but it has been a while and you feel the need to brush up on everything that entails.

Did you know that you are allowed to perform a wedding ceremony for a family member? Yes, it is true – this is because you are not notarizing their signatures, you are only notarizing that you performed the ceremony.

As a Florida notary public, you have the right to officiate a wedding, provided that the wedding takes place in Florida, and the couple being married has an official marriage license from a Florida Clerk of the Court in their possession before the ceremony.

After the ceremony, it is your job to complete the Marriage Record section of the marriage license and returning it back to the county court judge or clerk’s office from where it was issued, for official recording. After recording, the clerk’s office will mail a certified copy to the couple.

It is a good idea to go over the ceremony in detail with the happy couple before the wedding day. A run-through, or rehearsal is also highly recommended so that there are no surprises. Many times a couple will be very specific about how they want the ceremony to go and may have certain vows or religious readings they want included. You can oversee and provide guidance, since you know what needs to be said as they enter into this legally binding commitment.

The State of Florida has a little booklet available for free online called Performing Marriage Ceremonies, A Guide for Florida’s Notaries Public, which has not been updated since 1999, but contains helpful information anyway. There is a sample marriage license application along with instructions on how to complete the Marriage Record portion of the license, and the rules for performing a wedding ceremony. Of course you will need to ignore the section that states Florida notaries cannot marry same-sex couples, because as of January 2015, same sex marriage is legal in the state of Florida.

Below are a few other links you may find helpful.

Florida Statute 741.04 regarding Marriage Licenses.

Sample wedding ceremony (very very basic).

What is a Notary Public and Why Would You Want to Become One?

Most people are under the impression that notaries “just notarize signatures” when there is really much more to this appointed position. With the amount of fraud and identity theft going on today, Notary Publics are an important part in the prevention of fraudulent transactions. A notary must know and follow their state’s laws, while also maintaining keen eye during transactions and having sound judgment with regard to their signer’s state of mind and understanding of each document they are signing.

While the majority of duties a notary performs involves the signing of important documents, there are other tasks they can perform (depending on which state they are in) such as administering oaths, taking/certifying affidavits and depositions, and performing civil marriage ceremonies just to name a few.

Notaries are “appointed” or “commissioned” usually by their state’s Governor’s Office or Secretary of State, which means that this is a privilege subject to disciplinary action if the laws of the state are not followed. Each state has it’s own requirements for becoming a notary, but most require an applicant to be a minimum of 18 years old, a resident of the state, and have a clean criminal record. Many states are now requiring applicants to show their knowledge of the state’s notary laws by passing an exam.

The term of a notary tends to be four years, but can vary according to state. Every time a notary performs the act of acknowledgement, they must include their commission number and expiration date, either handwritten or stamped depending on state requirement.

When an individual signs a document in the presence of a notary, the notary then completes a notarial certificate attesting to this, including the date and personal identification given. The notarial certificate can be attached as a separate sheet, but it most commonly appears at the end of the document with and acknowledgement stating along these lines: “Acknowledged before me by (signer’s printed name) this (day)th day of (month), (year), whom provided (type of photo ID, ex. Driver’s Licence)/or is personally known to me and who did/did not take an oath.” It is absolutely most important that the person is physically in front of the notary and executes their signature in the presence of that notary. No alternative – however creative it might be – is acceptable.

It sounds like a lot of responsibility, doesn’t it? So why would you want to become a notary? Well, if you are in employed in a position that often requires signatures to be notarized (such as a bank, government office, real estate or insurance business), your being the in-house notary will obviously make you a more valuable employee. Officers or executives of your company may also notice you more, since those are the people typically needing a notary most.

If you are hunting for a job, being able to add Notary Public to your resume is another plus in your favor. If you are self-employed, this can also add income if you make it a service, or it may be a convenience you want to add to keep customers coming back.

How to Renew Your California Notary Commission

If you are a California Notary and your Commission is due to expire soon, you should be aware of some new rules. As of January 1st, 2008, all Notary applications need to include a 2” x 2” color (passport style) photo attached to the application. Also new is the requirement to have Live Scan Fingerprints submitted to the Department of Justice and the FBI.

So where do you obtain these new, necessary items? Well, you can easily get your passport-type photo from any store that has a photo processing service. You can find places that do Live Scan Fingerprinting by contacting your local police department, or by checking out local services that offer both.

Since this requirement has gone into effect, many new businesses offering the combined service have opened. The photo runs between $10 – $20 and the fingerprinting averages about $30.Also keep in mind that you are still required to take the mandatory 6-hour Notary class. Rumor has it that a shorter refresher course may become available soon for renewing Notaries, however they will probably be hard to come by for a few years.

If you are shopping places to take the Notary Class, you might save yourself some time and money by choosing one that offers the photo and fingerprinting service.Whether you are renewing, or applying for the first time, all Notary applicants must complete the same application. For renewing notaries, there is a place on the application to note your previous Commission Number and Expiration Date.

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