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Recent Notary Law changes for Texas
 
For 2012 there are no changes in notary public law from 2011.  Be sure to check back for the latest developments and/or changes in Texas notary law, best practices or statutes.

The Texas Notary Public

Notary Administration:
A notary public in Texas is under submission to the Secretary of State.  Today the Secretary of State is Hope Andrade.  To get in touch with the Secretary of State's office you may call 1-512-463-5705 or write to Office of Secretary of State Statutory Documents Section, Notary Public Unit, P.O. Box 13375 Austin, TX 78711-3375.

The website is: http://www.sos.state.tx.us/statdoc/notary-public.shtml

Information may be found for notaries public in Texas in:
GOVERNMENT CODE, TITLE 4. EXECUTIVE BRANCH, SUBTITLE A. EXECUTIVE OFFICERS,
CHAPTER 406. NOTARY PUBLIC;  COMMISSIONER OF DEEDS, SUB-CHAPTER A.,  NOTARY PUBLIC

How To Become A Notary Public in Texas:

Before you can become a notary public in Texas, you must:
meet the eligibility requirements, take a state certified notary training course
file an oath and bond and purchase a notary seal and journal.

Each person appointed and commissioned as a notary public shall be at least 18 years of age and a resident of the State of Texas and must not have been convicted of a felony or crime involving moral turpitude.

 Each person to be appointed a notary public shall submit an application to the secretary of state on a form prescribed by the secretary of state.  The application must satisfy the secretary of state that the applicant is qualified.  The application must state:
(1)  the applicant's name to be used in acting as a notary public;
(2)  the applicant's post office address;
(3)  the applicant's county of residence;
(4)  the applicant's date of birth;
(5)  the applicant's driver's license number or the number of other official state-issued identification;  and
(6)  the applicant's social security number.
(b)  The applicant shall also execute the statement of officers as required by Section 1, Article XVI, Texas Constitution.

An individual qualifies by:
(1)  properly completing the application form;
(2)  executing the statement;
(3)  providing the bond, if required;
(4)  paying the required filing fees;  and
(5)  meeting the eligibility requirements.

The applicant must submit to the secretary of state:
(1)  a fee of $10 for approving and filing the bond of the notary public, if required;  and
(2)  a fee of $1 to be appropriated to and used by the secretary of state only for hiring an investigator and for preparing and distributing the materials required to be distributed under Section 406.008.
(b)  The secretary of state shall charge for use of the state a fee of $10 for a notary public commission.  The applicant must pay the fee in advance to the secretary of state.

Immediately after the qualification of a notary public, the secretary of state shall send notice of appointment along with a commission to the notary public.  The commission is effective as of the date of qualification.
(b)  When the commission is issued, the secretary of state shall supply the notary public with:
(1)  materials outlining the powers and duties of the office;
(2)  a list of prohibited acts;  and
(3)  sample forms for an acknowledgment, jurat, and verification and for the administering of an oath, protest, and deposition.

Commission:
Term of Office: The term of office for a notary public is four years starting with the commencement date stated in the commission issued by the Texas Secretary of State.  This is true whether an appointment is for the first time or whether the person has been issued a previous commission. The critical starting date is the commencement date stated in the commission, rather than the date the commission was issued or mailed by the Texas Secretary of State or the date the commission was received by the person in the mail. However, a person cannot serve as a notary public until:
(a)  Each person to be appointed a notary public shall, before entering the official duties of office, execute a bond in the amount of $10,000 with a solvent surety company authorized to do business in this state as a surety.  The bond must be approved by the secretary of state, payable to the governor, and conditioned on the faithful performance of the duties of office.  The secretary of state has the authority to accept an electronic filing of the notary public bond if an agreement has been made with the surety company.
(b)  The notary bond shall be deposited in the office of the secretary of state, is not void on first recovery, and may be sued on in the name of the injured party from time to time until the whole amount of the bond is recovered.
(c)  A notary public, before entering on the duties of office, shall take the official oath required by Section 1, Article XVI, Texas Constitution.
(d)  The oath shall be signed and sworn to or affirmed by the notary public in the presence of a notary public or other person authorized to administer oaths in this state.  A notary public cannot execute his or her own oath of office.
(e)  The secretary of state shall provide an oath of office form along with the commission and educational materials.
(f)  Subsections (a) and (b) do not apply to a person whose services as a notary public are performed primarily as a state officer or employee.

Re-Appointment:
Not earlier than 90 days prior to the expiration date of the notary's term, a notary public may apply for reappointment on submission of a new application to the secretary of state.
(b)  A notary public who is not reappointed on or before the expiration date of the term the notary public is serving will be appointed for a new term expiring four years from the date of qualification.

Rejection of Appointment, suspension or revocation of commission:
The secretary of state may, for good cause, reject an application or suspend or revoke the commission of a notary public.
(b)  An action by the secretary of state under this section is subject to the rights of notice, hearing, adjudication, and appeal.
(c)  An appeal under this section is to the district court of Travis County.  The secretary of state has the burden of proof, and the trial is conducted de novo.
(d)  In this section, "good cause" includes:
(1)  a final conviction for a crime involving moral turpitude;
(2)  a false statement knowingly made in an application;
(3)  the failure to comply with Section 406.017;
(4)  a final conviction for a violation of a law concerning the regulation of the conduct of notaries public in this or another state; 
(5)  the imposition on the notary public of an administrative, criminal, or civil penalty for a violation of a law or rule prescribing the duties of a notary public;  or
(6)  performing any notarization when the person for whom the notarization is performed did not personally appear before the notary at the time the notarization is executed.
(e)  The following may not be considered a conviction for the purposes of determining eligibility and good cause:
(1)  a dismissal of a proceeding against the defendant and discharge of the defendant before an adjudication of guilt; and
(2)  a finding of guilt that has been set aside.


Geographic Jurisdiction:
 A notary public’s jurisdiction is not limited to the county in which the notary public’s oath and bond are filed, but a Texas notary public cannot perform notarial acts outside of the borders of Texas.

Notarial Acts Performed
There are five notarial acts performed by notaries public in the state of Texas.
1. Take acknowledgements or proofs of written instruments;
2. Protest instruments permitted by law to be protested
3. Administer Oaths
4. Take depositions
5. Certify copies of documents not recordable in the public records

Notary Fees:
 A notary public or its employer may charge the following fees:
(1)  for protesting a bill or note for nonacceptance or nonpayment, register and seal, a fee of $4;
(2)  for each notice of protest, a fee of $1;
(3)  for protesting in all other cases, a fee of $4;
(4)  for certificate and seal to a protest, a fee of $4;
(5)  for taking the acknowledgment or proof of a deed or other instrument in writing, for registration, including certificate and seal, a fee of $6 for the first signature and $1 for each additional signature;
(6)  for administering an oath or affirmation with certificate and seal, a fee of $6;
(7)  for a certificate under seal not otherwise provided for, a fee of $6;
(8)  for a copy of a record or paper in the notary public's office, a fee of 50 cents for each page;
(9)  for taking the deposition of a witness, 50 cents for each 100 words;
(10)  for swearing a witness to a deposition, certificate, seal, and other business connected with taking the deposition, a fee of $6;  and
(11)  for a notarial act not provided for, a fee of $6.
(b)  A notary public may charge a fee only for an acknowledgment or official act under Subsection (a).  The fee charged may not exceed the fee authorized by Subsection (a).

Required Fees: If a notary public is appointed to act for and on behalf of a state or county public agency as an employee of the agency, fees must be charged for all services and those fees must be remitted or turned over to the employing agency.

When Fees Cannot Be Charged: There are very specific times when a notary public is prohibited from charging a fee: ␣␣Notaries public appointed to military or naval reservations cannot charge a fee for any
notarial service or act.
A notary public cannot charge for notarization of an affidavit, application, or voucher in
relation to securing a pension.
A notary public cannot charge for notarization of a signature on an application by a United States military veteran for a claim for a pension, allotment, allowance, compensation, insurance or any other veteran’s benefit.
A notary public cannot charge to notarize signatures on vote by mail ballot identification envelopes or other voting materials.
A notary public cannot charge for notarizing any nomination document or circulator’s affidavit.

 
The Notary Public Journal:
A notary public other than a court clerk notarizing instruments for the court shall keep in a book a record of:
(1)  the date of each instrument notarized;
(2)  the date of the notarization;
(3)  the name of the signer, grantor, or maker;
(4)  the signer's, grantor's, or maker's residence or alleged residence;
(5)  whether the signer, grantor, or maker is personally known by the notary public, was identified by an identification card issued by a governmental agency or a passport issued by the United States, or was introduced to the notary public and, if introduced, the name and residence or alleged residence of the individual introducing the signer, grantor, or maker;
(6)  if the instrument is proved by a witness, the residence of the witness, whether the witness is personally known by the notary public or was introduced to the notary public and, if introduced, the name and residence of the individual introducing the witness;
(7)  the name and residence of the grantee;
(8)  if land is conveyed or charged by the instrument, the name of the original grantee and the county where the land is located;  and
(9)  a brief description of the instrument.
(b)  Entries in the notary's book are public information.
(c)  A notary public shall, on payment of all fees, provide a certified copy of any record in the notary public's office to any person requesting the copy.
(d)  A notary public who administers an oath pursuant to Article 45.019, Code of Criminal Procedure, is exempt from the requirement in Subsection (a) of recording that oath.
(e)  A notary public may maintain the records required by Subsection (a) electronically in a computer or other storage device.

Additionally,  All records concerning the appointment and qualification of the notary public shall be kept in the office of the secretary of state.  The records are public information.

The Notary Public Seal:

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.
(b)  The seal may be a circular form not more than two inches in diameter or a rectangular form not more than one inch in width and 2-1/2 inches in length.  The seal must have a serrated or milled edge border.
(c)  The seal must be affixed by a seal press or stamp that embosses or prints a seal that legibly reproduces the required elements of the seal under photographic methods.  An indelible ink pad must be used for affixing by a stamp the impression of a seal on an instrument to authenticate the notary public's official act.
(d)  Subsection (c) does not apply to an electronically transmitted authenticated document, except that an electronically transmitted authenticated document must legibly reproduce the required elements of the seal.

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