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Notary Blog

Help! My best friend asked to borrow my notary seal. What should I do?

Hey, friend! I’m in a pickle. Can I borrow your notary stamp this one time?

We understand it’s difficult to say no, but say no you must. Not only are you responsible for keeping your notary supplies under lock and key as prescribed in the Florida Statues, allowing your friend to have possession of your notary seal puts them at risk of a second-degree misdemeanor.

When you become a Florida notary, you take an oath you must uphold to guard the office of notary public at all times. If we think about the types of powerful transactions that we are responsible for as a notary (weddings, mortgages, title loans, power of attorney) we can see the potential ramifications of something going wrong. It is vital we take this responsibility seriously and guard our notary supplies to the best of our ability.

In the situation above, you must tell your friend,

“So sorry, friend. I have to be a notary first and your bestie second.” 

If you would like to further discuss your responsibility of guarding your notary supplies, please call us, Notary Public Underwriters, your Florida notary bonding agency. We are always happy to help you navigate the Florida notary world. You can reach our Florida notary service department at (800) 821-0821.

Indiana Notary Public Law Changes

Proactive changes to Indiana’s notary statutes will take effect July 1, 2018. These changes affect many aspects of the notary public law, including commission qualifications, notarial seal requirements and notary fees.

All notaries commissioned under existing law will be grandfathered in for the duration of their current commission. Existing commissions will not be revoked and notaries will not be required to make adjustments until their existing commission expires. The commission length for notaries in Indiana remains eight years.

Commissioning Process

Applicants will experience the following changes, effective July 1, 2018.

  • Residency Requirement
    Current law states that the applicant must be a resident of Indiana to hold a notary public commission. To accommodate those who live in a neighboring state, but who work in Indiana, the new law will require an applicant to either be a resident of Indiana or be primarily employed in Indiana.
  • Notary Public Bond
    Indiana Notaries are currently required to have an official bond the amount of $5,000. The new law will require each notary to have an “assurance” (such as a surety bond) and increases the bond amount to $25,000.Each applicant will be required to submit a copy of his or her assurance as a qualification for obtaining a commission. Remember, the notary bond is designed to protect the public against financial loss resulting from a notary’s misconduct. For personal protection, a notary must purchase Errors and Omissions insurance.
  • Notary Education
    Currently, an applicant is required to take a short test prior to receiving a notary commission. To help ensure all notaries understand their role and the changes to the law, effective July 1, 2018 all applicants will be required to take an educational course and successfully pass an exam, both administered by the Secretary of State. Each commissioned notary will be required to take a continuing education course every 2 years in an effort to help them better understand their duties and reduce errors.
  • Official Signature 
    Under the new law, each applicant will be required to provide an electronic sample of his or her signature that the Secretary of State will retain on file. 

Official Notarial Seal

Along with the additional elements required for the notarial seal, the new law establishes procedures for securing and disposing of a notarial seal. The official seal must include the following elements:

  • The words “notary public”
  • The words “state of Indiana”
  • The word “seal”
  • The name of the notary public exactly as it appears on the notary public’s commission certificate
  • The words “commission number” followed by the commission number of the notary public
  • The words “my commission expires” followed by the expiration date of the notary public’s commission

Notary Fees

Currently, notaries are allowed to charge $2 per notarization.  Effective July 1, notaries may charge up to $10 per notarial act, plus a reasonable travel fee that does not exceed the federal travel fees established by the United States General Services Administration. If a notary charges a fee for a notarial act, the notary shall display, in advance, a list of the fees that the notary will charge.

To review the bill in its entirety, please click here.

Trotec Recognizes Notary Public Underwriters

Recently, Notary Public Underwriters was recognized as one of Trotec Laser's innovative and tech-savvy customers that uses a Trotec laser engraver.

Our president, Chris Chee, provided his perspective on how Trotec lasers have been able to provide fast and friendly service. "We recognize that speed, accuracy and quality are what markets demand today and we take pride in providing our customers with the best experience possible," Chee says.

Chee adds "During the past 2 years, we have exponentially improved the productivity and efficiency of our production team, therefore allowing us to manufacture in larger volumes. The introduction of these lasers has widened our company’s scope for manufacturing, by allowing us to diversify our core product offerings. We feel these factors ultimately lead to better customer satisfaction."

To review the article and a behind the scenes video of stamp manufacturing, please click here.

Florida Notaries- When to Refuse a Notarization

As a public officer, a notary must be prepared and willing to carry out his or her duties for a client who requests a notarial act that is both lawful and authorized. By acting as an impartial witness to the execution of documents, notaries help to deter fraud and promote the integrity of document transactions. There exist however, certain conditions and situations when a Florida notary is bound by law to refuse notary services.

Signer Issues
There are multiple signer-related issues that may compel a notary to refuse to perform a notarial act. For example, if a document signer does not physically appear before the notary, or cannot be identified by the notary through personal knowledge, satisfactory evidence of identification or a credible witness, then the notary must refuse to provide service. Florida statute also states that a notary may not take the acknowledgment of a signer who does not speak or understand the English language, unless the nature and effect of the document to be notarized is translated into a language the person does understand. Nor should the notary officiate if the notary and signer cannot communicate in a shared language. Other circumstances under which the notary should refuse to notarize include:

  • The signer refuses to sign the document when the notarial act requires it to be signed in the notary’s presence (oath, affirmation).
  • The signer asks the notary to perform an unauthorized act such as certifying a copy of a vital record.
  • The signer appears to be confused, or clearly does not understand the contents of the document.
  • The signer appears to be mentally incapacitated.
  • The signer appears to be intoxicated, sedated, or disoriented.
  • It is apparent that the signer is being coerced, or there is someone else present who appears to have control over the signer.

Prohibition Against Conflicts of Interest
Florida notary laws also provide certain prohibitions when the notarization presents a conflict of interest for the notary. For instance, a notary public may not notarize a signature on a document if the notary public has a financial interest in or is a party to the underlying transaction. A notary may not notarize if he or she is a signer of the document. A notary must also refuse service if the signer is the notary’s spouse, parent, or child. Remaining an unbiased, disinterested party is one of a notary’s primary responsibilities, in order to promote the integrity of document transactions.

Document Issues
If a document does not meet the requirements of notarization, then the notary cannot proceed. Common situations that make a document ineligible for notarization include:

  • The document appears to be missing pages, or the notary did not receive all the pages.
  • The document does not contain a notarial certificate, and the signer is unable to instruct the notary which type of notarial certificate is required.
  • There are blank spaces in the document that appear to be critical to the signer’s understanding of the document, and the signer does not know what information belongs in these spaces.

Every notary must have a thorough understanding of his or her state’s notary laws in order to exercise the best judgement possible when servicing clients, and when making decisions about whether to refuse notarization.

Authentication of A Florida Notary’s Authority

Documents Leaving the State or Country
As a notary, you may be asked to notarize a document that is bound to another state or country. In some cases, it may be necessary to have your notarial act authenticated which will require an apostille or a certificate of notarial authority. Both, apostilles and certificates of notarial authority, verify the seal and signature of a notary on a document, and that the notary was duly commissioned on the date of the notarial act.

Although it is not the notary’s responsibility to obtain apostilles or certificates of authority, being familiar with your state’s processes will be valuable to your clients. For the official acts of Florida Notaries, the Secretary of State has the sole authority to issue notarial and apostille certifications.

Apostille
The authentication process for documents leaving the country was not streamlined until 1961 when a number of countries, including the U.S., entered into a treaty called the “Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents.” This treaty greatly simplified the authentication process for the countries that signed it by establishing a standardized certificate of authentication called an “apostille.” Your commissioning authority uses the apostille form for authenticating a notary’s authority only when the related document is headed a country that has signed the Hague Apostille Convention.

Certificate of Notarial Authority
Documents bound for jurisdictions within the United States, or for countries that have not signed the Hague Apostille Convention, will not receive an apostille but will receive a “certificate of notarial authority.” These documents may also require additional authentications by various entities including the United States Department of State. Like an apostille, this certificate of notarial authority authenticates a notary’s signature, seal and authority to act as a notary on the date that the notarial act was performed.

It is important to understand that apostilles or certificates of authority do not authenticate the contents of a document, nor do they affect the document’s purpose in any way. Apostilles and certificates of authority pertain strictly to the notary’s authority to perform notarial acts and the authenticity of the notary’s signature and seal.

How to File For Notary Authentications (Florida)

  • Gather notarized document(s) that you wish to have authenticated or certified.
  • Enclose a cover letter stating the name of the state or country in which the documents will be used. The country name is needed in order to authenticate the document correctly, whether by certificate of notarial authority or apostille.
  • Enclose the required payment in the form of check or money order. The certification of standard notarized documents costs $10 per document.
  • Insert a self-addressed, stamped envelope for the return of the documents.
  • Mail notarized documents, the cover letter, payment and self-addressed stamped envelope to the Secretary of State at the Division of Corporations:
Department of State
Division of Corporations
Apostille Certification
P.O. Box 6800
Tallahassee, FL 32314-6800