Before starting a notarization…
As a notary, you can notarize a signature on a document if the following conditions are met:
- The person whose signature is being notarized is in the presence of the notary public at the time the signature is notarized.
- The document is complete.
- The person signing the document is mentally competent and understands what he/she is signing.
- The notary is in the State of Florida.
- The notary is not a party to the transaction – or mother, father, son, daughter, or spouse to the signer.
Before finishing a notarization...
- The notary public must specify in the certificate of acknowledgment what type of identification was relied upon, and whether or not an oath was taken.
- Valid identification must be obtained from each person whose signature is to be notarized. Proper identification is necessary since legal consequences of an error are severe. The following examples are good forms of identification:
- Personal acquaintance of the notary
- Driver’s license
- Photo identification card issued (within the past five years) by a state or branch of the federal government
- A notary public must specify in the certificate, when two or more signatures are to be notarized, which signature is being notarized. It will be presumed that absent these specifics, notarization by the notary public is for all signatures on the document.
- When notarizing a document, it is important that the state, county, and date be completed before the acknowledgment and seal are affixed.
Dos & Don'ts
A Florida Notary Public CAN…
- Perform a marriage ceremony in the State of Florida for all individuals (including any family members) with a valid Florida marriage license.
- Charge up to $10 per notarial signature on a document and charge up to $30 for performing a marriage ceremony.
- Act as a notary anywhere in the State of Florida.
- Notarize foreign documents as long as the notary is confident that the signer can read and understand the document being signed.
- Notarize documents from another state or country. Documents leaving the state or country typically require an Apostille or Certificate of Notarial Authority (authentication).
- Supervise the making of a photocopy from an original document and attest to the trueness of that copy, provided the document is not a vital or public record (such as birth certificates & marriage licenses). If the document is a Florida vital record, a certified copy can be requested from Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics. Please see their website for more information.
- Be both witness and notary for the same document.
- Affix the optional embossed seal (for decorative purposes only) in conjunction with the required Florida rubber stamp seal. The rubber stamp seal must be affixed in photographically reproducible black ink, however, to be legal by state law.
A Florida Notary Public CAN NOT…
- Notarize a document unless the signer personally appears before the notary public at the time of the notarization.
- Notarize a document outside the State of Florida
- Notarize a signature on a document requiring two signatures unless the notary stipulates which signature is being notarized by indicating such in the acknowledgement.
- Notarize a document that has blank spaces therein.
- Post date or antedate any acknowledgement on a document.
- Notarize a document if the signer is the mother, father, son, daughter, or spouse of the notary public.
- Notarize a document if the notary public has a financial interest in or is a party to the underlying document.
- Notarize his or her own signature.
- Transfer a Florida notary commission to another state (since notary laws differ from state to state, commissions are not transferable.)
Additional information on the proper procedures to be followed by a notary public in the State of Florida can be obtained as follows, free of charge:
- Laws Related to Florida Notaries Public
- Governor’s Reference Manual for Notaries
- Performing Marriage Ceremonies
- Your Rights as a Notary
For any questions concerning these manuals or detailed legal questions, please telephone the Governor’s Notary Section at (850) 245-6975.
New Florida Notary Applicants are required to complete a 3-hour online course. We provide free access to this course upon completion of the required NOTARY APPLICATION.
ACKNOWLEDGMENT – The declaration of a person described and who has executed a written instrument that he executed same.
ADDENDUM – A separate written addition to a contract or agreement.
AFFIANT – A person who makes and subscribes his signature to an affidavit.
AFFIDAVIT – A signed statement, duly sworn to by the the affiant, attesting to the truth, to the best of his knowledge, of the facts in a document.
ATTEST – To certify as true.
ATTORNEY-IN-FACT – A person legally authorized to execute specific types of instruments for another person, corporation, etc.
DEPOSITION – The written testimony of a witness taken out of court under oath before a notary or other person authorized to take it.
EXECUTOR – A person names in a will to carry out the provisions of the will.
FELONY – A crime punishable by death or imprisonment in state prison.
FRAUD – A cheat; an act of trickery to delude a person into a false sense of well-being, enabling another person to gain dishonestly.
JURAT – “Sworn to before me this _______ day of ______, 20__.”
LIEN – A lien is placed on property to establish prior rights and indicates a debt.
MISDEMEANOR – Any crime other than a felony.
PERJURY – A false swearing under oath.
After the ceremony, your responsibilities are:
- Be certain that two witnesses sign the marriage license. One of the witnesses can be you.
- Sign and seal the license and return it to the Office of the County Judge or Clerk of Circuit Court (which issues the license) within 10 days after solemnizing the marriage.
- Return the license by mail to the Marriage License Bureau as indicated above.
Couple must have valid license.
(Man should stand on woman’s right, and the notary public asks the man as follows:)
“___________________ , do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife, to live together in the Holy Estate of Matrimony; to love, honor, comfort her and keep her in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, keep you only unto her as long as you both shall live?”
(Man answers “I do.”)
(The notary public asks; the woman as follows:)
“____________________ do you take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband, to live together in the Holy Estate of Matrimony; to love, honor, comfort him and keep him in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, keep you only unto him as long as you both shall live?”
(The woman answers “I do.”)
Frequently Asked Questions
- At least 18 years old
- Florida resident
- 3 Hour Online Education Course (required for new notaries only)
- If not a U.S. citizen, you must submit a recorded Declaration of Domicile.
- If you have a felony conviction or one which adjudication was withheld, additional documentation is required.
- Complete the online notary application provided on our web site
- Print and sign the application/bond forms. A friend needs to complete Affidavit of Character section.
- Mail forms to our office (State requires original signatures)
- New notaries only: Complete online education course, print and sign certificate of completion, mail it in with your application to our office.
Follow the same steps outlined above for “becoming a notary public.” No education course is required for renewal notary commissions. However, the education course is required if notary commission expiration date is over 10 years old.
New and renewal commissions are both 4-year terms.
New and renewal notary commission are processed within 10 business days or less.
A $7,500 notary bond is required to be a Florida notary. Should a notary be negligent in his/her duties, the injured party can collect up to $7,500 in compensation from the surety company providing the bond. The surety company would then seek compensation from the notary for damages. Errors & Omissions Insurance would pay for these damages up to the insurance policy limit that is purchased by the notary.
Yes, you can be sued for negligence as a notary. Errors and omissions insurance would pay your claim (up to the limit of the policy) because of any negligent act you commit while notarizing a document. E&O insurance can be purchased in addition to our notary package.
The State requires original signatures on the application form, but will accept faxed copies for the education course certificate.
You should report a lost or stolen stamp to the Department of State in writing.
You need to send a name change form and payment of $52 to our office within 60 days of your name change. We will update your records with the State and provide you with a new stamp and commission certificate. You may continue to notarize documents in your old name until your updated stamp is received.
You can notarize a document for anyone EXCEPT your mother, father, son, daughter, spouse or yourself. Also, you may not notarize any documents for which you may have a financial interest or are a party to the underlying document.
Yes, you can perform a wedding for anyone (including family members) who has a valid Florida marriage license. You may charge up to $30 for the ceremony, plus an additional fee for travel expenses.
Up to $10 per signature.
Yes, provided you obtain adequate identification.
No. A Florida notary public must resign his/her commission should he/she move to another state.
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