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Florida Notary Laws: Your Rights as a Notary

As a public officer, a Florida notary must be prepared and willing to carry out their duties for a client who needs a notarial act that is both lawful and authorized. It’s a notary’s job to serve as an impartial witness to the execution of documents, discover and deter fraud, and ensure the integrity of document transactions.

However, there are circumstances and conditions when a Florida notary must refuse notary services. Therefore, it is imperative to understand relevant Florida notary laws—and when you’ll be required to refuse services as you become a notary in Florida.

Close up of signing a mortgage contract in the office.

Signer Issues

As a Florida notary, there are instances where signer-related issues mean you will be legally required to refuse notarization services. For example, a notary must refuse to offer their services if the signer doesn’t make a physical appearance before the notary or is unrecognizable based on: 

  • The notary’s own personal knowledge 
  • The signer’s driver’s license 
  • A credible witness 

Additionally, Florida notary laws state that a notary cannot accept the acknowledgment of a signer who does not understand and speak the English language. The only exception is if the nature and wording of the document to be notarized are translated into a language the person comprehends. 

Furthermore, the notary should only officiate if the notary and signer can communicate with each other in a shared language.

Two business men refusing

Other Situations When You Must Refuse Notarization

Identification and language issues are not the only barriers to lawful notarization. Several other important restrictions are:

  • If the signer refuses to sign the document when the notarial act requires it to be signed in the notary’s presence (oath, affirmation).
  • If the signer asks the notary to perform any unlawful act such as certifying a copy of a vital document.
  • If the signer is confused about something or clearly doesn’t understand the contents of the document they are signing.
  • If the signer seems to be mentally incapacitated.
  • If the signer appears to be drunk, sedated, or disoriented.
  • If it’s clear the signer is being coerced, and there is someone present who seems like they have control over the situation and the signer.
A manager giving an employee direction while pointing at a piece of paper

Conflicts of Interest

Florida notary laws also state specific prohibitions when a notarization presents a conflict of interest for the notary itself. For instance, a public notary cannot notarize a document if the public notary has a financial interest or is part of the underlying transaction. 

Additionally, a notary may not notarize a document if they are the one who is the signer of the document. A notary must also refuse service if the signer is the notary’s spouse, parent, or child. Remaining an unbiased and disinterested party should always be the main priority for a Florida notary to maintain the complete integrity of the documents they are notarizing.

A man and woman looking over a document they are going to sign

Document Issues

If the document to be signed does not meet notarization requirements, then the notary cannot proceed. Certain situations that make a document ineligible for notarization include:

  • If the document is missing pages, or if the notary didn’t receive all the pages.
  • If the document doesn’t contain a notarial certificate and the signer cannot explain what type of notarial certification is required.
  • If there are blank spaces in the document that would be necessary for the signer’s understanding of the document and the signer is unaware of the information that belongs in the blank spaces.

Every Florida notary should have a thorough comprehension of Florida notary laws and notarization procedures to guarantee the best judgment possible when they are serving their clientsand when having to decide the right time to refuse notarization. \

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Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between a notary and a notary public?

A Notary Public is a state-commissioned official who can administer oaths, verify signatures, attest to photocopies, solemnize marriages, verify VINs, and certify safe deposit box contents. Notaries ensure legal documents are authentic and the process is standardized to prevent fraud and establish a trustworthy legal framework.

What name do I use when performing my duties as a Florida notary?

As a Florida notary, you must use your legal name when performing your duties. Florida notary laws prohibit obtaining or using a notary public commission under any name other than your legal one.

What if I have questions about becoming a notary in Florida?

You can reach out for help at any time or, for fast answers to common questions, check out our FAQ page on becoming a Florida notary.