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Statutory Documents

Frequently Asked Questions for Notaries Public

The answers to our Frequently Asked Questions are provided for informational purposes and are not intended to provide legal advice or to substitute for the advice of an attorney. If you have specific legal questions, consult your attorney.

Texas notaries public are governed by Chapter 406 of the Government Code, Chapter 121 of the Civil Practice and Remedies Code and the secretary of state’s administrative rules found in 1 Texas Administrative Code Chapter 87, as well as any other applicable state or federal law.

FAQs for Notaries Public

  1. Who is eligible to become a notary public?
  2. How do I become a notary public?
  3. How do I renew my notary public commission?
  4. May I change my name from the name shown on my Notary Public Commission?
  5. Do I need to keep a record book? What information should be included?
  6. Can I get a copy of a notary’s record book?
  7. I am changing jobs and my current employer will not let me take my notary book, seal or commission with me. What should I do?
  8. Is a notary public seal required?
  9. How long should I keep my record book?
  10. What do I do with my stamp/seal when my commission expires or I am no longer a notary public?
  11. May I notarize my spouse's signature? May I notarize for my spouse's business? May I notarize for my relatives?
  12. Can a notary notarize a document in which his or her employer has an interest?
  13. Is a government employee required to notarize documents for the general public?
  14. May I make a certified copy of a birth certificate or a marriage license?
  15. May I take an acknowledgement over the telephone?
  16. May I perform notarial acts in all counties in Texas?
  17. May a notary public determine which type of notarial certificate should be attached to a document?
  18. May I advertise in a language other than English?
  19. How much does it cost to get a document notarized?
  20. Does the employer or the notary determine the fee charged for notary services performed during the employer's office hours?
  21. How do I obtain an apostille/certificate on my school transcript or diploma?
  22. How do I obtain an official certificate or apostille on a notarization?
  23. What do I do if I lose my seal or notary book?
  24. Are there restrictions on the way an instrument is signed?
  25. What are the requirements for performing an electronic notarization?
  26. Can I complete a Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, on behalf of an employer?
  27. Can a private employer restrict the notarial activities of an employee during work hours?
  28. Does a Texas notary public have jurisdiction on a U.S. military base or Indian reservation?

FAQs relating to Notary Public Complaints

  1. How do I file a complaint on a Notary Public?
  2. Who may file a complaint against a notary public?
  3. What type of action may the secretary of state take?
  4. What constitutes good cause for the secretary of state to take disciplinary action against a notary public?
  5. Does the secretary of state investigate complaints regarding the mortgage foreclosure procedures followed by a particular notary or company?
  6. What if I have further questions about filing a complaint against a notary public?

FAQs for Notaries Public

  1. Who is eligible to become a notary public?

    To be commissioned as a notary public in Texas, you must be a Texas resident at least 18 years of age who has not received a final conviction for a crime involving moral turpitude or a felony.

  2. How do I become a notary public?

    If you meet the eligibility requirements, submit the following to the secretary of state:

    1. Completed Form 2301 (available from the secretary of state, county clerk, or your insurance agency or surety company);
    2. Proof of a $10,000 surety bond; and
    3. Filing fee of $21.

    Once you are commissioned, you may purchase your required notary seal and record book from any office supply company.

  3. How do I renew my notary public commission?

    To renew your commission, submit the following to the secretary of state no earlier than 90 days before the expiration of your commission:

    1. Completed Form 2301 (available from the secretary of state, county clerk, or your insurance agency or surety company);
    2. Proof of a $10,000 surety bond; and
    3. Filing fee of $21.

  4. May I change my name from the name shown on my Notary Public Commission?

    Yes. A notary public may change the name on his or her commission by sending the secretary of state a name change application (Form 2305), his or her certificate of commission, a rider or endorsement from the insurance agency or surety showing the name change, and a $20 filing fee.

  5. Do I need to keep a record book? What information should be included?

    Yes. A Texas notary public is required to maintain a record book. This record book must be maintained whether or not any fees are charged for your notary public service. The following information must be included in the record book:

    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 United States federal or state 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.

    Tex. Gov’t Code §406.014

    The person for whom a notarization is performed is not required to sign the record book.

    A notary should not record any identification number that was assigned by a governmental agency or by the United States to the signer, grantor or maker on an identification card, driver’s license, social security card or passport; or any other number that could be used to identify the signer, grantor or maker of the document. 1 Tex. Admin. Code §87.40. However, a notary is not prohibited from recording a number related to the residence or alleged residence of the signer, grantor or maker of the document or the instrument.

  6. Can I get a copy of a notary’s record book?

    Yes. The entries in a notary’s record book are public information and a notary is required to provide a certified copy of the record book to any person who requests, and pays the fees for, the copies. Tex. Gov’t Code §406.014(b), (c). Although not required, the secretary of state suggests that you make all requests in writing, by sending a certified letter to the notary’s official address on file with this Office. Making your request in this manner provides evidence of the request. Should a notary fail to respond or provide copies, you may file a complaint with this Office and include the evidence of the request as supporting documentation.

  7. I am changing jobs and my current employer will not let me take my notary book, seal or commission with me. What should I do?

    The employer is not the owner of a notary’s record book or seal, even if the employer paid for the materials.  Tex. Atty. Gen. Op. GA-0723.  A Texas notary public is required by law to maintain a record book containing information on every notarization performed and is required to authenticate every official act with the seal of office. The record book is public information and a notary is required to produce copies of the book upon request. Therefore, the book and seal should remain in the possession of the notary at all times.

    Similarly the secretary of state issues a commission to the individual notary public for a four-year term, without regard to who paid the application or bond fees.  As a result, an employer may not retain the commission of an employee. 

    If your employer retains your seal, record book or commission when you leave your job, you should provide your employer a copy of Texas Attorney General Opinion GA-0723.  If after receiving a copy of the opinion, your employer still will not let you take your notary book or seal with you, you should make a copy of the pages of the record book so that you can produce them upon request.  You should also obtain a new seal and start a new record book for future notarizations.  If your employer will not release your commission, you may contact the secretary of state’s office for a duplicate copy of the commission.

  8. Is a notary public seal required?

    Yes. 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.

  9. How long should I keep my record book?

    A notary is required to keep, in a safe and secure manner, copies of the records of notarizations performed for the longer of: 1) the term of the commission in which the notarization occurred; or 2) three years following the date of notarization. 1 Tex. Admin. Code §87.44. The best practice, however, would be for the notary to permanently maintain copies of the records.

  10. What do I do with my stamp/seal when my commission expires or I am no longer a notary public

    When the commission of a notary public expires, or the individual otherwise ceases to be a notary public, the notary seal should be destroyed to prevent possible misuse by another individual.

  11. May I notarize my spouse's signature? May I notarize for my spouse's business? May I notarize for my relatives?

    There is no specific prohibition against notarizing a spouse's or relative’s signature or notarizing for a spouse's business. However, notarizations should not be performed by a notary public who is a party to the instrument or financially or beneficially interested in the transaction. The facts in each situation will determine whether the notary’s action was proper.

  12. Can a notary notarize a document in which his or her employer has an interest?

    Yes. In fact, there are statutes that specifically permit such notarizations. For example, §121.002 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code authorizes an employee of a corporation to take an acknowledgment of a written instrument in which the corporation has an interest. In addition, §199.002 of the Texas Finance Code specifies that a notary public is not disqualified from performing a notarization of a document, solely because of the notary public's ownership of stock or participation in or employment by a state trust company that has an interest in the underlying transaction.

  13. Is a government employee required to notarize documents for the general public?

    No. The Texas Attorney General’s office issued a letter opinion in 1988 indicating that a notary public who is employed by a governmental body may refuse to take acknowledgements for the general public and must refuse when doing so would interfere with the employee’s discharge of his or her duties as a public employee. Tex. Atty. Gen. Op. LO-88-34.

  14. May I make a certified copy of a birth certificate or a marriage license?

    No. Birth certificates and marriage licenses are publically recordable documents. Recordable documents are recorded with some specific governmental entity, such as the secretary of state's office, a court of law, a county clerk, or the Bureau of Vital Statistics. A certified copy of a recordable document may be obtained by contacting the recording entity. A notary cannot make certified copies of recordable documents.

    A notary may, however, make a certified copy of a non-recordable document. A non-recordable document is one that cannot be recorded with any type of governmental entity. For instance, a letter is not recorded with anyone, but there are times the sender of the letter would like to maintain a certified copy of that letter for his or her file.

  15. May I take an acknowledgement over the telephone?

    No. The person for whom a notarization is performed must personally appear before the notary public at the time the notarization is performed.

  16. May I perform notarial acts in all counties in Texas?

    Yes. A notary public has statewide jurisdiction and may perform notarial acts in any county in the state of Texas.

  17. May a notary public determine which type of notarial certificate should be attached to a document?

    No. A notary public who is not an attorney should only complete a notarial certificate which is already on the document, or type or attach a certificate of the maker's choosing. If a notary public were presented with a document that did not contain a certificate and decided which certificate to attach, that notary public would be "practicing law." Instead, the notary may allow the person for whom the notarization is performed to choose among the sample certificates provided to the notary with the notary’s commission.

  18. May I advertise in a language other than English?

    Yes, but you must include notice containing the following statement with the advertisement:

    "I AM NOT AN ATTORNEY LICENSED TO PRACTICE LAW IN TEXAS AND MAY NOT GIVE LEGAL ADVICE OR ACCEPT FEES FOR LEGAL ADVICE."

    In addition to containing the above statement, the notice must be conspicuous, be in both English and the language of the advertisement, and must include the fees that a notary public may charge.

    Use of the phrase "notario publico" is prohibited.

  19. How much does it cost to get a document notarized?

    Texas Government Code §406.024 specifies the maximum fees for an official act performed by a notary public. A lesser fee is allowed or no fee at all may be charged. Excessive fees are grounds for disciplinary action.

  20. Does the employer or the notary determine the fee charged for notary services performed during the employer's office hours?

    Texas Government Code §406.024 specifies that the notary public or the notary’s employer may charge the specified fees.

  21. How do I obtain an apostille/certificate on my school transcript or diploma?

    Follow one of these two options for school documents:

    1. Notarization of ORIGINAL school records would require you to return to the school to have the school official sign an affidavit in the presence of the notary public.
    2. For notarization of a PHOTOCOPY of the original school record, the owner of the original document must sign an affidavit on the photocopy, in the presence of the notary public. In either case, the notary must complete the appropriate notarial certificate acknowledging the date the signer appeared before him/her.

    A notary public can make a certified copy of a diploma but NOT other school documents.

    After obtaining the notarized documents, follow the instructions stated in the answer to Question #22 below.

  22. How do I obtain an official certificate or apostille on a notarization?

    You may obtain an official certificate or apostille on a document notarized by a Texas notary public from the Authentications Unit of the secretary of state. Detailed information pertaining to the procedure for requesting certificates or apostilles may be found on our web site.

    The Texas secretary of state cannot provide certification for notaries commissioned outside the state of Texas.

  23. What do I do if I lose my seal or notary book?

    Every commissioned notary public has a duty to safeguard his/her notary materials. However, if your notary seal or record book has been misplaced or lost, send a letter to this office detailing the circumstances in which the materials went missing, the last time you used it, and any other relevant information. If any of your notary materials have been stolen, you should file a report with your local law enforcement office and enclose a copy of that report with your letter to this office. Send the letter to the Notary Public Unit, P.O. Box 13375, Austin, Texas 78711-3375 or by email.

    Remember that you have a duty to record every notarial act in your record book. Therefore, if your notary record book is lost or stolen, you must get a new book before you resume providing notarial services. Similarly, you must get a new seal if your seal is lost or stolen, as notaries are required to affix their seals to all official acts they perform.

  24. Are there restrictions on the way an instrument is signed?

    A notary must sign the notarial certificate using the same name that is listed on the commission issued by the secretary of state. However, as long as the name matches, the signature of the notary may be printed, written, typed, stamped, etc.

    The individual signing the document may sign in whatever manner he/she chooses. The name or manner of signing used by the signor is not the responsibility of the notary public. However, the notary public does have a responsibility to make sure that the information contained in the notarial certificate is accurate. For example if John Doe appears before a notary public and signs the instrument with an “X” the notary public should still state in the notarial certificate that John Doe personally appeared on a given date.

  25. What are the requirements for performing an electronic notarization?

    Any Texas notary may perform an electronic notarization. An electronic notarization must meet all of the requirements of any other notarization, such as the requirement that the signer personally appear before the notary to acknowledge the document. In addition, the notary’s electronic seal must reproduce the required elements of the notary seal.

    In addition, the Texas Uniform Electronic Transaction Act (“TUETA”) applies to transactions that the parties agree to conduct electronically. TUETA includes a section providing for an electronic notarization:

    §322.011. NOTARIZATION AND ACKNOWLEDGMENT. If a law requires a signature or record to be notarized, acknowledged, verified, or made under oath, the requirement is satisfied if the electronic signature of the person authorized to perform those acts, together with all other information required to be included by other applicable law, is attached to or logically associated with the signature or record.

  26. Can I complete a Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, on behalf of an employer?

    No. Although the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) would allow a notary public to fill out Form I-9 on the behalf of an employer, Texas notaries public are not provided this authority under Texas law. Therefore, if an employer requests that you complete any portion of a Form I-9 in your capacity as a notary public, you should refuse.

  27. Can a private employer restrict the notarial activities of an employee during work hours?

    Yes.  The Texas Attorney General’s office has issued an opinion supporting the authority of a private employer to limit or prohibit the notarial activities of its employees during work hours. Tex. Atty. Gen. Op. GA-0723. 

  28. Does a Texas notary public have jurisdiction on a U.S. military base or Indian reservation?

    Maybe not. Texas notaries have statewide jurisdiction. Gov’t Code § 406.003. Accordingly, a Texas notary does not appear to be authorized to take an oath or acknowledgement, or perform any other notarial act, on a federal enclave or an Indian reservation. See Tex. Atty. Gen. Op. JC-0390 (2001) (finding that engineers practicing on a federal enclave are not required to be licensed in Texas). Some, but not all military bases are federal enclaves. To find out if a particular military base is a federal enclave, start your search by emailing us to find out if we have record of a deed of cession. If we do not have a deed of cession, it does not necessarily mean it does not exist. You should consult your private attorney to determine whether the property in question was ceded

FAQs relating to Notary Public Complaints

  1. How do I file a complaint against a notary public?

    To file a complaint against a Texas notary public, submit Form 2304 (Word, Acrobat - Fill in the blank) to the Notary Public Unit.  Form 2304 contains detailed instructions for how to complete and submit the complaint.  For more information on complaint procedures, please see 1 Tex. Admin. Code §87.23.

  2. Who may file a complaint against a notary public?

    A person who has been harmed by the actions of a notary public in performing a specific notarization may file a complaint with the secretary of state. The complaint will be reviewed to determine if the complaint states facts that, if proven, constitute grounds for the secretary of state to take disciplinary action.

  3. What type of action may the secretary of state take?

    In cases where good cause exists for the secretary of state to take disciplinary action against a notary public, the actions can range from an informal reprimand to revocation of the notary’s commission.

    The Office of the Secretary of State cannot determine the validity of the notarized document or obtain restitution for losses that may have been caused by a notary's action. If you need assistance determining the validity of the document or obtaining restitution, consult with your private attorney regarding how to proceed. If you need information regarding filing a claim against the notary’s bond, contact the notary’s surety company. The name of the surety company is available on the Notary Public Search service on the secretary of state’s website.

    In addition, the secretary of state does not have the power to prosecute a notary for criminal violations associated with the notary's official duties. If you think there is a basis for criminal action to be taken against a notary, you may file a complaint with the District or County Attorney of the County where the notarization was performed.

  4. What constitutes good cause for the secretary of state to take disciplinary action against a notary public?

    Good cause includes, but is not limited to, the acts identified in §406.009(d) of the Texas Government Code and in 1 Tex. Admin. Code §87.11.

  5. Does the secretary of state investigate complaints regarding the mortgage foreclosure procedures followed by a particular notary or company?

    It depends. In order for this Office to open a complaint, the complainant needs to have been personally harmed by the actions of a notary and needs to present factual evidence, within the complainant’s personal knowledge, that the notary engaged in conduct that violates the laws and rules governing the conduct of Texas notaries public. The Office will not open a complaint based on allegations of widespread misconduct by an entire company, or unsupported allegations regarding the geographic location of the notaries and signers.

  6. What if I have further questions about filing a complaint against a notary public?

    You may contact the Notary Complaint Specialist at the secretary of state by calling 512-463-5705 or by email.