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Prohibited Acts for Notaries

posted May 29, 2016, 3:05 PM by AG Pro Serve Intl.

Can Notaries notarize anything or in any way?

 The short answer is “No.”

Notaries, in FL, are public officials with limited powers, unless they are also attorneys. From Chapter 117, Florida Statutes specify prohibited acts for Notaries, what notaries cannot do. Examples are below:

  • The signer(s) of a document to be notarized, the signatures that are to be notarized, are not present; signer(s) MUST be present at the time of notarization. §117.107(9).
  • A document that has blank spaces cannot be notarized; the document is incomplete. §117.107(10).
  • Sign blank notarial certificates such as affidavits or acknowledgments. §117.107(3).
  • The notary has knowledge that the signer has been adjudicated mentally incapacitated; the signature cannot be notarized. §117.107(4).
  • Notarize the signature on a document for a person who seems mentally incapable of understanding the nature and effect of the document at the time of the notarization. §117.107(5).
  • The signature on the document belongs to the spouse, son, daughter, mother, or father of the notary. §117.107(11).
  • The notary cannot notarize a signature on a document where he or she has financial interest or is a party to the underlying transaction (receiving payment for notarization or services associated with it such as mobile, travel fees, wedding services, etc. do not constitute financial interest – Notaries FAQ) . §117.107(12).
  • Unless the notary is also an attorney, he or she may not give legal advice (explain, change, create, etc. any legal document. Exception: strictly selling legal forms and typing information provided by the person who has the document – I’ll address this exception on another post). §117.01(4)(f).
  • Take an acknowledgment in lieu of an oath when the latter is required. §117.03.
  • Notaries may not apply, obtain, or use a notary commission in a name other than their legal names. §117.05(1).
  • Use another name or initials in signing certificates other than that by which the notary public is commissioned. §117.107(1).
  • Notarize their own signatures. §117.05(1).
  • Charge more than the fees stipulated by the state per notarial act. In FL, $10 for any one notarial act or more than $30 for solemnizing the rites of matrimony. §§117.05(2), 117.045, 28.24(29), & 839.11.
  • Unless the notary personally knows the signer or the signer produces acceptable identification, notary should not notarize. §117.05(5).
  • Notarize or act as a notary after his or her commission has expired. §117.05(8).
  • Translate “Notary Public” into any other language when advertising for notarial services. §117.05(11).
  • Make copies or attest to the trueness of a photocopy of a public record (such as a birth certificate) if a copy can be made by another public official. §117.05(12)(a).
  • Take an acknowledgment for a blind person without reading the whole document first. §117.05(14)(a).
  • Take an acknowledgment of a signer who does not speak or understand English unless the document is translated first into a language the signer can understand. §117.107(6).
  • Make any changes in an written document after being signed. §117.107(7).
  • Notarize photographs (only the signature on a photograph may be notarized) or certify the authenticity of objects, such as art or sports memorabilia.
  • Certify translations. Only the signature of the translator can be notarized.
  • Provide signature guarantees. This duty is usually performed by officials in the banking and securities industry.
  • Judge contests or certify contest results (in the capacity of a notary; it’s not one of our duties!).
  • Certify a person’s residency or citizenship status or prepare legal documents, or immigration papers, unless you are an attorney licensed to practice law in Florida.
There are several penalties for notaries who do not act within their official duties or go beyond them, and do not abide by the law.
I will not address them here, but you may read it on the link below.

FL Governor’s Reference Manual for Notaries – Prohibited Acts p.19-22

by Alessandra Jackson

AG Pro Serve Intl.