Becoming a Notary
To become a notary public in Arizona, a person must meet the following requirements:
Be an Arizona resident.
Be at least 18 years old.
Be a citizen or legal permanent resident of the United States.
Not have been convicted of a felony (unless civil rights have been restored).
Not have had an Arizona notary commission revoked within past four years.
A person interested in becoming a notary must complete a notary public application and purchase a four-year $5,000 bond in duplicate form from an insurance agent. The completed application and notary bond must be submitted to the Arizona Secretary of State, together with a filing fee in the amount of $43. If the applicant meets the requirements to become a notary public, the applicant will be commissioned as a notary public and the Secretary of State will issue to the applicant a commission certificate. A commission certificate is a person’s proof that he has been commissioned as a notary public.
A notary public commission is valid for four years. There is no automatic renewal process for a commission; it is the notary’s responsibility to initiate the renewal process. A notary should submit a renewal application, new bond and filing fees to the Secretary of State’s office 60 days before the expiration of his commission. A notary public may continue to notarize until midnight of the expiration date of his current commission. A notary public who chooses to allow a commission to expire must deliver his notary public seal, notary public journal, and other notary records to the Secretary of State’s office.
Performing Notarial Acts
Once a commission certificate is issued, the notary must purchase a notary seal and a notary journal. A notary is required by law to authenticate all of his official acts with a seal, and to record all of his notarial acts (in chronological order) in a journal. The duties of a notary public can only be performed when he has an original commission certificate, a notary bond, a notary public seal, and a notary public journal. In addition, each notary is required to have a copy of the Arizona Notary Public Reference Manual published by the Arizona Secretary of State.
It is necessary to notarize documents to prevent fraud, to prove the authenticity of the signature, and to prove the signature was made willingly. There are four notarial acts that a notary can perform in Arizona:
- copy certifications, and
- oaths or affirmations.
Each type of notarial act is explained below.
Acknowledgment: the notary certifies that a signer, whose identity is personally known to the notary or is proven by satisfactory evidence, voluntarily signs a document for its stated purpose. The signer is not required to sign the document in the notary’s presence; however, the document cannot be signed at a later time.
Jurat: the notary certifies that a signer, whose identity is personally known or is proven by satisfactory evidence, has made in the notary’s presence a voluntary signature and has taken an oath or affirmation vouching for the truthfulness of the signed document.
Copy certification: the notary certifies that he has made a photocopy of an original document that is neither a public record nor publicly recordable.
Oath or affirmation: a person makes a vow in the presence of the notary under penalty of perjury, with reference to a supreme being in the case of an oath.
A notary is an impartial witness. An impartial witness must have no conflict of interest. This means that a notary cannot be a party to the transaction or a party to the document, and a notary cannot have any financial or beneficial interest in the transaction. The law prohibits a notary from performing notarial services for anyone related to him by marriage or adoption (but given the impartiality requirements, a better practice would be to not notarize for any family member).
A notary is commissioned in the county of his residence, but he may perform notarial acts throughout the state of Arizona. An Arizona notary may not, however, notarize documents outside the state of Arizona.
A notary may charge a fee for performing notarial acts, but he can charge no more than $2 per transaction. The maximum fee for each notarial act is set by law. A notary must post in a conspicuous place a schedule of fees that he is allowed to charge. A notary is, of course, free to charge a fee less than allowed by law, or to waive a fee entirely.
For more information and an application form, the reader should contact the Arizona Secretary of State. The contact information is set forth below:
Arizona Secretary of State
1700 W. Washington, 7th Floor
Phoenix, AZ 85007-2888
Attention: Notary Section
Phone: (602) 542-4758
Fax: (602) 542-4366
Web site: www.azsos.gov
The above article is an excerpt from Arizona Laws 101: A Handbook for Non-Lawyers, 2nd Edition (Fenestra Books, 2012), by Donald A. Loose, republished with the author’s permission.
Disclaimer: Laws change constantly. Specific legal advice should be obtained regarding any legal matter. The information contained on this website does not constitute legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is created.
Don likes to target shoot, scuba dive, and pilot airplanes. Most recently, he has been working on his golf handicap. Don enjoys writing, reading, and spending time with his wife, twin sons, and golden retriever, Lucy.