Frequently asked questions regarding Notaries Public

What are the general powers/functions of a notary public?

A notary acts as an official witness to the identity of a person who comes before the notary. A notary is authorized to witness or attest a signature, administer an oath or affirmation, certify an oath or affirmation, take acknowledgments, and certify or attest a copy.

What qualifications must be met in order to become a notary public?

An applicant must be a citizen of the United States, a legal resident of Oklahoma, or an out-of-state resident who is employed within Oklahoma. An applicant shall not have been convicted of a felony and must be at least 18 years of age or older.

How do I become a notary?

The individual should submit the Oklahoma Application for Notary Public Commission either online or by mail with the $25.00 fee. A commission will be issued upon approval of the properly completed application and receipt of the appropriate fee.

What is the term of office for a notary public and how is it renewed?

The term of office is four (4) years. Near the end of this time span, the notary public will have the option of applying for a renewal of the commission. The fee is $20.00. An application for renewal may be submitted online or by mail. The application may not be submitted any earlier than six (6) weeks prior to the expiration date of the commission. A new notarial bond will also need to be filed with the Secretary of State.

What happens if my commission expires?

An application received after the commission has expired will be processed as an application for a new commission. The fee is $25.00 and a new expiration date and commission number will be issued.

May I perform the duties and services of a notary public as soon as I receive my commission?

No. Oklahoma notaries public are required to be bonded. A surety bond in the amount of $1,000.00 signed by one or more sureties must be filed with the Secretary of State, along with a $10.00 filing fee. The surety bond provides coverage to a third party for any damages caused by the notary public’s negligence or failure to perform their duties. The bond must be written for exactly the same time period as the commission. A bond may be purchased from an insurance agency or bonding company; or you may choose to use individual sureties who are property owners in your county of residence, or if a non-resident, the county of employment. The Secretary of State provides a blank bond form that may be used in lieu of a bond provided by a bonding company.

Is a notary public required to have a seal?

Yes. Every notary shall obtain a notarial seal containing the words “State of Oklahoma” and “Notary Public” and the notary’s name. The seal may be either a metal seal which leaves an embossed impression or a rubber stamp used in conjunction with a stamp pad and ink. The date of expiration and commission number may be part of the stamp or seal. A stamp or seal may be purchased from any business that makes stamps and/or seals. The Oklahoma Secretary of State does not provide notarial stamps or seals, or a listing of businesses that are makers of stamps and seals.

What is an acknowledgment?

The notarial act evidenced by a certificate signed and dated by the notary public is referred to as an acknowledgment. The acknowledgment shall include the jurisdiction in which the act is performed, the title “Notary Public”, date of expiration, commission number, official stamp or seal, and the notary public’s official signature. The wording or format of the acknowledgment should correspond with the type of notarial act being provided. Examples of proper acknowledgments can be found in the Notary Public Guide provided by the Oklahoma Secretary of State.

Who are these “notary associations” that I receive information from?

Notary Associations are businesses that provide notary supplies and services for a fee. Many offer to file your notary public application and bond with the Oklahoma Secretary of State for a fee. The Oklahoma Secretary of State does not provide a listing of these associations. It is your choice whether or not you conduct business with them.

Is a notary public required to keep any records?

No. However it is recommended that a notary maintain a record or journal of all their official acts. This can become very useful in the event a notary public is called to appear in a court of law. It is suggested that the following information be kept:

  • 1. Date & type of notarial act
  • 2. A description of the document
  • 3. The signature and printed name and address of each person for whom a notarial act was performed
  • 4. a description of the form of identification provided (driver’s license, photo identification, etc.) or a statement that the person is “personally known” to the notary public
  • 5. The location where the notarization was performed
  • 6. The amount of the fee charged, if any
  • 7. Personal notes that may be useful

If a notary public resides in one county can he/she notarize a document in another county?

Yes. A notary public may perform notarial acts within any county in Oklahoma.

What are the procedures if a notary public changes their name during a term of office?

If a name change occurs, the notary has two options:

  • 1. Continue to use the former name issued on the existing commission until it expires; or
  • 2. Use the new name by filing a new application with the Secretary of State with a $25.00 filing fee. A new commission with a new expiration date will be established. The notary must purchase a new stamp or seal and file a new bond with the Secretary of State. In addition, the notary must submit a signed request to cancel the previous commission issued under the former name.

What are the procedures if a notary public changes their resident address during a term of office?

The notary must submit a signed statement within thirty (30) days notifying the Secretary of State of the change in address. If the notary has moved to another county, the commission continues in the county of appointment until it expires. The notary is not required to obtain a new bond or seal.

How does a notary public identify a signer?

A notary public identifies a signer by carefully examining the identification presented and comparing the signature the person has made on the document with the signature on the identification. The notary public may also rely on their personal knowledge of the individual. Proper “ID” should include a photograph and signature, such as a driver’s license or passport. It is also considered sufficient identification if, under oath, a credible witness personally known to the notary public identifies the person.

Can a notary public notarize their own signature or the signatures of relatives?

A notary cannot notarize his or her own signature. A notary is an impartial witness. The law does not forbid notaries from notarizing the signatures of relatives. However, if the notarized document was ever the subject of a court suit, a judge might determine the notary was not an impartial witness.

What fees may a notary public charge?

The maximum fee a notary may charge and collect for each notarial act is five dollars ($5.00). Notaries are not required to charge a fee. If a fee is charged, it is recommended that it be recorded in the notary’s official records/journal.

A notary CANNOT charge a fee for notarizing a signature on an absentee ballot.

What should a notary do if they have a question about performing a notarial act?

Contact Notary Public Services with the Secretary of State for assistance. Please keep in mind the department cannot provide legal advice. Legal advice must be requested from an attorney at law.

Is there any information available to assist a notary public?

Oklahoma Statutes, Title 49 are the laws governing notaries public. It is your responsibility and duty as a notary public to know the laws and rules governing your activities in order to protect you and the people you serve. The Secretary of State also provides a Notary Public Guide

If a notary stamp or seal is lost or stolen, what should be done?

It is important to notify Notary Public Services with the Secretary of State if the seal is lost or stolen. If theft is involved, the local police department should be notified as well. The written notification must be signed.

When purchasing a new stamp or seal, it is advisable to add a symbol (such as a star or asterisk) on the new seal to identify it from the lost or stolen seal. Include this information in the written notification.

Where should a person report illegal, improper or questionable acts by a notary public?

Persons suspected of any wrongdoing or mistakes acting as a notary public should be reported to the local police department and/or the district attorney’s office. Since The Oklahoma Secretary of State is not an enforcement agency and does not employ legal counsel, it cannot accept reports of misconduct. When a final judgment from an Oklahoma district court is rendered against a notary public for performing a false or fraudulent notarial act, the Secretary of State can then revoke the notary public’s appointment.

Does an employer have the right to keep a notary public’s seal at the end of the notary public’s employment if the employer paid for the commission, bond and seal?

While Oklahoma does not prohibit an employer from paying for the notarial seal, the seal is evidence of the notary’s ministerial office. Since the seal is acquired in the notary’s name, the employer may not require the notary to surrender the seal. Similarly, while the employer may pay for the notary’s bond, the bond is issued in the notary’s name and cannot be canceled by the employer.