American Association of Notaries Articles

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Practicing Law without a License / Unlawful Advertising

by American Association of Notaries
The following are issues that are addressed by law in many states and may carry severe penalties. Notaries in those states that do not address these issues should heed the following:

  • A notary must not act as an attorney if not licensed to practice law. A notary public not licensed to practice law may not give legal advice or accept fees for legal advice. This includes giving ANY advice regarding the transaction, preparing forms, explaining forms and their meanings, advising the signer of what type of notary act is required (oath or acknowledgment), or in any advertisement stating or implying authority the notary does not possess.

  • A notary must not advertise as an immigration consultant or specialist. A notary must avoid notarization requests regarding immigration documents and should instead refer the signer to an attorney or to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).

  • A notary must not unlawfully advertise services. A notary public who is not an attorney and who advertises the services of a notary public in any language other than English, whether by signs, pamphlets, stationery, or other written communication or by radio or television, MUST also include with the advertisement a notice that the notary public is not an attorney. The notice must be in English and in the language of the advertisement and in letters of a conspicuous size. If the advertisement is by radio or television, the statement may be modified, but must include substantially the same message. The notice should include the following statement:


  • A notary may not translate "notary public" into Spanish. Literal translation of the phrase "notary public" into Spanish (notario or notario publico) is prohibited in many states. "Literal translation" means the translation of a word or phrase without regard to the full connotation of the word or phrase in the language that is being translated. This law is due to the many cases of fraud against Spanish-speaking individuals who believe a 'notario publico' to be an attorney - with all of the authority of that position.

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Legal disclaimer: The American Association of Notaries seeks to provide timely articles for notaries to assist them with information and ideas for managing their notary businesses, enhancing their notary educations, and securing their notary supplies but makes no claims, promises, or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained . Information in this article is not intended as legal advice. We are not attorneys. We do not pretend to be attorneys. Though we will sometimes provide information regarding federal laws and statutes and the laws and statutes of each state, we have gathered the information from a variety of sources. We do not warrant the information gathered from those sources. It is your responsibility to know the appropriate laws governing your state. Notaries are advised to seek the advice of an attorney in their state if they have legal questions about how to notarize.
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