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Frequently Asked Questions About Notary Stamps


Notary stamps and seals is an important but confusing topic even for the most seasoned notary. So don't be embarrassed if you find yourself looking up this article. The rules can be tricky, and it's important to learn how to best protect yourself from liability or any appearance of impropriety. Below are some common questions we receive.


Is a notary stamp required?

Yes. Every notary must keep an official notary stamp that is the exclusive property of the notary. Neither a notary stamp nor a seal may be used by any other person. Your official stamp must be clearly applied under or near your official signature on every notary certificate. Do not stamp over signatures, and avoid stamping over text.

 

My employer paid for my commission. Who owns the notary stamp?

The notary stamp or notary seal is the exclusive property of the notary and may not be used by any other person or surrendered to an employer upon termination of employment. You commission belongs to you, not your employer.



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

When your commission as a notary expires, or you otherwise cease to be a notary, you should destroy the notary seal to prevent possible misuse by another individual. Otherwise, any wrongdoing could be imputed to you, the non-practicing notary.



I changed my name before my commission expired. Do I need to purchase a new notary stamp?

In most states, you may continue to use your current official signature and notary stamp until the commission expires. If you would like to change your official signature and notary stamp prior to the expiration of the commission, you may do so. However, you would need to purchase a new notary stamp and update your commission information with the state. Always check your state's notary laws to learn the steps you must take when your legal name is changed.



What if I lose my notary stamp?

Every commissioned notary has a duty to safeguard his or her notary materials. However, mistakes can and do happen. If your notary stamp or notary seal (or record book/journal) has been misplaced or lost, notify in writing your state's notary regulatory office (normally the secretary of state). Detail the circumstances in which the materials went missing, the last time you used them, and any other relevant information. File a report with your local law enforcement office and enclose a copy of that report with your letter.



Do I need a new notary stamp when I renew my commission?

Yes. With each new commission (re-commission), your state will issue a new date of expiration. You will need to obtain a new notary stamp or seal with the updated information.

As always, be sure to consult your own state's laws to ensure that you are in total compliance with the law.

Susan Jimenez is a Contributing Writer with the American Association of Notaries

Legal disclaimer: The American Association of Notaries seeks to provide timely articles for notaries to assist them with information for managing their notary businesses, enhancing their notary education, and securing their notary stamp and notary supplies. Every effort is made to provide accurate and complete information in the American Association of Notaries newsletters. However, we make no warrant, expressed or implied, and we do not represent, undertake, or guarantee that the information in the newsletter is correct, accurate, complete, or non-misleading. 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 notaries' best practices, federal laws and statutes, and the laws and statutes of each state, we have gathered this information from a variety of sources and do not warrant its accuracy. In no event shall the American Association of Notaries, its employees, or contractors be liable to you for any claims, penalties, loss, damage, or expenses, howsoever arising, including, and without limitation, direct or indirect loss or consequential loss out of or in connection with the use of the information contained in the American Association of Notaries newsletters. It is your responsibility to know the appropriate notary laws governing your state. Notaries are advised to seek the advice of their states' notary authorities or attorneys in their state if they have legal questions. If a section of this disclaimer is determined by any court or other competent authority to be unlawful and/or unenforceable, the other sections of this disclaimer continue in effect.

Notary bonds and errors and omissions insurance policies provided by this insurance agency, American Association of Notaries, Inc., are underwritten by Western Surety Company, Universal Surety of America, or Surety Bonding Company of America, which are subsidiaries of CNA Surety.