Becoming a Florida notary is a great way to get involved in public service. In Florida, a notary commission comes with the power to perform wedding ceremonies, and many Florida notaries make extra income on the side by specializing in weddings or notary loan signings. The process to apply for a Florida notary commission is simple.
Below are the step-by-step instructions on how to become a Florida notary:
1. Determine your eligibility to become a Florida notary
The first step is to ensure that you are eligible to be appointed as a Florida notary. Because Florida notaries are state officers, they must meet certain requirements. In Florida, these requirements are that you must be at least 18 years of age, a legal resident of the State of Florida, and be able to read, write, and understand the English language.
Legal residents do not have to be U.S. citizens. Permanent resident aliens can apply, but they must submit with their Florida notary application a declaration of domicile which has been recorded with the Clerk of Circuit Court in the county of residence. Florida notaries are required to maintain permanent lawful resident status in Florida throughout the four-year Florida notary term of office. If you move out of the state, you must resign your commission.
If a Florida notary applicant has previously had his or her civil rights removed (i.e. he or she was convicted of a felony), the Florida notary applicant must submit with his or her application a Certificate of Restoration of Civil Rights. This certificate may be obtained from the Florida Commission on Offender Review. Any Florida notary applicant who has been convicted of a felony, had adjudication of guilt withheld, or is on probation, is required to disclose this information on their Florida notary application and provide a written statement of the nature of the offense with a copy of the court judgment and sentencing order.
2. Complete a Florida notary education program before applying for a Florida notary commission
First-time Florida notary applicants are required to complete at least three hours of interactive or classroom instruction covering the duties of notaries public in Florida. The course must be completed within one year prior to applying for a notary commission. There are 17 entities approved by the Executive Office of the Governor to teach the Florida notary education course. The Department of State also provides a free notary online course. A certificate of completion must be submitted with the Florida notary application to receive a Florida notary commission.
There is no examination required to become a Florida notary public.
3. Notary bond requirements to become a Florida notary
Every Florida notary applicant must be bonded in the amount of $7,500. This bond protects the public from the notary's negligence in office. The bonding agency provides the Florida notary application form and all necessary notary stamps and notary supplies. Once you submit your original, signed Florida notary application to the bonding agency, the agency processes the application directly with the state. Inquiries as to the status of an application should be directed to the notary bonding agency.
Notary bonds are competitively priced, but the Florida notary application fee of $39 is fixed by state law. Veterans who served during a period of wartime service and who have been rated by the Department of Veterans Affairs as having a disability rating of 50% or more are entitled to a $10 reduction in the notary application fee.
The American Association of Notaries is an approved Florida bonding agency and offers convenient "one stop shopping." We provide free Florida notary applications, Florida notary bonds, Florida errors and omissions insurance, and a wide range of notary stamps, notary seals, and notary record books.
4. Complete your Florida notary application
The Florida notary application form requires the notary's full legal name, home, and work addresses and phone numbers, race, and social security number. This information may be used to facilitate a background check. As part of the Florida notary application, the applicant must have a non-relative who has known him or her for at least one year complete and execute the "Affidavit of Character," wherein the non-relative will attest that he or she knows you to be of good moral character.
When signing your Florida notary application, choose your signature carefully. The signature you use on your oath of office is the one you must use each and every time you notarize a document. It should also match the printed notary name you write underneath your signature - and that is the name in which you will be commissioned. Note that the state no longer allows the use of an initial in place of a first name.
If your personal information should be confidential under state law (for example, your spouse is a law enforcement officer), you can indicate this on the Florida notary application. You must indicate which specific section of Florida law provides the exemption, and a confidentiality form is attached to assist you. This form is only required if you want your information to remain confidential.
It is important to note, however, that a Florida notary's name, work address, and month and day of birth are published on the Department of State website and are easily accessible.
5. Disqualifications to become a Florida notary
Florida notaries who have a hold placed on their commission due to a gubernatorial investigation may not renew their commission until the original hold has been lifted. While a Florida notary applicant with a criminal record may apply for and receive a Florida notary commission, the decision to appoint a Florida notary public is entirely within the discretion of the Governor.
6. Receive your Florida notary commission, notary stamp, seal, and other notary supplies
Once a Florida notary application is approved, the state forwards the certificate of commission to the notary bonding agency. The bonding agency then forwards the certificate, along with the notary's seal and any other supplies the notary orders, to the notary. Once you receive your notary commission certificate and notary stamp, notary seal, or notary supplies, carefully inspect them to make sure that all information is correct. Do not use a Florida notary stamp that has incorrect information.
The official seal of a Florida notary public is a rubber stamp, which must be affixed in black ink and which must include the notary's name, exactly as commissioned, the words "Notary Public - State of Florida," the notary's commission number, and the date when the commission expires. When notarizing paper documents, the notary stamp must be affixed underneath or to the side of the notary's signature. A notary embosser (a notary seal that leaves a raised imprint on the page) can be used in addition to, but not in place of, the notary stamp. If a notary embosser is used, it should contain the notary's name, exactly as commissioned, and the words "Notary Public" and "State of Florida."
Notary record books (also called notary journals) are not required in Florida, but they are strongly recommended. A record book will allow the notary to record, in sequential order, each and every notarial act performed. If a notarization is called into question years later, the record book can refresh your memory about the notarization and provide evidence that you were diligent in checking identification.
To become a Florida notary, please visit the American Association of Notaries (AAN) website at www.floridanotaries.com. AAN offers step-by-step instructions on how to become a Florida notary. It is also a one-stop shop where you can complete the Florida notary application and purchase a notary bond and notary supplies.
The final recommended step is to join the American Association of Notaries to keep up to date on law changes and to receive monthly notary tips.