Practicing Law without a License / Unlawful Advertising

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.

Legal Disclaimer: The American Association of Notaries is committed to providing accurate and up-to-date information. However, it is important to note that the information provided on this page is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. We do not claim to be attorneys and do not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or reliability of the information provided. It is your responsibility to know the appropriate notary laws governing your state. You should always seek the advice of a licensed attorney for any legal matters. In no event shall the American Association of Notaries, its employees, or contractors be liable to you for any claims, penalties, losses, damages, 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 on any of the American Association of Notaries website pages. Notaries are advised to seek the advice of their state’s notary authorities or attorneys if they have legal questions. 

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.