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 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.