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The Notary Commission Belongs to the Notary


Becoming a notary public is a noteworthy undertaking; there are many reasons why a person may apply for a notary commission. Some apply for a notary commission to broaden their professional credentials and skills for employment. Others become notaries at the request of an employer or as a service to their business clients. Law firms, shipping centers, banks, and post offices are a few of the many types of businesses that have notaries on staff.


When an employer asks an employee to become a notary, the employer may decide to pay for the employee's notary education (if required), notary seal, supplies, and notarial record book.

Regardless of who pays for the notary commission - the notary, or the employer - the notary commission, seal, and notarial records belong solely to the notary, even if the employer paid for them.

If an employee leaves his or her position of employment, does the employer retain the notary's commission, record book, or notary seal? Does an employer have the right to request that the notary employee resign his or her notary commission? "No." is the answer to both of these questions.

An employer may be under the impression that an illegal notarization performed in the future by a departing notary employee will cause liability for him or her (or the company) since the employer paid for the notary bond and commission. Therefore, employers may erroneously request that notaries resign their notary commissions; employers may also attempt to keep notary seals and records.

However, a notary must insist that he or she remain in possession of his or her notary commission, notary seal, and notary record book. If an employer refuses to give possession of a notary's commission, records, or seal to the notary owner, the notary may be able to resolve the problem by

  • sending a letter via certified mail to the employer outlining that a notary's commission, seal, and records are the sole property of the notary public to whom they were assigned;

  • providing his or her former employer with a copy of this article;

  • including the contact information for the state notary public administrator's office with a suggestion that the employer contact the office to verify to whom the notary's seal, records, and commission belong; and

  • ending a copy of the letter via certified mail to the notary public administrator's office.


Once the notary public administrator's office has been notified that an employer kept the notarial possessions of the notary, a notary should be able to replace them and continue serving as a notary public.

Notary laws vary from state to state; notaries should inquire about their states' official procedures if they find themselves leaving jobs without being allowed to take and retain possession of their notarial records, seals, or commissioning documents.

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.