How to Become a Notary in Georgia
The Georgia Notary Process:
Are you interested in becoming a Georgia notary? Are you interested in generating extra income, starting your own Georgia notary business, adding a notary title to your resume, or helping people in your community? The State of Georgia appoints notaries to serve the public as unbiased impartial witnesses to document signing. Becoming a notary in Georgia is a straightforward process, and as long as you meet the eligibility requirements listed below, you can apply to become a Georgia notary. The American Association of Notaries has been helping individuals become notaries since 1994.
This guide will help you understand:
- Who can become a Georgia notary
- The process to become a Georgia notary
- Basic Georgia notary duties
What are the qualifications to become a Georgia notary?
To become a notary in Georgia, a notary applicant must meet all of the following requirements:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Be a United States citizen or a legal resident of the United States
- Be a legal resident of the county in which he or she applies (or, if a non-Georgia resident, he or she must reside in a state bordering Georgia and carry on a business or profession in Georgia or be regularly employed in the Georgia county of application)
- Have and provide, at the time of the application, an operating telephone number
- Be able to read and write English
What is the process to become a Georgia notary?
In order to become a Georgia notary and receive a Georgia notary public commission, a notary applicant must:
- Meet the eligibility requirements provided in the previous section.
- Determine whether his or her county of application participates in the web-based application process, which allows applicants to submit their applications electronically. If the county participates, Click here to begin the web-based application process, select the county of application, and follow the provided instructions.
- Contact the Clerk of Superior Court in the county of application to obtain an application if the county does not participate in the web-based application process.
- Obtain the signatures of two endorsers (character references) who live in the county of application, have known the applicant for over thirty days, and are not related to the applicant.
- Take the signed application to the Clerk of Superior Court in the county of application to finish the application process, pay the appointment fee of $37 to $42, and take the oath of office.
- Purchase a notary seal.
Can a non-resident become a notary in Georgia?
Yes. A nonresident who is a legal resident of a state bordering the state of Georgia can become a Georgia notary public if the person (1) meets the qualifications as a Georgia resident; (2) is a legal resident of a bordering state; (3) is regularly employed or carries on a business or profession in Georgia; (4) submits the application, endorsements, and declaration of applicant; and (4) is appointed and commissioned by the Clerk of Superior Court in the county in which such nonresident carries on such profession, business, or employment (OCGA 45-17-7). The bordering states of Georgia include: Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
How much does it cost to become a notary in Georgia?
To become a notary public in Georgia, a notary applicant’s required expenses include the following: (1) a $37 to $42 filing fee to process an application for appointment or reappointment; and (2) a notary seal. Based on the notary’s wishes, additional expenses may include the purchase of: (1) a surety bond; (2) a journal to record all notarial acts performed; and (3) an errors and omissions insurance policy for the notary’s protection against liability.
How do I renew my Georgia notary commission?
A Georgia notary public may apply for reappointment by using the renewal application form if he or she holds an active commission in the county of application. The application for reappointment process is the same as the initial application for appointment process and procedures, and the renewal of a commission is at the discretion of the appointing clerk. Therefore, notaries must contact their county Clerk of Superior Court for specific procedures. To begin the renewal process, go to: https://www.gsccca.org/notary-and-apostilles/notaries/general-notary-information.
Are there any exams or notary courses required to become a Georgia notary public or to renew my Georgia notary public commission?
No. Georgia state law does not require a course of study or examination to become a notary public in the state of Georgia. Nevertheless, the Georgia Superior Court Clerks Cooperative Authority website provides a “web-based notary training course,” which is highly recommended. The notary course is not required in order to receive a commission. Click here to access the free online notary public training course, or go to: https://www.gsccca.org/file/notary-forms.
Can I perform electronic notarization in Georgia?
Yes. The state of Georgia has not yet adopted statutes or regulations that establish rules, guidelines, standards, and procedures for electronic notarization. Nevertheless, Georgia has adopted the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act, including the provision on notarization and acknowledgment (OCGA 10-12-1 through 10-12-20), which authorizes electronic signatures used by Georgia notaries. Section 10-12-11 states, “If a law requires a signature or record to be notarized, acknowledged, verified or made under oath, such requirement shall be satisfied if the electronic signature of the person authorized to perform those acts, together with all other information required to be included by other applicable law, is attached to or logically associated with the signature or record.” Moreover, Georgia adopted the Uniform Real Property Electronic Recording Act (OCGA 44-2-35 through 44-2-39.2), which authorizes electronic signatures used by Georgia notaries. Most importantly, Georgia state law requires that a document signer personally appear before a notary public and be physically close enough to see, hear, communicate, and give identification credentials without the use of electronic devices such as telephones, computers, video cameras, or video conferences during the entire performance of the notarial act. Therefore, Georgia notaries public are prohibited from performing online webcam notarizations.
How long is the term of a notary public commission in Georgia?
The term of office of a Georgia notary public is four years, commencing on the date specified in the commission. However, a notary’s commission may be rendered void: (1) by resignation; (2) by death; (3) by revocation; (4) when the notary public ceases to reside in Georgia; or (5) when a nonresident notary ceases to be regularly employed or carry on a business or profession in Georgia.
Is a Georgia notary bond required to become a notary in Georgia?
No. A Georgia notary public does not have to be bonded in Georgia pursuant to the Georgia notary statute.
Do I need a Georgia notary errors and omission insurance?
Optional. Errors and omission insurance is designed to protect notaries public from liability against unintentional notarial mistakes or omissions that result in financial damages to the public or a document signer. The American Association of Notaries encourages Georgia notaries to purchase an errors and omissions insurance policy for their protection against liability. For additional information, visit the American Association of Notaries website at www.usnotaries.com or call (800) 721-2663.
Where can I perform notarial acts in Georgia?
A Georgia notary has statewide jurisdiction and may perform notarial acts in any county at any location in Georgia. Likewise, a Georgia notary public may not perform notarial acts outside this state.
Who appoints Georgia notaries public?
The Clerks of the County Superior Courts appoint and commission Georgia notaries public, and a copy of the notary’s certificate of appointment is sent to the Georgia Superior Court Clerks Cooperative Authority.
Contact information for the Georgia Superior Court Clerks Cooperative Authority is as follows:
Georgia Superior Court Clerks Cooperative Authority
1875 Century Blvd, Ste. 100
Atlanta, Georgia 30345
Do I need to purchase a notary stamp in Georgia?
Yes. Georgia notary law requires all Georgia notaries public to use a seal that is either an embossed seal or an inked rubber stamp to authenticate all notarial acts (§45-17-6). However, state law does not provide the legal specifications required on all notary seals.
Required Elements: The Georgia notary seal or stamp must contain the following elements:
- The name of the notary as it appears on the commission certificate
- The words “Notary Public”
- The word “Georgia” or the abbreviation “GA”
- The name of the county where the notary was commissioned
Note: Georgia notaries must provide written notification to the appointing Clerk of Superior Court with a copy to the Georgia Superior Court Clerks’ Cooperative Authority within ten days of loss or theft of their notary seal.
Is a notary journal required in Georgia?
No. Georgia notary statute does not require a Georgia notary public to record every notarial act in a journal. However, the Georgia Superior Court Clerks Cooperative Authority and the American Association of Notaries strongly recommend that Georgia notaries record their notarial acts in a permanent, paper-bound journal with numbered pages designed to deter fraud as a protective measure against liability. For Georgia notary supplies, visit our website at www.usnotaries.com or call (800) 721-2663.
How much can a Georgia notary charge for performing notarial acts?
Georgia notary fees are set by state law (§45-17-11). The maximum allowable fees that a Georgia notary public may charge for notarial acts are listed below:
- Acknowledgments - $2.00
- Oaths or affirmations - $2.00
- Jurats - $2.00
- Copy certifications - $2.00
Note: It is illegal for any notary public to charge a greater sum than $4 for each notarial service performed. Georgia notary law requires a notary public to inform the person requesting any notarial act of the fees permitted by law for each act prior to performing the notarial act.
What notarial acts can a Georgia notary public perform?
A Georgia notary public is authorized to perform these notarial acts:
- Take acknowledgments
- Administer oaths and affirmations
- Witness or attest signatures
- Witness affidavits upon oath or affirmation
- Take verifications upon oath or affirmation
- Certify copies of non-recordable documents
How do I update my address for my Georgia notary commission?
A Georgia notary public whose residence or business address changes, whichever was used for the purpose of appointment, during the term of the notary’s commission is required to provide a written notice to the appointing Clerk of Superior Court and provide a copy of such notice to the Georgia Superior Court Clerks Cooperative Authority. The notice must contain both the old information and the new information, including any change in the notary’s telephone number, and it must be received by the Clerk of Superior Court within thirty days of such change. Click here to download a “Notary Public Contact Information Change Form”.
Do I have to change my name on my notary commission in Georgia?
A Georgia notary public whose name is legally changed during the term of the notary’s certificate of appointment is required to provide a written notice to the appointing Clerk of the Superior Court and provide a copy of such notice to the Georgia Superior Court Clerks Cooperative Authority. The notice must contain both the old and new name and a new signature sample, and it must be received within thirty days of the name change. Many counties require personal appearance to complete changes to the notary’s commission. The notary should contact the appointing Clerk of Superior Court’s office for county-specific instructions to suffice all of the essential requirements. A notary public may not officially sign under the new name until the notary has received the amended certificate of appointment. Click here to download a “Notary Public Contact Information Change Form”.
A Georgia notary public, or his or her representative, is required to send a written notice to the appointing Clerk of Superior Court within ten days if the notary: (1) no longer maintains residence in Georgia during the term of the commission; (2) no longer wishes to hold the office of notary public; (3) is deceased; (4) is duty-bound to resign by court order or the appointing clerk’s revocation process; (5) becomes incapable of reading and writing the English language; or (5) no longer maintains employment or a place of business in Georgia (for nonresident notaries). In the case of revocation and resignation, the notary’s papers of appointment must be delivered to the appointing Clerk of Superior Court, and a copy of the resignation letter must be provided to the Georgia Superior Court Clerks Cooperative Authority. In all of the above-referenced situations, the notary seal must be destroyed immediately.
Prohibited Georgia notarial acts
These activities by a Georgia notary public provide a basis for administrative disciplinary action:
- Preparing, drafting, selecting, or giving legal advice concerning documents
- Performing acts that constitute the practice of law
- Claiming to have powers, qualifications, rights, or privileges that the office of notary public does not authorize, including the power to counsel on immigration matters
- Submitting an application or endorsements for a notarial commission containing substantial and significant misstatements or omission of fact
- Notarizing a document that does not contain a notarial certificate
- Using the title “notario publico” when advertising notarial services
- Charging more than the fee prescribed by law for notarial services
- Notarizing a document without the signer being in the notary’s presence at the time of the notarization
- Notarizing a document if the signer of the document is not personally known to the notary or identified by the notary through satisfactory evidence of identity
- Performing any notarial act with the intent to deceive or defraud
- Notarizing one’s own signature
- Signing a notarial certificate under any other name than the one under which the notary was commissioned
- Notarizing a notarial certificate containing information known or believed by the notary to be false
- Notarizing for a person who is being coerced
- Issuing attachments or garnishments or approving bonds for issuing the same
- Issuing any summons in a dispossessory case
- Performing a notarial act if the notary knows or suspects it is illegal, false, or deceptive
- Certifying copies of documents recordable in the public records
- Notarizing for a person whose demeanor causes compelling doubts about whether the person knows the consequences of the transaction requiring the notarial act
- Notarizing in situations that impugn and compromise the notary’s impartiality
- Notarizing a document when the notary is a party to the document or transaction for which the notarial act was required
Official notarial misconduct:
Georgia notaries public who commit official malfeasance may be subject to criminal liability, civil liability, and administrative disciplinary action:
45-17-20. Penalty; prosecution of violations of article. (a) Any person who violates subsection (d) of Code Section 45-17-8 shall be guilty of a misdemeanor. (b) Any person who performs any notarial service without complying with the provisions of this article shall, upon the first or second conviction, be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon a third or subsequent conviction be guilty or a felony, punishable by imprisonment of not less than one year nor more than five years, a fine of up to $5,000.00, or both.
Georgia notary laws and regulations:
Official Code of Georgia Annotated, Title 45, Chapter 17, Article 1, “Notaries Public”
Revised: January 2018
Legal disclaimer: The American Association of Notaries makes no claims, promises, or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this page. Information on this page is not intended as legal advice. We are not attorneys. We do not pretend to be attorneys. Though we will sometimes provide information regarding federal laws and statutes and the laws and statutes of each state, we have gathered the information from a variety of sources. We do not warrant the information gathered from those sources. It is your responsibility to know the appropriate laws governing your state. Notaries are advised to seek the advice of an attorney in their states if they have legal questions about how to perform notarial acts.
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.