How to Become a Kentucky Notary
The Kentucky Notary Process:
Are you interested in becoming a Kentucky notary? Are you interested in generating extra income, starting your own Kentucky notary business, adding a notary title to your resume, or helping people in your community? The State of Kentucky appoints notaries to serve the public as unbiased impartial witnesses to document signing. Becoming a notary in Kentucky is a straightforward process, and as long as you meet the eligibility requirements listed below, you can apply to become a Kentucky notary. The American Association of Notaries has been helping individuals become notaries since 1994.
This guide will help you understand:
- Who can become a Kentucky notary
- The process to become a Kentucky notary
- Basic Kentucky notarial duties
What are the qualifications to become a Kentucky notary?
To become a Kentucky Notary Public, State at Large, a notary applicant must meet the following requirements:
- Be at least eighteen (18) years of age.
- Be a citizen or permanent legal resident of the United States.
- Be a resident of or have a place of employment or practice in the Kentucky county where the application is made.
- Be able to read and write English.
- Not be disqualified to receive a commission under KRS 423.395.
What is the process to become a Kentucky notary?
To become a Kentucky Notary Public, State at Large, and receive a Kentucky notary public commission, a notary applicant must:
- Meet the eligibility requirements provided in the previous section.
- Complete the application for appointment form.
- Mail the completed application form to the Secretary of State with a filing fee of $10, or submit it online at http://web.sos.ky.gov/notaries/SubmitApplication. (After the Secretary of State processes the application, the Certificate of Appointment will be sent to the county clerk in the county of application.)
- Go to the county clerk in the county of application within thirty days of receiving the notice to: (1) take the oath of office; (2) submit a $1,000 surety bond; (3) file and record the Certificate of Appointment; and (4) pay a filing fee.
- Contact the county clerk directly with any questions regarding the bonding and oath process.
Note: Failure to respond within the thirty-day filing period or reasonable time thereafter will result in the Certificate of Appointment becoming void. For information regarding the notary commission process, go to: http://web.sos.ky.gov/notaries/index.
Can a non-resident become a notary in Kentucky?
Yes. A non-resident may apply to become a Kentucky notary public if the non-resident meets all the following requirements. A non-resident must:
- Be a resident of a state bordering Kentucky.
- Have a place of employment or practice in the Kentucky county where the application is made.
- Satisfy the same qualifications as Kentucky residents, setting aside the residency requirements.
- Submit an application form and follow the same application for appointment process and procedures as Kentucky residents, including obtaining a $1,000 surety bond.
- Continuously maintain a place of employment or practice in Kentucky in the county of application/commission.
- Relinquish his or her notary commission if the non-resident notary moves his or her place of employment or practice from the county in which the notary was commissioned.
- Relinquish his or her notary commission if the non-resident notary ceases to have a place of employment or practice in Kentucky.
Note: The states bordering Kentucky are not addressed in the Kentucky notary statute.
How much does it cost to become a notary in Kentucky?
A Kentucky notary applicant’s expenses may include the cost for the following: (1) a $10 filing fee to process an application for appointment or reappointment; (2) a $1,000 surety bond; (3) a notary stamp; (4) a journal if a notary wishes to record his or her notarial acts performed in a journal; and (5) an E&O insurance policy if a notary wishes to obtain one for his or her own personal protection against liability.
How do I renew my Kentucky notary commission?
Kentucky notaries seeking to renew their notary public commissions may apply to the Secretary of State for reappointment as notaries public prior to the expiration of their commission terms. Notaries applying for reappointment must follow the same process and procedures as required for a new application for appointment. The commission renewal process includes: (1) completing an application for reappointment using the same commission number as the notary’s original commission and the commission expiration date; (2) obtaining a $1,000 surety bond; (3) submitting a $10 filing fee; and (4) filing the commission renewal, a surety bond, and taking the oath of office with the county clerk listed in the application for reappointment. The application for reappointment must be received by the Secretary of State no later than the notary’s current commission expiration date. A notary public, state at large, shall have no authority to perform notarial acts during any period between the expiration of his or her current commission and the effective date of any renewal commission (KRS 423.390). To apply for a Kentucky Notary Public, State at Large, reappointment, download the form and submit it online, or mail it with a $10.00 fee to the Secretary of State.
Are there any exams or notary courses required to become a Kentucky notary public or to renew my Kentucky notary public commission?
No. New applicants seeking appointments as notaries public and renewing notaries are not required to take and pass a notary course of study or an examination to be appointed and commissioned as Kentucky notaries public, state at large.
Can I perform electronic notarization in Kentucky?
Yes. The Kentucky Legislature has adopted the “Uniform Electronic Transactions Act” including the provision on notarization and acknowledgments, which authorizes a traditional notary public and an online notary public to obtain an electronic or digital signature to notarize electronic documents in the physical presence of the individual seeking the notarization. Before performing an initial electronic notarization, a notary public must first register with the Secretary of State by submitting an electronic registration to be registered as an online notary public. First and foremost, the Kentucky notary statute requires that that the document signer must physically appear before the notary public at the time of the electronic notarization. All the same rules, standards, practices, and regulations that apply to a traditional paper notarization also apply to an electronically signed document including, but not limited to, the personal appearance before the notary public. The Kentucky Secretary of State has not yet adopted administrative regulations that establish guidelines, standards, requirements, and procedures for electronic notarizations.
Can I perform remote (online) notarizations in Kentucky?
Yes. The Kentucky 2019 Legislature enacted the “Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts” (Senate Bill 114), which included the remote online notarization and electronic notarization provisions with an effective date of January 1, 2020. Kentucky notaries are authorized to perform online notarial acts by using audio and video communication technology that meets the standards adopted by the Secretary of State that includes credential analysis and identity proofing. Before a notary public performs his or her first online notarial act, the notary must submit an electronic registration to the Secretary of State to be registered as an online notary public.
What is the process to become a Kentucky online notary public?
Before performing an online notarization, the notary public must: (1) be a commissioned notary public; (2) register with the Secretary of State by submitting an electronic registration; (3) include the notary’s commission number and full legal name as it appears on the notary’s commission and the name to be used for registration, if different; (4) pay to the Secretary of State a registration fee payment; (5) state whether the notary is registering to perform one or both of the following: (i) notarial acts with respect to electronic records in which the individual will appear before the notary in the notary’s physical presence or (ii) electronic notarizations as an online notary public; (6) provide a description of the technologies or devices that the notary intends to use to perform notarial acts with respect to electronic records or electronic notarizations, to maintain the journal, and to render electronic records temper-evident after a notarial act is completed, each of which technologies or devices shall comply with any standards established by the Secretary of State; (7) the digital certification of the notary public; (8) supply any other information, evidence, disclosures, or declarations required or deemed beneficial by the Secretary of State pursuant to any administrative regulations promulgated by the Secretary of State; (9) submit proof to the Secretary of State of his or her surety bond legal requirements; and (10) file with the county clerk a surety bond, take an oath of office, receive the commission certificate, and pay fees. The notary statute specifies that thirty (30) days after compliance with all registration requirements and payment of the required registration fee, a notary public will be registered with the Secretary of State to perform notarial acts in the physical presence of an individual signer with respect to electronic records, or to perform electronic notarizations as an online notary public, or both.
When performing online notarial acts using an approved communication technology, an online notary public must:
- Be physically located within the boundaries of Kentucky, even though the remotely located individual may be geographically located in any state of the United States or outside the United States.
- Ensure that the remotely located individual is visually in the presence of the online notary through the use of an audio and video communication technology.
- Establish the remotely located individual’s identity using an approved communication technology that includes identity proofing and credential analysis.
- Inform the participating parties that the online notarial act will be captured by an audio-visual recording.
- Include in the audio-visual recording a recitation of how the identity of the remotely located individual was authenticated.
- Include in the audio-visual recording recitation a confirmation by the remotely located individual that the remotely located individual’s electronic signature is freely and voluntarily issued.
- Complete an electronic notarial certificate for each online notarial act.
- Include in the electronic notarial certificate language that indicates the notarial act was an online notarization performed with the use of audio-video communication technology.
- Record the online notarization in a secure electronic journal.
- Make a recording and backup of the audio-visual conference that is the basis for satisfactory evidence of identity used for the online notarization.
- Take reasonable steps to ensure that the video and audio communication technology used in the online notarization is secure from unauthorized interception.
- Take reasonable steps to ensure that any registered device or credential used to create an electronic signature is current and has not been revoked or terminated by the device’s or credential’s issuing or registering authority.
- Attach the online notary’s electronic signature and seal to the electronic certificate of an electronic document in a manner that is capable of independent verification and renders any subsequent change or modification to the electronic document tamper-evident.
An online notary public may perform an online notarial act using an approved communication technology for a remotely located individual that is present outside the United States if: (1) the requested online notarial act is not prohibited in the jurisdiction where the remotely located individual is present at the time of the online notarial act; and (2) the online notarial act concerns a matter that: (a) is before a court, a governmental entity, public official, or another entity in subject to the jurisdiction of the United States; (b) involves a property located in the territorial jurisdiction of the United States; or (c) relates to a transaction substantially connected with the United States. Regardless of the physical location of the remotely located individual at the time of the notarial act, the validity of an online notarial act performed by a Kentucky online notary public must be determined under Kentucky laws.
Moreover, the liability, sanctions, and remedies for the improper performance of online notarial acts are the same under the law for the improper performance of a notarial act performed by a traditional notary public. The Kentucky Secretary of State has not yet adopted administrative regulations that establish guidelines, requirements, process, standards, and procedures for online notarial acts.
How long is the term of a notary public commission in Kentucky?
The term of office for a Kentucky notary public is four years commencing on the date specified in the notary public commission. However, a notary’s commission may be rendered null and void: (1) by resignation; (2) by death; (3) by revocation; (4) when a notary public is no longer a citizen or resident of Kentucky; (5) when a non-resident notary fails to maintain a place of employment or practice in the Kentucky county in which the notary was commissioned; (6) when a non-resident notary ceases to have a place of employment or practice in Kentucky; (7) when a notary no longer is a citizen or permanent legal resident of the United States; (8) when a notary is no longer able to read and write English; and (9) when a notary becomes disqualified to hold a notary public commission under KRS 423.395.
Is a Kentucky notary bond required to become a notary in Kentucky?
Yes. An assurance in the form of a surety bond in the amount of $1,000 is required for all new applicants seeking an appointment as a notary public and renewing notaries (423.390). The assurance must be issued by a surety or other entity licensed or authorized to do business in Kentucky. The assurance must cover acts performed during the term of the notary’s commission and shall be in the form prescribed by the Secretary of State. The surety or issuing entity must give thirty (30) days’ notice to the Secretary of State before canceling the assurance or of the assurance’s expiration if such expiration is prior to the date of expiration of the notary’s commission. A notary public may perform notarial acts in Kentucky only during the period that a valid assurance is on file with the county clerk in the county of commission.
Do I need a Kentucky notary errors and omission insurance?
An errors and omissions insurance policy is optional in Kentucky. The American Association of Notaries strongly recommends that Kentucky notaries obtain an errors and omissions insurance policy for their personal protection against liability. Errors and omissions insurance is designed to protect notaries from liability against unintentional notarial mistakes or omissions that result in financial or other type of loss to the public or a client for which a notary public is sued for recovery. An E&O policy customarily covers legal fees and damages based on the coverage a Kentucky notary selects.
Where can I perform notarial acts in Kentucky?
A Kentucky notary public may perform a notarial act in any county within the geographic borders of the State of Kentucky after filing the commission, a surety bond, and taking the oath in the Kentucky county where the application is made, and for so long as the notary’s commission and surety bond are valid and in effect (KRS 423.390). Likewise, a Kentucky notary may not perform notarial acts outside of Kentucky.
Who appoints Kentucky notaries public?
The Kentucky Secretary of States receives applications for appointment and reappointment as a notary public, administers the commissioning process, and maintains an electronic database of active notaries and online notaries. To contact the Kentucky Secretary of State, use the following information:
Kentucky Secretary of State
700 Capitol Avenue, Suite 158
PO Box 821
Frankfort, Kentucky 40602-0821
Do I need to purchase a notary stamp in Kentucky?
No. The Kentucky notary statute does not require Kentucky notaries to use an official stamp to authenticate the notarial acts they perform.
Required Elements: If a notary public chooses to use a stamp, the notary must have an official stamp which includes (KRS 423.370):
- The Notary’s Name
- Commission Number
- Commission Expiration Date
The stamp must also be capable of being copied together with the record to which it is affixed or attached or with which it is logically associated.
Note: A Kentucky notary public may need to authenticate a notarial act with an official stamp to comply with the recording requirements of other states, especially when notarizing deeds or other recordable documents.
Is a notary journal required in Kentucky?
No. The Kentucky notary statute does not require Kentucky notaries public to record their notarial acts in a journal. However, “an online notary public must maintain a journal in which the online notary chronicles all electronic notarizations that the online notary public performs” (KRS 423.380). While a journal is not required by state notary law, the American Association of Notaries strongly recommends that Kentucky notaries maintain a permanent, paper-bound journal with numbered pages to create and preserve a chronological record of every notarial act they perform as a protective measure against allegations of fraudulent notarial acts and official misconduct. A traditional notary public in Kentucky may find that a notary journal is an essential notarial tool in the performance of his or her notarial duties. A notary journal may one day be imperative to protect the notary from liability. For Kentucky notary supplies, visit the American Association of Notaries website at www.usnotaries.com, call 800.721.2663, or click here.
How much can a Kentucky notary charge for performing notarial acts?
The maximum allowable fees that a Kentucky notary public may charge for notarial acts are not set in the state notary statute. Section 423.430 of the Kentucky Revised Statutes merely states, “For a notarial act relating to a tangible or electronic record, or for an electronic notarization, a notary public may charge a fee: (a) in compliance with KRS 64.300; and (b) which has been clearly disclosed to the person requesting the service in advance.”
Note: Section 64.300 of the Kentucky Revised Statutes states, “No fee or compensation shall be allowed or paid for affixing the jurat of a notary public to any application, affidavit, certificate or other paper necessary to be filed in support of any claim for the benefits of federal legislation for any person or his dependents who has served as a member of the National Guard or a reserve component or as an active member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, or Marine Corps of the United States.”
What notarial acts can a Kentucky notary public perform?
A Kentucky notary public is authorized to perform the following notarial acts (KRS 423.310):
- Take acknowledgments
- Administer oaths or affirmations
- Take verifications on oath or affirmation
- Witness or attest signatures
- Certify copies
- Note a protest of a negotiable instrument
- Certify depositions of witnesses
- Perform any notarial act authorized by Kentucky law other than KRS 423.300 to 423.455
Note: “A notarial officer may certify that a tangible copy of an electronic record is an accurate copy of an electronic record” (KRS 423.310).
How do I update my address with the Kentucky Secretary of State?
A Kentucky notary public must notify the Secretary of State within ten days if at any time during his or her period of commission or period of registration, a notary changes his or her: (1) name; (2) mail or electronic mail address; (3) county of residence; (4) residential physical address; (5) county of employment; (6) signature or electronic signature; (7) the technology or device used to perform notarial acts; (8) the technology or device used to maintain his or her journal; (9) the technology or device used to render electronic documents tamper-evident; and (10) employer’s name, address, and telephone number. A notary public must submit to the Secretary of State within ten days after making the change the Notary Public Change of Information form with the new information, along with a $10 filing fee. To download the “Notary Public Change of Information” form, go to http://web.sos.ky.gov/notaries/Forms.
Do I have to change my name on my notary commission in Kentucky?
A notary public whose name changes during his or her commission term or period of registration must file with the Secretary of State within ten days of such name change the following: (1) a completed “Notary Public Change of Information” form; (2) the notary commission number and expiration date as it appears on the notary’s certificate of appointment; (3) whether the notary is registered to perform electronic or online notarizations; (4) the notary’s new official signature and/or electronic signature; and (5) a $10 filing fee. To download the “Notary Public Change of Information” form, go to: http://web.sos.ky.gov/notaries/Forms.
Kentucky notarial certificates:
Click here to view Kentucky’s notarial certificates.
Revised: January 2020
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 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 state if they have legal questions about how to notarize.
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.