How to Become a Notary in South Carolina
The South Carolina Notary Application Process:
Are you interested in becoming a South Carolina notary? Are you interested in generating extra income, starting your own South Carolina notary business, adding a notary title to your resume, or helping people in your community? The state of South Carolina appoints notaries to serve the public as unbiased impartial witnesses to document signing. Becoming a notary in South Carolina is a straightforward process, and as long as you meet the eligibility requirements listed below, you can apply to become a South Carolina notary. The American Association of Notaries has been helping individuals become notaries since 1994.
This guide will help you understand:
- Who can become a South Carolina notary
- The process to become a South Carolina notary
- Basic South Carolina notary duties
What are the qualifications to become a notary in South Carolina?
To become a South Carolina notary public, a notary applicant must meet the following requirements:
- Be a registered voter in South Carolina.
- Be able to read and write the English language.
- Submit an application containing no significant misstatement or omission of fact.
What is the process to become a notary in South Carolina?
In order to become a South Carolina notary and receive a South Carolina notary commission, a notary applicant must:
- Meet the eligibility requirements provided in the previous section.
- Carefully type or print legibly all information requested on the top portion of the Notary Public Application and Renewal Application (PDF), which must also include the applicant’s voter registration number. (The bottom portion of the application must be completed by the applicant’s legislative delegation.)
- Take the oath of office before a notary public.
- Attach a check or money order to the original application in the amount of $25 made payable to the South Carolina Secretary of State.
- Mail both pages of the original application and the check or money order to the applicant’s county’s legislative delegation office listed at the end of the application for the required signatures. The county delegation office will forward the original application and the check or money order to the Secretary of State.
- Within 15 days after an applicant is commissioned as a notary public, the notary must enroll his or her commission with the Clerk of the Court in the county in which the notary resides and pay a $10 filing fee.
- To download the application/renewal form, go to https://sos.sc.gov/services-and-filings/notaries.
To check or obtain a voter’s registration number, a notary applicant may call the County Board of Elections and Voter Registration or visit the South Carolina Election Commission website.
How do I renew my South Carolina notary commission?
There are no automatic renewals or reminders sent to South Carolina notaries from the Office of the Secretary of State. Therefore, notaries should start the renewal application process at least eight to twelve weeks in advance of their commission expiration dates in order to allow adequate time for renewal processing by their legislative delegation and by the Secretary of State. The renewal process is the same as for the initial application for appointment, including the $25 application fee. A renewal application that indicates a notary public has changed his or her name or address will be rejected if a Change in Status (PDF) form has not been previously filed. To start the renewal application process, go to https://sos.sc.gov/services-and-filings/notaries.
Who appoints notaries in South Carolina?
South Carolina notaries public are appointed by the Governor and commissioned by the South Carolina Secretary of State. To contact the South Carolina Secretary of State, use the following information:
South Carolina Secretary of State
Notary Public Division
1205 Pendleton Street, Suite 525
Columbia, SC 29201
Can a non-resident become a notary in South Carolina?
No. South Carolina does not allow out-of-state residents to become South Carolina notaries public, even if they are employed within the state of South Carolina.
How much can a South Carolina notary public charge for performing notarial acts?
South Carolina notarial fees are set by state notary statute (SCC §26-1-100A). The maximum fees that may be charged by a South Carolina notary public for various notarial acts are listed below:
- Acknowledgments - $5 per signature
- Oaths or affirmations without a signature - $5 per person
- Jurats - $5 per signature
- Signature witnessing - $5 per signature
- Verification of fact - $5 per certificate
A notary public may charge a travel fee when travelling to perform a notarial act if: (1) the notary and the person requesting the notarial act agree upon the travel fee in advance of the travel; (2) the notary explains to the person requesting the notarial act that the travel fee is separate from the notarial fee; and (3) neither is specified nor mandated by statute (SCC §26-1-100[C]).
Note: “A notary who charges a fee for his notarial services shall display conspicuously in his place of business, or present to each principal outside his place of business, an English language schedule of fees for notarial acts.”
Are there any exams or notary courses required to become a notary in South Carolina or to renew my South Carolina notary public commission?
No. South Carolina notary statute does not require a course of study and/or examination to be commissioned as a notary public in South Carolina.
How much does it cost to become a notary in South Carolina?
A South Carolina notary applicant’s expenses may include the cost for the following: (1) a $25 fee to process an application for appointment or reappointment; (2) a notary stamp; (3) a journal if a notary wishes to adhere to the recommendations of the Secretary of State that South Carolina notaries maintain a journal of their notarial acts; and (4) an E&O insurance policy if a notary wishes to obtain one for his or her own personal protection against liability.
How long is the term of a notary public commission in South Carolina?
In South Carolina, notaries public are appointed for a term of ten years commencing with the date specified in the notary public commission. However, a notary’s commission may be rendered void by (1) resignation, death, or revocation; (2) when a notary’s rights to vote are revoked, or (3) when a notary ceases to have the ability to read, write, and understand English.
Is a South Carolina notary bond required to become a notary in South Carolina?
No. South Carolina notaries are not required to be bonded.
Do I need a South Carolina notary errors and omissions insurance?
A notary errors and omissions insurance policy is optional in South Carolina. The American Association of Notaries strongly recommends that South Carolina 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 South Carolina notary selects.
Where can I perform notarial acts in South Carolina?
South Carolina notaries have statewide jurisdiction and may perform notarial acts in any county at any location in South Carolina. A notary public may not perform notarial acts outside the state of South Carolina. However, documents for use in another state may be notarized in South Carolina so long as the notarization physically takes place within the borders of South Carolina.
Do I need to purchase a notary stamp in South Carolina?
Yes. The South Carolina notary statute requires a notary public to have a seal of office, which must be affixed to his or her notarial acts (SCC §26-1-60). The South Carolina notary statute does not provide the legal specifications regarding the layout and the dimensions required for a notary’s seal or stamp. However, state law does provide the following specifications (SCC §26-1-5):
Type—embosser or rubber-inked stamp
Required Elements—The notary’s seal or stamp must contain the following elements:
- The name of the notary public
- The words “Notary Public”
- The words “State of South Carolina”
Note: The notary’s commission expiration date may be included in the notary’s seal or stamp, but that is optional. A notary public is required to include his or her commission expiration date below the notary’s signature (SCC §26-1-60). Furthermore, Section 26-1-90[B] states, “The statement of the date that the notary’s commission expires may appear in the notary’s stamp or seal or elsewhere in the notarial certificate.”
Is a notary journal required in South Carolina?
No. While a journal is not required by state notary law, the South Carolina Secretary of State and the American Association of Notaries highly recommend that a South Carolina notary: (1) maintain a journal of his or her official notarial acts to assist in recalling past notarial acts, if needed, or if legally challenged and (2) maintain a permanent, paper-bound journal with numbered pages to create and preserve a chronological record of every notarial act as a protective measure against liability. It is a misdemeanor offense for a person to, without authority, obtain, use, conceal, deface, or destroy the notarial records of a notary public (SCC §26-1-160[D]). A notary who maintains a notary journal is encouraged to keep it under lock and key. For South Carolina notary supplies, visit the American Association of Notaries website at www.usnotaries.com, call 800.721.2663, or click here.
What notarial acts can a South Carolina notary public perform?
A South Carolina notary public is authorized to perform the following notarial acts (SCC §26-1-90):
- Take acknowledgments
- Administer oaths and affirmations
- Execute attestations and jurats
- Witness signatures
- Take verifications of fact
- Perform marriage ceremonies (SCC §20-1-20)
- Any other acts authorized by law
Can I perform electronic notarizations in South Carolina?
The State of South Carolina has enacted the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (SCC §26-6-110) and the Uniform Real Property Electronic Recording Act (SCC §30-6-30), which includes provisions that authorize notaries to obtain electronic signatures and electronic seals to notarize electronic documents in the physical presence of individuals seeking the notarization. However, the state of South Carolina has not enacted notary statutes, adopted administrative rules, or established standards and procedures for electronic notarizations.
Can I perform remote online notarizations in South Carolina?
No. Currently, South Carolina state laws do not empower South Carolina notaries with the authority to perform remote online notarizations. Moreover, state notary law states, “A notary may not perform a notarial act if the principal or subscribing witness is not in the notary’s presence at the time the notarial act is performed” (SCC §26-1-90[C]). Furthermore, “A notary is guilty of a misdemeanor if the notary takes an acknowledgment or administers an oath or affirmation without the principal appearing in person before the notary” (SCC §26-1-160[B]). A conviction for this misdemeanor offense carries a penalty of a fine not more than $500 or imprisonment for not more than thirty days. If convicted, the notary must forfeit his or her commission and cannot be issued another commission (SCC §26-1-160[G] and [H]). There are no exceptions to the statutory requirements that the principal must be in the physical presence of a notary public for the performance of a notarial act. Therefore, South Carolina notaries are prohibited from performing remote (online) notarizations.
How do I change my address?
Following a change in the notary’s residence, business, or a mailing address or telephone number, the notary must provide notification to the Office of the Secretary of State by completing and filing a Change in Status (PDF) form within 45 days of the change and pay a $10 filing fee. If a notary moves to a new county, the notary must enroll his or her commission with the Clerk of Court in the new county of residence. A notary public who files a change of status form related to residency or contact information is not required to obtain a new notary seal. To download the Change in Status form, go to https://sos.sc.gov/services-and-filings/notaries.
How do I change my name on my notary commission in South Carolina?
Following a change in legal name, the notary must provide notification to the Office of the Secretary of State by completing and filing a Change in Status (PDF) form within 45 days of the name change and pay a $10 filing fee. Upon receipt of the new notary public commission bearing the notary’s new name from the Secretary of State, the notary may officially begin notarizing documents under the notary’s new name. The notary must enroll his or her new notary public commission with the Clerk of Court in the county where he or she resides. The notary must obtain a new notary seal that reflects his or her new name. Filing a change of status related to a legal name change will not affect the commission expiration date of the notary’s original term. The notary must destroy or deface all notary seals bearing the former name so that they may not be misused. To download the Change in Status form, go to https://sos.sc.gov/services-and-filings/notaries.
Revised: October 2019
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.