How to become a Tennessee Notary

Abbreviation: TN | 16th State | Statehood: June 1, 1796 |

The Tennessee Notary Process:

Are you interested in becoming a Tennessee notary? Are you interested in generating extra income, starting your own Tennessee notary business, adding a notary title to your resume, or helping people in your community? The state of Tennessee appoints notaries to serve the public as unbiased impartial witnesses to document signing. Becoming a notary in Tennessee is a straightforward process, and as long as you satisfy the eligibility requirements listed below, you can apply to become a Tennessee notary. The American Association of Notaries has been helping individuals become notaries since 1994.

 

This guide will help you understand:

  1. Who can become a Tennessee notary
  2. The process to become a Tennessee notary
  3. Basic Tennessee notary duties

What are the qualifications to become a Tennessee notary?

To become a Tennessee notary public, you must meet the following requirements:

 

  1. Be at least 18 years of age;
  2. Be a resident or have a principal place of business in the county from which they were elected;
  3. Be a United States citizen or a legal permanent resident;
  4. Never have been removed from the office of notary public for official misconduct;
  5. Never have had a notarial commission revoked or suspended in Tennessee or any other state; and
  6. Never have been found by a court in Tennessee or any other state to have engaged in the unauthorized practice of law.

What is the process to become a Tennessee notary?

To become a Tennessee notary public and receive a Tennessee notary public commission, a notary applicant must:

 

  1. Meet the eligibility requirements provided in the previous section.
  2. Obtain and complete an application from the county clerk in the county in which he or she resides or maintains a principal place of business.
  3. Submit the completed application to his or her county clerk with the application fee of $12, of which $7 is for the county clerk and $5 is for the Secretary of State. Click here to find your county clerk's contact information
  4. Be elected by the county legislative body (county commission) in the county in which he or she resides or maintains a principal place of business.
  5. Secure a $10,000 surety bond.
  6. File the bond with the county clerk. (Upon proof of the bond, the county clerk certifies the election of the applicant and forwards the certification and the $5 fee to the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State issues the notary public commission and returns it to the county clerk’s office.)
  7. Execute an oath of office before the county clerk in the county where elected, and the county clerk will deliver the notary public commission to the notary public.
  8. Obtain a notary seal.
  9.  

    Effective July 1, 2019, the state of Tennessee enacted the Online Notary Public Act authorizing Tennessee notaries to be commissioned as online notaries public and to perform online notarizations after the completion of an application and approval from the Tennessee Secretary of State. To become an online notary public, REGISTER NOW - Online Notary Application.

What is the process to renew a Tennessee notary public commission?

The renewal process for a notary public is the same as for obtaining an original notary public commission. It is a Class C misdemeanor for any person who has been commissioned as a notary public to take an acknowledgment or otherwise to act in an official capacity after the expiration of the notary’s commission (TCA §8-16-120).

Are there any exams or notary courses required to become a Tennessee notary public or to renew my Tennessee notary public commission?

No. Tennessee notary law does not require a course of study or examination to qualify to become a notary public in Tennessee.

Can a non-resident become a notary in Tennessee?

Yes.“If an individual’s principal place of business is in any county in the state of Tennessee, the individual is eligible for election as a notary in that county, although the individual may reside in a state other than Tennessee” TCA §8-16-101[a]. Moreover, a non-resident must meet the statutory eligibility requirements as a resident of Tennessee. Notaries who no longer have a principal place of business in Tennessee are not qualified to act as a Tennessee notary public and must surrender their notary commissions. It is a Class C misdemeanor for a person to act as a Tennessee notary public after moving out of Tennessee (TCA §8-16-110).

Is a Tennessee notary bond required to become a notary in Tennessee?

Yes. A bond in the amount of $10,000 is required for new and renewing notaries public. The bond must be executed: (1) by some surety company authorized to do business in Tennessee as a surety; or (2) with two or more good personal sureties approved by the county legislative body. The bond must be filed with the county clerk in the county elected. The county clerk may charge $2 for taking and recording the bond. To purchase and receive a Tennessee bond via email in one business day, visit the American Association of Notaries website at www.usnotaries.com or call 800.721.2663.

Do I need Tennessee notary errors and omissions insurance?

A notary errors and omissions insurance policy is optional. However, the American Association of Notaries strongly recommends that Tennessee notaries public obtain errors and omissions insurance for their personal protection against liability. 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. An E&O policy customarily covers legal fees and damages based on the coverage a Tennessee notary public selects. To purchase this insurance policy, visit our website at www.usnotaries.com or call 800.721.2663.

How much does it cost to become a notary in Tennessee?

The cost to become a notary public in Tennessee may include: (1) a $12 filing fee to process an application for appointment or reappointment; (2) a $10,000 surety bond; (3) a $2 fee charged by the county clerk for taking and recording the bond; (4) a notary journal if the notary wishes to comply with the recommendations of the Attorney General; and (5) an E&O insurance policy if a notary public wishes to acquire one for his or her own legal and financial protection.

How long is the term of a notary public commission in Tennessee?

The term of office of a Tennessee notary public is four years, commencing on the date the notary public commission is issued by the Governor. However, a notary’s commission may be rendered void: (1) by resignation; (2) by revocation; (3) by death; (4) when the notary public ceases to reside in Tennessee; (5) when the notary is no longer a citizen of the United States; (6) when the non-resident notary public ceases to have a principal place of business in Tennessee; or (7) when the notary is convicted of a felony.

Where can I perform notarial acts in Tennessee?

A Tennessee notary public is authorized to act in any county in the State of Tennessee (TAC §8-16-112[a]).

Who appoints Tennessee notaries public?

The Governor approves the commissioning of Tennessee notaries public, the Secretary of State issues the notary public commission and maintains records regarding notary commissions, and the county legislative body administers the application process and elects all notaries.To contact the Tennessee Secretary of State, use the following information:

 

Tennessee Secretary of State
Business Services
Notary Commissions
312 Rosa L. Parks Avenue
6th Floor, Snodgrass Tower
Nashville, TN 37243-1102
615-741-3699
http://sos.tn.gov/notary-commissions

Do I need to purchase a notary stamp in Tennessee?

Yes. Tennessee notary law requires all Tennessee notaries to use an official seal prescribed and designed by the Secretary of State to authenticate all official acts (TCA §8-16-112[a]).

 

Type — rubber stamp or other type stamp (not an impression seal).

 

Ink color - any color other than black or yellow provided that the color used to imprint the seal shall be clearly legible and appears as black when photocopied on a non-color copier.

 

Shape — circular

 

Dimensions: The Tennessee notary statute does not provide the statutory dimensions regarding the layout for a notary’s official seal.

 

Required Elements: The current design prescribed by the Secretary of State includes the following elements:

 

  • The notary’s name as it appears on the commission (printed at the top);
  • The words "Notary Public"(printed in the center);
  • The words "State of Tennessee” (printed in the center),or
  • The words “Tennessee Notary Public” (printed in the center); and
  • The county of election (printed at the bottom).
  •  

    At the notary’s requests, the county clerk may obtain an official seal for the notary public, and the county clerk may charge a fee for this service not to exceed 20% of the cost of the seal (TCA §8-16-114[d]). Every notary must surrender his or her official seal to the county legislative body (county clerk) upon expiration of the notary’s term of office or resignation. In case of a notary’s death, the notary’s representatives must likewise surrender the notary’s official seal to the county legislative body to be cancelled (TCA §8-16-114[c]).

    Is a notary journal required in Tennessee?

    Yes. The Tennessee statute states, “if the notary or the notary’s employer demands and receives a fee, the notary shall keep a record, either in an appropriate electronic form or in a well-bound book, of each of the notary’s acts, attestations, protestations, and other instruments of publication” (TCA §8-21-1201[b]). Also see Attorney General Opinion No. 14-89, issued September 14, 2014,wherein the Attorney General stated that notaries public are required to maintain a record (in a well-bound book or any appropriate electronic medium) of each of the notaries’ acts, regardless of whether the notary public receives a fee or compensation for his or her services.”

     

    The American Association of Notaries highly recommends that Tennessee notaries maintain a permanent, paper-bound journal with numbered pages to create and preserve a chronological record of every notarial act performed as a protective measure against liability. For Tennessee notary supplies, visit our website at www.usnotaries.com or call 800.721.2663.

    How much can a Tennessee notary public charge for performing notarial acts?

    Notarial fees are NOT set by Tennessee notary laws. A notary public or the notary’s employer is entitled to demand and receive reasonable fees and compensation for the notary’s services (TAC 8-21-1201). An online notary public or the online notary public’s employer may charge a fee in an amount not to exceed $25 each for performing an online notarization in addition to any other fees authorized by law (TCA §8-16-311 &RRT 1360-07-03-.06).

    What notarial acts can a Tennessee notary public perform?
    A Tennessee notary is authorized to perform the following notarial acts (TCA §8-16-112):

     

  • Take acknowledgments
  • Administer oaths and affirmations
  • Take depositions
  • Qualify parties to bills in chancery
  • Protest negotiable instruments
  • Take affidavits
  • How do I change my address?

    If a notary public moves his or her residence or principal place of business out of the county from which the notary was elected and commissioned to another county in Tennessee, the notary must notify the county clerk of the county from which the notary was elected and commissioned and pay to such county clerk a fee of $7.00 (TAC 8-16-109). The county clerk shall thereupon notify the Secretary of State of the change of address. If a notary public moves out of Tennessee and does not have a residence or principal place of business in Tennessee, such notary is no longer qualified to act as a Tennessee notary public and must surrender his or her notary commission to the Secretary of State (TAC 8-16-110).

     

    An online notary public must notify the Secretary of State on the prescribed form of any change in address within fifteen days of the date of the change (RRT 1360-07-03-.07[1]). An online notary who changes his or her address, such that the online notary public no longer qualifies for either a traditional notary public commission or an online notary public commission, he or she vacates the office of online notary public and must surrender his or her online notary commission to the Secretary of State (RRT 1360-07-03-.07[2]).

    How do I change my name on my notary commission in Tennessee?
    If a notary public’s surname changes, the notary must notify the county clerk of the county from which the notary was elected and commissioned and pay to such county clerk a fee of $7.00. The county clerk shall thereupon notify the Secretary of State of the name change. Contact the county clerk of the county from which the notary public was elected and commissioned for further instructions, because the notary may be required to obtain a rider from his or her insurance company with the name change (TAC § 8-16-109).

     

    During the term of the online notary public commission, an online notary may change the name on his or her online notary public commission by notifying the Secretary of State of the name change on the prescribed form, along with a copy of a court order or other document verifying the change of name and updated copies of the online notary’s electronic notarial certificate, electronic signature, and electronic seal showing the updated name (RRT 1360-07-03-.07[3]). The online notary public must first ensure that he or she has appropriately changed his or her name with respect to his or her traditional notary public commission in the county in which the commission was issued before updating his or her name relating to the online notary public commission. The Secretary of State shall issue an amended commission to the online notary public in the updated name.

    Can I perform electronic notarizations in Tennessee?

    The State of Tennessee has enacted the “Uniform Electronic Transactions Act” (TCA 47-10-101 through 47-10-123), including the provisions on notarization and acknowledgment, which authorizes the electronic signatures used by Tennessee notaries public. Section 47-10-111 states, “If a law requires a signature or record to be notarized, acknowledged, verified, or made under oath, the requirement is 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.”

     

    In addition, Tennessee has enacted the “Uniform Real Property Electronic Recording Act” (TCA 66-24-201 through 66-24-206). Section 66-24-203(c) states, “A requirement that a document or a signature associated with a document be notarized, acknowledged, verified, witnessed, or made under oath is satisfied if the electronic signature or a digitized image of a wet signature of the person authorized to perform that act, and all other information required to be included, is attached to or logically associated with the document or signature. A physical or electronic image of a stamp, impression, or seal need not accompany an electronic signature.”Section 66-24-101(d) states that the county register may register a copy of an electronic document if the writing is otherwise eligible for registration and the electronic document is certified as a true and correct copy of the original as required in TCA 66-24-101[d][3]. The certification of an electronic document must be made by either a licensed attorney or the custodian of the electronic version of the document and the signature of that person must be acknowledged by a notary public (TCA 66-24-101[d][3].

     

    The above-mentioned statutes define “electronic document” as one of the following: (A) a writing created or retained as an electronic record in accordance with the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act or the Uniform Real Property Electronic Recording Act and transmitted to the county register electronically, or a paper copy of such an electronic record; or (B) a writing that is a digitized image of a paper document (electronic copy) that is transmitted to the county register electronically (TCA 66-24-101[2].

    Can I become an online notary in Tennessee?

    Yes. Effective July 1, 2019, the State of Tennessee enacted the “Online Notary Public Act” (TCA Sections 8-16-301 through 8-16-313), allowing Tennessee notaries public to be commissioned as online notaries public and to perform online notarizations. To fulfill the requirements of TCA 8-16-304, and in an effort to standardize the processes and procedures for the performance of online notarizations, the Tennessee Secretary of State published and promulgated “Chapter 1360-7-2 Online Notaries Public” emergency rules to implement the Online Notary Public Act.

     

    Before performing an online notarization, a Tennessee notary public must apply to the Secretary of State to be commissioned as an online notary public by submitting an application for commissioning as an online notary public in the form prescribed by the Secretary of State (RRT 1360-07-03--.02). The application for commissioning as an online notary public requires the applicant to include: (1) the name of the vendor and electronic technology or technologies to be used in attaching or logically associating an electronic notarial certificate, signature, and seal to an electronic document; (2) the name of the vendor and electronic technology or technologies to be used in conducting identity proofing and credential analysis; (3) a copy of the applicant’s unique electronic notarial certificate (digital certificate) or other technology for rendering a notarized electronic document tamper-evident; (4) a copy of the applicant’s unique electronic seal, in a file format acceptable to the department; and (5) an explanation of the methods and/or technology by which the online notary will maintain and store the secure electronic records of all electronic documents notarized by the online notary public.

     

    The Secretary of State shall issue an online notary public commission to a qualified applicant who meets all of the legal requirements,and an online notary commission will run concurrently with an existing traditional notary public commission and will expire on the same day. Should a notary public successfully reapply to be a notary public in his or her county, such notary will be allowed to reapply to be an online notary. An online notary public may perform authorized notarial acts by means of an electronic interactive two-way audio and video communication only when the online notary is physically located within the state of Tennessee, without regard to whether the principal is physically located within Tennessee at the time of the online notarization (RRT 1360-07-03-.03[2].

     

    When performing an online notarization, an online notary public must: (1) verify the identity of a principal at the time that the signature is taken by means of two-way video and audio conference technology that is capable of credential analysis and identity proofing; (2) complete and attach a unique electronic notarial certificate signed by affixing or logically associating the online notary’s unique electronic notarial certificate, unique electronic signature, and electronic seal in a manner that is capable of independent verification and renders any subsequent change or modification to the electronic document evident; (3) keep a secure electronic record of all electronic documents notarized by the online notary for at least five years; (4) take reasonable steps to ensure that the two-way video and audio communication used is encrypted during transmission, through means such as a virtual private network (VPN), and secure from unauthorized interception; and (5) ensure that all records relating to any individual transaction are securely stored using the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) as a minimum encryption standard and that the principal’s personally identifying information cannot be accessed by unauthorized individuals.

     

    Most importantly, an online notary public must not perform an online notarization if the principal does not appear before the online notary at the time of the online notarization either in the same physical location or by means of two-way video and audio conference communication. Take note: An online notary public may certify that a tangible copy of an electronic record is an accurate copy of the electronic record by affixing his or her signature and seal to the copy of the electronic record in the traditional manner or other manner authorized by law, but only where the online notary is capable of independently verifying the document is a true and correct copy of the electronic record (RRT 1360-07-03-.03[13]). The electronic notarial certificate for an online notarization must include a notation that the notarization is an online notarization (TAC 8-16-310[c]). Lastly, it is an offense for a person who, without authorization, knowingly obtains, conceals, damages, or destroys the certificate, disk, coding, card, program, software, or hardware enabling an online notary public to affix an official electronic signature or electronic seal. Such violation is a Class D felony (TAC 8-16-313).

    Notarial Certificates:

    Click here to view your state’s notarial certificates.

    Revised: August 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 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.
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