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Non-English Advertising

May I use the term “Notario Publico” on my business sign and cards?

No. In most states, notary laws prohibit notaries public from using the term “Notario Publico” or any equivalent non-English term, in any business card, advertisement, notice or sign. In Mexico and other Spanish-speaking countries, a Notario Publico is a trained attorney with special expertise. A business card could be categorized as “written communication” if the business cards are given out.

Can I use the term “notario publico” when notarizing documents for my Spanish-speaking customers or documents written in Spanish? What if my client insists I use the term?

Absolutely not! The words “Notary Public” may not be translated into any equivalent non-English term because such translation may carry a different meaning that implies powers that are not granted by U.S. notary laws. A notary public may not mislead the public into believing that he or she has duties, rights, powers, or privileges that are not granted by notary laws.

Can I advertise my notary services in a foreign language?

No. In most states, there are statutory restrictions that apply when advertising notary services: 1) a notary public may not use the phrase “Notario Publico”; and 2) the advertisement must include the following words: "I AM NOT AN ATTORNEY LICENSED TO PRACTICE LAW IN THIS STATE, AND I MAY NOT GIVE LEGAL ADVICE OR ACCEPT FEES FOR LEGAL ADVICE."

What if my client insists I use the term “notario publico”?

Tell your client that a notary public is prohibited from translating the term “Notary Public” into “Notario Publico” for any reason under any circumstances. Such a violation may cause you to lose your notary commission and subject you to civil and criminal liability. Tell the signer that a “notario publico” in Latin countries is an attorney, which is not the same as a notary public in the United States.

What is the difference between a “U.S. Notary Public” and a “Notario Publico” from Mexico?

In Mexico, a notario publico: 1) performs the duties of an attorney; 2) serves as a public recorder; 3) is an examiner of documents such as wills; 4) is very instrumental in real estate transactions; 5) records buy-sell contracts and agreements; and 6) conducts title searches. In the United States, however, just about anyone who is 18 years of age, a legal resident of the state, and who has not been convicted of a felony can qualify for appointment to hold the office of notary public.