Why Florida Notaries Public need to be “Tying the Knot”
Did you know Florida is one of only three states that permits its notaries public to officially perform a wedding ceremony? There are 6,200 couples getting married every day in the United States. This means that couples across the country spend a combined $72 billion per year on wedding expenses, and for one-third of those couples, this will not be their first time saying “I do.”
In 2015 nearly half of all weddings took place during the summer months. With summer right around the corner, now is as good a time as ever for any Florida notary to refresh themselves on the state’s marital laws.
This section will detail how you, as a Florida notary public, can impact your community by lending your services to friends, family, and anyone you know who is anticipating their big day!
What do you mean: “legal and binding?”
So, you are an upstanding and honorable Florida notary who just learned you can legally perform weddings, and you just overheard a co-worker is getting married. What is stopping you from lawfully wedding your co-worker to his beloved during your next meet in the break room? To make certain that this union is made a matter of public record, consider these easy-to-follow guidelines:
The couple must obtain a License to Marry prior to the wedding ceremony
A License to Marry is simply authorization for the couple to be married, and is obtained from the County Clerk’s Office. The notary public’s job is to certify the date and location of the marriage
The notary public must be duly appointed and commissioned at the time of the ceremony
Without the presence of a licensed Florida notary public, or otherwise authorized official, all individuals would be participating in an unofficial ceremony.
The wedding must be performed in Florida
Florida is one of three states that authorize their notaries public to “solemnize the rites of matrimony.” However, these duties must be performed in their commissioned state.
The notary public must complete and return the Certificate of Marriage
The notary portion of the certificate must be completed, and the record returned to the county in which it was issued within 10 days of the ceremony.
How to Report a Notary Public in the State of Florida:
The office of Notary Public is pertinent to the honesty of society.
The main goal of the office is to protect the public by preventing fraud. Unfortunately, it is a sad fact that not every notary public takes their duties and contribution to society seriously. In order to uphold the integrity and honor associated with the office of Notary Public, it is important that those violating the law be disciplined accordingly.
Florida notary law specifies numerous acts that a commissioned notary public is prohibited from performing. These include, but are not limited to:
- Notarizing a document without the presence of the signer
- Notarizing a document that is in a language that the signer does not understand
- Notarizing a document without confirming the identity of the signer
- Giving legal advice (which can include – assisting in drafting of a document, telling the signer which notarial act to use, advertising in a foreign language without the proper disclaimers)
- Notarizing a document that is incomplete and contains blank spaces
- Notarizing for family members
- Notarizing your own signature
In addition, all Florida notaries are required to take an oath of office before being commissioned.
This oath states:
I DO solemnly (swear) (affirm) that I will support, protect and defend the Constitutions and Government of the United States and of the State of Florida; that I am duly qualified to hold office under the Constitution of the State of Florida; that I have read Chapter 117, Florida Statues, and any amendments thereto, and know the duties, responsibilities, limitations, and powers of a notary public; and that I will honestly, diligently, and faithfully discharge the duties of Notary Public, State of Florida on which I am now about to enter, (so help me God).
UNDER PENALTY OF PERJURY, I DECLARE THAT I HAVE READ THE FOREGOING APPLICATION AND OATH AND THAT THE FACTS STATES THEREIN ARE TRUE. I accept the office of Notary Public, State of Florida.
If you are aware of a Florida Notary Public that is not upholding the standards they agreed to upon commissioning, it is worth it to fill out a formal complaint to the Governor’s office, especially if you are also a commissioned notary. Remember, they represent the office of Notary Public. Do you want them representing you?
How to Spot a Fake Florida ID
Your first task in any notarization is always going to be to identify the signer. Not only must the signer be present, but it is your job as the notary to ensure the signer provides adequate identification. Being tedious about this step in the process can save you time, money, and hassle in the long run if you are in fact being shown a fake ID. If the signer isn’t who they say they are, then the person they are claiming to be could easily sue you, as the notary, for losses sustained from the notarization.
Luckily, there are a few key features that you can look for when examining a Florida Driver’s License (the most common form of ID presented to Florida notaries):
The first things to look at are the edges of the ID.
- Real Florida IDs are smooth, have uniform edges, and are one complete plastic surface
- Fake Florida IDs have edges that may appear to be peeling or can be lifted. Their layers give or buckle when slightly bent. Raised surfaces on the ID can indicate the layering of a picture or other information on top of the original ID
Make sure the standard Florida security features are present.
- Real Florida IDs have a “ghost photograph” located in the bottom right of the ID. The “ghost photograph” is essentially a faded copy of the main ID picture. Another prominent security feature that will be present are the holograms located on the surface.
- Fake Florida IDs may not have a “ghost photograph” or may not include holograms on their surface. While these are easily detectable, be aware that holograms can be faked. One way to tell if a hologram is fake is to check for air pockets in the layer between the hologram and the ID surface.
The hardest aspect of a Florida ID to replicate is the ‘R’ in ‘EXPIRES’ located on the front of the ID.
- Real Florida IDs have an altered ‘R’ in ‘EXPIRES’ – the bottom right leg of the ‘R’ is cut off.
- Fake Florida IDs have no such alteration. The word ‘EXPIRES’ will look exactly as expected.
If no discrepancies can be found on the front of the ID, there are additional things you can look for on the back of the ID.
- Real Florida IDs have a magnetic strip that runs horizontally across the back of the ID. In addition, a one-dimensional barcode will stretch from the base of the card up to the magnetic strip.
- Fake Florida IDs may be missing a magnetic strip or have one-dimensional barcodes that do not reach all the way up to the magnetic strip. This is a common sign you are looking at a fake Florida ID.
Regardless of the Florida specific features, you should always be paying attention to the details listed on the ID. Does the ID say the person before you is a 6’2” man, when you are clearly dealing with someone who is no taller than 5’7”? Is the license expired? Does the birthday listed on the ID match the relative age of the person in front of you?
If after all of this you are still uncertain about the legitimacy of the Florida ID being presented to you, you can always ask for additional sources of identification.
Better safe, than sorry.
One reason many people become a notary public is the extra potential source of income that the position offers. There are limits, however, to what you can legally charge.
The maximum rates per notarial act (as of 1/1/2016) are:
$10.00 – Oath/Affirmation
$10.00 – Vehicle Identification Number
$10.00 – Execute a Protest
$10.00 – Certifying the Contents of a Safe-Deposit Box
$10.00 – Attesting a Photocopy
$10.00 – Acknowledgment
$30.00 – Solemnizing a Marriage
While these are the maximum rates that you can charge per notarial act, you are allowed to charge for things outside of the notarial act, such as travel fees, after hours fees, and holiday fees for offering your services at the signer’s convenience. These additional fees, however, must be conveyed and agreed upon in advance.
In addition, the standard notarial fees can be charged per notarial certificate. If you meet with a signer who has three separate documents for you to notarize, you can legally charge them up to, but no more than, $30 for the combined notarial acts.
Finally, it is always your choice whether or not to charge for your services. If you want to charge a rate under the legal maximum, that is also allowed.
NOTE: The particular rates listed above pertain to notaries public commissioned in the state of Florida only. To find out how much you can legally charge if you are commissioned in a different state, reference your Secretary of State’s website or comment below and we will be happy to obtain the information for you.
How to Handle Moving as a Notary Public in Florida
Moving can be one of the most stressful and expensive events in a person’s life. To make your relocation a little easier on you, we’ve compiled a list of what you’ll need to know when moving within, out of, or into Florida, when it comes to your notary commission.
Moving within Florida
Good news! Staying within the state of Florida makes this whole moving process easier!
In Florida, you are commissioned by the Governor and your commission is state-wide. As such, you are able to perform notarial acts throughout the state of Florida.
It is still important, however, to notify the state if you have a change in address. Failure to do so can cause you to miss important information regarding your commission from both the state and your bonding agency.
Please contact our customer care department at (800) 821-0821 to update your address with us.
To update your address with the state, send your change of address notification to:
Department of State
Division of Corporations
P.O. Box 6327
Tallahassee, FL 32314
Moving out of Florida
One specification for being a commissioned notary public in the state of Florida, is maintaining a permanent residency throughout the duration of your commission. If you move out of the state of Florida during your notary commission, it is required that you resign your commission. To do so, send a signed letter of resignation, along with your commission, to the Governor at:
Executive Office of the Governor
209 The Capitol
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001
Unless otherwise requested by the Governor, the final step is to destroy your notary seal.
Watch our online tutorial to learn how to dispose of your notary seal properly: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCP5I0joTv0
Moving into Florida
Welcome to the Sunshine State!
- Are you able to read, write, and understand the English language?
- Are you a permanent resident of Florida? (GOOD NEWS! There is no minimum length of residency in order to qualify for commissioning. This means you can get commissioned right away!)
- Are you at least 18 years old?
- If you have ever been convicted of a felony, were your civil rights restored?
If your answer was “yes” to these four questions, then becoming a notary public in the state of Florida is a very straight-forward process.
So, you are renewing your commission?
First of all, Notary Public Underwriters would like to thank you for the vital service you provided to your state. As you know, not just anyone can be a notary public.
As required by Senate Bill 1334, first time Florida notaries are required to complete an education course before they can be commissioned. Now that you’re renewing, you may be asking yourself:
Why should I bother with another notary education course?
Our memory has a funny way of forgetting things
It is an indisputable fact that our minds sometimes fail us and they forget things. As you continually obtain new information in your day-to-day life, your brain has to decide what information is essential and what information can be pushed into the background.
You know the phrase “use it or lose it?” It can be applied to your memory too!
Let’s say that during your first commission you predominantly conducted affirmations and acknowledgements. For whatever reason, your life has taken you in a different direction (maybe a new job, new business, new you), and during your second commission you will be making more attested copies. It has been a number of years since you first received your educational training to be a notary public and since you rarely, if ever, made attested copies, you may be rusty on the legalities of the matter (after all, you weren’t using the information and your brain had to make room for that delicious chicken parmesan recipe!). The best way to combat this loss of memory is to re-familiarize yourself with the information you learned the first time around.
Renewing your education is one of the best ways to ensure you are performing your critical duties as a notary public properly. Remember, you are the first line of defense against fraud and we want to keep that front line strong!
The only thing that stays the same is that things will always change
As a notary public, with a commission lasting 4 years, it can be hard to keep up with the changes to notary laws in your state. It is important to note, however, that it is your responsibility to stay up to date with any changes that occur while you are commissioned. This may seem relatively easy if you are an active notary. But this isn’t always the case:
What if you rarely perform notarial duties?
What if you had a commission for four years, but only actively utilized your commission for the first two?
What if you waited a few years before getting re-commissioned?
In all these cases, keeping up with the notary laws in Florida may not have seemed like “top priorities.” But now that you are renewing your commission, they definitely are.
REMEMBER: You are responsible for everything you notarize.
Ultimately, a simple online educational course could save you a lot of time and money in the long run even if you are a renewing Florida notary.
Though the phrases “certifying a copy” and “attesting a copy” are sometimes used synonymously, a certified copy and an attested copy are actually two very different things. Confused yet? Yeah, so were we!
A certified copy is an official copy of a public or vital record, usually held by the clerk of court, which must be made and certified by the official custodian of the document. These documents include birth certificates, death certificates and marriage and divorce records. Even though some notaries public are authorized to “certify copies,” this does not mean that they are allowed to produce certified copies of official records.
In Florida, notaries public can, on the other hand, make an attested copy. An attested copy is made by a notary public from an original document.
Some key things to remember about attested copies:
- In Florida, an attested copy cannot be made from anything but an original document (NEVER attest to the copy of a copy).
- An attested copy cannot be made from an officially certified copy. If a person wishes to secure an additional copy of the public or vital record, they must obtain a new certified copy of the original document from the document’s official custodian.
- Attested copies cannot be made from school records, particularly transcripts. School records are specifically under the authority of the school’s registrar. If a person wishes to receive a copy of these records, they should contact the registrar directly.
It is important to know which documents can have “attested copies” made from them and which documents cannot. We highly recommend looking up your state’s specific document regulations for this notarial act.
The most important thing to take away from this is: though your state may authorize you to “certify copies,” you are not able to do so with documents that must legally be copy-certified by the official custodian of the document.
With college football season upon us, it is hard to avoid showing pride in our alma maters.
Much to our dismay, sometimes it’s difficult to be work appropriate and still support your team (why some offices are against you wearing your team helmet, we have no idea. I mean you even wore it on a Friday!), but with our vast collection of notary stamps, you can show your pride without going against any professional policies.
University of Florida Gators
Our stamps can be used with your commission information to be your primary notary stamp, or you can personalize it and use it for anything and everything in-between. Personalize it with your name and address, and use it to stamp all the letters to your friends talking up the big game!
University of Miami Hurricanes
Florida State University Seminoles
Red isn’t garnet and yellow isn’t gold, and we would never try and fool you into believing they were. Though we do not currently offer garnet and gold notary stamps, we would be happy to create a personalized stamp for you saying “Unconquered.” Because let’s be honest, if you went to FSU, you are unconquered.
So you’ve turned in your application and submitted your fees and order, now what?
The State of Florida requires a paper application. Once you submit your paper application, we electronically submit it to the state AND hand deliver it that same day. The State of Florida allows bonding agencies to electronically submit the notary application information, but they are also required to submit your paper application. Your commission cannot be processed until the State receives your paper application.
The State takes 2-3 business days to approve your application. Upon approval, they mail out your commission certificate to your bonding agency. Just like we hand deliver your application, we pick up your commission certificates from the Secretary of State’s office directly the day they are issued.
By hand delivering and picking up your commission certificates we are eliminating extra mail time. This allows us to have the fastest turnaround time in the Florida notary industry!
Don’t be misled by other bonding agencies telling you that your application takes longer than 2-3 days to be processed by the Secretary of State—the extra time is required for them to mail your application and receive your certificate. Skip those extra steps and go with Notary Public Underwriters; just a few short miles from the Secretary of State’s office, we can cut your wait time in half.
IMPORTANT REMINDER: If you are renewing your notary commission, your application can only be sent for approval within 4 months of your previous commission’s expiration. NPU checks for accuracy and completion of paperwork and will submit for approval the exact day your application becomes eligible.
All first-time notaries are required to take a Florida-approved education course.
Before you dive into the notarial world, Florida wants to ensure you are aware of standard practices and are informed about notarial law. You need this foundation to ensure you are not making mistakes that could negatively impact you or the public.
Florida notary laws, notary ethics, standard notarial practices, and the difference between the notary bond and notary Errors and Omissions Insurance are all covered in the course. The education course provides you with a foundation of knowledge to start your notary career.
Length of Course
The length of the education course varies per provider. Our online education course will take approximately three hours, depending on how quickly you read and absorb the material. In addition, the course can be completed at your own leisure, according to your schedule. Upon purchase, you will have access to the education course through your Profile online and will be able to access it as much as you like. This conveniently allows you to start and stop the lessons as necessary.
Where to Take It?
When looking for an education course to take, ensure it is approved by the State of Florida. Only the approved courses will count towards your notary commission.
Online courses, such as the one currently offered by us, make it easy to fit the course into your life. You can take the education course at your own pace, and have the material available at your fingertips whenever you need it.
When submitting your application for your first-time commission, you will need to provide proof that you have fulfilled the education requirement. If you have completed your education through us, you will have access to an education certification with the date of completion listed. If you do not complete a course, you will not be granted your commission.