How to Become a Notary in Florida
The Application Process to Become a Notary in Florida:
Are you interested in becoming a Florida notary? Are you interested in generating extra income, starting your own Florida notary business, adding a notary title to your resume, or helping people in your community? The State of Florida appoints notaries to serve the public as unbiased impartial witnesses to document signing. Becoming a notary in Florida is a straightforward process, and as long as you meet the eligibility requirements listed below, you can apply to become a Florida notary. The American Association of Notaries has been helping individuals become notaries since 1994.
This Florida notary guide will help you understand:
- Who can become a notary in Florida
- How to become a notary in Florida
- The basic duties of a notary in Florida
What are the qualifications to become a notary in Florida?
To become a notary in Florida, a notary applicant must meet the following requirements:
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Be a legal resident of Florida
- Be a permanent resident alien with proof of Declaration of Domicile
- Be able to read, write, and understand the English language
- If ever convicted of a felony, have had restoration of civil rights
What is the process to become a notary in Florida?
To become a notary in Florida and receive a Florida notary public commission, a notary applicant must:
- Meet the eligibility requirements provided in the previous section.
- Satisfactorily complete at least a 3-hour notary educational course that includes electronic notarization within one year prior to the application. This requirement may be satisfied by completing, at no cost, the course offered by the Florida Department of State and the Governor’s Office on the internet.
- Complete an application packet, which may be obtained from one of the bonding agencies that have been approved to electronically submit application information to the Division of Corporations, Notary Commissions Section or downloaded from their site.
- Complete forms DS-DE 77 and DS-DE 76 from the application packet and return them to the Division through one of the approved bonding agencies either in paper format or in an electronic format, along with a $39 check or money order made payable to the Department of State.
- Lastly, after your notary public commission is issued, it will be mailed to the sending bonding agency for distribution to the notary.
How do I renew my notary commission in Florida?
Florida notaries seeking to renew their notary public commissions may apply for reappointment as notaries public approximately six months in advance of their current commission expiration dates. Notaries applying for reappointment as notaries public must follow the same process and procedures as required for a new application for appointment as a notary public.
Who appoints notaries in Florida?
In Florida, notaries are appointed by the Governor, and the Governor’s Office reviews complaints of misconduct against notaries and takes disciplinary action when deemed appropriate. However, the Florida Department of State receives applications for appointment and reappointment as a notary public, administers the commissioning process, and maintains records on notaries. The Governor's Office has also partnered with the Department of State to bring notaries the required Notary Education Course.
Contact information for the Notary Section of the Governor’s Office:
Executive Office of the Governor
Office of the General Counsel
The Capitol, Suite 209
400 South Monroe Street,
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001
Contact information for the Department of State:
Florida Department of State
Division of Corporations
Notary Commissions and Certifications Section
PO Box 6327
Tallahassee, FL 32314
Can a non-resident become a notary in Florida?
No. An individual who is not a legal resident of Florida is not eligible to apply for a Florida notary public commission.
How long is the term of a notary public commission in Florida?
The term of office for a Florida notary public is four years, commencing with the date specified in the notary public commission. However, a notary’s commission may be rendered void:
- By resignation.
- By death.
- By revocation.
- When a notary public ceases to maintain legal residence in Florida during the entire term of appointment.
- When a notary is no longer a citizen or permanent legal resident of the United States.
- When a notary public becomes disqualified pursuant to Fla. Stat. §117.01(4).
Is notary training or an exam required to become a notary or to renew a notary commission in Florida?
Yes. A new applicant seeking a commission as a Florida notary public is required to complete at least three hours of interactive or classroom instruction, including electronic notarization and the duties of the notary public, within one year prior to submitting an application for appointment as a notary public. The educational courses satisfying this requirement may be offered by any public or private sector person or entity registered with the Executive Office of the Governor and must include a core curriculum approved by that office. This requirement may also be satisfied by completing, at no cost, the course offered by the Florida Department of State and the Governor’s Office online. After completing the educational course, the notary applicant will receive a certificate of completion which can be submitted with the application for appointment.
How much does it cost to become a notary in Florida?
A notary applicant’s expenses may include the cost for the following:
- A $39 filing fee to process an application for appointment or reappointment.
- A $7,500 notary bond.
- A notary stamp.
- The educational notary course offered by an approved educational vendor.
- A notary journal if the notary follows the recommendations of the Governor’s Office.
- An E&O insurance policy if a notary wishes to obtain one for his or her own personal protection against liability.
No commission fee is required for the issuance of a commission as a notary public for a veteran who has served in wartime service and who has a disability rating of 50% or more, and such a disability is subject to verification by the Florida Department of State.
Is a notary errors & omissions insurance policy required to become a notary in Florida?
A Florida errors and omissions insurance policy is optional in Florida. The American Association of Notaries strongly recommends that Florida 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 insurance policy customarily covers legal fees and damages based on the coverage a Florida notary selects. For information regarding an E&O insurance policy, visit the American Association of Notaries website, or call 713-644-2299.
Is a notary bond required to become a notary in Florida?
A Florida notary bond in the amount of $7,500 is required for all new applicants seeking appointments as notaries public and renewing notaries seeking reappointment. The bond must be issued by a surety company licensed or authorized to transact business in Florida that covers a notary public’s acts or omissions during the course of the notary’s four-year commission term. Upon payment to any individual harmed as a result of a breach of duty by the notary public, the entity who has issued the notary bond for the notary public shall notify the Governor of the payment and the circumstances which led to the claim. To purchase a Florida notary bond, visit the American Association of Notaries website, or call 713-644-2299.
Do I need to purchase a notary stamp in Florida?
Florida notary statutes requires all notaries public to use a rubber, black-inked stamp to authenticate all notarial acts. Section 117.05(3)(a) of the Florida Statutes provides the legal specifications regarding the layout and the information required on all notary official seals.
Required Elements: The official notary seal must contain the following elements:
- The name of the notary public
- The date of expiration of the commission of the notary public
- The commission number assigned to the notary public
- The words “Notary Public”
- The words “State of Florida”
The dimensions of the rubber stamp are not specified by the Florida statutes. No emblem or symbol is required or prohibited. However, the use of the Great Seal of the State of Florida on the notary stamp is strictly prohibited.
An impression-type seal may be used in addition to the rubber stamp seal, but the rubber stamp seal shall be the official seal for use on paper documents, and the impression-type seal may not be substituted therefor. For electronic notarization, a notary must affix the information contained in his or her notary seal but need not affix the image of the physical notary seal (FS 117.021).
How much can a Florida notary public charge for performing notarial acts?
Florida notary fees are set by state notary statute (FS §117.05a). The maximum allowable fees that a Florida notary public can charge for notarial acts are listed below:
- Acknowledgments - $10.00
- Oaths or affirmations - $10.00
- Jurats - $10.00
- Protests - $10.00
- Copy certifications - $10.00
- Solemnizing a marriage - $30.00
- Verifying a VIN - $20.00
- Performing an online notarization - $25
Note: A notary public may not charge a fee for witnessing a vote-by-mail ballot in an election and must witness such a ballot upon the request of an elector, provided the notarial act is in accordance with the provisions of this chapter (FS §117.05[b]).
Is a notary journal required in Florida?
The Florida notary statute does not require Florida notaries public to record their notarial acts performed in a journal. The Governor’s Office strongly recommends that all notarial acts be recorded in a notary journal in order to protect the notary public from liability. While a journal is not required by state notary law, the American Association of Notaries also encourages Florida notaries to 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 allegations of fraudulent notarial acts and official misconduct. Florida notaries may find that maintaining a journal of notarial acts is a beneficial tool for their own notarial standards and practices in the performance of their notarial acts. To order a Florida notary journal, please visit the American Association of Notaries website, or call 713-644-2299.
Where can I perform notarial acts in Florida?
A Florida notary public has statewide jurisdiction and may perform notarial acts in any county anywhere within the geographic borders of the state of Florida. Likewise, a Florida notary may not perform notarial acts outside of Florida.
What notarial acts can a Florida notary public perform?
A Florida notary public is authorized to perform the following notarial acts (FS §117.03 and §117.04):
- Taking an acknowledgment
- Administering an oath or affirmation
- Attesting or certifying a copy
- Solemnizing a marriage (FS §117.045)
- Verifying vehicle identification numbers (FS §319.23a)
- Certifying the contents of a safe-deposit box (FS §655-94)
Can I perform electronic notarizations in Florida?
Yes. The Florida Statutes, Title X, Chapter 117, Section 117.021 authorizes electronic notarizations. The Department of State adopted rules that set forth the definitions and notary signature and seal for electronic notarizations. Section 117.021 provides that in performing an electronic notarial act, a notary public must use an electronic signature that is:
- Unique to the notary.
- Capable of independent verification.
- Retained under the notary’s sole control that includes access protection through the use of passwords or codes under control of the notary.
- Attached to or logically associated with the electronic document in a manner that any subsequent alteration to the electronic document displays evidence of the alteration.
Furthermore, Section 117.021 provides the seal information required for an electronic document. Failure of a notary public to comply with any of the requirements of Section 117.021 may constitute grounds for suspension of the notary’s commission by the Executive Office of the Governor. The Department of State, in collaboration with the Agency for State Technology, shall adopt rules establishing standards for tamper-evident technologies that will indicate any alteration or change to an electronic record after completion of an electronic notarial act. All electronic notarizations performed on or after January 1, 2020 must comply with the adopted standards (FS §117.021). Moreover, a notary public may not notarize a signature on a document if the person whose signature is being notarized does not appear before the notary public either by means of physical presence or by means of audio-video communication technology as authorized under Part II of Chapter 117 at the time the signature is notarized (FS §117.107). The Department of State encourages notaries who wish to perform electronic notarizations to review and research Sections 117.021, 107.105, 117.107, and 668.50 of the Florida Statutes as well as Florida’s Uniform Electronic Transaction Act.
Can I perform remote online notarizations in Florida?
Yes. The Florida 2019 Legislature enacted House Bill 409 amending the Florida Notaries Public statutes by adding new provisions for remote online notarizations with an effective date of January 1, 2020. Florida notaries are authorized to perform remote online notarizations using two-way audio-video communication technology that meets the requirements and standards of Part II of Chapter 117 and any rules adopted by the Department of State pursuant to Section 117.295. Before a notary public performs his or her initial online notarization, the notary must apply to the Department of State to register for an online notary public commission.
What is the process to become an online notary in Florida?
Before performing an online notarization pursuant to Section 117.225, a registrant must:
- First be commissioned as a Florida notary public.
- Certify that he or she has completed a classroom or online course covering the duties, obligations, and technology requirements for serving as an online notary public.
- Pay a notary public registration fee.
- Submit a registration as an online notary public to the Department of State, signed, and sworn to by the registrant.
- Identify the RON service provider whose audio-video communication technology and processes for credential analysis and identity-proofing technologies the registrant intends to use for online notarizations and confirm that such technology and processes satisfy the requirements of Chapter 117 and any rules adopted by the Department of State pursuant to Section 117.295.
- Obtain a $25,000 bond, approved, and filed with the Department of State.
- Provide evidence satisfactory to the Department of State that the registrant acting in his or her capacity as an online notary public is covered by an errors and omissions insurance policy from an insurer authorized to transact business in Florida in the amount of $25,000 on such terms as are specified by rule by the Department of State as reasonably necessary to protect the public.
When performing online notarizations using an approved communication technology, an online notary public must:
- Be physically located within the boundaries of Florida, even though the principal may be geographically located in any state or country. The principal must be visually in the presence of the online notary through the use of an interactive, two-way, audio-video communication.
- Confirm the identity of a principal and any witness appearing online, at the time that the signature is taken, using an audio-video communication technology and processes that meets the legal requirements and rules adopted hereunder and record the two-way audio-video conference session between the notary public and the principal and any witnesses. A principal may not act in the capacity of a witness for his or her own signature in an online notarization.
- Confirm, either verbally or through the principal’s written consent, that the principal desires the notarial act to be performed by a Florida notary public under the general law of Florida.
- Inform the participating parties that the remote notarial act will be captured by an audiovisual recording.
- Include in the audiovisual recording a recitation of how the identity of the principal was authenticated.
- Include in the audiovisual recording recitation of a confirmation by the principal that the principal’s signature on the record is knowingly and voluntarily made.
- Complete an electronic notarial certificate for each online notarization.
- Include the language in the electronic notarial certificate that the notarization was an online notarization, which may be satisfied by placing the term “online notary” in or adjacent to the online notary public’s seal.
- 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 two-way video and audio communication used in the remote notarization is secure from unauthorized interception.
- Take reasonable steps to ensure that any registered device used to create an electronic signature is current and has not been revoked or terminated by the device’s issuing or registering authority.
- Attach the remote 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 evident.
- The maximum fee the online notary or his or her employer may charge for the online notarization is $25.
Florida notary law requires an online notary who performs online notarizations to access the information contained in the electronic journal using a password or other secure means of authentication. An online notary must be able to print or produce a tangible record of any entry logged in the notary’s electronic journal. An online notary may charge a fee to recover expenses related to the copying of electronic journal entries or audiovisual recording of remote notarial acts. An online notarization performed in accordance with Chapter 117 is deemed to have been performed within Florida and is governed by the applicable laws of the state of Florida. Moreover, the liability, sanctions, and remedies for the improper performance of online notarizations are the same under the law for the improper performance of a notarial act performed by a traditional notary public.
How do I update my address with the Florida Secretary of State?
A Florida notary public must notify, in writing, the Department of State of any change in his or her business address, home telephone number, business telephone number, home address, or criminal record within 60 days after such a change (FS §117.01).
How do I change my name on my notary commission in Florida?
A Florida notary public who lawfully changes his or her name must provide, within 60 days after such a change:
- A request for an amended commission from the Department of State.
- A $25 fee.
- His or her current commission.
- A notice of change form from the Department of State.
- The notary’s new name.
- A specimen of the notary’s official signature.
The Department of State shall issue an amended commission to the notary public in the new name. A rider to the notary public’s bond must accompany the notice of change form. After submitting the required notice of change form and rider to the Department of State, the notary public may continue to perform notarial act in his or her former name for 60 days or until receipt of the amended commission, whichever date is earlier (FS §117.107). To file a name change, visit the Department of State website.
Legal disclaimer: The American Association of Notaries seeks to provide timely articles for notaries to assist them with information on how to become a notary, managing their notary businesses, enhancing their notary education, and securing their notary stamp and notary supplies. Every effort is made to provide accurate and complete information in the American Association of Notaries newsletters. However, we make no warrant, expressed or implied, and we do not represent, undertake, or guarantee that the information in the newsletter is correct, accurate, complete, or non-misleading. Information in this article is not intended as legal advice. We are not attorneys. We do not pretend to be attorneys. Though we will sometimes provide information regarding notaries’ best practices, federal laws and statutes, and the laws and statutes of each state, we have gathered this information from a variety of sources and do not warrant its accuracy. In no event shall the American Association of Notaries, its employees, or contractors be liable to you for any claims, penalties, loss, damage, or expenses, howsoever arising, including, and without limitation, direct or indirect loss or consequential loss out of or in connection with the use of the information contained in the American Association of Notaries newsletters. It is your responsibility to know the appropriate notary laws governing your state. Notaries are advised to seek the advice of their states’ notary authorities or attorneys in their state if they have legal questions. If a section of this disclaimer is determined by any court or other competent authority to be unlawful and/or unenforceable, the other sections of this disclaimer continue in effect.
Florida notary bonds and errors and omissions insurance policies provided by this insurance agency, the American Association of Notaries, Inc., are underwritten by Western Surety Company (established 1900). Kal Tabbara is a licensed insurance agent in Florida.