A Notary Public is an officer commissioned by the Michigan Secretary of State to serve as an unbiased and impartial witness. The most common function of the notary is to prevent fraud by attesting to the identity of a person signing a document. Notarization on a document certifies that the person whose signature is entered on the document appeared before the notary, established his or her identity, and personally signed the document.
Every citizen appointed as a notary has a duty to learn the notarial laws on their own initiative. For example: notaries are not allowed to perform marriage ceremonies in the State of Michigan. Before a notary performs any notarial act, the notary is required to read the Notary Public Act, 2000 PA 238 (MCL 55.261 to 55.315) and the Uniform Recognition of Acknowledgments Act, 1969 PA 57 (MCL 565.261 to 565.270).
The underlying principles of notary law are truth and integrity. Ignorance of notary law is not an excuse, or a defense, for violation of notarial law and procedure.
- At least 18 years of age.
- A Michigan resident, or, if a nonresident, maintain a place of business in Michigan.
- A US citizen or possess proof of legal presence.
- A resident of the county where you are requesting a commission. In the case of nonresidents, you must work in the county in which you are requesting a commission.
- Read and write in the English language.
- Be free of any felony convictions, misdemeanor convictions, or violations as specified.
- Have filed with the appropriate county clerk a proper surety bond in the amount of $10,000 and taken the Oath of Office as prescribed by the constitution.
- Sign a declaration that all information on application is correct, that you have read and understand the laws, and that you will perform all notarial acts faithfully.
- Not be imprisoned in any state, county or federal correctional facility.
Surety Bond Information:
- Notaries public are required to obtain a $10,000 surety bond and file it at the Office of the County Clerk in the county the notary will be appointed. The cost of the bond will vary–generally between $25 to $50. A surety must be licensed to do business in this state.
- A surety bond protects the public from a notary’s misconduct or negligence.
- The bond provides coverage for damages to anyone who suffers financially due to an improper official act on the part of the notary.
- The surety may seek reimbursement from the notary for any damages it pays on the notary’s behalf.
- The Michigan Department of State is authorized to require the notary to purchase replacement bonding if the $10,000 bond funds are depleted by damage claims.
- Surety bonds are not insurance policies. The bond protects the public if a court judgment is rendered against a notary because of negligence or misconduct.
- A surety bond does not protect the notary. “Liability” or “errors and omissions” insurance protect an individual notary.
Oath of Office:
- The oath of office is an oral or written statement taken at your county clerk’s office when you file your bond. (If you are a Michigan resident, this must be your county of residence.)
- An oath is a pledge sworn to stating the truth about a given statement.
- An oath typically given when filing your bond is as follows: “Do you solemnly swear that you will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of this State, and that you will discharge the duties of the office of Notary Public of said County to the best of your ability?”
- After the oath is administered, a verification is completed by the clerk (or the clerk’s designee) attesting that you swore to the statement in the presence of a notary.
- Must complete an Application for Michigan Notary Public Appointment with your driver’s license number, full legal name, name as you wish to be appointed, date of birth, residential address, business address, telephone numbers, and if a current notary, information about your current appointment. To ensure that your appointment is accurately made, print or type your name on the application exactly as you intend to use it when notarizing documents. It is important that you sign the application exactly the way you wish to be appointed.
- Obtain and file a surety bond (available through insurance agencies or bonding companies) in the amount of $10,000 with your respective county clerk. The filing fee for counties (with the exception of Wayne) is $10.
- The county clerk will also administer an Oath of Office, and verify that you have complied with the requirements by completing the designated area on the completed Notary Public Application. Your original signature must then be placed on the form, agreeing to all conditions stated.
- After you have fulfilled the filing requirements at the county level, you must then forward your completed application (with a $10 non-refundable processing fee) to the following address: Michigan Department of State, Office of the Great Seal, 7064 Crowner Blvd., Lansing, MI 48918. Do not send cash. Send a check of money order payable to the “State of Michigan”.
- Your notary commission certificate will then be mailed directly to your residence address as indicated on the application form. Your notary commission is not valid until you receive your certificate of commission in the mail.
Term of Commission:
- Notary public commissions are issued for a 6 to 7-year period ending on the notary’s birthday. The term is not less than 7 years from the date of appointment.
- There is no renewal process so you must apply for a new commission each time. It is your responsibility to apply for a new commission no more than 60-days prior to the expiration date.
- PA 238 of 2003, effective 04/01/2004 provides that notaries public shall receive not more than $10.00 for services in notarizing an acknowledgement or jurat.
- Additional fees for travel may be negotiated between the notary and the client prior to the commencement of the travel.
- The oath and bond filing fee at the county level is $10. The application fee to be forwarded to the State with the completed application is an additional $10.
- A county clerk may collect a service charge fee of $10.00 for certifying a notarial act of a notary public.
- A notary public cannot certify or notarize that a record is an original or a true copy of another record.
- A notary public cannot notarize his or her own signature or take his/her own deposition.
- A notary public cannot claim to have powers, qualifications, rights or privileges that the office of notary public does not provide, including the power to counsel on immigration matters.
- A notary public is prohibited from using any term that implies the notary is an attorney, and from advertising in a foreign language, unless the following statement is prominently displayed in the same language: “I am not an attorney and have no authority to give advice on immigration or other legal matters.” The appropriate fees as specified by statute must also be displayed.
- A notary public cannot use the term “notario publico” or any equivalent non-English term.
- A notary public cannot perform a notarial act in connection with a transaction if the notary is named in the transaction or has a direct financial or beneficial interest in the transaction.
- A notary public cannot perform a notarial act for a family member.
Effective January 1, 2012
A violation of the Michigan Notary Public Act is a felony when a person knowingly violates this act when notarizing any document relating to an interest in real property or a mortgage transaction. Upon conviction, a person can be fined up to $5,000.00 and/or be imprisoned for up to four years.