Notary Responsibility

Notary responsibility requires a strict adherence to the law and the guiding principles of our profession. As in any profession, it is important to remain on top of the ever changing universe of laws and it is your responsibility to do so.

The guiding principles of our profession, as I analyze them, are really a broad statement of our professions legal requirements. That being said, they are important to know and follow.

Many very fine people gathered, discussed and published 10 guiding principals of notary responsibility. I have copied them verbatim from the National Notary Association. As part of your notary responsibility, please review and understand the following:

Guiding Principles


The Notary shall, as a government officer and public servant, serve all of the public in an honest, fair and unbiased manner.


The Notary shall act as an impartial witness and not profit or gain from any document or transaction requiring a notarial act, apart from the fee allowed by statute.


The Notary shall require the presence of each signer and oath-taker in order to carefully screen each for identity and willingness, and to observe that each appears aware of the significance of the transaction requiring a notarial act.


The Notary shall not execute a false or incomplete certificate, nor be involved with any document or transaction that is false, deceptive or fraudulent.


The Notary shall give precedence to the rules of law over the dictates or expectations of any person or entity.


The Notary shall act as a ministerial officer and not provide unauthorized advice or services.


The Notary shall affix a seal on every notarized document and not allow this universally recognized symbol of office to be used by another or in an endorsement or promotion.


The Notary shall record every notarial act in a bound journal or other secure recording device and safeguard it as an important public record.


The Notary shall respect the privacy of each signer and not divulge or use personal or proprietary information disclosed during execution of a notarial act for other than an official purpose.


The Notary shall seek instruction on notarization, and keep current on the laws, practices and requirements of the notarial office.

There are several purposes listed for these principles. But they can all be boiled down to the following:

1. They provide a guideline when there is no statute as to your conduct.

2. They give you confidence that you are doing the right thing.

3. They will reduce fraud and keep you out of trouble.

4. They will heighten respect and professionalism.

5. They will help explain to others what you do.

For a printable copy of Notary Responsibility, click here.

Model Notary Act

As part of your notary responsibility, I wanted to mention here the Model Notary Act. Model Acts are generally written by trade organizations as suggested laws for states to adopt. Some states will adopt all or only parts of the act. Sometimes, courts will use the model act as sources for decisions. They also can provide guidance for the profession. So they can be important.

I have always admired those professionals who have taken the time and effort to draft and finalize a model act. Having participated in the process many years ago (unrelated to notaries) I understand the hard work that goes into the process. We owe the fine men and women who took the time to prepare this model act a great deal of gratitude. At any rate, that is my 2 cents worth.

The Model Notary Act can give you guidelines to follow if you are ever in a position that you are not sure what to do. Also, I am willing to bet that many questions on the notary exam come from this act. So it is worth your while to read and understand what is contained in the act. I have provided a link to the Model Notary Act in pdf format for you to review. Please take the time to take a look at the act when you have the time to do so.