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Texas Notary Public Duties and Practices

  • What authority is given to one who holds the office of Texas notary?

    A texas notary has authority to:
    • Take acknowledgments
    • Administer oaths and affirmations
    • Take depositions
    • Certify copies of documents not recordable in the public records
    • Protest instruments
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  • Can a Texas notary prepare legal documents?

    Absolutely not. A Texas notary commission does not impart any legal authority whatsoever; a Texas notary who is not a lawyer does not have this authority. The only Texas notary who may prepare legal documents or give any legal advice or guidance is a notary who is also an attorney. As a notary your only duty is to perform the notarial act and complete the notarial certificate. (You may, however, show the signer a certificate.)
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  • How soon may I begin to notarize documents?

    You may begin performing notarial acts as soon as you:
    • Receive your official Texas notary public commission
    • Take the required oath of office
    • Obtain a valid notary stamp and journal
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  • Can a Texas notary help in drafting document?

    No. A Texas notary may not prepare, draft, select, or give advice concerning legal documents. This is an unlawful practice called the "unlicensed practice of law" and is punishable by law.
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  • How long is the term of a Texas notary commission?

    A Texas notary commission term lasts four years. The term begins on the date the Secretary of State issues the commission.
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  • What are the responsibilities of a Texas notary?

    The primary responsibility of a Texas notary public is to prevent fraud. This is accomplished by:
    • Confirming that the signer is who he or she claims to be
    • Ensuring that the signer acknowledges, in the presence of the notary, that he or she understands and has voluntarily signed a document on a given date
    • Placing the signer under oath
    • Taking an affirmation of the truthfulness of a statement made
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  • Can a Texas notary notarize his or her own signature?

    No. A Texas notary CANNOT notarize his or her own signature.
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  • Can a Texas notary notarize his or her spouse's signature or for his or her spouse's business documents?

    There is no statute that addresses this question, but the general rule is that a Texas notary cannot perform a notarization on any document in which he or she is a party to the instrument or in which he or she has a personal or financially beneficial interest in the transaction.
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  • Can a Texas notary notarize for his or her relatives?

    There is no specific answer to this question in the state statutes; you must determine if you have any financial or beneficial interest in the transaction.

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  • Can a Texas notary notarize a signature without the person being present? Can I take acknowledgments over the phone?

    No. A Texas notary who is not commissioned as an online notary may only perform notarial acts when the signer is present at the time the transaction takes place. Remember that the primary function of a Texas notary is to prevent fraud. Notaries do this in part by requiring the personal physical presence of the signer, making a positive identification of the signer, and placing the signer under oath or affirmation, or taking the acknowledgment of the signer that the document was signed willingly for the purposes stated in it. Often, forgeries occur because the notary fails to require the document signer to be present for the notarization.
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  • Must the document be signed in a notary's presence?

    Any document requiring an oath or affirmation must be signed in the presence of the Texas notary. A document requiring an acknowledgment of a signature may have been signed prior to the appearance of the signer before the Texas notary, but in order for the acknowledgment to be made, the signer must again appear before the notary to acknowledge that he or she signed the document. A Texas notary may not complete any notarial certificate without the appearance of the signer at the time the notarial act takes place and the certificate is completed.
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  • If a document requiring an oath is signed prior to the signer appearing before a Texas notary, can the notary refuse to notarize?

    No. The notary should simply request that the signer sign the document again. The notary may add a note in their record book, "second signature at the request of the notary" or something to that effect.
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  • May a Texas notary determine which type of notarial certificate should be attached to a document?

    No. A Texas notary who is not an attorney should only complete a notarial certificate which is already printed on the document. If a notary public is presented with a document without a certificate and the notary makes the decision of which certificate to attach, that notary public would be "practicing law without a license".
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  • Can a Texas notary notarize a document that is not completely filled out?

    No. Do not notarize a signature on a document containing blank spaces. The signer should complete the blanks or seek legal counsel for advice.
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  • Can a Texas notary make certified copies of birth certificates, death certificates, or marriage licenses?

    No. These are recordable documents, and a certified copy can only be issued by the governmental agency that is a custodian of these records. However, a Texas notary has the authority to certify copies of original documents that are not recordable in the public records.
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  • Can a Texas notary perform notarial acts in other counties?

    Yes. A Texas notary has statewide jurisdiction and may perform notarial acts in any county in the state of Texas.
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  • Can a Texas notary notarize documents in other states?

    You may notarize signatures on documents that originate in other states if you perform the notarial act in Texas.
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  • Can a Texas notary perform marriage ceremonies in Texas?

    No. Texas notaries are not authorized to perform marriage ceremonies.
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  • What are the proper steps to follow in all notarial acts?

    • Demand the personal appearance of the signer
    • Properly verify the identify of the signer
    • Review the document
    • Determine the signer's awareness and understanding of the transaction
    • Perform the verbal element of the ceremony
    • Have the signer sign your record book
    • Record all details of the transaction in the record book, including fees charged
    • Fill in, sign, and stamp/seal your notarial certificate
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  • Can a Texas notary make any changes or corrections to notarized documents?

    No. Once a document is notarized, it must not be altered. If changes are necessary, a new document must be executed with a new notarization. All steps must be followed properly, including the personal appearance of the signers involved.
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  • Can a Texas notary translate documents?

    Yes, a Texas notary may serve as a translator, but only if another notary performs the notarial duties required for the execution of the document. A Texas notary must not perform both notarial and translation duties for the same document.
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  • Can a Texas notary notarize for minors?

    Yes. A Texas notary can notarize for a minor, if the notary can determine that the minor understands the act taking place, and if the notary is able to properly identify the minor.
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  • Can a Texas notary refuse to perform notarial acts?

    A Texas notary can refuse to notarize if:
    • A signer you don't know personally has no identification
    • A signer refuses to complete blank spaces
    • A signer appears frightened or confused about the notary act or appears unwilling to sign the document
    • A signer behaves in a threatening manner toward you
    • You do not have your notary seal with you at the time
    • A signer refuses to appear before you personally
    • A signer refuses to take an oath as required, or to verbally acknowledge signing the document presented
    • You have information about the transaction that reveals it is fraudulent or unlawful
    • You and the signer are unable to speak the same language and have no interpreter
    • A document presented to be copied is a public record or publicly recordable document
    • You are involved in the transaction or stand to gain in any way
    • You are unfamiliar with the notarial act to be performed
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  • Can a Texas notary backdate dates on documents?

    No. Notarial certificates must bear the date the notarization took place.
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  • What is a venue?

    The venue is the location (county and state) where you and your signer are standing when the notary act takes place. It is commonly shown in a notarial certificate as:
      State of Texas
      County of ______________
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Legal disclaimer: The information provided on this page is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. We do not claim to be attorneys and we do not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or reliability of the information provided. You should always seek the advice of a licensed attorney for any legal matters. It is your responsibility to know the appropriate notary laws governing your state. In no event shall the American Association of Notaries, its employees, or contractors be liable to you for any claims, penalties, losses, damages, 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 on any of the American Association of Notaries website pages. Notaries are advised to seek the advice of their state’s notary authorities or attorneys if they have legal questions. 

Texas 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). American Association of Notaries is owned by Kal Tabbara, a licensed insurance agent in Texas.