The Notary Public Code of Professional Responsibility
In 1998, the National Notary Association introduced the first-ever comprehensive and detailed code of ethical and professional conduct for America’s Notaries: The Notary Public Code of Professional Responsibility.
The Code addresses common problems, issues and questions encountered by today’s Notaries by prescribing principles, standards and rules and applying them in helpful specific examples.
While many occupations pose professional and ethical norms for their practitioners, the need for guidelines is particularly acute with persons holding the office of Notary because of their unusual status as both public and private functionaries. In few offices is the practitioner more subject to conflicting pressures. Yet, in few offices are the guiding statutes often so scant and inadequate.
Purposes of the Code
First and foremost, the purpose of the Code is to guide Notaries Public in the United States when statutes, regulations and official directives fall short. It also serves these other functions:
- Educates Non-Notaries – The Code may be handed to an employer, a coworker, a customer or any other user of notarial services to explain the Notary’s proper role.
- Catalyst for Change – For lawmaker and administrators, the Code is a moral imperative for progressive change and a catalyst for improving notarial statutes and conventions.
- Reduces Fraud, Litigation – Widespread implementation of the Code will reduce fraud and the volume of civil and criminal lawsuits.
- Fosters Confidence – Any Notary’s adherence to the standards of the Code brings confidence that he or she is acting in accordance with the highest professional and ethical traditions of the Notary office.
- Engenders Respect – Widespread adherence to the standards of the Code will heighten professionalism and engender respect and recognition for the Notary office in this nation and abroad.
The Notary Public Code of Professional Responsibility is based upon 10 widely accepted “Guiding Principles” that clarify the multiple roles of the Notary Public in the United States. These are general rules for responsible conduct.
10 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 the Notary believes 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.
Click here to view or download a copy of The Notary Public Code of Professional Responsibility [PDF] .