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Who Owns Your Notary Commission, Seal And Journal?

seal-certificate-resized.jpgUpdated 6-11-19. When an employer asks you to work as a Notary, it's important to know what you both can and cannot do. There are 5 important things to know when working as a Notary-employee.

Tools of the office: Many employers incorrectly believe they should be able to control, or at least have access to, their Notary-employees’ stamps and journals. These are the tools of the Notary office, and the Notary must control and safeguard them at all times. For example, California, Florida and Pennsylvania all prohibit the use of a seal by anyone other than the Notary it was issued to, and California requires its Notaries to store their tools in a locked and secure area. If they are stored at the office, they must be kept in a place only the Notary can access. (However, please see the exceptions regarding journals when a Notary leaves employment below.)

Notary fees: Most states don’t have statutory rules about who keeps fees charged for Notary services. Typically, a written agreement between a Notary and the employer is the best way to clear up the confusion. Under certain conditions, an employer can collect the fees for notarizations performed by a Notary-employee. For example, in California, a private employer who purchases the notarial supplies and bond for an employee can make a voluntary mutual agreement to receive fees for notarizations performed during business hours. Pennsylvania Notary law allows employers to limit Notary services during business hours to only business-related documents. Also, all Notary fees collected during business hours would be remitted back to the employer.

Following the law: Many employers who do not understand the purpose and protections of notarization push their Notary-employees to perform improper or illegal acts — an issue that dramatically increases legal risks to the public, the company and to the Notary. State law and ethical practices always take precedence over employer requests. For example, an employer cannot ask you to violate the law by ignoring personal appearance or state ID requirements for clients.

Notarizing outside of work: Notary commissions are granted to a person as an individual, even if their employer paid for the supplies and commission fees. A Notary must follow any agreement made with their employer while at work, but the employer does not have the right to prohibit them from notarizing outside of work hours.

The following states explicitly prohibit Notaries or employers of Notaries from limiting notarial services to customers or clients in their Notary laws:

  • Arizona
  • Hawaii (except for Notaries in government service)
  • Iowa
  • Massachusetts
  • New Mexico

Post-employment: Some businesses falsely believe that they automatically retain the commission and Notary tools when an employee leaves. A Notary’s obligation is to the state and public, not the employer, and the journal and seal stamp depart with the Notary. California and Florida specify in their laws that employers may not take possession of a Notary's seal when a Notary leaves employment, no matter who paid for the Notary's commission. However, Pennsylvania employers may ask a Notary to reimburse commissioning costs if the Notary is fired or quits. In Texas, the state Attorney General's office has issued an opinion (Tex. Atty. Gen. Op. GA-0723) that employers may not retain an employee's Notary seal or journal records upon termination of employment. 

There are two states with exceptions: Arizona allows Notaries working under limited circumstances to keep two journals — one for public records and one for nonpublic records protected by the attorney-client privilege or that are confidential pursuant to state or federal law. The journal containing nonpublic records is the property of the employer and, if the Notary leaves that job, the employer may keep the journal containing only nonpublic entries.

Oregon Notaries may sign an agreement with an employer allowing the employer to keep the Notary’s journal if the Notary leaves the employer’s service. The Notary must keep a copy of the agreement. Apart from these exceptions, an employer may not take possession of a Notary’s seal and journal or give them to another employee, even if the employer paid for the tools or the Notary quits or is fired.

It is a good idea for companies to create clear, consistent Notary policies that conform with state law, and make sure managers and Notary-employees understand them.


 


 

55 Comments

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julia

04 Aug 2015

stupid box won't close

National Notary Association

07 Aug 2015

Hello. If you're having issues viewing articles, please email us at social@nationalnotary.org with your contact information and a description of the problem and we'll see if we can help you.

Jackie

08 Aug 2015

I'm commissioned in California. My job paid for my notary and after i was commissioned i asked about my fees and was told that because they paid for everything I am not able to charge them any fees. They did not explain this to me prior & I only did it because i was under the impression I would be making more money from it. Can they do this? What if I pay them them back for everything to make them whole? Can I charge a fee then?

National Notary Association

11 Aug 2015

Hello. An employer who purchases the notarial supplies and bond of an employee-Notary may make a voluntary, mutual agreement with the Notary to remit all notarial fees collected to the fund from which the employee-Notary is paid (CA GC Section 8202.7). The statute reads: "A private employer, pursuant to an agreement with an employee who is a notary public, may pay the premiums on any bond and the cost of any stamps, seals, or other supplies required in connection with the appointment, commission, or performance of the duties of such notary public. Such agreement may also provide for the remission of fees collected by such notary public to the employer, in which case any fees collected or obtained by such notary public while such agreement is in effect shall be remitted by such notary public to the employer which shall deposit such funds to the credit of the fund from which the compensation of the notary public is paid."

sharon

02 Oct 2015

I am a PA Notary working for a municipality. If I ask the municipality to reimburse me for my renewal, supplies, bond, etc. am I able to notarize outside of work and collect fees. Also, most of my notarial work for the municipality is for the government officials for work related forms (acknowledgment of Chairman's signature on government forms). Do I need to collect the fee from the municipality or is there no charge involved as the fee would be paid from and deposited back to the same account?

National Notary Association

02 Oct 2015

Hello. PA Notary law does not specifically address employers restricting employee hours of notarization or collecting Notary fees. In general, if state law does not address this issue, the NNA recommends the Notary and employer work out a mutually agreed policy regarding charging or waiving of Notary fees for work-related notarizations (note that any Notary fees charged must comply with the fee schedules set by PA law.) However, the commission belongs to the employee and an employer may not restrict a Notary from performing notarial services for the public outside of business hours. For more information, please see this article: http://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2014/08/notarizing-on-the-job-boss

nikia.2005bryant@gmail.com

29 Oct 2015

Recently I became a notary. I asked my employer to reimburse me for the fees I paid to become one. The only items paid for were the $300 package I selected. A bond was not purchased. I initially thought I would be paid for my services but colleauges are continually asking for items (both personal and professional) to be notarized and I have not been paid for any of my services. What can I tell my employer to confirm that I should be compensated and what can I announce to my colleauges to make it clear that this is a business transaction not a "favor" and I must be compensated for my services. I feel like I'm being used and I'm paranoid because I don't have any insurrance or coverage. I've just generally been told that "if anything comes back it'll fall on the company not me". I've notarized contracts without both parties present as well as subpoena response forms and a plethora of other items. I need clarity.

National Notary Association

29 Oct 2015

Hello. Rules regarding employer-Notary relationships may vary depending on individual state laws. If you can please tell us what state you are commissioned in, we can provide you with more information. Also, the following articles from the Notary Bulletin may be helpful to you: "Notarizing On The Job: What You And Your Boss Need To Know" (http://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2014/08/notarizing-on-the-job-boss) and "Hotline Tip: Can My Employer Collect And Keep My Notary Fees?" (http://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2011/11/hotline-tip-can-employer-keep-fees)

Dvaid Herrera

15 Dec 2016

My employer asked to become a notary I don't feel comfortable singing documents, I live in new jersey can they force me to become a notary I am a relationship banker for a bank. I feel that I working when in a hostile environment when I was asked to become one I said no, now I am afraid to get terminate. can this become an issue?.thank you

National Notary Association

15 Dec 2016

Hello. We're sorry, but if you have been asked to become a Notary by an employer and do not wish to do so, that is an internal matter you would need to discuss with your supervisor or your company's Human Resources department.

Clark

06 Jan 2017

Hello, I am a notary in the State of Hawaii. I recently parted ways with my former employer. My former employer, who paid for my bond at time of commission renewal (I was a notary prior to that job), has asked me to reimburse them the pro-rated cost of the bond for the remaining period of my commission. Is this standard accepted practice, and are they allowed to do so? This is my first time that this has happened to me, and in speaking to my notary colleagues they have never experienced this before, either.

National Notary Association

12 Jan 2017

Hello Clark. Hawaii Notary statute doesn't address the specific issue of employees reimbursing an employer for the cost of a surety bond. This appears to be an unusual situation as this is the first time we have heard of an employer making this request. We suggest contacting the Hawaii Attorney General's office, which regulates the state's Notaries, at 1-808-586-1216, to see if they have any additional information or recommendations regarding your situation.

Sara

12 Apr 2017

Hello, I am a Texas Notary and I was wondering if my employer paid for my materials and bond, can I still charge them the fees? Or can I not since they paid for everything? Thank you in advance, Sara

National Notary Association

17 Apr 2017

Hello. According to the TX Secretary of State's website, under Texas Government Code §406.024 either the Notary or the Notary's employer may determine the fees charged for Notary services performed during the employer's business hours. A TX Notary must keep a complete list of the fees the Notary may charge under state law posted in a conspicuous place at all times (GC 603.008).

Paula Zimmerman

30 May 2017

Can an employer set a different notary fee based on whether or not a person is the business's customer? I am an Iowa notary.

National Notary Association

30 May 2017

Hello. Iowa law does not directly address this question. “A notary in Iowa may charge a reasonable fee for their services. However, a notary cannot refuse to perform services because a person is not a client/customer nor may the notary’s employer restrict the notary from providing services because a person is not a client/customer of the employer” (PB,“Frequently Asked Questions” and IC 9B.8[3]). In situations where state law does not address this issue, The Notary Public Code of Professional Responsibility, I-B-2 recommends that Notaries do not base the amount of a fee charged on the signer's status as a customer or noncustomer.

Charlene R

31 May 2017

Can my employer withhold the amount they paid for me to be a notary when I quit?

National Notary Association

01 Jun 2017

Hello Charlene. To help us answer your question, can you please tell us what state you are commissioned in?

Melissa

19 Jun 2017

My employer purchased everything for me to become a notary but then states I cannot do any notaries except their business. I am in Texas. Are they able to enforce this? I notice in the above answer for PA you said, "However, the commission belongs to the employee and an employer may not restrict a Notary from performing notarial services for the public outside of business hours." is this true for Texas?

National Notary Association

19 Jun 2017

Hello. The Texas Administrative Code states, “A private employer may limit or prohibit an employee that is a notary public from notarizing during work hours” (1 TAC 87.30[c]).

Susan Kent

02 Sep 2017

Hello. The company I have worked for recently fired me. I was asked to become a notary by my boss and the owner of the company. They paid for everything. I am in Arizona and never according to my boss was able to take a fee for my services. I was told I would be compensated but never was. Is the stamp mine to keep or must I return it to the company. It only has my name on it and is of no use to them.

National Notary Association

05 Sep 2017

“A notary public is a public officer commissioned by this state and the following apply without regard to whether the notary public’s employer or any other person has paid the fees and costs for the commissioning of the notary public, including costs for the official seal and journals: … A notary public’s official seal and commission and any journal that contains only public record entries remain the property of the notary public” (ARS 41-312[C][1]).

Ann Schoechert

18 Jan 2018

I am a Notary with the State of Wisconsin, I have left my job where I was using my Notary, do I need to provide my own personal insurance bond now to continue using my Notary?

National Notary Association

18 Jan 2018

Hello. Wisconsin does require Notaries to provide a $500 surety bond from an approved provider. We would recommend first contacting the surety company that provides your bond to find out if your current bond has been cancelled or not, and if so what options are available to you.

Ann Schoechert

24 Jan 2018

I am a Notary with the State of Wisconsin, I have left my job where I was using my Notary, do I need to provide my own personal insurance bond now to continue using my Notary?

maribel zavala

02 Apr 2018

hello, I'm a notary in California and i recently quit my job they paid for me to become a notary.. do i have to notify any one that i change jobs??

National Notary Association

03 Apr 2018

Hi Maribel. If your Notary commission was registered at your former business address, you will need to notify the Secretary of State about your change of address in writing, by certified mail or any means of physical delivery that produces a receipt, within 30 days of your move. Remember that the commission and your Notary tools and journal belong to you, not your employers, even if your employers paid for your commission.

Darci Tetens

12 May 2018

Can you please share the law code where it says that i keep my notary not my employer since they have paid for it.

National Notary Association

15 May 2018

Hello. To help us answer your question can you please tell us what state you are commissioned in?

marissa

24 May 2018

My past employer paid for my notary cert. and stamp. Upon leaving that job, they kept everything. I live in WI. Am I able to contact them to return my stamp and documentation stating I am certified although they paid for it? Please advise.

National Notary Association

24 May 2018

Hello. Your Notary commission and seal may only be used by you, regardless of who paid for it. If your former employer will not return your commission and tools to you, you should notify the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions in writing as soon as possible to report it.

Vanessa

13 Jun 2018

I'm a CA notary. The law firm I was working at paid for everything. Since I no longer work for them, since April, do I have to let anyone know since they used the law firms address? Also I got a 15,000 bond. Am I allowed to do outside signings with that bond or was that just for clients of the law firm?

National Notary Association

18 Jun 2018

Hello. CA Notaries who move their business, residence and/or mailing address must inform the Secretary of State in writing, by certified mail or any means of physical delivery that produces a receipt, within 30 days of the move. Willful failure to do so may result in a fine of up to $500 (GC 8213.5). If the company paid for your bond, you may wish to contact the company that issued your surety bond to find out if it is still current or if the company cancelled it. If the company cancelled it, you will need to purchase a new bond.

Jordan Duran

14 Aug 2018

My employer asked me to become a notary and paid for all my ckasses traings and supplies but is keeping my commission it that legal??

National Notary Association

14 Aug 2018

Hello. The Notary's commission belongs solely to the Notary it is issued to. The commission does not grant anyone else the right to notarize or use the commission in any other way.

Silvia

12 Sep 2018

I was a Notary Public but let my commission expire. A prospective employer wants verification of dates in which my commission was active after I explained that I did not have my seal (defaced and destroyed) or my notary public records book (returned to the secretary of state). Is there a way to verify term of commission?

National Notary Association

12 Sep 2018

Hello. Depending on what state you are commissioned in, you may be able to contact the state Notary regulating agency to see if they can provide you with some type of record of your commission status.

Margarita Sanchez

03 Oct 2018

I am a Notary Public for the State of California, I paid for my notary commission, bond and supplies, but my employer said that all the notary fees performed during work has to be remitted to her. My question is does the employer have the right to collect those fees if I paid for my commission notary?

National Notary Association

03 Oct 2018

Hello. In California, a private employer who purchases the notarial supplies and bond for an employee can make a voluntary mutual agreement to receive fees for notarizations performed during business hours. For more information, please see here: https://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2014/08/notarizing-on-the-job-boss

Shannon

28 Oct 2018

I am a State of CA Public employee, and I work in a prison. My employer has paid for my course, exam, and will pay for the bond and kit. They have not had me sign any paperwork, and it was a voluntary thing, as they were looking for notaries. I also want to do it on my off time, but I'm seeing places saying that if you are a government, state, city, county employee and you perform notary at work, you cannot do it in your personal time. is this true? Again, my employer has not laid out any rules and being a notary is not anywhere in my job description, this is just a voluntary thing me and three other state employees have decided to take on because they said they needed volunteers.

National Notary Association

30 Oct 2018

Based on what you’ve described, we think it would be best if you contacted our Hotline team by phone and provided them with a more detailed description of the situation. The NNA Hotline: 1-888-876-0827 Mon – Fri: 5:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. (PT) Saturday: 5:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (PT) If you’re not an NNA Member or Hotline Subscriber, they will provide you with a one-time courtesy call.

Rene

25 Nov 2018

I am a CA Notary Public and i paid for everything , my employer wants to take everything , is that legal ? i already read the article in this link https://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2014/08/notarizing-on-the-job-boss / can you clarify ? i do not think is fair/right that everything goes to them.i have not started notarizing at the job yet.

National Notary Association

27 Nov 2018

Hello. Under California law, your Notary tools and journal belong solely to you. Your employer may not take these items from you. “The official seal of a notary public is the exclusive property of that notary public, and shall not be surrendered to an employer upon the termination of employment, whether or not the employer paid for the seal, or to any other person” (GC 8207). “The journal of notarial acts of a notary public is the exclusive property of that notary public, and shall not be surrendered to an employer upon termination of employment, whether or not the employer paid for the journal, or at any other time." (GC 8206[d]).

Anonymous

06 Dec 2018

I am a notary in VA. My employer does not want me to take my stamp home and wants it left at my job. They paid for the stamp but I don't feel comfortable leaving it there. What am I allowed to do?

National Notary Association

07 Dec 2018

Hello. The "Important Guidelines For Virginia Notaries" published by the Secretary of the Commonwealth's office states: "A notary is a public official appointed by the Governor. Even though a notary may hold that position to serve his or her employer, no employer or supervisor can impose requirements pertaining to a notary that are contrary to Virginia’s laws and regulations pertaining to notaries." Regardless of who paid for the Notary's tools, those tools belong to you and are your sole responsibility. Your commission, seal and journal are your property — even if the employer paid for them. That means you must keep your seal and journal under your control at all times and not surrender them to anyone, including an employer.

Ange

17 Dec 2018

I left my toxic job and the last thing on my.mind was taking my stamp with me. The boss was screaming at me, I did everything I could not to break put into tears. Is there any way I can contact the state (Michigan in this case) and make sure they know it was stolen? Guaranteed they will save every penny they can and not head somewhere when they need something notarized. Of course they have my signature as I signed a lot of documents upon hiring in. I have had this appointment since 2014 and it was considered an added bonus they hired me on with one. Thank you in advance.

National Notary Association

19 Dec 2018

Hello Ange. Michigan does not require Notaries to use a seal, so the state does not provide statutory guidelines what to do if an employer refuses to return your seal. You may wish to either file a report with local law enforcement, or contact the Michigan Secretary of State to report that your seal was taken against your wishes. You may also wish to keep a copy of any report you make so that in the event someone forges or misuses your seal, you have a record showing what happened.

Anonymous

14 Feb 2019

Hello. Im a notary for the state of california. And i noticed that i didnt get my bond from my employer so im guessing they kept it. Am i supposed to have my bond with me at all times? Or is the epmloyer supposed to keep it?

National Notary Association

15 Feb 2019

Hello. “Every person appointed a notary public shall execute an official bond in the sum of fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000). The bond shall be in the form of a bond executed by an admitted surety insurer and not a deposit in lieu of bond” (GC 8212). If your employer retained your copy of your surety bond, you should contact them to request they provide it to you.

May

02 Apr 2019

I am a California not at, my boss paid all supplies and bond, I just quit the company, I don’t have an oral or written agreement with my boss regarding who keep the notary fee, since I became a notary, my boss keep all the fees, can I ask to reimburse?

National Notary Association

03 Apr 2019

Hello. Since you do not have a preexisting agreement with your employer, you would need to contact your employer to ask if they are willing to reimburse you.

MARY J SIEG

02 Jul 2019

I live and work in Indiana. I am leaving my job to semi retire. My employer paid all fees and expenses for me to get notarized and carries the surety bond. When I leave. Is it legal for me to take the stamp and use it a long as I get a new bond to cover the remainder of my term? I know he will cancel his bond once I quit and may want me to destroy my seal and give up my commission since he paid for all. Thanks!

National Notary Association

03 Jul 2019

Hello. Regardless of who paid for your commission and seal, they belong to you and it is your choice if you wish to obtain a new bond and continue notarizing to the end of your current commission term.

Concered Employer

10 Jul 2019

An employee was not authorized to become a notary through the business due to them being a dishonest person. The employee went ahead and became a notary on her own but used the Business Address and Phone number on her application. Can the Employer take action against the employee for using the business address and phone number?

National Notary Association

22 Jul 2019

Hello. Any questions regarding taking legal action against a Notary would need to be directed to a qualified attorney.

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