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Clarifying Notary Commission Ownership


(UPDATED 11-18-14) Many companies pay for their employees to become Notaries, including the application and training fee, the cost of the surety bond, Notary stamp and other necessary supplies. However, this investment can create confusion for Notaries and employers alike over who owns or controls the commission and how it is to be used.

Regardless of who pays for a commission, it belongs to the individual Notary, not the employer. When performing notarizations, the Notary employee is acting as a public official. While state laws differ slightly, the following points clarify the general issues surrounding the employer/notary relationship.

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. If they are stored at the office, they must be kept in a place only the Notary can access. (However, please see the exceptions for Arizona and Oregon laws 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 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 of an employee can make a voluntary mutual agreement to receive fees for notarizations performed during business hours.

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 ignore 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 retain the commission 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.

There are two 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 polices that conform with state law, and make sure managers and Notary employees understand them.


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05 Aug 2015

stupid box won't close

National Notary Association

07 Aug 2015

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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."


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:

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" ( and "Hotline Tip: Can My Employer Collect And Keep My Notary 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.


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.


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).

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