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Notarizing On The Job: What You And Your Boss Need To Know

Notarizing for your employerUpdated 2-18-16. Most Notaries have full-time jobs and obtain their commissions as part of their job duties. That often means balancing your duties as a Notary with your obligations to your employer. If you are one of these Notaries, here are some important facts you need to know.

Notarizing During Business Hours
 

Employers generally are allowed to control the work of their employees. State employment law forms the basis for the work relationship. However, state Notary law may prescribe specific rules directing Notary-employees and the notarizations they perform while at work. Some states have clarified this in various ways.

In California, the law allows a Notary and the Notary’s employer to enter into an agreement limiting the performance of notarial services to transactions that affect the business purposes of the employer during working hours. In exchange, the employer pays the costs associated with the commission of the employee-Notary. This agreement may also have a provision in it for the Notary to remit fees collected for notarizations performed on the job to the employer.

In Texas, a new administrative rule clarifies that an employer may limit the notarizations employee-Notaries perform at work. While not technically a law, in Oklahoma, an executive order achieves the same result. And, the Executive Office of the Governor of Florida states that employers have this right in its Governor’s Reference Manual for Notaries.

In the following states, Notary laws explicitly prohibit Notaries or employers of Notaries from limiting notarial services to customers or clients:

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

Notarizing Outside Business Hours
 

Some employers have tried to prohibit Notaries from performing notarizations when the Notary is off the clock. They mistakenly think that they are liable for the notarizations of employee-Notaries performed during off-hours. While many states may allow an employer to dictate when an employee-Notary may perform notarizations while on the job, a Notary may perform a notarization for any member of the public on their own time — including lunch breaks.

Control Of A Notary’s Tools
 

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.

There are three 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.
  • Tennessee Notaries who work for a financial institution subject to the Financial Records Privacy Act, perform notarizations during the scope of their employment and charge a fee, must provide access to their journal according to the requirements of the Financial Records Privacy Act or the federal Right to Privacy Act.

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.

David Thun is an Associate Editor at the National Notary Association.

Related Articles:

‘Gray Areas’ That Often Confound Notaries

3 Important Tips About Your Notary Journal Records

I’m A New Notary. What Do I Do Now?

Three Questions To Help You Avoid Improper Notary Requests

Additional Resources:

NNA Webinar: Sorry Boss… No Can Do!

Notary Essentials

NNA Hotline

 

40 Comments

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Judi Mosso

11 Aug 2014

it would be interesting to know which states, if any, require that the notary turn their collected fee over to the employer; especially if the employer pays for the commission & supplies. for example, if a municipality pays for the commission & supplies, and a notarization is done during working hours, is the fee collected required to go to the town's general fund? any thoughtful comment is appreciated!

Saralee Watkins

11 Aug 2014

Although no one specifically has ever given me a hard & fast rule on this, I have always separated work hours from personal time. Any fees collected while at a job, went to the employer. That always seemed the fairest approach, unless an employer specifically says they don't want the fees. That would be a different matter.

Toshiharu Hira

11 Aug 2014

I'm Public Notary authorized by the State of Arkansas. Recently I got moved to Birmingham, Alabama. Can I use that state's seal & stamp on any documents requested residents in Alabama?

National Notary Association

12 Aug 2014

Hello Toshiharu, Thank you for your question. An Arkansas Notary commission can only be used within the borders of Arkansas. If you have moved to Alabama and wish to serve as a Notary Public, you'll need to send a signed letter of resignation to the Arkansas Secretary of State's office, return your commission and destroy your Arkansas seal. You will then need to apply for a new Notary commission in Alabama. If you need assistance, our Customer Care team can help you at 1-800-876-6827.

Jacque

12 Aug 2014

Policy where I work (State Hospital in Texas): 2. A Texas Notary has the authority to charge or not to charge fees for each official service. Fees allowed to be charged for official services must be displayed in a conspicuous place. 2.1 If the hospital pays for the notary’s fees, any funds received for services shall be deposited to the General Revenue Fund through the Business Office. Services provided in a manner consistent with item #1 above shall be free of charge if the hospital has paid the notary’s fee.

Jacque

12 Aug 2014

Policy where I work (State Hospital in Texas): 2. A Texas Notary has the authority to charge or not to charge fees for each official service. Fees allowed to be charged for official services must be displayed in a conspicuous place. 2.1 If the hospital pays for the notary’s fees, any funds received for services shall be deposited to the General Revenue Fund through the Business Office. Services provided in a manner consistent with item #1 above shall be free of charge if the hospital has paid the notary’s fee.

Sharon

12 Aug 2014

If the employee is paid for their services by the employer, how is it paid i.e. through payroll or separatley?

Janine

12 Aug 2014

I'd like to know about the fees. If you're notarizing documents during work hours, do any states have regulations as to who receives the fees? Where can I go to find this info?

National Notary Association

12 Aug 2014

Hello Janine. NNA members can access Notary laws for each U.S. state and territory through our U.S. Notary Reference Manual pdf (member login required): https://www.nationalnotary.org/my-account?returnurl=/knowledge-center/reference-library/us-notary-reference-manual

Hinzman30@hotmail.com

14 Jan 2015

We do notaries on billings and other documents and I wanted to charge a fee. My boss is telling me I can not charge people to do notaries in the office and that it is against the law. She is not a notary so she wouldn't know this. Is this true? Can I not charge a fee for my services?

National Notary Association

20 Jan 2015

Hello, The answer depends on the state you are commissioned in. Some states permit employers to limit an employee's Notary services during business hours, but others do not.

Bianca

20 Feb 2015

My employer paid for my notary class and supplies. I have done notaries at work and all the fees went to the employer. However, my question is after the fees of my notaries have exceeded the reimbursed payment am I entitled to any of the fees as a commission or do all notary fees go to the employer?

National Notary Association

21 Feb 2015

Hello Bianca, The answer may depend on the state you are commissioned in. Can you please let us know what state issued your commission? More information on employer-Notary relationships can be found in this article: http://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2012/01/clarifying-notary-commission-ownership

Kim

17 Mar 2015

I am a notary in the State of Georgia. My notary fee and the seal was paid for by my employer. I have been told today (after 10 years) that the expectation is that my seal is always available for use at work. I feel like I am being coerced. Can my employer require me to have my notary seal with me at work?

National Notary Association

17 Mar 2015

Hello. Georgia does not specify guidelines for the storage of a seal when not in use. However, it is not permitted for other people--including employers or co-workers--to use your seal. From the Georgia Superior Court Clerks' Cooperative Authority website: "It is unlawful for any person to hold himself or herself out as a notary or exercise the powers of a notary without an effective notary commission." (https://www.gsccca.org/notary-and-apostilles/notaries/georgia-notary-law) If state law does not specify otherwise, the NNA recommends storing your seal in a secured, locked storage area accessible only to you when not in use.

Brandon

16 Jun 2015

Can an employer charge an associate or demand repayment for becoming a notary? If I quit or get fired can they withhold money from my check to pay for it? Is there any information on the rules/laws regarding this sort of situation?

National Notary Association

17 Jun 2015

Hi Brandon. Different states have different guidelines regarding Notary-employer relationships. To help us answer your question, can you please tell us what state you are commissioned in? If you're an NNA member and you need a response quickly, you can also email your question directly to hotline@nationalnotary.org for assistance. Thanks.

Laurie

06 Sep 2015

In Texas, employer paid all fees for notary. 99% of my seals have been used on other employee documents at no charge. If I resign, do I take the seal and book with me, or do they keep it?

National Notary Association

09 Sep 2015

From the TX Secretary of State's website: "The employer is not the owner of a notary’s record book or seal, even if the employer paid for the materials. Tex. Atty. Gen. Op. GA-0723. A Texas notary public is required by law to maintain a record book containing information on every notarization performed and is required to authenticate every official act with the seal of office. The record book is public information and a notary is required to produce copies of the book upon request. Therefore, the book and seal should remain in the possession of the notary at all times." (http://www.sos.state.tx.us/statdoc/faqs2300.shtml#np7)

Toni

22 Sep 2015

Texas... I work in a hospital and my boss wants me to become a notary. Am I still subject to the 10k surety bond if I am only doing work documents and there are no fees?

National Notary Association

22 Sep 2015

Hello. Yes, all TX Notaries must have a $10,000 surety bond.

kirsy acosta

16 Oct 2015

Can any journal be used as a notarial journal? I am a public notary for the state of florida

National Notary Association

20 Oct 2015

Hello. Florida does not require Notaries to keep a journal, though the state strongly recommends the practice. The "Governor's Reference Manual for Notaries" recommends the use of a bound (not loose-leaf) journal with consecutively numbered pages, so that a page cannot be removed without being detected.

June

28 Oct 2015

Does the state of Alabama require a notary to keep a journal?

National Notary Association

28 Oct 2015

Hello. Alabama's journal requirement was repealed in 2012. However, an Alabama Notary may still continue to keep a journal if he or she chooses.

J. Christie McCray

28 Oct 2015

After reading through this section, I saw where one person was commissioned to perform a wedding. Can a notary perform weddings?

National Notary Association

28 Oct 2015

Hello. Currently the states of Florida, Maine, Nevada and South Carolina authorize Notaries to perform marriage ceremonies.

Sharon for state of Missouri

29 Oct 2015

I am a Notary & have a $10,000.oo surety bond. I've been seeing statements that I need to protect myself, so someone can't come back & sue me for my personal property. is this true & if so, how much insurance should I get?

National Notary Association

30 Oct 2015

Hello. Please see this article: http://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2013/04/what-you-need-to-know-about-e-o

Naira

05 Nov 2015

I am a Notary Public in California. I am also a registered rep in CA. My employer is telling me I cannot notarize outside of work, because I am a registered rep. Can my employer restrict me from performing notary outside of work even if they are the ones that paid for my notary? Thank you

National Notary Association

06 Nov 2015

Hello Naira. CA Notaries may enter into an agreement with a private employer who has paid their commissioning fees and for their supplies, whereby the Notary’s services are limited “solely to transactions directly associated with the business purposes of the employer” (GC 8202.8). However, this agreement is optional and not mandatory for every Notary employee.

Lisa

22 Feb 2016

I am a PA notary. I mostly notarize motor vehicle titles and wonder if I must keep a journal of each one as the signature is always the same person in our company and I process hundreds a day.

National Notary Association

23 Feb 2016

Hello. PA law requires a Notary to keep and maintain an accurate chronological journal of all official acts. “Each register shall contain the date of the act, the character of the act, and the date and parties to the instrument, and the amount of fee collected for the service. Each notarization shall be indicated separately” (57 PS 161[a]).

Tammy Morrison

22 Feb 2016

I am commissioned in Pennsylvania, paying for my commission and materials myself. I am also an Civil Service employee of the State of Pennsylvania as well as being Union. I am not being limited in performing notarizations per se. I currently do not charge state employees for any state/job-required notarizations. I WAS charging state employees for non-state, personal-nature notarizations, but I am being told that I can't charge for these notarizations even though I try to limit these notarizations to breaks and lunch since they are not related to state business. My boss is citing the union contract that states non-state business cannot be conducted on State property. So, if I meet them in a near-by restaurant off State-property or at my home off-the-clock, I should be good?

National Notary Association

23 Feb 2016

Hi Tammy. State Notary laws regarding fees don't specifically address the issue of union regulations. We would suggest asking your boss if meeting state employees off-site for personal notarization requests is an acceptable alternative.

Mary

25 Feb 2016

Florida Notary. My County paid for my notary and etc. I was told I can't notarized after work or if I do notarized don't except any tip money. Is this right?

National Notary Association

26 Feb 2016

Hello. The maximum fees Notaries may charge for their services are set by state law, so you may not accept any payment for your Notary fee that would exceed the fee schedule set by statute. Also, FL Notaries employed by the state or a FL county must charge for their notarial services (except for loyalty oaths and government vehicle tags and titles) and these fees must be deposited in the governmental body’s general operating fund (FS 116.35 through 116.38). The chief administrative officer of any such agency, board, commission or department may, upon determining that such service should be performed as a public service, authorize such service to be performed free of charge.

jovana

17 May 2016

We have an employee who was a notary when they became an employee at our law office (so we did not purchase any materials, pay for fees, etc.) Do we have to compensate them to notarize during working hours on top of paying them their regular rate of pay? Our business is in CA.

National Notary Association

18 May 2016

Hello. The following is from the 2016 CA state Notary Public Handbook, page 18: "...a notary public may decide to charge no fee or an amount that is less than the maximum amount prescribed by law. The charging of a fee and the amount of the fee charged is at the discretion of the notary public or the notary public’s employer, provided it does not exceed the maximum fees."

Robin Wagner

18 Jun 2016

I became a notary on my own before starting with my current employer (financial institution). Can my employer force me to provide my services for our customers? I'm being told that if I don't offer my notary service then I'll be written up or worse.

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