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Texas Notary Seal FAQs: What You Need To Know

Texas Notary FAQs about the new 2016 seal requirements

Updated 2-10-16 with information about a new rule adopted by the Secretary of State's office and response from the Texas State Bar. 

Updated 1-25-16 with news of the Secretary of State publishing a proposed rule and with recommendations from the NNA on updating your seal as a precaution against possible legal claims.

Updated 1-18-16 with additional information about purchasing replacement seals.

Updated 12-10-15 with a follow-up statement from the Texas State Bar.

On January 1, 2016, a new law went into effect in Texas changing the seal requirements for the state’s 400,000 Notaries. This has raised a number of questions about who needs to get a new seal and when. The Notary Bulletin is providing answers here.

What is the new Notary seal requirement?
 

Under House Bill 1683, Notary seals issued after January 1, 2016, must include the Notary’s identification number.

Do existing Notaries need to replace their seals immediately or can they use their current seals?
 

It’s unclear, and there are differing opinions about what existing Notaries need to do. According to the Texas Secretary of State’s office, the law is intended to apply only to new and renewing Notaries. Existing Notaries can wait until they renew their commissions to replace their seals.

On Feb 10, 2016, a new rule adopted by the Secretary of State’s office went into effect clarifying that existing Notaries do not have to obtain a new seal until their commissions expire. The rule also permits existing Notaries to obtain new seals that include their ID numbers at any time.

However, a statement issued by the Real Estate, Probate & Trust Law Section of the State Bar of Texas in November noted that the law is unclear and could apply to existing Notaries. Based upon some “old” Texas court cases, there’s a potential for someone to argue that a seal without a Notary ID number is an “incorrect seal,” which is the “equivalent to no seal at all.” This could cause problems with certain wills and real estate deeds.

When the Secretary of State’s office initially proposed the rule, the State Bar reaffirmed its position that it remains “the prudent course of action to replace existing Notary seals with ones that include the Notary’s identifying number.”

The statement from the State Bar’s Real Estate, Probate & Trust Law Section noted the proposed rule is “not a statute."

What are the benefits of getting a new seal now?
 

Because of the risk that someone might challenge a notarization based on an improper seal, the State Bar Section is urging Notaries to get new seals so there will be no question about the validity of their notarizations based on the lack of an ID number.

Purchasing a new seal is an inexpensive way to avoid any possibility of challenge to the validity of documents you have notarized. The NNA recommends updating your seal because it will protect your signers, your employer and yourself against the possibility of a costly court dispute involving a notarized document.

Where can I find my ID number?
 

Your identification number is on your Notary commission. You also can find it through the Texas Secretary of State’s Notary search page.

Where can Texas Notaries purchase replacement seals?
 

Purchasing a new Notary seal stamp is simple. You don’t need any additional documentation when placing the order because your seal manufacturer can verify your Notary ID number through the Secretary of State’s website. You can obtain a new seal through various manufacturers.

If you don’t know where to begin, start with the American Society of Notaries, the National Notary Association, or American Association of Notaries.

You can use the terms "Notary seal" or "Notary stamp" when searching for a vendor online to get the best results. Seals cost around $25 depending on style.

Contact your seal or stamp manufacturer or the NNA (800-876-6827) for any questions .

You just received or renewed your commission but have not yet received your seal. What do you do?
 

Contact the seal or stamp manufacturer to verify that the seal includes the ID number.

If you obtained your seal from the NNA, you do not have to do anything. We have been producing Texas Notary Seals with ID numbers since September 8, 2015.

Are there special risks for Notary Signing Agents?
 

In its statement, the Texas State Bar Section specifically mentioned the potential for problems with real property deeds and wills. If you are an NSA, you deal with real estate transactions, so you might consider replacing your seal right away.

Are we allowed to hand write our ID numbers into seal impressions?
 

No. The law requires the ID number to be part of the seal. Writing it in would not meet that requirement.

If you have any other questions, do not hesitate to contact the NNA at 800-876-6827.

Michael Lewis is Managing Editor of member publications for the National Notary Association.

Related Articles:

New Notary Stamps: Smaller, Easier To Use

Hotline Tip: Can A Notary Have More Than One Stamp Or Embosser?

Notary Solutions: Fixing A Bad Seal Impression

Additional Resources:

How to Use Your Notary Seal Stamp

Understanding Notary Certificates and Seals: Vital Notary Know-How

18 Comments

Add your comment

Colleen Sharkey

16 Nov 2015

When will this law take effect in New York State?

National Notary Associaton

16 Nov 2015

Hello, Colleen. The new law described in this article is taking effect in Texas, not New York.

Ray C. johnson

16 Nov 2015

I just paid for my seal do I have to buy a new one to get my ID on. If I do That's not right

National Notary Association

18 Nov 2015

Hello Ray. While the Secretary of State has said current Notaries do not have to replace their seals, the State Bar has raised concerns that notarizations could be challenged in court prior to January 1 due to some ambiguities in the law's wording, which is why they believe it is prudent for Notaries to update their seals early. It's up to each individual Notary to decide whether to update their seal prior to January 1 or not.

Hattie G Taylor

16 Nov 2015

My commission expires August 2016, to avoid having to purchase a new notary stamp again in a few month is it possible to renew my commission now or January.

National Notary Association

18 Nov 2015

Hello Hattie. A TX Notary renewal application may be submitted no earlier than 90 days before commission expiration.

RH

16 Nov 2015

This sounds like a sales drive on notary stamps. The law clearly states that it only applies to notaries renewing or applying for a commission on or after January 1st 2016: "SECTION 4. Notwithstanding the requirements of this Act that the secretary of state issue an identifying number to each notary public, the secretary of state is required to issue an identifying number only to a notary public who applies for a commission or a reappointment on or after the effective date of this Act. SECTION 5. This Act takes effect January 1, 2016."

National Notary Association

18 Nov 2015

Hello. As mentioned in the article, the Texas State Bar has raised concerns that notarizations could be challenged in court prior to January 1 due to ambiguities in the law's wording, which is why they believe it is prudent for Notaries to update their seals early.

Kathy Acosta

18 Nov 2015

I have renew my stamp already. Now this is causing me to pay more money for a new stamp. Or due I get a break on a new stamp. How does this work for people. I would like this question answer.

National Notary Association

18 Nov 2015

Hello Kathy. That would depend on your seal manufacturer. If you purchased your seal through us, you can contact our Customer Care team at 1-800-876-6827 and they can help you with questions you have about cost of updating to a new seal

Oralia A. Chavez

01 Dec 2015

I don't remember if I got my seal through you but would like to know cost to replace it.

National Notary Association

01 Dec 2015

Hello. You can purchase a Texas seal here: http://www.nationalnotary.org/texas/supplies/stamps-embossers/notary-seals or contact our Customer Care team at 1-800-876-6827 for assistance.

Ruben W Granado

12 Dec 2015

We should replace stamps and seals upon renewal of Notary. At 400,000 notaries in the state of Texas, we are talking about a substantial amount of profit for somebody at our expense.

Denise

20 Dec 2015

Thank you for keeping us informed with updates

Lindadean Mayen

12 Jan 2016

I just became a notary and I think mine has a notary Id # 130459225 di I still need to reolace

KathiAnn

25 Jan 2016

I am relocating to TX (from IL) within 6-9/months, however my membership will be up in April. Can you share with me the steps I would take to transfer to notarizing in TX? Will I start the process all over again, application, test, etc.? Also, will I be able to get the ball rolling for when I do move to TX, which I’ll be notarizing in IL and filling out the application for TX. I’ll await your reply. Thank you in advance for your prompt attention to this matter.

National Notary Association

25 Jan 2016

Hello. Unfortunately, a Notary commission is not transferable. You will need to resign your Illinois commission when you leave the state and apply for a new Notary commission in Texas. Because TX residency is required to apply for a Texas commission, you will need to apply for your new commission after you have set up residency in Texas. Also, please be aware that you cannot notarize documents for yourself--for example, you cannot notarize your own signature on an application for a Notary commission. You also will no longer be able to notarize documents in Illinois once you resign your commission there. If you need assistance with your NNA membership status or the commission process during this period, our Customer Care team can help you-you can reach them at 1-800-876-6827 or Services@NationalNotary.org.

Joel Hedge

19 Feb 2016

As I have said before, only in Texas do we have a bunch of dunderhead legislators that could screw up a very simple procedure. I don't blame the stamp makers , but the idiots who made the law without completing the exemption for current notaries in Texas.

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