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Quiz: Cross-Border Notary Issues

The rules for Notaries performing services in their own state are usually clear-cut … but what happens if a Notary moves to another state? Or the Notary works in one state, but lives in another? Or someone asks if you can travel to another country to notarize a document? To learn more about the facts and misconceptions about cross-border notarization issues, take our quiz. (Detailed answers can be found below.)


1. Is a Notary commission transferable if the Notary moves to another state?

A. Yes, the Notary can transfer his or her existing commission to the new jurisdiction
B. No, but the Notary is automatically granted a second commission in the new state
C. Yes, the Notary can notarize in the new state using his old commission until it expires
D. No, the Notary must apply for a new Notary commission in the new state

Answer: D. The NNA is frequently asked if Notaries moving to a different state can transfer their current commissions over to their new state. The answer is no — Notary commissions are not transferable between states. If you are relocating and want to notarize within your new state, you would need to apply for a Notary commission in your new state.

2. Can a Notary hold a commission in more than one state at the same time?

A. Yes, all states allow this
B. No, no state allows this
C. Yes, if the particular states allow it
D. No, only civil law attorneys may notarize in multiple states

Answer: C. Some jurisdictions allow you to apply for a Notary commission even if you do not live there, provided you meet specific requirements. In New York, for example, out-of-state residents can apply to be a New York Notary if the applicant has an office or place of business in the state. So a New Jersey resident who works in New York could hold Notary commissions in both states. If you wish to obtain a Notary commission in another state, be sure to check the rules of both the state you reside in and the state you wish to be commissioned in to make sure you meet the requirements for both jurisdictions.

3. Does a Notary commission in one state authorize you to notarize in another?

A. No, to do that you must obtain a new commission in the other state
B. Yes, all states allow Notaries commissioned in one state to notarize in any state
C. No, because all states require you to be a state resident in order to become a Notary
D. Yes, but only if state law specifically allows it

Answer: D. Specific states have laws allowing this. For example, Virginia law allows a Notary to notarize anywhere in the world if the document is intended to be used in Virginia. Kentucky law also allows Notaries with a special commission to notarize anywhere provided the document will be recorded in Kentucky. In addition, Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming allow Notaries from bordering states to notarize in their state if the bordering state extends the same permission to its Notaries.

4. Can I notarize for an out-of-state signer who comes to my state?

A. No, the signer must return to his home state and find a Notary there
B. Yes, if you follow your state’s laws when you notarize the signature
C. Yes, but only if the document will be filed in your state
D. Yes, if you follow the laws of signer’s home state when you notarize the signature

Answer: B. You may perform a notarization for a visitor from another state, provided the notarization takes place within your commission jurisdiction. The notarization also must meet all requirements of your state’s Notary laws, including the rules for personal appearance, proof of identity and notarial certificate wording.

5. Does my Notary commission allow me to notarize in a foreign country?

A. Yes, because all countries recognize the authority of Notaries of any country
B. No, because state law only allows Notaries to notarize within its physical borders
C. Yes, but only if state law specifically allows it
D. Yes, if my document has an apostille attached to it after the notarization is complete

Answer: C. As mentioned in question 3, Virginia and Kentucky allow its Notaries to notarize anywhere under certain circumstances. 

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


Add your comment


14 Oct 2016

The question about notarizing in a foreign country has no correct answer because no answer acknowledges the need to check the laws of the foreign country to see if it is allowed.

Dukens Mustiva

17 Oct 2016

Good standard


17 Oct 2016

The listed answer for question 5 seems to be incorrect for any Notary Public who is not commissioned in Virginia and Kentucky. As a Notary Public commissioned in California, my Notary commission does NOT allow me to notarize in a foreign country, or anywhere outside of the state of California.


17 Oct 2016

I live in el PASO TEXAS and we are in the border to MEXICO and some TEXAS notary rent the stamp so places in Juarez CHIH MEXICO do the service and they charge double or triple the amount

National Notary Association

17 Oct 2016

Hello. A Notary is not permitted to lend the seal or let others use the Notary's seal.


17 Oct 2016

At the border, you charge for going to the bridge to make the notarization. If a person cannot come to the USA, and needs to notarize a document, you go to the border, and notarize it, charging for the trip, plus the normal fee for the notarization.

Daniel D. Charles

20 Oct 2016

I'm realized that each States is different. They is not the same

Joe Luther Hampton

16 Apr 2019

Can a notary living in Shelby County, Memphis , TN notarize a MS document from Desoto County , Olive Branch, MS.

National Notary Association

17 Apr 2019

Hello. If you are commissioned as a Tennessee Notary, you may notarize the document in question if the signer appears in person with the document before you within the borders of Tennessee, and the notarization being requested is permitted under and meets all requirements of TN Notary laws.

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