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How to Become a Notary Public in Tennessee

The following are the general steps to obtain a TN Notary Public commission in most counties:

  1. Make sure you meet all of Tennessee's requirements (see below).
  2. Complete an application form from your county clerk's office.
  3. Submit the application to your county clerk and pay the $12 application fee.
  4. Be elected by the county legislative body (county commission). The county clerk will certify your election as a Notary and will forward it to the Secretary of State.
  5. The Secretary prepares and signs your commission. The Governor will sign it too. The Secretary will then forward it to your county clerk who will record it and notify you that your commission was received.
  6. Get a $10,000 surety bond.
  7. Go to the county clerk to take your oath of office and get your bond recorded.
  8. Once the Secretary issues your Notary commission, pick it up at the county clerk's office.
  9. Buy your Notary seal and journal.
  10. Get E&O insurance to limit your financial exposure (optional, but strongly recommended).

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In This Guide: Tennessee Notary Process | TN Notary Requirements | General Notary Public Information

More Details About the Tennessee Notary Process

Here is some more information on applying for a Notary commission in the Volunteer State.

How much does it cost to become a Notary?

The total cost depends on your choice of vendor(s) for your journal, stamp and bond. Well-bound journals with pages sewn together will cost a little bit more than glued pages, but they offer a higher level of security. They range anywhere from $20 - $40. Stamps that meet Tennessee requirements range from $20 - $30. Four-year surety bonds of $10,000 can range from $27 - $45. The application fee to become a Notary is $12.

The cost of commissioning can differ depending on whether you are a new or renewing Notary. Supply package prices vary among vendors. New Notaries may need more how-to assistance than experienced Notaries. Books, training and live expert assistance are often must-haves for most new Notaries.

Some vendors may package items with additional fees — processing fees for example. Training can be included in package prices for new Notaries, although the quality of education can vary. Some providers offer their own Notary courses while others do not have the on-staff expertise to develop and support educational content. Several vendors offer Notaries live question and answer support, and others are not able to offer such assistance.

How long does it take to become a Notary?

The process varies county by county, but more information can be found by contacting the county clerk's office where you reside or maintain your principal place of business.

How long does a TN Notary commission last?

The term of office for a Notary Public is four years.

Requirements to be a Notary in Tennessee

Learn how you can qualify to become a TN Notary Public.

Who can become a Notary?

If you want to become a Tennessee Notary Public, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be a resident of or maintain a principal place of business in Tennessee
  • Be a citizen or legal permanent resident of the U.S.
  • Be able to read and write English
  • Not be convicted of bribery, larceny or certain other offenses unless your rights of citizenship have been restored

Who cannot become a Notary?

You cannot become a Notary if you:

  • Are a member of the military or Congress
  • Hold any office of profit or trust under a foreign power, other state or the U.S.
  • Have unpaid judgments to the U.S., state or county or owe money to the state or federal treasury

What kind of training will I need?

Training is not required in order to obtain your Notary commission in Tennessee. The Secretary of State's website links to relevant statutes governing Notaries, opinions issued by the Attorney General and a set of frequently asked questions that you might find helpful.

Do I need to take an exam?

No, you will not need to take an exam to be commissioned in Tennessee.

What kind of supplies will I need?

Tennessee requires Notaries to use a Notary seal. If you or your employer charge a fee for your Notary services, you're also required to use a "well-bound book," or Notary journal, to record every notarization you perform.

The Notary seal must be a circular, inked rubber stamp with the following information:

  • Your name as it appears on your commission (at the top)
  • The words "State of Tennessee Notary Public" or "Tennessee Notary Public" (in the middle)
  • The name of the county in which you were elected as a Notary (at the bottom)

The stamp cannot use black or yellow ink and cannot include your commission expiration date.

When shopping for seal stamps, quality and durability can vary greatly among vendors. Ask if stamps carry a guarantee. And stamps should not bleed during or after use, as this can cause county officials to reject documents due to smudging. A second seal can help you avoid downtime if your seal is ever misplaced, and an embosser can help add an additional layer of fraud-prevention security.

The most effective journals meet the statutory requirement of being "well-bound" if they have numbered pages that are sewn together so they can't be easily removed or rearranged. These two things help ensure the journal is a chronological record of every act you perform — and it's easier to see whether it's been tampered with.

Supplies are sold by most vendors in packages, which can sometimes provide savings. However, not all vendor packages are created equal — they can vary greatly in terms of quality and content. If you are a new Notary or renewing your commission, the types and quantity of notarizations can require different tools of the trade.

What is a surety bond and why do I need one?

Tennessee Notaries are required by law to obtain a $10,000 surety bond. A surety bond is a financial guarantee made by a surety company for protecting signers who incur financial damages because a Notary intentionally or unintentionally broke a Notary law. Because the bond protects the signer, Notaries often purchase an optional errors and omissions (E&O) insurance policy to protect themselves from liability. E&O insurance is not a requirement for Notaries in Tennessee.

General Notary Public Information

Find answers to the most common questions about being a Notary in Tennessee below.

Which state government office handles Notaries?

The commissions of Tennessee Notaries are approved by the Governor. The Tennessee Secretary of State, Division of Business Services, Notary Section (615) 741-3699, located in Nashville, TN, coordinates the issuance of these commissions with the county clerks.

Can anyone help me become a Notary?

Many companies offer Notary supplies, bonds and assistance with the application process which varies by county.

Who can I notarize for?

You can notarize for any member of the public except yourself or your spouse. The Attorney General's Office issued a legal opinion on the matter, stating that the nature of a spousal relationship prevents the Notary from being impartial, and therefore they should not notarize their spouse's signature.

How much can TN Notaries charge per notarization?

Notaries may charge a reasonable fee for a notarial act, according to Tenn. Code Ann. § 8-21-1201. As a best practice, inform signers of your fees in advance to avoid any potential conflict.

What should I do if I move or change my name?

If you move to a different county or change your name, you must notify the county clerk of the county in which you were elected and commissioned as a Notary Public. They will notify the Secretary of State of your change of address or name. You'll need to pay a $7 processing fee.

How do I renew my Notary Public commission?

To renew your commission, you must take the same steps you initially took to become a Notary Public.

What do I need to know about remote online notarization in Tennessee?

As of July 1, 2019, remote online notarization is allowed in Tennessee. You must hold a current commission as a traditional Notary Public before you can apply. Once you're commissioned, follow the steps in this guide to become a TN remote online Notary.

If you're not quite ready yet, we have additional resources where you can learn what a Notary is, what they do and why you should become a commissioned Notary.

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Last updated: Aug 30, 2022

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Get everything you need with a full Tennessee Notary Supply Package.