New Hampshire Laws on Notaries Public
New Hampshire laws on notaries public can be found in Chapter 455, Title 42 of Statute of New Hampshire. Pursuant to RSA 455:1, notaries public are appointed by the governor, with advice and consent of the executive council. A notary public in the state of New Hampshire is commissioned for 5 years.
Pursuant to RSA 455:2, a person applying to be a notary public should be a resident of the state of New Hampshire. The applicant should sign a written statement under oath. The written statement must include a statement to the effect that the applicant has never been convicted of a crime that has not been annulled by a court. Minor traffic violations are excluded. The applicant should be endorsed for appointment by two notaries public and a registered voter of the state of New Hampshire[i].
Pursuant to RSA 455:2-a, a notary public or any other officer authorized to administer an oath, take an acknowledgment, proof of an instrument, or make protest, who is a stockholder, director, officer or employee of a bank; or other corporation, to take the acknowledgment of any party to any written instrument executed to or by such corporation is lawful. However, it is unlawful for any notary public or other officer authorized to administer an oath, take an acknowledgment, proof of an instrument or make protest, to take the acknowledgment of an instrument executed by or to a bank or other corporation of which s/he is a stockholder, director, officer or employee. A notary public cannot administer an oath, take an acknowledgment, proof of an instrument or make protest, to take the acknowledgment of an instrument where the notary or other officer is a party to such instrument. A notary cannot protest a negotiable instrument owned or held for collection by a corporation, where the notary is individually a party to such instrument. No person acting in the capacity of notary public should notarize his/ her own signature. However, no instrument acknowledged or notarized before a notary public or other officer who would have been competent to act should be impugned or invalidated on the grounds that such notary public or other officer was incompetent to act[ii].
Pursuant to RSA 455:3, in addition to the usual powers of the office, all notaries public should have the same powers as a justice of the peace in relation to depositions; the acknowledgment of deeds, and other instruments; and the administering of oaths. All acknowledgments made by a notary public should be under an official seal or carry the legible imprint of an official rubber stamp stating the name of the notary, the words “notary public, New Hampshire” and the expiration date of the notary public’s commission[iii].
Pursuant to RSA 455:4, the protest of a bill of exchange, note, or order, duly certified by a notary public is evidence of the facts stated in the protest. The protest is the notice given to the drawer or endorsers[iv].
Pursuant to RSA 455:11, a notary public is entitled to a fee of up to $10 for each oath, witness, service, or certification. However, certain limitations are made on the notarial fees. For services related to the taking of depositions, the notary public is entitled to the same fees as justices are entitled to receive. Justices of the peace are entitled to a fee of at least $5 but no more than $50 in the taking of depositions. No fee is allowed for administering and certifying oaths of office of town officers[v].
Pursuant to RSA 455:16, for misconduct a person is subject to a civil penalty not to exceed $1,000 when a person holding a commission as a notary public negligently or recklessly:
- makes a material false representation on the application form;
- makes a false notarial act;
- makes a notarial act for a person not personally known by the notary without first requiring the person to establish his/ her identity; or
- makes a notarial act purporting to have witnessed the maker’s signing of the document or purporting to have received the oath or affirmation of the person, when the notary did not actually witness the maker’s signing of the document or did not actually receive the oath or affirmation of the person.
Pursuant to RSA 455:16, a person is guilty of a class A misdemeanor, when s/he purposefully or knowingly commits any misconduct described above. Moreover, a person is guilty of a class A misdemeanor, when s/he makes a notarial act with the knowledge that s/he is not a person authorized to perform a notarial act…The court, upon petition of the attorney general, can levy a civil penalty in an amount not to exceed $1,000 upon a person violating the above provisions. All penalties assessed should be paid to the secretary of state for deposit into the general fund[vi].
Pursuant to RSA 455:16, the attorney general has the authority to notify suspected violators of the state’s intention to seek a civil penalty, to negotiate, and to settle with such suspected violators without court action. However, civil penalty paid as settlement should be paid to the secretary of state for deposit into the general fund[vii].
Pursuant to RSA 455:17, the secretary of state, with the advice and approval of the attorney general prepares an up-to-date manual on the privileges, duties, and responsibilities of notaries public in New Hampshire. The manual should be written in non-technical language. The manual should be distributed to each person commissioned a notary public. The manual is available to the public free of charge. The manual is updated within six months following the end of a session of the legislature amending the statues affecting the privileges, duties, or responsibilities of notaries public[viii].
[i] RSA 455:2.
[ii] RSA 455:2-a.
[iii] RSA 455:3.
[iv] RSA 455:4.
[v] RSA 455:11.
[vi] RSA 455:16.
[vii] RSA 455:16.
[viii] RSA 455:17.