New York laws on notaries public can be found in Article 6 of Consolidated Law Service of New York. Pursuant to NY CLS Exec § 130, the secretary of state appoints and commissions competent notaries public for the state of New York. The jurisdiction of a notary public appointed in the state of New York is co-extensive with the boundaries of the state. A notary public is appointed for a term of four years. An application for an appointment as notary public should be in form and in the manner prescribed by the secretary. A person appointed as notary public must be a citizen of the U.S.; and a resident of the state of New York, or must maintain an office or place of business in New York State at the time of his/ her appointment[i].
Pursuant to NY CLS Exec § 130, a resident notary public who moves out of the state but maintaining a place of business or an office in New York state does not vacate his/ her office as a notary public. A nonresident notary public when ceases to have an office or place of business in the state vacates his/ her office as a notary public. A New York resident notary public who moves out of the state and who does not retain an office or place of business in the state of New York should vacate his/ her office as a notary public. A non-resident who accepts the office of notary public in the state of New York thereby appoints the secretary of state as the person upon whom process can be served on his/ her behalf[ii].
Pursuant to NY CLS Exec § 130, before issuing to any applicant a commission as notary public the secretary of state should satisfy that the applicant is of good moral character, has the equivalent of a common school education and is familiar with the duties and responsibilities of a notary public. However, this rule is not applicable to an applicant who is an attorney and counsel or at law duly admitted to practice in the state of New York or a court clerk of the unified court system who has been appointed to such position after taking a civil service promotional examination in the court clerk series of titles. When a notary public applies before the expiration of term, for reappointment with the county clerk or where a person whose term as notary public should have expired applies within six months for reappointment as a notary public with the county clerk, the qualifying requirements can be waived by the secretary of state. When an application for reappointment is filed with the county clerk after the expiration of the renewal period by a person who failed or was unable to re-apply by reason of his/ her induction or enlistment in the armed forces of the U.S., the qualifying requirements can be waived by the secretary of state. However, the application for reappointment must be made within a period of one year after the military discharge of the applicant under conditions other than dishonorable. The appointment or reappointment of an applicant is in the discretion of the secretary of state. The secretary of state can suspend or remove a notary public appointed by him/ her from office for misconduct. The person to be removed must be served with a copy of the charges against him/ her. S/he must be given an opportunity of being heard[iii].
Pursuant to NY CLS Exec § 130, a person convicted in the state of New York or any other state or territory, of a felony or any of the following offenses, should not be appointed as a notary public. The offences include:
Illegally using, carrying or possessing a pistol or other dangerous weapon;
- making or possessing burglar’s instruments;
- buying or receiving or criminally possessing stolen property;
- unlawful entry of a building;
- aiding escape from prison;
- unlawfully possessing or distributing habit forming narcotic drugs;
- violating sections two hundred seventy, two hundred seventy-a, two hundred seventy-b, two hundred seventy-c, two hundred seventy-one, two hundred seventy-five, two hundred seventy-six, five hundred fifty, five hundred fifty-one, five hundred fifty-one-a and subdivisions six, eight, ten or eleven of section seven hundred twenty-two of the former penal law as in force or violating sections 165.25, 165.30, subdivision one of section 240.30, subdivision three of section 240.35 of the penal law, or violating sections four hundred seventy-eight, four hundred seventy-nine, four hundred eighty, four hundred eighty-one, four hundred eighty-four, four hundred eighty-nine and four hundred ninety-one of the judiciary law; or
- vagrancy or prostitution. And the person has not received an executive pardon or a certificate of good conduct from the parole board to remove the disability.
Pursuant to NY CLS Exec § 130, a person regularly admitted to practice as an attorney and counsellor in the courts of record of the state of New York and whose office for the practice of law is within the state can be appointed a notary public. When the notary resides in or removes to an adjoining state and retains office, s/he is deemed to be a resident of the county where s/he maintains office[iv].
Pursuant to NY CLS Exec § 132, the secretary of state or the county clerk of the county in which the commission of a notary public is filed certifies to the official character of a notary public. A notary public can file his/ her autograph signature and a certificate of official character in the office of any county clerk of any county in the state and in any register’s office in any county having a register. The county clerk certifies as to the official character of the notary public. The secretary of state can collect for each certificate of official character issued by him/ her the sum of one dollar. The county clerk and register of a county with whom a certificate of official character is filed should collect the sum of one dollar. The county clerk can collect a sum of one dollar for each certificate of official character issued, with seal[v].
Pursuant to NY CLS Exec § 135, a duly qualified notary public is authorized and empowered within and throughout the state:
- to administer oaths and affirmations;
- to take affidavits and depositions;
- to receive and certify acknowledgments or proof of deeds, mortgages and powers of attorney and other instruments in writing;
- to demand acceptance or payment of foreign and inland bills of exchange; promissory notes and obligations in writing; and
- to protest for non-acceptance or non-payment.
However, notarial powers in other jurisdiction must be exercised according to the laws of nations, commercial usage, or by the laws of any other government or country. In exercising notarial power in other jurisdictions, the notary should set forth the name of the other jurisdiction.
Pursuant to NY CLS Exec § 135, a notary public who is an attorney at law regularly admitted to practice in the state of New York can in his/ her discretion administer an oath or affirmation; or take the affidavit or acknowledgment of client in respect of any matter, claim, action or proceeding.
Pursuant to NY CLS Exec § 135, a notary public is liable to the parties injured for all damages sustained by them for any misconduct in the performance of his/ her powers. A notary public should not directly or indirectly, demand or receive for the protest for the non-payment of any note, any greater fee or reward than seventy-five cents. A notary public should not directly or indirectly, demand or receive any greater fee or reward than ten cents for notice for the non-acceptance or non-payment of any bill of exchange, check or draft. A notary public having a seal should affix seal to protest free of expense when requested[vi].
Pursuant to NY CLS Exec § 135-a person acting as a notary public, advertising the title of a notary public without having first been appointed as notary public, is guilty of misdemeanor. Additionally, a notary public practicing fraud or deceit in the exercise of power or duty is guilty of a misdemeanor[vii].
Pursuant to NY CLS Exec § 137, a notary public exercising notarial acts, in addition to the venue of action and signature, should print, typewrite, or stamp beneath his/ her signature in black ink, his/ her name, the words “Notary Public State of New York,” the name of the county in which s/he originally qualified, and the date upon which his/her commission expires. A notary public should include the name of the county in which his/ her certificate of official character is filed. A notary public duly licensed as an attorney and counsellor at law in the state of New York can substitute the words “Attorney and Counsellor at Law” for the words “Notary Public”. A notary public qualified or has filed a certificate of official character in the office of the clerk in a county or counties within the city of New York must also affix to each instrument his/her official number or numbers in black ink, when the instrument is to be recorded in an office of the register of the city of New York in any county within such city. When the notary is given a number or numbers by the register or his predecessors in any county or counties and when his/ her autographed signature and certificate is filed in such office or offices, the notary should affix the number. However, no official act of a notary public will be held invalid on account of the failure to comply with these provisions[viii].
Pursuant to NY CLS Exec § 137, a notary public wilfully failing to comply with the provisions, should be subject to disciplinary action by the secretary of state. All the courts within the state of New York receive the certificate of a notary public as presumptive evidence of the facts contained in the certificate. However, a person interested as a party to a suit can contradict the certificate of a notary public by other evidence[ix].
Pursuant to NY CLS Exec § 142-a, the official certificates and other acts, made or performed of notaries public prior to the time of their appointment is not deemed invalid unless the act amounts to following defects:
- ineligibility of the notary public;
- misnomer or misspelling of name or other error made in appointment;
- omission of the notary public or commissioner of deeds to take or file official oath;
- expiration of term, commission or appointment;
- vacating of his/ her office by change of residence, by acceptance of another public office, or by other action on his/ her part; or
- the action was taken outside the jurisdiction where the notary public or commissioner of deeds was authorized to act.
Pursuant to NY CLS Exec § 142-a, person is not entitled to assert a defect known to him/her or when the defect was apparent on the face of the certificate of the notary public. The prohibition should not apply after the expiration of six months from the date of the act of the notary public. The defect does not;
- relieve a notary public from criminal liability imposed by reason of his/ her act;
- enlarge the actual authority of any such officer;
- limit any other statute or rule of law by reason of which the act of a notary public is validated or is deemed valid.
[i] NY CLS Exec § 130.
[v] NY CLS Exec § 132.
[vi] NY CLS Exec § 135.
[vii] NY CLS Exec § 135-a.
[viii] NY CLS Exec § 137.
[ix] NY CLS Exec § 137.