North Carolina laws on notaries public can be found in Chapter 10 B of North Carolina General Statutes. Pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 10B-2, purposes of North Carolina Notary Public Act are to:
- promote, serve, and protect the public interests.
- simplify, clarify, and modernize the law governing notaries.
- prevent fraud and forgery.
- foster ethical conduct among notaries.
- enhance interstate recognition of notarial acts.
- integrate procedures for traditional paper and electronic notarial acts.
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 10B-5 provides that a person qualified for a notarial commission should meet all of the following requirements:
- Be at least eighteen years of age or legally emancipated.
- Reside or have a regular place of work or business in the state of North Carolina.
- Reside legally in the U.S.
- Speak, read, and write the English language.
- Possess a high school diploma or equivalent.
- Pass the course of instruction, unless the person is a licensed member of the North Carolina State Bar.
- Purchase and keep as a reference the most recent manual approved by the Secretary that describes the duties and authority of notaries public.
- Submit an application containing no significant misstatement or omission of fact. The application form should be provided by the Secretary and be available at the register of deeds office in each county. Every application should include the signature of the applicant written with pen and ink, and the signature should be acknowledged by the applicant before a person authorized to administer oaths.
Pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 10B-6, every application for a notary commission should be made on paper with original signatures, or in another form determined by the Secretary, and should include all of the following:
- A statement of the applicant’s personal qualifications.
- A certificate or signed statement by the instructor evidencing successful completion of the course of instruction.
- A notarized declaration of the applicant.
- Any other information that the Secretary deems appropriate.
- The application fee.
A notary may perform any of the following notarial acts[i]:
- Oaths and affirmations.
- Verifications or proofs.
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 10B-20 provides that a notary should not perform a notarial act if any of the following apply:
- The principal or subscribing witness is not in the notary’s presence at the time the notarial act is performed.
- The principal or subscribing witness is not personally known to the notary or identified by the notary through satisfactory evidence.
- The credible witness is not personally known to the notary.
- The notary is a signer of, party to, or beneficiary of the record, that is to be notarized.
- The notary will receive directly from a transaction connected with the notarial act any commission, fee, advantage, right, title, interest, cash, property, or other consideration exceeding in value the fees specified, other than fees or other consideration paid for services rendered by a licensed attorney, a licensed real estate broker or salesperson, a motor vehicle dealer, or a banker.
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 10B-20 further provides that a notary public who is not an attorney licensed to practice law in this State who advertises the person’s services as a notary public in a language other than English, by radio, television, signs, pamphlets, newspapers, other written communication, or in any other manner, should post or otherwise include with the advertisement the notice that S/he is not an attorney licensed to practice law.
Pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 10B-115, the following types of notarial acts may be performed electronically:
- Verifications or proofs; and
- Oaths or affirmations.
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 10B-105 provides that a person qualified for electronic notary registration should meet all of the following requirements:
- Hold a valid commission as a notary public in the State of North Carolina.
- Abide by all the provisions and satisfy the requirements of notary public law.
- Submit an electronic registration form containing no significant misstatement or omission of fact.
A notary should keep an official seal or stamp that is the exclusive property of the notary[ii]. The notary should also keep the seal in a secure location. Further, the notary should not allow another person to use or possess the seal, and should not surrender the seal to the notary’s employer upon termination of employment.
Also, the seal should be affixed only after the notarial act is performed. The notary should place the image or impression of the seal near the notary’s signature on every paper record notarized. The seal and the notary’s signature should appear on the same page of a record as the text of the notarial certificate.
The Secretary may issue a warning to a notary or restrict, suspend, or revoke a notarial commission for a violation of laws and on any ground for which an application for a commission may be denied[iii].
Pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 10B-60 (b), a person who commits any of the following acts is guilty of a Class one misdemeanor:
- Holding one’s self out to the public as a notary if the person does not have a commission.
- Performing a notarial act if the person’s commission has expired or been suspended or restricted.
- Performing a notarial act before the person had taken the oath of office.
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 10B-60 (c) provides that a notary will be guilty of a Class one misdemeanor if the notary does any of the following:
- Takes an acknowledgment or administers an oath or affirmation without the principal appearing in person before the notary.
- Takes a verification or proof without the subscribing witness appearing in person before the notary.
- Takes an acknowledgment or administers an oath or affirmation without personal knowledge or satisfactory evidence of the identity of the principal.
- Takes a verification or proof without personal knowledge or satisfactory evidence of the identity of the subscribing witness.
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 10B-60 (d) provides that a notary will be guilty of a Class one felony if the notary does any of the following:
- Takes an acknowledgment or verification or proof, or administers an oath or affirmation if the notary knows it is false or fraudulent.
- Takes an acknowledgment or administers an oath or affirmation without the principal appearing in person before the notary if the notary does so with the intent to commit fraud.
- Takes a verification or proof without the subscribing witness appearing in person before the notary if the notary does so with the intent to commit fraud.
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 10B-60 (e) provides that it is a Class one felony for any person to perform notarial acts with the knowledge that the person is not commissioned as a notary public. Any person who without authority obtains, uses, conceals, defaces, or destroys the seal or notarial records of a notary is guilty of a Class one felony[iv].
Any person who knowingly solicits, coerces, or in any material way influences a notary to commit official misconduct, is guilty as an aider and abettor and is subject to the same level of punishment as the notary[v].
[i] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 10B-20.
[ii] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 10B-36.
[iii] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 10B-60.
[iv] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 10B-60 (f).
[v] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 10B-60 (j).