Oregon Laws on Notaries Public


Oregon laws on notaries public can be found in Chapter 194, Title 19 of Oregon Revised Statutes.  Pursuant to ORS § 194.012, the term of office of a notary public is four years commencing with the effective date specified in the notarial commission.

A notary public may perform notarial acts during the term of the commission, or until the commission is revoked, but may not perform notarial acts during any period when the commission is suspended.

ORS § 194.014 provides that every individual person, before entering upon the duties of a notary public, should file with the Secretary of State a completed application for appointment and commission as a notary public.  Application should be made on a form prescribed by the Secretary of State and should include an oath of office, the legal name and an official signature.

Also, each applicant for appointment and commission as a notary public should swear, under penalty of perjury, that the answers to all questions on the application are true and complete to the best of the applicant’s knowledge, and that the applicant is qualified to be appointed and commissioned as a notary public.

Pursuant to ORS § 194.022, a person appointed and commissioned as a notary public must:

  • Be 18 years of age or older at the time of appointment.
  • Be a resident of this state at the time of appointment, or be a resident of an adjacent state and be regularly employed or carry on a trade or business within this state at the time of appointment.
  • Be able to read and write the English language at the time of appointment.
  • Be of good moral character.
  • Not have had a notary commission revoked for official misconduct during the five-year period preceding the date of application.
  • Not have been convicted of a felony, or of a lesser offense incompatible with the duties of a notary public, during the ten-year period preceding the date of application.
  • Have satisfactorily completed a written examination prescribed by the Secretary of State to determine the fitness of the person to exercise the functions of the office of notary public.
  • Have satisfactorily completed a three-hour notary public education course.

The official seal of a notary public should be a stamp made of rubber or some other substance capable of making a legible imprint on paper in black ink.  The imprint must legibly reproduce under photographic methods.  Further, the Secretary of State should adopt rules prescribing the size and form of the imprint of the official seal to promote uniformity, legibility, and permanency.

ORS § 194.043 provides that each notary public appointed and commissioned by the Secretary of State may perform notarial acts anywhere within this state.  A notary public so appointed and commissioned may not perform notarial acts in another state, but may notarize a document originating in another state if the notarization is performed in this state.

A notary public may protest commercial paper if the notary public is:

  • An officer or employee of a financial institution or an investment company, or a person serving under the direct supervision of the officer or employee; or
  • An active member of the Oregon State Bar, or a person serving under the direct supervision of an active member of the Oregon State Bar.

ORS § 194.152 provides that each notary public should provide, keep, maintain and protect one or more chronological journals of notarial acts performed by the notary public except for administering an oath or affirmation or certifying or attesting a copy.

Further, the Secretary of State should adopt rules prescribing the form of the notarial journal to promote uniformity and establish the retention or disposition of the notarial journal and other notarial records, and prescribe rules to provide for exceptions to the notarial journal.

Pursuant to ORS § 194.158A, a notary public may not perform a notarial act if the notary is a signer of or named in the document that is to be notarized.  Also a notary may not indorse or promote any product, service, contest or other offering if the notary’s title or seal is used in the indorsement or promotional statement.

A notary may not make representations to have powers, qualifications, rights or privileges that the office of notary does not have including the power to counsel on immigration matters.

Further, a notary who is not licensed to practice law in this state and who advertises notarial services in a language other than English should include in the advertisement, notice or sign in the same language and in English, a statement, prominently displaying that s/he is not licensed to practice law in the State of Oregon.

ORS § 194.515 provides that a notarial officer must determine, either from personal knowledge or from satisfactory evidence, that the person appearing before the officer and making the acknowledgment is the person whose true signature is on the instrument when:

  • taking an acknowledgment,
  • taking a verification upon oath or affirmation,
  • witnessing or attesting a signature, and
  • certifying or attesting a copy of a document or other item.

Pursuant to ORS § 194.525, a notarial act may be performed within this state by the following persons:

  • A notary public of this state; or
  • A judge, clerk or deputy clerk of any court of this state.

A notarial act has the same effect under the law of this state as if performed by a notarial officer of this state, if performed in another state, commonwealth, territory, district or possession of the U.S. by any of the following persons:

  • A notary public of that jurisdiction;
  • A judge, clerk or deputy clerk of a court of that jurisdiction; or
  • Any other person authorized by the law of that jurisdiction to perform notarial acts.

ORS § 194.980 provides that any notary public who is found to have performed an act of official misconduct may incur a civil penalty plus any costs of service or recording costs.

ORS § 194.990 provides that a notary who knowingly and repeatedly performs or fails to perform any act prohibited or mandated is guilty of a Class B misdemeanor.  Similarly, any person not a notary public who knowingly acts as or otherwise impersonates a notary public is guilty of a Class B misdemeanor.

Also, any person who knowingly obtains, conceals, defaces or destroys the official seal, journal or official records of a notary public is guilty of a Class B misdemeanor.  Any person, who knowingly solicits, coerces, or in any way influences a notary public to commit official misconduct is guilty of a Class B misdemeanor.