West Virginia Laws on Notaries Public


West Virginia laws on notaries public can be found in Article 4, Chapter 29 and also in Chapter 29 C of West Virginia Code.  Pursuant to W. Va. Code § 29-4-3, when any oath may lawfully be administered, or affidavit or deposition taken, within any county, it may be done by a notary thereof, unless otherwise expressly provided by law.

W. Va. Code § 29-4-4 provides that a notary may take, within his/her county, and the county or counties to which his/her commission has been extended, acknowledgments of deeds and other writings.  Additionally, s/he should be a conservator of the peace within the county of his/her residence, and as such conservator should exercise all the powers conferred by law upon justices of the peace or magistrates.

The certificate of a notary of the State of West Virginia may be under his/her signature, without his/her notarial seal being affixed thereto[i].  However, a notary public who affixes his/her seal to any instrument or other writings should affix his/her seal for the county in which the acknowledgment is taken and the certificate is made.

W. Va. Code § 29-4-6 provides that notaries have authority to demand acceptance of foreign and inland bills of exchange, including checks, and to demand payment thereof, and of negotiable promissory notes, and protest the same for nonacceptance or nonpayment, as the case may require; and perform such other duties as by the law of nations or commercial usage may be performed by notaries public.

Pursuant to W. Va. Code § 29-4-7, it is lawful for any notary who is a stockholder, director, officer or employee of a banking institution, including national banking associations, or other corporation, to take the acknowledgment of any party to any written instrument executed to or by such corporation, or to administer an oath to any other stockholder, director, officer, employee or agent of such corporation, or to protest, for nonacceptance or nonpayment, bills of exchange, drafts, checks, notes and other negotiable instruments which may be owned or held for collection by such corporation.

However, it is unlawful for any notary public to take the acknowledgment of an instrument by or to a banking institution, including national banking association, or other corporation, of which s/he is a stockholder, director, officer, or employee, when such notary is a party to such instrument, either personally or as a representative of such corporation; or to protest any negotiable instrument owned or held for collection by such corporation, when such notary is personally a party to such instrument[ii].

The official signature of any notary should state the date of expiration of his/her commission, but a misstatement of such date will not invalidate any official act of such notary, if his/her commission be at the time thereof in force[iii].

W. Va. Code § 29C-2-201 provides that every applicant for appointment and commission as a notary public should complete an application to be filed with the Secretary of State stating:

  • That s/he is a citizen of the U.S., or if s/he is not a citizen of the U.S., that s/he is a citizen or national of a country that permits American citizens to become notaries public therein;
  • If s/he is a citizen of the U.S., that s/he is a qualified elector of a state at the time of his/her application;
  • That s/he is able to read and write English;
  • The address of his/her business or residence in this State;
  • His/her social security number, if s/he has one; and
  • That during the past ten years his/her commission as a notary public has not been revoked.

W. Va. Code § 29C-3-101 provides that every notary public is empowered to:

  • Take acknowledgments;
  • Administer oaths and affirmations;
  • Certify that a copy of a document is a true copy of another document; and
  • Perform any other act permitted by law.

If a notary public dies during the term of his/her appointment, his/her heirs or personal representative, as soon as reasonably possible after the notary’s death, should send by certified mail or deliver to the Secretary of State the deceased notary’s papers and copies relating to his/her notarial acts[iv].  Also his/her heirs or personal representative should destroy forthwith his/her official seal.

If a notary public no longer desires to be a notary public or has ceased to have a business or residence address in this State, s/he should send forthwith by certified mail or deliver to the Secretary of State a letter of resignation and all papers and copies relating to his/her notarial acts[v].  S/he should destroy forthwith his/her official seal. His/her commission thereupon ceases to be in effect.

W. Va. Code § 29C-6-101 provides that a notary public is liable to the persons involved for all damages proximately caused by the notary’s official misconduct.  Also, a notary public who knowingly and willfully commits any official misconduct is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, will be fined not more than five thousand dollars or imprisoned in the county jail not more than one year or both fined and imprisoned[vi].  Further, a notary public who recklessly or negligently commits any official misconduct is guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction, will be fined not more than one thousand dollars.

Any person who acts as, or otherwise willfully impersonates, a notary public while not lawfully appointed and commissioned to perform notarial acts is guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction, will be fined not more than five thousand dollars or imprisoned in the county jail not more than one year, or both fined and imprisoned[vii].

Pursuant to W. Va. Code § 29C-6-204, any person who unlawfully possesses a notary’s official seal or any papers or copies relating to notarial acts, is guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction, will be fined not more than one thousand dollars.

[i] W. Va. Code § 29-4-5.

[ii] W. Va. Code § 29-4-7.

[iii] W. Va. Code § 29-4-8.

[iv] W. Va. Code § 29C-4-401.

[v] W. Va. Code § 29C-4-402.

[vi] W. Va. Code § 29C-6-202.

[vii] W. Va. Code § 29C-6-203.