Wisconsin laws on notaries public can be found in Chapter 137.01 and in Chapter 706.07 of Wisconsin Statutes. Pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 137.01, the governor should appoint notaries public who are U.S. residents and at least eighteen years of age. Applicants who are not attorneys should file an application with the secretary of state.
The secretary of state should satisfy himself/herself that the applicant:
- has the equivalent of an eighth grade education,
- is familiar with the duties and responsibilities of a notary public, and
- does not have an arrest or conviction record.
Wis. Stat. § 137.01 provides that qualified applicants should be notified by the secretary of state to take and file the official oath and execute and file an official bond, with a surety executed by a surety company and approved by the secretary of state.
The qualified applicant should also file his/her signature, post-office address and an impression of his/her official seal, or imprint of his/her official rubber stamp with the secretary of state.
A certificate of appointment as a notary public for a term of four years stating the expiration date of the commission will be issued to applicants who have fulfilled the requirements.
Wis. Stat. § 137.01 further provides that a notary public appointed may not do any of the following:
- State or imply that s/he is an attorney licensed to practice law in this state.
- Solicit or accept compensation to prepare documents for or otherwise represent the interests of another person in a judicial or administrative proceeding, including a proceeding relating to immigration to the U.S. or U.S. citizenship.
- Solicit or accept compensation to obtain relief of any kind on behalf of another person from any officer, agent, or employee of this state, a political subdivision of this state, or the U.S.
- Use the phrase notario, notarizaciones, notarizamos, or notario publico, or otherwise advertise in a language other than English on signs, pamphlets, stationery, or other written communication, by radio or television, or on the Internet his/her services as a notary public.
The secretary of state issues a certificate of appointment as a notary public to persons who qualify. The certificate should state that the notary commission is permanent or is for four years.
Every notary public should provide an engraved official seal which makes a distinct and legible impression or official rubber stamp which makes a distinct and legible imprint on paper. Further, the impression of the seal or the imprint of the rubber stamp should state only the following: Notary Public, State of Wisconsin and the name of the notary.
Pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 137.01, notaries public have the power to act throughout the state. Notaries public also have the power to demand acceptance of foreign and inland bills of exchange and payment thereof, and payment of promissory notes, and may protest the same for nonacceptance or nonpayment, may administer oaths, take depositions and acknowledgments of deeds, and perform such other duties as by the law of nations, or according to commercial usage, may be exercised and performed by notaries public.
When any notary public ceases to hold office, the notary public, or in case of the notary public’s death, the notary public’s personal representative should deposit the notary public’s official records and papers in the office of the secretary of state.
If any notary public is guilty of any misconduct or neglect of duty in office the notary public will be liable to the party injured for all the damages thereby sustained[i].
Wis. Stat. § 706.07 provides that in taking an acknowledgment, the 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.
Similarly, in taking verification upon oath or affirmation, the notarial officer must determine, either from personal knowledge or from satisfactory evidence, that the person appearing before the officer and making the verification is the person whose true signature is on the statement verified.
Also, in witnessing or attesting a signature, the notarial officer must determine, either from personal knowledge or from satisfactory evidence, that the signature is that of the person appearing before the officer and named therein.
In certifying or attesting a copy of a document or other item, the notarial officer must determine that the proffered copy is a full, true, and accurate transcription or reproduction of that which was copied. In making or noting a protest of a negotiable instrument, the notarial officer must determine the matters set forth in the particular statute[ii].
A notarial officer has satisfactory evidence that a person is the person whose true signature is on a document if that person:
- Is personally known to the notarial officer;
- Is identified upon the oath or affirmation of a credible witness personally known to the notarial officer; or
- Is identified on the basis of identification documents.
Pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 706.07, a notarial act may be performed within the state of Wisconsin by the following persons of this state:
- A notary public;
- A judge, clerk or deputy clerk of a court of record;
- A court commissioner;
- A register of deeds or deputy register of deeds;
- A municipal judge; or
- A county clerk or deputy county clerk.
Wis. Stat. § 706.07 further provides that a notarial act must be evidenced by a certificate signed and dated by a notarial officer. The certificate must include identification of the jurisdiction in which the notarial act is performed and the title of the office of the notarial officer and may include the official stamp or seal of office.
[i] Wis. Stat. § 137.01
[ii] Wis. Stat. § 706.07