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California Laws on Notaries Public

California laws on notaries public can be found in Chapter 3, Title 2 of Government Code.  Pursuant to Cal Gov Code § 8200, the Secretary of State appoints and commissions notaries public and such notaries public can act as notaries in any part of California.

Pursuant to Cal Gov Code § 8201, a notary public shall be at the time of appointment a legal resident of California, not be less than 18 years of age, have satisfactorily completed a six-hour course of study approved by the Secretary of State and have satisfactorily completed a written examination prescribed by the Secretary of State.

Pursuant to Cal Gov Code § 8202, when executing a jurat, a notary shall administer an oath or affirmation to the affiant and shall determine, from satisfactory evidence, that the affiant is the person executing the document.  The affiant shall sign the document in the presence of the notary.

Pursuant to Cal Gov Code § 8202.5, the Secretary of State may appoint and commission the number of state, city, county, and public school district employees as notaries public to act for and on behalf of the governmental entity for which they are appointed, which the Secretary of State deems proper.  Whenever a notary is appointed and commissioned, a duly authorized representative of the employing governmental entity shall execute a certificate that the appointment is made for the purposes of the employing governmental entity, and whenever the certificate is filed with any state or county officer, no fees shall be charged by the officer for the filing or issuance of any document in connection with the appointment.

Pursuant to Cal Gov Code § 8203.1, the Secretary of State may appoint and commission notaries public for the military and naval reservations of the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force, and Marine Corps of the United States, wherever located in the state; provided, however, that the appointee shall be a citizen of the United States, not less than 18 years of age, and must meet the requirements set forth in § 8201.  The term of office of a notary public is for four years commencing with the date specified in the commission[i].

Pursuant to Cal Gov Code § 8205, it is the duty of a notary public, when requested to demand acceptance and payment of foreign and inland bills of exchange, or promissory notes, to protest them for non acceptance and nonpayment, to take the acknowledgment or proof of advance health care directives, powers of attorney, mortgages, deeds, grants, transfers, and other instruments of writing executed by any person, and to give a certificate of that proof or acknowledgment, endorsed on or attached to the instrument, to take depositions and affidavits, and administer oaths and affirmations, to certify copies of powers of attorney under Section 4307 of the Probate Code.  It shall further be the duty of a notary public, upon written request to furnish to the Secretary of State certified copies of the notary’s journal and  to respond within 30 days of receiving written requests sent by certified mail from the Secretary of State’s office for information relating to official acts performed by the notary.

Pursuant to Cal Gov Code § 8207, a notary public shall provide and keep an official seal, which shall clearly show, when embossed, stamped, impressed or affixed to a document, the name of the notary, the State Seal, the words “Notary Public,” and the name of the county wherein the bond and oath of office are filed, and the date the notary public’s commission expires.  A notary public shall not use the title “notary public” and the official notarial seal except for the purpose of rendering notarial service.  The seal of every notary public shall be affixed by a seal press or stamp that will print or emboss a seal which legibly reproduces under photographic methods the required elements of the seal.  The seal may be circular not over two inches in diameter, or may be a rectangular form of not more than one inch in width by two and one-half inches in length, with a serrated or milled edged border, and shall contain the information required by this section.  The seal shall be kept in a locked and secured area, under the direct and exclusive control of the notary. Failure to secure the seal shall be cause for the Secretary of State to take administrative action against the commission held by the notary public pursuant to § 8214.1.  The official seal of a notary public is the exclusive property of that notary public, and shall not be surrendered to an employer upon the termination of employment, whether or not the employer paid for the seal, or to any other person.  The notary, or his or her representative, shall destroy or deface the seal upon termination, resignation, or revocation of the notary’s commission[ii].

Pursuant to Cal Gov Code § 8213, every person appointed a notary public shall execute an official bond in the sum of $15,000.  The bond shall be in the form of a bond executed by an admitted surety insurer and not a deposit in lieu of bond[iii].  Within 30 days of the beginning of the term prescribed in the commission, every person appointed a notary public shall file an official bond and an oath of office in the office of the county clerk of the county within which the person maintains a principal place of business as shown in the application submitted to the Secretary of State, and the commission shall not take effect unless this is done within the 30-day period.  Upon the filing of the oath and bond, the county clerk shall immediately transmit to the Secretary of State a certificate setting forth the fact of the filing and containing a copy of the official oath, personally signed by the notary public in the form set forth in the commission and shall immediately deliver the bond to the county recorder for recording.  The county clerk shall retain the oath of office for one year following the expiration of the term of the commission for which the oath was taken, after which the oath may be destroyed or otherwise disposed of.  The copy of the oath, personally signed by the notary public, on file with the Secretary of State may at any time be read in evidence with like effect as the original oath, without further proof.  If a notary public transfers the principal place of business from one county to another, the notary public may file a new oath of office and bond, or a duplicate of the original bond with the county clerk to which the principal place of business was transferred.  If a notary public submits an application for a name change to the Secretary of State, the notary public shall, within 30 days from the date an amended commission is issued, file a new oath of office and an amendment to the bond with the county clerk in which the principal place of business is located.

Pursuant to Cal Gov Code § 8214.1, the Secretary of State may refuse to appoint any person as notary public or may revoke or suspend the commission of any notary public upon any of the following grounds:

(a) Substantial and material misstatement or omission in the application submitted to the Secretary of State to become a notary public.
(b) Conviction of a felony, a lesser offense involving moral turpitude, or a lesser offense of a nature incompatible with the duties of a notary public. A conviction after a plea of nolo contendere is deemed to be a conviction within the meaning of this subdivision.
(c) Revocation, suspension, restriction, or denial of a professional license, if the revocation, suspension, restriction, or denial was for misconduct based on dishonesty, or for any cause substantially relating to the duties or responsibilities of a notary public.
(d) Failure to discharge fully and faithfully any of the duties or responsibilities required of a notary public.
(e) When adjudicated liable for damages in any suit grounded in fraud, misrepresentation, or for a violation of the state regulatory laws, or in any suit based upon a failure to discharge fully and faithfully the duties as a notary public.
(f) The use of false or misleading advertising wherein the notary public has represented that the notary public has duties, rights, or privileges that he or she does not possess by law.
(g) The practice of law in violation of § 6125 of the Business and Professions Code.
(h) Charging more than the fees prescribed by the chapter.
(i) Commission of any act involving dishonesty, fraud, or deceit with the intent to substantially benefit the notary public or another, or substantially injure another.
(j) Failure to complete the acknowledgment at the time the notary’s signature and seal are affixed to the document.
(k) Failure to administer the oath or affirmation as required by paragraph (3) of subdivision (a) of § 8205.
(l) Execution of any certificate as a notary public containing a statement known to the notary public to be false.
(m) Violation of § 8223.
(n) Failure to submit any remittance payable upon demand by the Secretary of State or failure to satisfy any court-ordered money judgment, including restitution.
(o) Failure to secure the sequential journal of official acts, pursuant to § 8206, or the official seal, pursuant to § 8207, or willful failure to report the theft or loss of the sequential journal, pursuant to subdivision (b) of § 8206.
(p) Violation of § 8219.5.
(q) Commission of an act in violation of §§ 6203, 8214.2, 8225, or 8227.3 of the Government Code or of §§ 115, 470, 487, or 530.5 of the Penal Code.
(r) Willful failure to provide access to the sequential journal of official acts upon request by a peace officer.

Pursuant to Cal Gov Code § 8214.15, in addition to any commissioning or disciplinary sanction, a violation of subdivision (f), (i), (l), (m), or (p) of Section 8214.1 is punishable by a civil penalty not to exceed $1,500.  In addition to any commissioning or disciplinary sanction, a violation of subdivision (h), (j), or (k) of § 8214.1, or a negligent violation of subdivision (d) of § 8214.1 is punishable by a civil penalty not to exceed $750.  The civil penalty may be imposed by the Secretary of State if a hearing is not requested pursuant to § 8214.3.  If a hearing is requested, the hearing officer shall make the determination.  Any civil penalties collected shall be transferred to the General Fund.

Pursuant to Cal Gov Code § 8214.3, prior to a revocation or suspension or after a denial of a commission, or prior to the imposition of a civil penalty, the person affected shall have a right to a hearing, except that a person shall not have a right to a hearing after a denial of an application for a notary public commission in either of the following cases:

1) The Secretary of State has, within one year previous to the application, and after proceedings conducted in accordance with Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 11500) of Part 1 of Division 3, denied or revoked the applicant’s application or commission.
2) The Secretary of State has entered an order pursuant to Cal Gov Code § 8214.4

finding that the applicant has committed or omitted acts constituting grounds for suspension or revocation of a notary public’s commission.

Pursuant to Cal Gov Code § 8214.4, if the Secretary of State determines that any notary public has committed or omitted acts constituting grounds for suspension or revocation of a notary public’s commission, the resignation or expiration of the notary public’s commission shall not bar the Secretary of State from instituting or continuing an investigation or instituting disciplinary proceedings.  Upon completion of the disciplinary proceedings, the Secretary of State shall enter an order finding the facts and stating the conclusion that the facts would or would not have constituted grounds for suspension or revocation of the commission if the commission had still been in effect.

Pursuant to Cal Gov Code § 8214.8, upon conviction of any offense, or of Section 6203, or of any felony, of a person commissioned as a notary public, in addition to any other penalty, the court shall revoke the commission of the notary public, and shall require the notary public to surrender to the court the seal of the notary public. A notary public shall not take the acknowledgment or proof of instruments of writing executed by the notary public nor shall depositions or affidavits of the notary public be taken by the notary public[iv].

Pursuant to Cal Gov Code § 8228.1, any notary public who willfully fails to perform any duty required of a notary public under § 8206, or who willfully fails to keep the seal of the notary public under the direct and exclusive control of the notary public, or who surrenders the seal of the notary public to any person not otherwise authorized by law to possess the seal of the notary, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

Pursuant to Cal Gov Code § 8230, if a notary public executes a jurat and the statement sworn or subscribed contained in a document purporting to identify the affiant, and includes the birth date or age of the person and a purported photograph or finger or thumbprint of the person so swearing or subscribing, the notary public shall require, as a condition to executing the jurat, that the person verify the birth date or age contained in the statement by showing either:

1) A certified copy of the person’s birth certificate, or
2) An identification card or driver’s license issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles.

[i] Cal Gov Code § 8204.

[ii] Cal Gov Code § 8207.

[iii] Cal Gov Code § 8212.

[iv] Cal Gov Code § 8224.1.


Inside California Laws on Notaries Public