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New Mexico Laws on Notaries Public

New Mexico laws on notaries public can be found in Chapter 14 of statute of New Mexico.  Pursuant to N.M. Stat. Ann. § 14-12A-3, a person applying for a notary public should be a resident of New Mexico, at least eighteen years of age, and able to read and write the English language.  The applicant should not have pleaded guilty, nolo contendere to a felony or been convicted of a felony.  Additionally, the applicant should not have revoked a notary public commission during the past five years of application[i].

Pursuant to N.M. Stat. Ann. § 14-12A-4, an application for appointment as a notary public should be submitted to the secretary of state.  Prescribed application form includes a statement by the applicant;

  • certifying that the applicant is qualified;
  • evidencing the applicant’s good moral character as shown by signatures of two residents of the state of New Mexico; and
  • containing the oath prescribed by the constitution of New Mexico for state officers.

Pursuant to N.M. Stat. Ann. § 14-12A-4, an applicant for appointment as a notary public should submit to the secretary of state a bond in the amount of ten thousand dollars executed by a licensed surety for a term of four years commencing on the commission’s effective date and terminating on expiration date.  The applicant should submit an application signed by the applicant using the applicant’s surname and one given name.  The applicant can provide an initial or additional name if the applicant desires.  The applicant should deposit an application fee in the amount of twenty dollars[ii].

Pursuant to N.M. Stat. Ann. § 14-12A-9, a commission is not be issued until an oath of office and a ten-thousand-dollar bond is provided on the application for appointment and approved by the secretary of state.  The bond shall be executed by a licensed surety, for a term of four years commencing on the commission’s effective date and terminating on its expiration date.  The bond fund is paid to a person conditioned upon the notary public’s misconduct.  A person damaged by an unlawful act, negligence or misconduct of a notary public in his/ her official capacity can bring a civil action on the notary public’s official bond.  The surety for a notary public bond should report all claims against the bond to the secretary of state.  When a notary public bond is exhausted by claims paid out by the surety, the governor should suspend the notary public’s commission until a new bond in the amount of ten thousand dollars is obtained by the notary public.  The notary public’s fitness to serve the remainder of the commission is determined by the governor.  A notary public should not perform any notarial acts until s/he fulfills all the requirements and the governor removes the suspension[iii].

Pursuant to N.M. Stat. Ann. § 14-12A-5, the secretary on receiving the completed application for appointment, the application fee, and upon approval of the applicant’s bond, notifies the application to the governor.  The governor appoints the applicant as a notary public for a term of four years from the date of appointment.  The secretary of state issues a certificate of appointment to each notary public commissioned by the governor.  A certificate of appointment should not be possessed or used by any other person or surrendered to an employer upon termination of employment[iv].

Pursuant to N.M. Stat. Ann. § 14-12A-6, the secretary of state mails a notice of expiration to the notary public’s mailing address of record at least thirty days before expiration of each notary public term,.  A notary public can be reappointed upon making application in the same manner as required for an original application[v].

Pursuant to N.M. Stat. Ann. § 14-12A-7, notarial acts include: acknowledgments; oaths and affirmations; jurats; copy certifications; and any other act authorized by the law of the state of New Mexico.

Pursuant to N.M. Stat. Ann. § 14-12A-6, a notary public should not perform a notarial act when the principal is not:

  • present before the notary public at the time of notarization;
  • personally known to the notary public or identified by the notary public through satisfactory evidence of identity;
  • aware of consequences of the transaction or the principal is doubtful of the necessity of notarial; or
  • acting of his/ her own free will in the notary public’s judgment.

Pursuant to N.M. Stat. Ann. § 14-12A-6, a notary public can certify the affixation of a signature by mark on a document presented for notarization when:

  • the mark is affixed in the presence of the notary public and of two credible witnesses unaffected by the document; and
  • both witnesses sign their own names beside the mark.

Pursuant to N.M. Stat. Ann. § 14-12A-7, a notary public can sign the name of a person physically unable to sign or make a mark on a document presented for notarization.  For such notarization s/he must follow all the general rules of notarization.

Pursuant to N.M. Stat. Ann. § 14-12A-8, a notary public should not refuse to perform a notarial act based on a principal’s race, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, health, disability or status.  A notary public should perform a notarial act for a person tendering the appropriate fee.  A notary public can refuse to perform a notarial act when:

  • the notary public knows or has good reason to believe that the notarial act or the associated transaction is unlawful;
  • the act is prohibited; or
  • the number of notarial acts requested practicably precludes completion of all acts at once.

Pursuant to N.M. Stat. Ann. § 14-12A-11, a notary public is guilty of a misdemeanor when s/he:

  • makes or delivers as true a certificate or writing containing statements that s/he knows to be false; or
  • appends his/her official signature to acknowledgments or other documents when the principals executing the documents have not appeared in person before him.

S/he is liable for punished by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars, or by imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months, or both.  A notary public should not affix an official signature or seal on a notarial certificate that is incomplete[vi].

Pursuant to N.M. Stat. Ann. § 14-12A-12, a notary should not notarize improper documents.  Improper documents include a blank or incomplete document, a document without notarial certificate wording and a photograph.

Pursuant to N.M. Stat. Ann. § 14-12A-13, a notary public should not perform any official action with an intention to deceive or defraud others.  Pursuant to N.M. Stat. Ann. § 14-12A-14, a notary public should not use the official notary public title or seal to endorse, promote, denounce or oppose any product, service, contest, candidate or other offering.

Pursuant to N.M. Stat. Ann. § 14-12A-15, unauthorized practice of law by a notary public includes:

  • determining the type of notarial act or certificate to be used, when notarial certificate wording is not provided or indicated for a document;
  • assisting another person in drafting, completing, selecting or understanding a document or transaction requiring a notarial act.  However, a duly qualified, trained or experienced person in a particular industry or professional field can select, draft, complete or advice on a document or certificate related to a matter within that industry or field;
  • powers, qualifications, rights or privileges that the office of notary public does not provide, including the power to counsel on immigration matters; and
  • using the term notario publico or any equivalent non-English term in any business card, advertisement, notice or sign.

Pursuant to N.M. Stat. Ann. § 14-12A-16, a notary public can charge the prescribed maximum fee, charge less than the maximum fee or waive the fee for performing a notarial act.  A notary public should not discriminate by conditioning the fee for a notarial act on the attributes of the principal.  The fee which a notary can charge is limited to:

  • the maximum fees for acknowledgment is limited to five dollars per acknowledgment;
  • the maximum fees for oaths or affirmations without a signature is limited to five dollars per person;
  • the maximum fees for jurats is limited to five dollars per jurat; and
  • the maximum fees for copy certifications is limited to fifty cents per page with a minimum total charge of five dollars.

Moreover, a notary public can charge a travel fee not to exceed thirty cents per mile when traveling to perform a notarial act.  The notary public and the person requesting the notarial act should agree upon the travel fee in advance of the travel.  The notary public should explain to the person requesting the notarial act that the travel fee is separate from the notarial fees and is not mandated by law[vii].

Pursuant to N.M. Stat. Ann. § 14-12A-17, a notary public should sign by hand on the notarial certificate exactly and only the name indicated on the notary public’s seal or stamp in notarizing a paper document.  S/he should not sign using a facsimile stamp, an electronic or other printing method.  A notary should affix the official signature only at the time the notarial act is performed[viii].

Pursuant to N.M. Stat. Ann. § 14-12A-18, a notary public should keep an official seal or stamp.  The official seal is the exclusive property of the notary public.  The official seal or stamp should not be possessed, used by any other person.  The official seal and stamp should be surrendered to an employer upon termination of employment[ix].

Pursuant to N.M. Stat. Ann. § 14-12A-23, a notary public resigning his/her commission should send to the secretary of state a signed notice indicating the effective date of resignation.  A notary public who ceases to reside in New Mexico, or who becomes permanently unable to perform notarial duties should resign his/ her commission[x].

Pursuant to N.M. Stat. Ann. § 14-12A-25, a notary public exercising duties with the knowledge that his/her commission has expired or that he is otherwise disqualified, is guilty of a misdemeanor.  S/he is liable for a punishment by a fine of five hundred dollars and shall be removed from office by the governor[xi].

Pursuant to N.M. Stat. Ann. § 14-12A-26, the governor is empowered to revoke the commission of any notary public.  Grounds for revoking commission are:

  • submits an application for appointment as a notary public containing a false statement;
  • pleads guilty or nolo contendere to a felony; or been convicted of a felony; or of a misdemeanor arising out of a notarial act performed by him;
  • engages in the unauthorized practice of law;
  • ceases to be a New Mexico resident; or
  • commits a malfeasance in office.

However, a commission is revoked subject to the rights of the notary public to notice, hearing, adjudication and appeal.  Resignation or expiration of a commission does not terminate or preclude an investigation into the notary public’s conduct by the governor, attorney general, a district attorney or any law enforcement agency of the state of New Mexico.  The governor can delivers a written official warning to a notary public to cease misconduct in lieu of revocation[xii].

[i] N.M. Stat. Ann. § 14-12A-3.

[ii] N.M. Stat. Ann. § 14-12A-4.

[iii] N.M. Stat. Ann. § 14-12A-9.

[iv] N.M. Stat. Ann. § 14-12A-5.

[v] N.M. Stat. Ann. § 14-12A-6.

[vi] N.M. Stat. Ann. § 14-12A-11.

[vii] N.M. Stat. Ann. § 14-12A-16.

[viii] N.M. Stat. Ann. § 14-12A-17.

[ix] N.M. Stat. Ann. § 14-12A-18.

[x] N.M. Stat. Ann. § 14-12A-23.

[xi] N.M. Stat. Ann. § 14-12A-25.

[xii] N.M. Stat. Ann. § 14-12A-26.


Inside New Mexico Laws on Notaries Public