North Dakota laws on notaries public can be found in Chapter 44-06, Title 44 of North Dakota Century Code. Pursuant to N.D. Cent. Code, § 44-06-01, the secretary of state appoints notaries public. A notary holds office for six years unless sooner removed by the secretary of state. Further, each notary may administer oaths and perform all other duties required by law.
Pursuant to N.D. Cent. Code, § 44-06-02, the secretary of state issues a commission to each notary public appointed by the secretary of state in the notary’s legal name. Before issuing a commission, the secretary of state may require proof of the notary’s legal name.
Further, the notary should post the commission in a conspicuous place in the notary’s office[i]. The secretary of state should collect thirty-six dollars for the issuance of the commission. Further, the secretary of state should remit all fees collected to the state treasurer for deposit in the general fund.
The secretary of state should also keep a record of appointments and the date of the expiration of the appointments. Further, the secretary of state should notify each notary public by mail at least thirty days before the expiration of the notary public’s term of the date upon which the notary public’s commission will expire. The notice must be addressed to the notary public at the last-known place of residence.
N.D. Cent. Code, § 44-06-02 provides that each notary public issued a commission should notify the secretary of state by mail within sixty days of any change of address. If a notary fails to notify the secretary of state within sixty days of a change of address, the secretary of state may impose a late fee in the amount of ten dollars. Also, the notary should pay any late fee imposed by the secretary of state before the renewal of the notary’s commission.
Each notary public, before entering upon the duties of the office, should take the oath prescribed for civil officers and give to the state a bond in the penal sum of seven thousand five hundred dollars conditioned for the faithful discharge of the duties of the office[ii]. Such bond may be furnished by a surety or bonding company authorized to do business or by one or more sureties, and is subject to approval by the secretary of state.
Each notary public, before entering upon the duties of office, should also file the notary public’s oath and bond, in the office of the secretary of state[iii]. The secretary of state, upon receipt of the proper fee, oath, and bond, issues a certificate of authorization with which the notary public may obtain an official notary seal.
N.D. Cent. Code, § 44-06-04.1 provides that a notary who has legally changed the notary’s name should submit to the secretary of state a rider to the notary’s surety bond stating both the old and new names, the effective date of the new name, and a ten dollar fee within sixty days of the name change.
Each notary public, when any bill of exchange, promissory note, or other written instrument, is by that notary public protested for nonacceptance or nonpayment, should give notice thereof in writing to the maker, to each and every endorser of such bill of exchange, and to the maker of each security or the endorsers of any promissory note or other written instrument, immediately after such protest has been made[iv].
N.D. Cent. Code, § 44-06-07 provides that each notary public should serve notice personally upon each person protested against, or by properly folding the notice, directing it to the person to be charged at that person’s place of residence according to the best information that the person giving the notice can obtain, depositing it in the U.S. mail or post office most conveniently accessible, and prepaying the postage thereon.
Each notary public should keep a record of all notices, of the time and manner in which the same were served, the names of all the persons to whom the same were directed, and the description and amount of the instrument protested[v]. Such record, or a copy thereof, certified by the notary under seal, at all times is competent evidence to prove such notice in any court of state of North Dakota.
A notary public who exercises the duties of a notary’s office with knowledge that the notary’s commission has expired or has been revoked or that the notary is disqualified otherwise or any other person who acts as a notary or performs a notarial act without a lawful notary commission is guilty of an infraction, and, if appropriate, the notary’s commission must be revoked by the secretary of state[vi].
A notary public may not notarize a signature on a document if[vii]:
- The document was not first signed or re-signed in the presence of the notary public, in the case of a jurat, or in the case of a certificate of acknowledgment, was not acknowledged in the presence of the notary public.
- The name of the notary public or the spouse of the notary public appears on the document as a party to the transaction or as a signatory to a petition.
- The signature is that of the notary public or the spouse of the notary public.
- The notary public uses a name or initial in notarizing the document other than as it appears on the notary’s commission. However, such an act by a notary by itself does not affect the validity of the document.
- The date of the jurat or certificate of acknowledgment is not the actual date the document is to be notarized or the jurat or certificate of acknowledgement is undated.
- The signature on the document or the notarial certificate is not an original signature, except as otherwise provided by law.
- The notary is falsely or fraudulently signing or notarizing a document, jurat, or certificate of acknowledgement or in any other way is impersonating or assuming the identity of another notary.
- The signature is on a blank or incomplete document.
- In the case of a document drafted in a language other than English, the document is not accompanied by a permanently affixed and accurate written English translation.
- The document is a copy or certified copy of any vital record authorized or required by law to be registered or filed;
- The document is a copy or certified copy of an instrument entitled by law to be recorded;
- The document is a copy or certified copy of a public record containing an official seal.
- The notary did not obtain satisfactory evidence of the identity of the signer, unless the signer is personally known to the notary.
N.D. Cent. Code, § 44-06-13.1 provides that a notary public may not make or purport to make any certified copy of a vital record, a recordable instrument, or a public record containing an official seal. Further, a notary public who violates these provisions is guilty of an infraction.
Pursuant to N.D. Cent. Code, § 44-06-13.2, the secretary of state may deny, revoke, or suspend a commission granted on the following grounds:
- Conviction by a court of competent jurisdiction of an offense related to the honesty, integrity, or trustworthiness of the notary which the secretary of state determines would render the notary or notary applicant unfit to serve the public as a notary.
- Fraud, misrepresentation, or false statement in obtaining or renewing a commission.
- Failure by a commissioned notary to report in writing to the secretary of state the notary’s conviction by a court of competent jurisdiction of a felony within ninety days of the date of the conviction.
- Engaging in any prohibited act.
- Violating any other provisions.
The secretary of state may impose a lesser sanction if determined appropriate by the secretary of state under the pertinent facts and circumstances. A lesser sanction includes imposition of a civil penalty not to exceed five hundred dollars or a letter of reprimand.
[i] N.D. Cent. Code, § 44-06-02.
[ii] N.D. Cent. Code, § 44-06-03.
[iii] N.D. Cent. Code, § 44-06-04.
[iv] N.D. Cent. Code, § 44-06-06.
[v] N.D. Cent. Code, § 44-06-08.
[vi] N.D. Cent. Code, § 44-06-13.
[vii] N.D. Cent. Code, § 44-06-13.1.