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Rhode Island Laws on Notaries Public

Rhode Island laws on notaries public can be found in Chapter 30, Title 42 of Rhode Island Statutes.  Pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-30-3, the governor should appoint as many notaries public for the state as s/he may deem expedient.  Also, every notary public so appointed should hold office for four years.

R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-30-4 provides that each notary public should, at the time of receiving his/her commission, file with the secretary of state a certificate that s/he has been duly engaged thereon, signed by the person before whom the engagement should have been taken.  The secretary of state should, at the request of the notary public and upon payment of the actual cost thereof, issue a wallet-size identification card to such person.

Pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-30-5, any qualified elector of this state desiring to be appointed a notary public should make written application to the governor over his/her own signature, stating that s/he is a qualified elector who is an actual resident of the state of Rhode Island.

A member of the Rhode Island bar should, regardless of residence, be appointed a notary public upon application and presentment of a certified copy of his/her certificate of admission to the bar.

Any such person making written application to be appointed a notary public should at the time of application, pay to the secretary of state the sum of eighty dollars.

Notaries public may, within this state, act, transact, do, and finish all matters and things relating to protests and protesting bills of exchange and promissory notes, and all other matters within their office required by law, take depositions as prescribed by law, and acknowledgments of deeds and other instruments[i].

Pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-30-9, it is the duty of the secretary of state to make a list of all notaries public appointed by the governor and duly qualified, and send a copy thereof to each of the clerks of the supreme, superior, and family courts and to the clerks of the district courts for the second, third, fourth, ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth judicial districts, to be kept in the files of those courts, and the clerks should, upon application, issue certificates of office to the person entitled thereto, and should receive a fee of one dollar for every certificate.

Any notary public appointed by the governor, may be removed for cause by the governor, in his/her discretion, within the term for which that officer is appointed, after giving to that officer a copy of the charges against him/her and an opportunity to be heard in his/her defense[ii].  However, any notary public who is convicted of a felony and incarcerated should have his/her commission revoked.

Every notary public appointed by the governor and not reappointed, may continue to officiate for a space of thirty days after the date on which his/her commission expires[iii].

Every state senator, state representative, member of a city or town council, chief, deputy, and assistant clerk of any state court, clerks of the board of canvassers, and worker’s compensation court, and municipal clerk and the board of canvassers registrar during the period for which s/he has been elected or appointed, should, upon completion of the certificate of engagement, have the power to act as a notary public[iv].  Similarly, Two police officers from each state and local police department, as identified in writing by the chief of police, should, upon completion of the certificate of engagement have the power to act as a notary public.

Pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-30-16, a notary public, who in the exercise of the powers, or in the performance of the duties of such office, practices any fraud or deceit and if the punishment for which is not otherwise provided for by law, will be guilty of a misdemeanor and fined not more than one thousand dollars, or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

[i] R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-30-8.

[ii] R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-30-10.

[iii] R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-30-11.

[iv] R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-30-14.

Inside Rhode Island Laws on Notaries Public