Tennessee laws on notaries public can be found in Chapter 16, Title 8 of Tennessee Code. Pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 8-16-101, a person must be a U.S. citizen or a legal permanent resident in order to hold the office of notary public. At the time of their election, all notaries must be residents of the county, or have their principal place of business in the county, from which they were elected.
Further, if an individual’s principal place of business is in any county in the state of Tennessee, the individual is eligible for election as a notary in that county, although the individual may reside in a state other than Tennessee.
In addition to any other eligibility requirements, each person applying for election as a notary public should certify under penalty of perjury that such person:
- Has never been removed from the office of notary public for official misconduct;
- Has never had a notarial commission revoked or suspended by this or any other state; and
- Has never been found by a court of this state or any other state to have engaged in the unauthorized practice of law.
Tenn. Code Ann. § 8-16-103 provides that the term of office of notaries public is four years. Such term is to begin on the date of the issuance of their commissions by the governor.
Every notary public, before entering upon the duties of office, should give bond executed by some surety company authorized to do business in Tennessee as surety, or with two or more good sureties approved by the county legislative body, in the penalty of ten thousand dollars, payable to the state of Tennessee, conditioned for the faithful discharge of the notary’s duties. The bond should be filed in the office of the county clerk in the county where elected.
Pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 8-16-112, a Tennessee notary public is authorized to act in any county in the state and has the power to:
- acknowledge signatures upon personal knowledge or satisfactory proof,
- to administer oaths,
- to take depositions,
- to qualify parties to bills in chancery, and
- to take affidavits, in all cases.
Furthermore, in all such cases the notary public’s seal is affixed and the notary public should sign such documents in ink by the notary’s own hand unless otherwise provided by law.
Tenn. Code Ann. § 8-16-114 provides that the secretary of state should prescribe and design an official seal to be used by a Tennessee notary public. The seal of office may be imprinted by a rubber or other type of stamp. Further, such stamp should imprint the seal of office in any color other than black or yellow, provided the color used to imprint the seal is clearly legible and appear as black when photocopied on a non-color copier. However, no person should incur any civil or criminal liability for failure to imprint the seal of office in a color required by statute nor should any document or title imprinted with a seal of the wrong color be invalid because of such failure.
The attestations, protestations, and other instruments of publication or acknowledgment, made by any notary public under seal, should be received in evidence.
Tenn. Code Ann. § 8-16-117 provides that the deposition of a notary public may be taken, whether a suit be pending or not, on ten days’ notice to the opposite party, if resident in the state, and forty days’ notice out of the state, to be read as evidence between the same parties in any suit then or afterward depending, should the notary die or leave the state before the trial.
Pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 8-16-121, a notary public, duly and lawfully commissioned by the proper authorities of another state and empowered by the law of such state to take depositions, is authorized to take depositions to be used in the courts of this state, upon the same terms that are provided for the taking of depositions by other officials in such states.
Tenn. Code Ann. § 8-16-401 provides that a notary public who is not an attorney licensed to practice law in this state who advertises in any language the person’s services as a notary public by radio, television, signs, pamphlets, newspapers, telephone directory or other written or oral communication, or in any other matter, should include with such advertisement a notice stating that s/he is not an attorney licensed to practice law.
Any failure to comply constitutes an unfair or deceptive act. However, notary services offered by a state or national bank, trust company, savings and loan association, savings bank or by any affiliate or subsidiary of such state or national bank, trust company, savings and loan association or savings bank or any agent or employee thereof are exempted. Similarly, any offering of notary services or listing of fees for notary services as a part of the closing of any loan transaction, extension of credit, security instrument or transfer of title are also exempted.