NotaryPublicHandbookPublished byCalifornia Secretary of StateNotary Public Section2021
Secretary of StateBusiness Programs DivisionJanuary 2021Dear Californian:The Notary Public Handbook is your official source of laws related to notaries public inCalifornia. A notary public is a public official who performs invaluable services for the legal,business, financial, and real estate communities. The Notary Public Handbook is designed tosupplement your course of study, which will prepare you for the notary public examination andbeing a notary public. All statutory references are to California Codes, unless otherwiseindicated. Once you are commissioned, the Secretary of State strongly recommends that youkeep your Notary Public Handbook as a ready reference to help you perform your duties.Following the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Newsom signed Executive Order N-63-20 (seeparagraphs 6 and 7) on May 8, 2020, which extended commissions of notaries public for a periodof 60 days for any notary public whose commission term had expired since March 1, 2020 orwhose commission was set to expire over the next 60 days. Each of the notaries public whosecommission term was extended must maintain a valid surety bond during the extension, andannotate on each notarial act the following statement: “The notary commission extendedpursuant to Executive Order N-63-20.”Executive Order N-63-20 also temporarily suspended, for a period of 60 days, the requirementin California Civil Code section 1185(b)(3)(A) that an identification card or driver's licenseissued by the California Department of Motor Vehicles be current or issued within the last 5years in order to serve as satisfactory evidence of identity for an officer or notary public toacknowledge an instrument. This applied to any identification card or driver's license issued bythe California Department of Motor Vehicles showing an expiration date of March 1, 2020 orlater.On June 30, 2020, Governor Newsom signed Executive Order N-71-20 extending the timeframes in Executive Order N-63-20 an additional 120 days. Notary public commission termsthat expired anytime between March 1, 2020 and May 7, 2020, were extended until November3, 2020. Notary public commission terms that expired after May 7, 2020 through November 3,2020, were extended for 180 days on a rolling basis (i.e., someone whose commission expireson November 3, 2020 will have their commission extended until May 2, 2021).Regular updates for notaries public, including those related to COVID-19, are posted on theSecretary of State’s website at www.sos.ca.gov/notary. Answers to frequently asked questionsrelated to COVID-19 can be found by visiting requently-asked-questions.California Secretary of Statewww.sos.ca.gov/notary(916) 653-3595
Also available on the Secretary of State’s website at www.sos.ca.gov/notary are: The Notary Public Handbook, A checklist of items identifying the required steps to become a notary public, Acknowledgment, Jurat and other miscellaneous forms, and The Secretary of State’s Notary Public Disciplinary Guidelines.On behalf of the people of California, thank you for your interest in serving the people of our stateas a notary public.Sincerely,Notary Public & Special Filings SectionBusiness Programs DivisionCalifornia Secretary of Statewww.sos.ca.gov/notary(916) 653-3595
2Correspondence should be addressed to:Mailing address:Location:Website:Approved education vendors:Business Programs DivisionNotary Public & Special Filings SectionP.O. Box 942877Sacramento, California 94277-00011500 11th Street, 2nd FloorSacramento, California 95814(916) a.govTo receive electronic updates via email that provide you with the latest news, changes in thelaw, and other helpful information from the California Secretary of State’s offce, you cansign up to receive E-Updates at www.sos.ca.gov/eupdates.
5TABLE OF CONTENTSPageGeneral Information . 7Appointment and Qualifications . 7Convictions . 7Notary Public Education . 7Requirements and Time Limit for Qualifying. 8Notary Public Bond . 8Geographic Jurisdiction . 8Acts Constituting the Practice of Law . 8Notary Public Seal . 9Identification.10Notary Public Journal . 11Conflict of Interest . 12Acknowledgment . 12Jurat . 14Proof of Execution by a Subscribing Witness . 14Signature by Mark . 16Powers of Attorney - Certifying . 18Notarization of Incomplete Documents . 18Correcting a Notarial Act . 18Certified Copies . 18Illegal Advertising . 18Immigration Documents . 19Confidential Marriage Licenses . 19Grounds for Denial, Revocation, orSuspension of Appointment and Commission . 19Disciplinary Guidelines . 20Fees . 20Change of Address . 21Foreign Language . 22Electronic Notarizations . 22Common Questions and Answers . 22Government Code. 26Civil Code . 44Code of Civil Procedure . 48Elections Code. 50Commercial Code . 50Probate Code . 50Penal Code. 51Business and Professions Code . 52Index . 54
general information7Appointment and QualifcationsTo become a notary public you must meet all of the following requirements: (GovernmentCode section 8201) Be a legal resident of the State of California; Be at least 18 years of age; Satisfactorily complete a course of study approved by the Secretary of State; Pass a written examination prescribed by the Secretary of State; and Pass a background check.To determine if a person meets the requirements to fulfll the responsibilities of the position,a completed application and a 2” x 2” color passport photograph of the applicant shall besubmitted at the examination site, then forwarded to the Secretary of State’s offce and reviewedby Secretary of State staff for qualifying information. (Government Code section 8201.5)To assist the Secretary of State in determining the identity of an applicant and whether theapplicant has been convicted of a disqualifying crime, state law requires all applicants to befngerprinted as part of a thorough background check prior to being granted an appointment asa notary public. (Government Code section 8201.1) Information concerning the fngerprintingrequirements will be mailed to candidates who pass the examination.ConvictionsApplicants are required to disclose on their applications all arrests for which trials are pendingand all convictions, including convictions that have been dismissed under Penal Code section1203.4 or 1203.4a. If you have any questions concerning the disclosure of convictions orarrests, contact the Secretary of State’s offce prior to signing the application. If you do notrecall the specifcs about your arrest(s) and/or conviction(s), you can contact the CaliforniaDepartment of Justice at (916) 227-3849.The Secretary of State may deny an application for the following reasons:- Failure to disclose any conviction;- Conviction of a felony; or- Conviction of a disqualifying lesser offense.The applicant has the right to appeal the denial through the administrative hearing process.(Government Code section 8214.3) For a complete list of reasons the Secretary of State maydeny an application, please refer to Government Code section 8214.1. Refer to the Secretaryof State’s Notary Public Disciplinary Guidelines for a list of the most common disqualifyingconvictions. The disciplinary guidelines are available on the Secretary of State’s website orcan be mailed to you upon request.Notary Public EducationAll persons are required to take and satisfactorily complete a six-hour course of study approvedby the Secretary of State prior to appointment as a notary public. Please note that all personsbeing appointed, no matter how many commission terms held in the past, are required to takethe initial six-hour course of study. (Government Code section 8201(a)(3) and (b))A notary public who holds a current California notary public commission and who hascompleted an approved six-hour course at least one time is required to take and satisfactorilycomplete an approved three-hour refresher course prior to reappointment as a notary public.The three-hour refresher course can only be used to satisfy the education requirement if thenotary public is applying for a new commission before their current commission has expired.If the notary public’s commission has expired, the individual must satisfactorily complete asix-hour notary public education course before being appointed for another term, even if theindividual already once satisfactorily completed an approved six-hour course for a previouscommission.Table of Contents
8general informationThe Secretary of State reviews and approves courses of study. These approved coursesinclude all the material that a person is expected to know to pass the written examination.The Secretary of State compiles a list of all vendors offering an approved course of study.This list is available on the Secretary of State’s website or can be mailed to you upon request.(Government Code section 8201.2)Requirements and Time Limit for QualifyingOnce the commission has been issued, a person has 30 calendar days from the beginningof the term prescribed in the commission to take, subscribe, and fle an oath of offce and flea 15,000 surety bond with the county clerk’s offce. The commission does not take effectuntil the oath and bond are fled with the county clerk’s offce. The fling must take place inthe county where the notary public maintains a principal place of business as shown in theapplication on fle with the Secretary of State. If the oath and bond are not fled within the30-calendar-day time period, the commission will not be valid, and the person commissionedmay not act as a notary public until a new appointment is obtained and the person has properlyqualifed within the 30-calendar-day time limit. Government Code section 8213(a) permits thefling of completed oaths and bonds by the applicable county clerk by certifed mail or othermeans of physical delivery that provides a receipt. Exceptions are not made to the 30-day flingrequirement due to mail service delays, county clerk mail processing delays, or for any otherreason. If mailing an oath and bond to the county clerk, suffcient time must be allowed bythe newly appointed notary public to ensure timely fling. (Government Code sections