Notary Public – FAQ

Electronic Notary questions

  1. Does the person I am notarizing for have to be present when I do the notarization?
    Yes. Pursuant to 51-106, Idaho Code, “…the individual making the statement or executing the signature shall appear personally before the notary public.” Furthermore, pursuant to 51-102, Idaho Code, “…appear personally means that the notarial officer is physically close enough to see, hear, communicate with and receive identification documents from the individual seeking notarization and any required witness.”
  2. Do employees of city, county or state government offices have to pay filing fees to the Secretary of State?
    No. City, county, and state employees are exempt from all notary filing fees, if your notary commission will be used over the course of your employment.
  3. Are both my stamp and my signature required for a notarial act?
    Yes. [51-115, Idaho Code]
  4. Who can I notarize for?

    Anyone, except for [51-104, Idaho Code]:

    • Yourself
    • Your spouse
    • Anyone signing a document in which YOU have a beneficial interest
  5. Where can a notary notarize?
    Anywhere in Idaho. [51-121, Idaho Code]
  6. Is a notary journal required?
    No, but it is strongly recommended, and is a notary best-practice.
  7. Do I need to see the document signed in front of me?
    No. The signer of the document must personally appear before the notary, provide proper identification, and “acknowledge” that the signature on the document is his or hers. [51-102, Idaho Code]
  8. Is a “mark” acceptable as an individual’s signature?
    Yes. A mark is considered “a tangible symbol.” [51-102, Idaho Code]
  9. Can I notarize for someone who is physically unable to sign the document?
    Yes. The individual can direct someone, other than the notary, to sign his or her name on the record. The notary public shall insert “Signature affixed by” (name of individual) at the direction of (name of person physically unable to sign). [51-109, Idaho Code]
  10. What is a notarial certificate?

    A notarial certificate is the notary’s statement that he or she performed a notarial act. It must contain specific information, such as:

    • The date the act was performed
    • The notary’s signature
    • The jurisdiction where the notarial act was performed
    • The notary’s expiration date
    • Must be accompanied by the notary’s stamp [51-115, Idaho Code]
  11. If the notarial certificate is not provided on the document, can I decide which certificate to use?
    No. Deciding which certificate to use is considered as providing legal advice. Either the person who prepared the document, or the signer, must tell the notary which certificate to use for the notarial act, unless the notary is also a licensed attorney. [51-125, Idaho Code]
  12. If the notarial certificate is not pre-printed on the document can I attach a separate piece of paper with the certificate on it?
    Yes. However, if there is room on the document, the notary should write, or type, the necessary certificate directly on the document. If there is no room, the certificate must be securely attached to the document [51-115].
  13. What is considered to be satisfactory evidence of the identity of an individual?
    • The individual is personally known to the notary public through dealings sufficient to provide reasonable certainty that the individual has the identity claimed
    • A passport, driver’s license or government-issued non-driver identification card that is current or not expired more than three (3) years before the performance of the notarial act
    • Another form of government identification issued to an individual that is current or expired not more than three (3) years before the performance of the notarial act, that contains the signature or photograph of the individual, and that is satisfactory to the notary public
    • By verification on oath or affirmation of a credible witness personally appearing before the notary public and known to the notary public, or whom the notary public can identify using the criteria in a, b, or c [51-107].
  14. Can I refuse to notarize a document?

    Yes. You may refuse to perform a notarial act:

    • If you are not satisfied that the individual executing the record is competent or has the capacity to execute the record
    • If you are not satisfied that the individual’s signature is knowingly and voluntarily made
    • For a valid reason, unless refusal is prohibited by other Idaho statutes [51-108, Idaho Code]
  15. Can I certify a copy of any document?
    Yes. There are no restrictions for certifying true and exact copies.
  16. If I leave my current job and that employer paid for my notary commission, am I no longer a notary?
    No. You are still a notary. However, be aware that the employer may cancel your bond, thus cancelling your commission and you would be required to apply for a Notary commission again. If you are a state employee and your bond has been obtained through the Bureau of Risk Management you are required to resign your commission upon termination of your state job. If your employer does not allow you to take your stamp with you, you should ask that it be destroyed and you can purchase a new one. If you keep a journal it is the property of the notary.
  17. If I move out of state, is my commission still valid?
    No – unless you are still working in Idaho. [51-121, Idaho Code]
  18. What fees may I charge?
    A notary public may charge a fee not to exceed $5.00 per notarial act. You may also be compensated for actual and reasonable expense of travel. [51-133, Idaho Code]
  19. Is my expiration date required whenever I notarize a document?
    Yes. [51-115, Idaho Code]
  20. Who is covered by my bond?
    Your surety bond protects the signer of the document and not the notary public. You can purchase an Errors and Omissions policy (malpractice insurance), for your own protection.
  21. If I reside in one county and I am doing a notarial transaction in another county, what county do I indicate when it says “County of”?
    You indicate the county in which you are actually doing the notarial act. The only time you would indicate your county of residence is if the wording is specifically asking where you reside.
  22. Is a test required to apply as a notary public?
    No. However, beginning July 1, 2019, the Secretary of State is required to provide an online education course for notaries public.
  23. What information is required on the Notary Public seal?
    The only information allowed on the seal is the Notary Public’s name, the words “State of Idaho” and the words “Notary Public.” There can be no other information or graphics on the seal. Notary Stamp Device Purchasing Information [PDF]
  24. If I change my name or address, how do I notify the Secretary of State’s office?
    If your name or address changes you must use the Notary Change Form to submit the new information.
  25. How do I resign my commission?
    If you wish to resign as a notary public you must submit the Notary Resignation Form to the Secretary of State.
  26. What is a Notary Signing Agent?
    1. Notary signing agents are employed by private companies. They are not certified or commissioned by the State of Idaho beyond the normal notary application process. A notary signing agent has no special powers and must adhere to Idaho notary law in all transactions. It is illegal for a notary or a notary signing agent to give legal advice, explain legal documents or aid customers in completing legal or immigration forms. Idaho Code 51-133 states a Notary public may, for any notarial act, charge a fee not to exceed five dollars ($5.00). In addition to the fee, a notary public may be compensated for actual and reasonable expense of travel to a place where a notarial act is to be performed.
    2. The Idaho Secretary of State’s office urges notaries to exercise caution in considering signing agent or mobile notary offers. We recommend contacting the Department of Insurance and the Department of Finance before venturing into a business as a “Mobile Notary” or “Signing Agent” to ensure that you are not in violation of the Independent Escrow Act or Closing Agent licensing.
    3. If a bank or mortgage company wants to employ a notary to perform notary services, act as a “signing agent” or “mobile notary officer” and wants to pay more than the statutory rate that is up to them. However, the fee a notary may charge for their services is set forth in state laws as described above. Neither the notary nor a third party charging notary fees as part of the services they provide should exceed the statutory fees in charging for notary services. Please be sure to explain the fees assessed to the customer as to what portion of the fee is for the notarial services.
  27. Where can I find my commission number?
    Your commission number is printed on your notary certificate. You can also find your commission number using the Notary Public Online Search.
  28. Should I notarize a document written in a foreign language?
    When dealing with documents written in a language that you cannot read, should you be asked to notarize a signature on a document verifying that the individual is alive and living in Idaho, YOU MAY actually be making the statement that this information is correct instead of the individual making the statement. Ask the signer if your name appears anywhere in the document before you notarize. If you are named, DO NOT notarize the document. Let the signer know that he/she must make that statement and not you.