A Notary Public is a county public official whose powers and duties are defined by Tennessee statute (TCA). A Notary has the power to acknowledge signatures upon personal knowledge or satisfactory proof of identity, administer oaths, record and/or transcribe depositions, and confirm the authenticity of signatures on affidavits. All notaries are now classified as At Large, meaning they have statewide authority to exercise notary powers and duties in all counties in the State of Tennessee.
A Notary is elected by the county legislative body in the county in which the applicant, at the time of his/her election, resides or maintains his/her principal place of business. The County Clerk certifies an election of the applicant by the county legislative body and forwards the certification to the Secretary of State, Division of Business Services. Upon receipt of the election certification from the County Clerk, the Division of Business Services prepares, records and forwards to the County Clerk the notary commission signed by the Governor and the Secretary of State. The County Clerk records the notary commission and notifies the person to whom the commission was issued of the official dates for their 4-year notary term that must be included on their surety bond. After an oath has been recorded and bond posted, the County Clerk delivers the notary commission to the person elected.
Qualifications for Notaries
Applicants must be at least 18 years of age, a resident of the county, or maintain a principal place of business in the county from which they are elected, full requirements are specified in TCA 8-18-101 and 8-16-101. All notaries must be a U.S. Citizen (Pub. Ch. 834, Acts 2008). All individuals meeting these qualifications are eligible for election as a notary public at large except the following persons:
- Those who have been convicted of offering or giving a bribe, or of larceny, or any other offense declared infamous by law, unless restored to citizenship in the mode pointed out by law;
- Those against whom there is a judgment unpaid for any moneys received by them, in any official capacity, due to the United States, to this state, or any county of this state;
- Those who are defaulters to the treasury at the time of the election, and the election of any such person shall be void;
- Soldiers, sailors, marines, or airmen in the regular army or navy or air force of the United States; and
- Members of congress, and persons holding any office of profit or trust under any foreign power, other state of the union, or under the United States. (8-18-101).
It is a misdemeanor to take office as a Notary if a disqualification exists.
Important Note: A Notary is considered a county public official and may be removed from office just as any other county official. Complaints concerning official misconduct should be directed to the appropriate official (such as the County Attorney or the District Attorney General) in the county in which the Notary is elected or in which the alleged misconduct occurred.
Application Process for Notaries
All notary applications and the required $14 fee must be submitted to the County Clerk no later that 12:00 Noon on the Friday before the monthly County Commission Meeting. County Commission Meetings are routinely held the 2nd Monday of each month with exception of any legal holidays that fall on that date, in which case the meeting will be moved to the following Monday.
- Application and Fee: Applicants must complete the Notary Public Application, and bring the completed, notarized application and fee of $14.00 to the Roane County Clerk’s office. A Deputy Clerk can notarize the applicant’s signature if the applicant waits to sign the application while in our office.
- Applicants can submit the application by mail if necessary. Mail the fully completed application with NOTARIZED SIGNATURE along with the fee of $14.00 payable to “Roane County Clerk” by check or money order. Application packets should be mailed to: Roane County Clerk, P.O. Box 546, Kingston, TN 37763.
- Election/Approval by County Commission: All notary applications will be presented to the County Legislative Body at the next scheduled County Commission Meeting immediately following their receipt in the County Clerk’s Office.
- Obtain Commission Dates: Following approval by the County Commission, the Clerk’s office forwards elected notary applications to the Secretary of State’s Office. The Secretary of State will assign commission dates and print Notary Certificates of Commission for each applicant. The approximate time frame for return of the Notary Certificates and commission dates is generally 2 weeks after the County Commission Meeting. .
- Surety Bond ($10,000): Once the commission dates are obtained from the Secretary of State, the County Clerk’s Office will call the applicant with the dates needed for their surety bond. ONLY THEN should the applicant contact a surety company authorized to do business as a surety in Tennessee, and purchase a Ten Thousand Dollar ($10,000.00) surety bond. The bond MUST include the applicant’s name exactly as it was submitted on the Notary Application AND the exact commission dates for the 4-year period approved by the Secretary of State. The bond is payable to the state and conditioned on the faithful performance of the duties of a notary public.
- In lieu of the $10,000 surety bond, notary applicants can provide two (2) Personal Sureties from two (2) Roane County residents willing to “stand good” for $10,000 each on behalf of the notary applicant.
- Oath: After securing the bond, notaries must make a personal appearance at the Clerk’s Office to file the surety bond and pick up their certificate of commission.
Please note: You are not authorized to act as a notary public until you received your commission from the Governor, filed your bond, and taken the oath of office.
Notary Seals and Professional Practices for Notaries
Requirements for an Official Seal
State law requires all Notaries to use a seal design prescribed by the Secretary of State. Pursuant to Rule 1360-7-2-.01(1).
- A Notary commissioned on or after July 1, 2004, must use a seal that substantially conforms to the following design:
- a circular seal with the Notary’s name (as it appears on the commission) printed at the top,
- the county of election printed at the bottom,
- and the words “State of Tennessee Notary Public” or “Tennessee Notary Public” printed in the center.
- A Notary must purchase an official seal at his/her own expense.
- The seal should be a rubber or other type stamp (not an embossed/impression seal) and
- Must be imprinted in “…any color other than black or yellow, provided the color used to imprint the seal shall be clearly legible and appear as black when photocopied on a non-color copier.”
- However, the failure to imprint the seal with a proper color does not invalidate the notarization and does not subject the Notary to any civil or criminal liability.
- It is not recommended that you include your commission expiration date on the stamp as this will require you to purchase a new stamp if you choose to renew your notary certificate at the end of your 4-year term.
- The seal must be surrendered to the county legislative body upon expiration of the Notary’s term of office (if not applying for renewal) or resignation, and the personal representative must surrender the seal in the event of the Notary’s death.
Notary Fees and Record Keeping
- According to Tenn. Code Ann. 8-21-1201, effective October 1, 2014, Notaries public are entitled to demand and receive reasonable fees and compensation for the notaries public’s services.
- Restrictions and disclosure notices may apply to advertising by Notaries. Please review the consumer protection provisions found in Title 8, Chapter 16, Part 4 of Tennessee Code Annotated.
- The notaries public shall keep a record in a well-bound book of each of the notary public’s acts, attestations, protestations, and other instruments of publication.
- Notaries public may choose to keep the records electronically by following the provisions of the law under the authority of Tenn. Code Ann. 10-7-121.
Notary Address Changes, Name Changes and Renewals
Address Changes: If you move your residence OR principal place of business out of the county from which you were elected (Roane County) and commissioned to another county in Tennessee, you are required to notify the Roane County Clerk’s office and pay a fee of $7. The Notary remains qualified to act as a Notary, but must notify the County Clerk of the county from which he/she was elected, and the County Clerk in turn will notify the Secretary of State, Division of Business Services of the change of address
- Please use this Change of Address form and bring or mail it to the Clerk’s Office with the required fee of $7.
- If a Notary moves his/her residence or principal place of business out of the State of Tennessee, he/she is no longer qualified to act as a Tennessee Notary and must surrender his/her commission.
Address Changes: A Notary whose name has been legally changed can obtain a new commission by submitting to the Division of Business Services (through the County Clerk) the original commission, a statement from the County Clerk indicating that the legal name has changed and identifying the former and current names
- If your name changes, you should contact the insurance agent that issued your surety bond. They will issue a rider for your bond in the new name.
- You must then submit the rider to the County Clerk’s Office along with a fee of $7.
- Additionally, you must provide the clerk’s office with the legal document which changed your name.
- This could be a marriage certificate, certified copy of the final divorce decree, or a certified copy of the court order changing your name.
- You will also need to return your current notary commission to the County Clerk when applying for the name change.
- The new commission will be forwarded to the County Clerk for delivery to the Notary.
Notary Renewals: A Notary’s term of office is four years, beginning on the date that the notary commission is issued by the Governor.
- A notary commission can be renewed through the same method as the initial election (see above).
- It is a Class C misdemeanor for a Notary to act in an official capacity after the expiration of the notary commission.