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Notary FAQs

What is a Notary?

A Notary is a position created by state law allowing individuals, as state public officials, to:

  • Acknowledge signatures upon personal knowledge or satisfactory proof
  • Administer oaths
  • Record and/or  transcribe depositions
  • Confirm the authenticity of signatures on affidavits.

What are the duties/ responsibilities of a Notary?

A Notary has the power to administer oaths and take depositions, affidavits, and acknowledgments. A Notary’s powers and duties can be exercised in all counties in the State of Tennessee. 

How do I become a Notary?

  1. Obtain and complete an application from your County Clerk's office. 
  2. Submit the completed application to your County Clerk with the application fee of $12 ($7 for the County Clerk and $5 for the Secretary of State).
  3. Be elected by the county legislative body (county commission) in the county in which the applicant resides or maintains his/her principal place of business at the time of his/her election.
  4. Secure a surety bond.  Bonds are available through Tennessee insurance companies/agencies that sell surety bond coverage.
  5. Provide proof of the bond to the County Clerk.  Your documents will be submitted to the state.  The Secretary of State’s office will issue the Notary Commission and return it to the County Clerk’s office for you to pick up.
  6. Obtain your Notary seal.  Your County Clerk may be able to assist you.

Are all notaries required to maintain a record of all transactions?

Attorney General Opinion No. 14-89 states:

“Yes. Beginning October 1, 2014, notaries public are required to maintain "a record in a well-bound book of each of the notaries public's acts, attestations, protections, and other instruments of publication" regardless of whether the notary public receives a fee or compensation for his or her services.”

Does the “well-bound book” need to be a specific format?

The Attorney General stated that the notary is not required to keep the record in a particular type of “well bound book,” but that the notary may keep the information in another recorded format, as long as certain standards are met, as set forth fully in the opinion.

This Attorney General’s opinion is available here: Attorney General Opinion No. 14-89

What fee can a notary charge for their services?

According to Tenn. Code Ann. § 8-21-1201, “Notaries public are entitled to demand and receive reasonable fees and compensation for the notaries public's services.”

How do I renew a Notary Commission?

The renewal process for a notary is the same process as obtaining your original commission.

How do I handle a complaint about the conduct of a Notary?

With regard to criminal conduct of a notary, Attorney General Opinion No. 07-157 states:

"Pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 8-7-103, the District Attorney General has the duty of prosecuting all violations of state criminal statutes which occur in his or her district. This duty includes prosecutions of criminal acts committed by notaries. A citizen who wishes to file a criminal complaint against a notary public may do so by contacting the District Attorney General of the judicial district in which the alleged criminal conduct occurred and proceeding through the complaint process."

Additionally, as explained in the above opinion of the Attorney General, a notary may be removed from office through the ouster proceedings set forth in Tenn. Code Ann. § 8-17-101.

A directory of District Attorneys can be found at Tennessee District Attorneys General Directory.

How long does a Notary Commission last?

A Notary’s term of office is four years.  The four-year term begins on the date that the notary commission is issued by the Governor.  It is a Class C misdemeanor for a Notary to act in an official capacity after the expiration of their notary commission.

Can I notarize my spouse's signature?

In 2010, the Attorney General's office gave its opinion on Notarization of Spouse's Signature.

View Opinion Here.

Is a Notary a state or county official?

Notaries are state officials. View Attorney General opinion on Whether notaries public are state or county officials.