A notary public’s commission takes effect on the date the notary public files their oath of office and a surety bond in the amount of $15,000 with the county clerk’s office. A notary public must file both the oath and bond within 30 days of the commencement date stated in the commission. If the oath and bond are not filed within 30 days of the commencement date stated in the commission, the commission is invalid. There are no exceptions. (California Government Code section 8213.)
The oath and bond must be filed with the county clerk in the county where the notary public maintains his or her principal place of business. The address entered in the business location portion of the notary public’s most recently submitted Notary Public Application is the notary public’s principal place of business.
A notary public with a new commission is permitted to take and subscribe the oath in front of another notary public as long as the oath is administered in the county where the oath and bond for the new commission will be filed. In such a case, the completed oath and bond must be sent by certified mail or any other means of physical delivery that provides a receipt to the county clerk for filing. (California Government Code section 8213.)
The oath of office should be taken and subscribed in person at the county clerk’s office to avoid mail and processing delays that may prevent the oath and bond from being filed by the county clerk’s office on time. The commission will not be valid if mail or other processing delays prevent the oath and bond from being filed by the county clerk’s office within 30 days of the commencement date stated in the commission. When a notary public visits the county clerk’s office in person, an authorized employee of the county clerk will administer the oath of office, observe the notary public sign the oath, and file both the oath and bond the same day. The notary public must present an identification document meeting the requirements of Civil Code section 1185(b)(3)(A) or (B) or Civil Code section 1185(b)(4)(A) or (E) as proof of identity. (California Government Code section 8213.)
California law requires a notary public to notify the California Secretary of State of address changes to ensure that the California Secretary of State and members of the public are able to contact the notary public about notarial acts the notary public performed. Notaries public must notify the California Secretary of State by certified mail or any other means of physical delivery that provides a receipt within 30 days of changing their business or residence address. Willful failure to notify the California Secretary of State of a change of address is punishable as an infraction by a fine of up to $500. (California Government Code section 8213.5.)
An applicant must provide both a business address and a residence address on the Notary Public Application. (California Government Code sections 8201.5 and 8213.5.) The notary public applicant may provide a mailing address that is different from their business and residence addresses.
As part of the business address, a notary public must state the name of the business for which the notary public will perform a majority of their notarial services. Notaries public who will perform services for an employer or at their employer’s business location should list the name and address of their employer. If the notary public is not performing a majority of their notarial services for an employer, is not employed or is self-employed, then the Secretary of State’s office requests that “self” or “self-employed” be entered for the name of the business on the application. If there will be no single location where the notary public will perform a majority of their notarial services, the business address will be the location where the notary public performs the greatest number of services, or the address where the notary public receives mail related to their notary public commission.
A notary public may not use a private commercial mailbox or post office box as the address for his or her residence, or principal place of business, unless the notary public also provides the California Secretary of State with a physical street address of their principal place of residence. The California Secretary of State must have record of a notary public’s actual residence street address. (California Government Code section 8213.5.)
A mailing address different from the business and residence addresses is not required but may be used if a notary public receives mail at a post office box or private commercial mailbox.
Any change to any of the three addresses inserted in the Notary Public Application, or to any previous address change notification, must be reported to the California Secretary of State. For example, if a notary public indicated on the application for appointment that the notary public would perform services at the employer’s location and the notary public’s employment ends for any reason, then the notary public must notify the California Secretary of State of another business address and may state that they are now “self” or “self-employed,” or provide the name and address of the new employer. If a notary public moves to a new home, then the notary public must notify the California Secretary of State of the new residence address. If a notary public chooses to have correspondence sent to a post office box and the notary public cancels the post office box contract, then the notary public must notify the California Secretary of State of a new mailing address.
The notification to the California Secretary of State can be by letter or by the change of address form that can be found on the California Secretary of State’s website at www.sos.ca.gov/notary.
In addition to the new address, the notification should include the name of the notary public (exactly as it appears on the commission), the commission number, and whether the address being changed is a business, residence or mailing address. If the change is to a business address, the notification should state the name of the business that is located at the new address, if that is where the notary public will perform a majority of the notarial services, or that the notary public will be self-employed. There is no fee to submit an address change form or address change letter.
If the address of a notary public’s principal place of business changes from one county to another, although not required, the notary public may take and file a new oath of office and bond, or may file a new oath of office and a copy of the original bond, in the county where the new business address is located. (California Government Code section 8213(b).) If the notary public decides to make a new filing, within 30 days of filing the notary public must obtain a new official seal that includes the name of the new county where the notary public has relocated.
If a notary public changes his or her name, then the notary public must complete and send a name change form to the California Secretary of State. (California Government Code section 8213.6.) The form is available at www.sos.ca.gov/notary. There is no fee charged for updating a notary public’s name with the California Secretary of State. The notary public will receive an amended commission from the California Secretary of State with the new name, but the commission number and commission expiration date will remain the same. (California Government Code section 8213.6.) Within 30 days of the date of issuance of the amended commission, the notary public must file a new oath of office and an amendment to the bond with the county clerk of the county in which the principal place of business is located. (California Government Code section 8213(c).)
A notary public has two separate duties to respond to written requests of the California Secretary of State.
A notary public employed by a private employer may be called upon to provide notarial services as part of his or her employment. The law permits a private employer and an employee who is a notary public to agree that the employer will pay the premiums on the notary public’s official surety bond and the cost of any stamps or other supplies required in connection with the appointment as a notary public or for performing notarial duties for the employer. The agreement may provide that fees collected by the notary public for performing notarial acts as part of his or her employment are to be remitted or turned over to the employer for deposit in the fund from which the employee is paid. (California Government Code section 8202.7.)
If the employer and notary public employee have an agreement for the employer to pay bond premiums and costs for performance of notarial duties, the employer may limit the employee to provide notarial services solely to transactions directly associated with the business purpose of the employer during work hours. (California Government Code section 8202.8.) However, the notary public employee still can perform notarial acts outside of the ordinary course of employment on their own time.
A notary public employee is responsible for following California law, regardless of their employer’s demands. Performing an improper notarial act could result in civil or criminal liability for the employer and for the notary public employee. An employer who requests that a notary public perform acts that do not comply with California law should be referred to California Government Code section 8225, which provides that any person who coerces or in any manner influences a notary public to perform an improper act is guilty of a misdemeanor.
Perry Paralegal is employed by a California lawyer, Adam Attorney, who is a sole practitioner and specializes in wills, trusts and probate. Adam Attorney requested that Perry Paralegal obtain a notary public commission. So, Adam Attorney paid for Perry Paralegal to attend a notary public education class and paid for Perry Paralegal’s exam and bond. After a commission was issued to Perry Paralegal, Adam Attorney reimbursed Perry Paralegal for the costs of filing his oath and bond and the costs of buying his seal, journal and a supply of attachable jurat and acknowledgment certificates. Perry Paralegal signed a written agreement to perform notary public services during regular office hours only at Adam Attorney’s direction, to collect fees for all services performed during regular office hours and to deliver all fees collected for services performed during regular office hours to Adam Attorney’s accountant. Perry Paralegal’s sister, Sissy, asks Perry Paralegal to come to her house after work to acknowledge an Interspousal Transfer Deed she signed. Perry Paralegal may perform the acknowledgment after regular office hours, even though Adam Attorney has not directed Perry Paralegal to perform the acknowledgment. Perry Paralegal may also perform the acknowledgment and charge the statutorily permitted fee for his service if he wishes, without delivering the fee to Adam Attorney’s accountant.