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FAQ
Notary Public
Can a county clerk certify that a document is a true copy? If so, does the original document have to be maintained in that office?
Yes, a county clerk can certify that a document is a true copy if it is a document maintained in the county clerk's office. The general principle is that the original document, which is used to make the copy, remains in the clerk's office.

 

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Employers who are personally worth $10,000 currently act as surety. Can this continue?
No, a company licensed to do business in Michigan must issue a surety bond. A list of companies licensed to issue surety bonds is available at www.michigan.gov/lara. County clerks are not required to confirm if a bond is legitimate, but if it is questionable you can check the web for verification.

 

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If a notary moves out of his county of commission can he still use the "Acting In" notation?
Yes, a notary may use the "Acting in the County of ______." statement, however a notary is only required to use that statement if performing a notarial act in a county other than the county of commission. If you move, be sure to complete a Request for Duplicate/Notice of Change form and send it to the Office of the Great Seal.

 

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Should notaries keep a journal?
The law does not require a notary to keep a journal or a specific type of record, but many notaries find journals useful. If you keep a journal, it is recommended that you record the signer's name, identification presented, date, and other pertinent information from each notarized document in the journal.

 

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Is it a county clerks responsibility to report a notary's inappropriate activity to the Department?
It is within the clerk's discretion. If you suspect inappropriate activity, you can notify the Office of the Great Seal or the county prosecutor.

 

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Does a notary applicant have to appear at the county clerk's office in person?
Yes. The county clerk must administer an oath to the applicant.

 

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I am an attorney licensed in Michigan, am I required to post a surety bond and take an oath of office at the county clerk's office?
After April 1, 2007, attorneys who are members in good standing of the State Bar of Michigan are not required to file a surety bond. However, they must still file an oath of office with and pay a $10.00 application filing fee to the county clerk's office. Note the fee may be greater in some counties.

Approximately 90 days prior to the expiration of notary public commissions issued to attorneys on or after April 1, 2007, the Secretary of State will mail out a reappointment application form. By certifying continued status as an attorney in good standing with the State Bar of Michigan, you may be exempt from filing a bond and taking an oath of office with the county clerk at that time. Please check back here for more detailed information on how the procedure will work in the months immediately prior to expiration of your commission issued on or after April 1, 2007.

 

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What Michigan laws govern notaries public?
The Michigan Notary Public Act, 2003 PA 238, as amended, prescribes the requirements for appointment, term, eligibility, application, fees, revocation of a commission, etc. of Michigan notaries public. The Uniform Recognition of Acknowledgments Act (PA 57 of 1969, MCL 565.261, et seq.) also contains provisions pertaining to notaries public.

 

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What are the qualifications to become a Michigan notary public?

You must:

  • Be at least 18 years old;
  • Be a Michigan resident or maintain a place of business in Michigan;
  • Be a U.S. citizen or possess proof of legal presence;
  • Be a resident of the county (or maintain a principal place of business) in which you request appointment;
  • Read and write in the English language;
  • Be free of any felony convictions within the past 10 years;
  • Have not been convicted of 2 or more misdemeanor offenses involving a violation of the Michigan Notary Public Act within a 12-month period while commissioned, or 3 or more misdemeanor offenses involving a violation of this act within a 5-year period regardless of being commissioned;
  • Have filed with the appropriate county clerk a proper surety bond in the amount of $10,000 and taken the oath of office as prescribed by the State Constitution;
  • Sign a declaration that all information on application is correct, that you have read the Michigan Notary Public Act, and that you will perform all notarial acts faithfully.
  • Any individual currently serving a term of imprisonment in any state, county or federal correctional facility is prohibited from being appointed or serving as a notary public.

 

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What is the application procedure?

Form 98, an Application for Michigan Notary Public Appointment, must first be completed with your license number, full name, date of birth, residential address, business address, telephone numbers, county and, if a current notary, information about your current appointment. This form is available from the Michigan Department of State website. To ensure that your appointment is accurately processed; print or type your name on the Commission line at the bottom of the application exactly as you intend to use it when notarizing documents. It is important that you sign the application exactly the way you wish to be appointed.

You must then obtain and file a surety bond (available through insurance agencies or bonding companies) in the amount of $10,000 with your respective county clerk. The fee for this filing at the county level is $10 (with the exception of Wayne County, which may be more). At that time, the county clerk will also administer an Oath of Office, and verify that you have complied with these requirements by completing all of the areas on the Notary Public Application.

After you have fulfilled the filing requirements at the county level, you must then forward your completed application to the following address: Michigan Department of State, Office of the Great Seal, 7064 Crowner Drive, Lansing, MI 48918. A non-refundable processing fee of $10.00 must accompany your application. Do not send cash; please send a check or money order payable to the "State of Michigan".

 

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What is a surety bond?

A surety bond protects the public from a notary's misconduct or negligence. It does not protect the notary.

  • The bond provides coverage for damages to anyone who suffers financially due to an improper official act on the part of the notary.
  • The surety may seek reimbursement from the notary for any damages it pays on the notary's behalf.
  • The Michigan Department of State is authorized to require the notary to purchase replacement bonding if the original $10,000 bond funds are depleted by damage claims.

 

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How do I get the $10,000 surety bond?
The cost of the surety bond will vary--generally between $50 to $100 and are available through insurance agencies or bonding companies. A list of companies licensed to issue surety bonds is available at www.michigan.gov/difs.

 

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Does a surety bond have to read "surety bond" or can it read "blanket bond"?
It must read "surety bond." A surety bond protects the public from damages caused by a notary's misconduct. A blanket bond protects the notary's employer.

 

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Have surety companies been notified that the law has changed?
No. As a regulated industry, it is expected that surety companies keep themselves apprised of legislation affecting their industry.

 

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What is an oath of office?
The oath of office is an oral or written statement provided to your county clerk's office. It is generally handled at the same time as the filing of your bond. If you are a Michigan resident, this must be in your county of residence. If you are a non-resident, this must be in the Michigan county where your principal place of business is located.

An oath is a sworn pledge stating the truth about a given statement. In this case, you are providing a pledge that you will uphold the Constitution and perform your duties with reasonable care. An oath typically administered is as follows: Do you solemnly swear that you will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of this State, and that you will discharge the duties of the office of Notary Public in and for said County to the best of your ability? After an oath is administered, a verification is completed by the county clerk or their designee attesting that you swore to the statement.

Note: Pursuant to MCL 55.271, attorneys in good standing with the State Bar of Michigan are only required to file an oath with the county. No bond is required.

 

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Can I continue to be a notary public if I relocate to another county?
Yes. Once you are appointed as a notary, you may act statewide. However, remember you must always specify your original county of commission and the venue on the acknowledgement statement, which may be different.

 

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What is the length of my appointment as a notary public?
Each notary public commission is for a 6 to 7-year period ending on the notary's birthday. The term is not less than 6 or more than 7 years from the date of appointment. For example, your birthday is in April of 2004, and you apply for a commission in October of 2003, your notary commission expires on your birthday in 2010.

There is no renewal process so you must apply for a new commission each time. It is your responsibility to make application for a new appointment no more than 60-days prior to the expiration date.

 

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Can I notarize anywhere in Michigan?
Yes.  As with any notarization of documents you must remember to include your name as it appears on your notary public certificate, the county of appointment, date of expiration, and "Acting in the County of ____________."

 

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Can I notarize out-of-state?
No. You can only notarize in Michigan. This has not changed.

 

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Must I use an embosser to notarize documents?
No. Embossers are not necessary to notarize documents for use in Michigan. However, an embosser or stamp-type seal may be required on documents intended for use outside of Michigan. They can be purchased from a bonding company or an independent office or rubber stamp supplier.

 

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Are new stamps required?
New stamps are not required but may be useful. Remember, a notary must print, type or stamp on every document the notary's name as commissioned; the county of commission; the commission expiration date; and the statement "Acting in the County of ______."

 

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What if I change my name?
If you legally change your name after you have been commissioned as a notary public, you must apply for a corrected notary public commission. Simply download the Request for Duplicate/Notice of Change form, and mail it to:

Office of the Great Seal
7064 Crowner Drive
Lansing, MI 48918

Please note that you are required to update your driver's license (or personal identification card) prior to correcting your notary public commission. After your commission has been corrected, you will receive a new certificate in the mail. Be sure to change your address at this time if applicable.

 

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May I notarize a document written in a foreign language?
You are not prohibited legally from notarizing a document written in a foreign language. However, there are numerous potential problems, including the fact that the term notary public, when translated into other languages, can refer to a markedly different office, with far greater authority than in the United States. For example, Notario Publico, in Spanish-speaking countries, refers to a person with authority similar to that of a U.S. attorney. A notary who has questions about a document written in another language is encouraged to find another notary who understands the document (perhaps at a consulate).

 

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Should I notarize documents that have both English and a foreign language?
You can notarize documents that include both languages. However, you are not required to sign anything that you are not comfortable with. If you are not comfortable, you may suggest the requestor find another notary conversant in that language (perhaps at a consulate) or ask for and attach an English translation.

 

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What is a notary public liable for?

Section 37(2) of the Notary Public Act provides that a notary public is not liable for the truth, form or contents of a record he or she notarizes. This protects a notary from civil and criminal liability if a court finds fault with a document's truth, form or contents.

However, a notary could be required to pay damages to someone whose damages are caused by the notary's negligence or misconduct when performing a notarial act. To minimize this risk:

  • Always require document signers to appear before you at the time of notarization.
  • Positively identify all document signers.
  • Carefully complete the notarization including your name as it appears on your commission; the county of commission; commission expiration date; the statement "Acting in the County of ______" (if performing a notarial act in a county other than your county of commission); and the date of notarization.

 

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Where do I go for more information?

The statutes governing Michigan notaries are found in the Michigan Compiled Laws (MCL 55.107 et. seq.). (27191)

These statues were updated in 2003. To review the actual text of Public Act 238 of 2003, please visit the Legislative website at http://www.legislature.mi.gov.

 

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May I notarize my own document?
No. You cannot notarize your own signature.

 

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May I notarize for a family member?
No. You cannot notarize a document for an immediate family member.

 

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How do I register a change of address for my notary commission?

To register a change of address, please complete the Michigan Notary Public: Request for Duplicate/Notice of Change form and mail the completed form to:

Michigan Department of State
Office of the Great Seal
7064 Crowner Drive
Lansing, MI 48918-1750

 

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I lost my notary commission certificate. How do I obtain a duplicate?
To request a duplicate certificate, please submit a Request for Duplicate/Notice of Change form to the Office of the Great Seal with a check or money order for $10.00 to:

Michigan Department of State
Office of the Great Seal
7064 Crowner Drive
Lansing, MI 48918.

 

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How Do I Cancel My Michigan Notary Public Commission?
To cancel your current notary public commission please place your request in writing, include your signature and the date of your request, and mail it to:

Office of the Great Seal
7064 Crowner Drive
Lansing, MI 48918

You must also include in your request your name, address, county of commission, appointment date, and expiration date. If you choose to cancel your notary public commission, you may reapply for a new commission at any time through the original application process.
Does Michigan participate in E-Notarization?
No Michigan does not participate in E-Notarizations.

 

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