Arizona Revised Statutes (“A.R.S.”) provide our office the rules for processing applications and duties of notaries upon being commissioned.
Application Instruction and Processing for New and Renewing Notaries
- How do I become an Arizona notary public?
You may submit an original signed notary application, an original signed and notarized bond, and the $43 application and bond filing fee. Take care to submit them together in person at either our Phoenix or Tucson customer service centers or by mail to our Phoenix office.
Our office reserves the right to request additional documentation or fees required for processing.
- What is a bond? Do I really need one? What would happen if I don’t get one?
A notary bond is required with your application and our office will not process an application without a bond. A.R.S. § 41-315. Our office does not provide bonds.
A notary bond, also called a surety bond, is similar to an insurance policy. However, the key distinction is that the bond protects the public (whoever needs the document notarized) and not the actual notary.
To protect yourself, you also can look into purchasing Errors and Omissions Insurance (“E&O”). E&O policies protect you, the notary, and will repay the bond should someone make a claim against it. It is not mandatory to have E&O insurance when applying.
This distinction is hugely important because if someone makes a claim against your bond, you, the notary, must repay the difference back to the bonding company. Similarly, if you are taken to court, a judge can hold you to unlimited liability. Simply because you are bonded for $5,000 doesn’t mean you will not be expected to repay more than $5,000.
- How long does it take to become a notary public?
- 3-4 weeks. However, if you include an additional $25, we will expedite the processing of your application within 1-2 days of receipt.
- When should I renew my commission?
- The earliest you can start the renewal process is 60 days before the end of your current commission. You can either check the expiration date on your stamp or check our notary public search website for the expiration date.
- What payment can I include?
- Payment must be included with the application and bond either by mail or in person at our Phoenix or Tucson customer service centers. We request either a check or money order be sent with mailed forms. Cash will be accepted in person at our customer service centers. Please make checks and money orders payable to the “Arizona Secretary of State”.
- I’ve just moved to Arizona from another state. Do I need to have an Arizona ID before I apply?
- No, you do not. However, we request a copy of your out-of-state driver license and a statement explaining why you don’t yet have Arizona identification. You will be required to have Arizona identification when you renew.
- I’m not a citizen of the United States but I have a work permit. Can I be a notary?
No. Only citizens or legal permanent residents can apply for a commission. A.R.S. § 41-312(E)(2). A work permit does not constitute legal permanent residency.
By signing the application, you are attesting to the accuracy of the information on the application. Our office can open a complaint against a commission, and may permanently revoke a commission, due to a falsified application.
- I have been convicted of a felony in the past. Can I expedite my application?
No. Any application that needs additional review, i.e., felony conviction, professional license action, or past notary complaint, cannot be expedited. Those applications go through a review process and cannot be guaranteed within the 1-2 day expedited processing window. Any such application received with the extra $25 dollars will either be returned or refunded.
Now that you’ve been commissioned
- I received my commission certificate. Now what?
You are officially commissioned once we have your application and bond on file, and you have your stamp, journal and notary public reference manual.
You can buy a stamp and journal from an office supply store or a stationary store. Your bonding company may provide those items to you but not all bonding companies do so.
- Can I notarize any document?
- No. You as a notary can only perform notarizations with acknowledgment, jurat, copy certification or oath/affirmation language. Examples and explanations of these certificates can be found in the Notary Public Reference Manual.
- I’ve just changed jobs. Do I need to tell you about that?
Yes. You must notify us of any address change (mailing, home or public record/business) within 30 days. Failure to do so may result in a $25 civil penalty. A.R.S. § 41-323(C).
Our system will update only the addresses you tell us to change. If you have an outdated address as your mailing and public record address, but you only inform our office of a public record address change, your mailing address will still be incorrect. As a result, you may be assessed the $25 civil penalty. To potentially avoid paying the penalty, we recommend updating all three addresses with a Notary Public Address/Name Change Notification form.
- My name has changed during my commission. Should I let you know about that?
- Yes. You should submit a Notary Public Address/Name Change Notification and include legal documentation to show why your name has changed (marriage license, divorce decree, etc.)
- I no longer work for the employer that paid for my commission. Do I still have to be a notary? What if I move to another state?
Not necessarily, you can continue your term or resign your commission. Even though your company paid for your commission, it is yours and cannot be transferred between individuals or states. Don’t forget to update your change of address.
You have several options to consider:
- You may continue your commission. The burden of renewing will fall on you or your new employer once your current commission ends. If you choose not to renew once your term ends, you must send in your journal, seal and all other records to our office within 3 months of your expiration date or you may be assessed a $50-$500 fine. A.R.S. § 41-317(A).
- You may resign your term. It is not a permanent resignation; you can apply again in the future. However, when you resign, our office will retain your journal and records, and will be responsible for responding to any public record requests on your behalf.
- If you don’t want to be a notary, our office recommends that you resign your commission.
- Our office does NOT recommend letting your commission run out. It will be your responsibility to respond to any public record requests and you are required to turn in your journal, seal, and all other records to our office up to 3 months after your term expires.
- This is a reminder to turn in your materials to avoid a $50-$500 fine. A.R.S. § 41-317(A).
If you move to another state, you must resign your commission.
- Can I notarize a document that is in a language I don’t understand?
No. You may notarize a document in a foreign language if you can read, write and understand that language. If you are not confident that you can notarize the document accurately, the option below must be followed.
You will need to request an English translation of the document and have the person who translated the document complete and sign, before a notary public, an “Affidavit of Translation”. Once the English translation, the foreign language document and the Affidavit of Translation are together, you can notarize the documents. Once the notarization is complete, the notary will attach the three documents together.