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Secretary of State, Notary Services North Dakota Secretary of State
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Notary Public
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Notaries Public Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Notary Stamp

Notarization

Address Change

Name Change

Other


Notary Stamp

What if my notary stamp is lost, stolen or otherwise damaged?
If your notary stamp is lost, stolen or otherwise damaged, you will need to send a letter to the Secretary of State explaining what happened and, if applicable, include photocopies of any police report. The Secretary of State will then send you another certificate of authorization for you to obtain a new notary stamp from a manufacturer of your choice. If your notary stamp is lost or stolen, it is recommended that you obtain a different type of notary stamp so that the new notary stamp is different than the one that was lost or stolen.
I have an embossed style notary seal. Am I able to use it when notarizing documents?
No. Since August 1, 2003, a notary may not use an embossed style notary seal to notarize documents. If you have an embossed style notary seal, it should be destroyed because it is no longer legal and it may cause you to be in violation of state law if it is used to notarize documents. You could be in violation of state law even if you use your notary stamps in addition to the embossed seal.

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Notarization

Is a notary public allowed to refuse to notarize an instrument?
A notary may refuse to perform a notarial act if the notary believes that the person is not competent or lacks the capacity to execute the instrument or if the notary does not believe that the person is executing the instrument knowingly or voluntarily. A notary may also refuse to perform the notarial act for any other reason unless prohibited by law.
What if a person is physically unable to sign the instrument?
A person who is physically unable to sign the instrument may instruct another person (other than the notary) to sign the person's name on the instrument in his or her presence. The notary should then insert something in the certificate similar to "Signature affixed by (insert name of other person) in the presence of and at the direction of (insert name of person)." The notary should also follow the guidelines below:
  1. Question the person to make sure that he or she understands the nature and effect of the document to be signed. If the person is blind, read the entire document to him or her. If the person does not understand, do not notarize the document.
  2. Obtain identification from the person with the disability. However, it is not necessary to require identification from the designated signer.
  3. It is also recommended that a person(s) with no interest in the transaction witness the signing and notarization of the document and that the name and the person's address be clearly printed below his or her signature.
Am I allowed to notarize the signature of a person who signs by way of mark?
Yes, on a rare occasion a notary may need to notarize the signature of a person who signs by way of mark. The person may be illiterate or may have a physical disability that prohibits the person from signing in a customary manner. There are no additional procedures required by law when notarizing the signature. However, it may be beneficial to take extra precautions by using the guidelines below:
  1. Question the person to make sure that he or she understands the nature and effect of the document to be signed. If the person is illiterate, read the entire document to him or her. If the person does not understand, do not notarize the document.
  2. Obtain proper identification from the person signing the document.
  3. Prior to the person signing the document, print the person's first name at the beginning of the signature line and the person's last name at the end of the signature line. Right below the signature line, write the words "His Mark" or "Her Mark."
    Example:
    John X Doe

    His Mark
  4. Ask the person to make his or her mark on the signature line.
  5. It is also recommended that a person(s) with no interest in the transaction witness the signing and notarization of the document and that the name and the person's address be clearly printed below his or her signature.
  6. The notary should insert something in the certificate similar to "Signature affixed by (insert name of the person) by way of mark in the presence of these witnesses."
Is it legal to notarize my spouse's signature?
No. A notary is prohibited from notarizing his or her spouse's signature.
Is it legal to notarize my own signature?
No. A notary is prohibited from notarizing his or her own signature.
Am I allowed to notarize another family member's signature other than my spouse?
Although not prohibited by law, it is recommended that a notary not notarize a document for a close family member, such as a parent, sibling or other close relative. Notarizing documents for these individuals can sometimes cause the notary to appear biased and is often an ethical issue. If a family member requests that you notarize a document for them, it is best to refer the family member to another notary to avoid any possible conflicts.
Is it legal to notarize a document that my spouse or I have a direct beneficial interest in?
No. A notary is not allowed to notarize a document in which the notary or the notary's spouse may have a direct beneficial interest.
Am I allowed to predate or postdate a document I am notarizing if the individual signed or acknowledged the document on a different day?
No. A notary cannot notarize a document in which the date on the certificate is not the actual date the document is being notarized. Also, a notary cannot notarize a document without completing the date on the certificate.
Is a notary able to charge a fee for notarial acts?
Yes. A notary may charge a fee of no more than $5 for each notarial act. However, if the notary needs to travel to perform the notarial act, the notary may charge an additional travel fee if the notary and the person agree on a travel fee in advance. The person must also understand that the travel fee is in addition to the notarial fee and is not required by law.
If there is a place for my commission expiration date on the document, should I write it in?
Even if a document has a space to handwrite a notary's commission expiration date, it is not legally required that the commission expiration date be written or typed on a document. The notary's commission expiration date appears on the notary's stamp, which is sufficient evidence of the notary's commission expiration date. If a notary writes the incorrect commission expiration date on the document, the discrepancy between the handwritten expiration date and the actual expiration date could expose the notary to a potential violation.

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Address Change

If my address changes, do I have to notify the Secretary of State?
Yes, you must notify the Secretary of State within 60 days of any change of address. If the notary is changing his or her address to another address in North Dakota, the notary must submit a Notary Change of Address/Resignation (SFN 50445) (333kb pdf) to the Secretary of State. A letter notifying the Secretary of State of the change of address is also acceptable.
What if I do not notify the Secretary of State of my change of address within 60 days?
If you fail to notify the Secretary of State of your address change within 60 days of the change of address, a late fee in the amount of $10 may be assessed.
What if I move outside of North Dakota, but remain in a county that borders North Dakota?
If a notary moves outside of North Dakota to a county that borders North Dakota and which extends reciprocity to a notary public, the notary must submit a Notary Change of Address/Resignation (SFN 50445) (333kb pdf) to the Secretary of State. When the applicant resides in a county bordering North Dakota, the applicant appoints the Secretary of State as the agent for service of process, for all purposes relating to notarial acts, including the receipt of correspondence relating to notarial acts
What if I move outside of North Dakota and do not reside in a county that borders North Dakota?
If a notary moves outside of North Dakota and its bordering counties, the notary must resign his or her commission by notifying the Secretary of State within 60 days of the move by filing a Notary Change of Address/Resignation (SFN 50445) (333kb pdf). Any records in the possession of the notary public must be left with the Secretary of State except for the notary's stamp, which must be destroyed.

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Name Change

What if I change my name?
Within 60 days of a notary legally changing his or her name, the notary must submit to the Secretary of State a Notary Name Change/Notary Seal/Stamp Change (SFN 51261) (121kb pdf) and a rider to the notary's surety bond stating both the new name and previous name and the effective date of the name change. The notary must also pay a $10 filing fee for the name change. Once the Secretary of State receives the Notary Name Change/Notary Seal/Stamp Change (SFN 51261) (121kb pdf), rider and filing fee, a new certificate of authorization will be issued to the notary to obtain a new stamping device. After the notary affixes an impression of the new stamping device and returns the certificate of authorization to the Secretary of State, a commission with the notary's new name will be issued.
Am I able to notarize documents if I have notified the Secretary of State of my name change, but have not received my new commission?
Yes. If a notary notifies the Secretary of State that he or she has legally changed his or her name, but has not yet received the new commission, the notary may perform notarial acts using the old stamping device and must modify the notary certificate as follows:

Notary public North Dakota
Formerly known and commissioned as

My commission expires

Notary Stamp

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Other

May a notary resign his or her commission?
Yes. If a notary resigns his or her commission, he or she must notify the Secretary of State's office within 30 days of the resignation and provide an effective date for the resignation. This can be done by filing a Notary Change of Address/Resignation (SFN 50445) (333kb pdf) with the Secretary of State. Any record of the notary except for the stamping device must be delivered to the Secretary of State within 3 months of the notary's resignation. The stamping device must be destroyed to prohibit further use of the stamping device.
What is Errors and Omissions Insurance?
Errors and Omissions insurance is insurance that protects a notary from any mistake that causes a financial or other type of loss to a client for which the notary is sued for recovery. This is in addition to the required surety bond. Errors and Omissions insurance protects the notary if he or she is liable to the surety for amounts paid out on the bond. Since the Errors and Omissions insurance is optional and not required by state law, documents related to the insurance do not need to be filed with the Secretary of State's office. These documents are only for the notary's record and will be returned to the notary if sent to the Secretary of State's office.
What happens to my notary commission and stamp if I leave my place of employment?
You retain your notary commission and stamp. Once an individual becomes a notary, the notary's commission and stamp are the property of the notary. Even if an employer pays for the commission and/or purchases the stamping device for the notary, the employer is not allowed to retain the commission or stamping device. The notary must always have direct and exclusive control of the stamping device at all times during the notary's commission. If you leave your place of employment, make sure to take your notary commission and stamp with you.
Am I permitted to prepare legal documents?
Unless you are an attorney who is also a notary, you are not allowed to prepare legal documents.
Does my commission ever expire?
Yes. A notary's commission expires six years from the date of issuance unless otherwise removed by the Secretary of State at an earlier date. The Secretary of State will notify you at least 30 days prior to the commission expiration date and you may renew your commission at that time.
I have my certificate of authorization. Am I allowed to notarize documents?
No. A notary is not allowed to notarize documents prior to receiving the notary's actual commission. A notary's commission begins at 12:00 a.m. on the date of issuance and ends at midnight on the commission expiration date. Notarizing documents prior to or beyond the notary's commission is a violation of state law.
What if the document I am notarizing is in a foreign language?
If the document you are notarizing is in a foreign language, an English translation must be attached to the document prior to notarization.

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If you have any other questions related to notaries public, please contact the Accounting/Notary Unit:

  1. Phone: 701-328-2901 or toll free 1-800-352-0867 ext. 328-2901
  2. Fax: 701-328-0107
  3. Email: sosaccnot@nd.gov
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