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Notary FAQs

What is a Notary?

A Notary is a position created by state law allowing individuals as, county 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.  The Tennessee Notary Public Handbook can provide additional information.

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.

How Do I Renew a Notary Commission?

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

Am I required to keep records of my notarizations?

Tennessee law does not specify that you must keep record of notarizations.  However, that can be inferred from the statutory provision which allows a notary to charge a fee of one dollar ($1.00) for recording in a well-bound book each of the notary's attestations, protestations, and other instruments.

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

A Notary is considered a county public official and may be removed from office just as any other county official. Complaints concerning official misconduct should be directed to the appropriate official (such as the County Attorney or the District Attorney General) in the county in which the Notary is elected or in which the alleged misconduct occurred.
The County Technical Assistance Service maintains listings for various county officials as part of their Directory of County Officials

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 it's 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.