Arizona Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Notary Public?
An Arizona Notary Public is a public officer commissioned by the Secretary of State to perform notarial acts. A Notary is an impartial witness. (A.R.S. §§ 38-294, 41-313(9), and 41-328(B))
Can anybody become a Notary Public? What are the requirements for becoming an Arizona Notary Public?
To become an Arizona Notary Public, you must meet the following requirements:
- You must be an Arizona resident;
- You must be at least 18 years old;
- You must not have been convicted of a felony unless your civil rights have been restored.
If you meet these requirements, you may be eligible to become an Arizona Notary Public. When you sign your application form, you are attesting that you meet these requirements. If we find that you do not meet these requirements, we may refuse to issue you a Notary commission or we may revoke your Notary commission. You could be guilty of lying or submitting false information on your application form. Lying on an application form constitutes perjury and is a fraudulent act. (A.R.S. §§ 41-213(E) and 41-330(A)(1))
You say I have to be an Arizona resident. Does that mean I have to be a citizen?
No. You can be an Arizona Notary Public if you are not a U.S. citizen but you must be an Arizona resident for tax purposes. That means you must claim your Arizona residence as your primary residence on state and federal tax forms. (Attorney General Opinion 78-119)
How do I know if I'm considered an Arizona resident?
In the context of your Notary Public commission, you are considered an Arizona resident if your primary residence or domicile is in Arizona. A person can have only one primary residence at any time. The following would indicate that Arizona is your primary residence:
- If you live within the borders of Arizona and claim your Arizona residence as your primary residence for tax purposes (that is, you declare it on your state and federal tax returns as your primary residence); or
- If you are currently registered to vote in Arizona.
The fact that you are out of this state for a temporary or transitory purpose would not defeat or negate your Arizona residency. On the other hand, if you are in Arizona for a temporary or transitory purpose, Arizona would not be your primary residence. (A.R.S. § 41-312(E)(2))
What if I have two primary residences because I spend six months in Arizona and six months at my other residence?
You must claim one residence as your primary residence for tax purposes. It is that residence that will determine whether you qualify to be an Arizona notary public.
What do I need to do to become an Arizona Notary Public?
You first need to read the ARIZONA NOTARY HANDBOOK, including the laws. You can request a paper copy of the handbook from the Secretary of State's Office https://www.azsos.gov/about-office/contact-us, or you can view it online here.
Then you need to fill out the application and, upon receiving your bond from Notary of America, mail the forms to the address on the forms.
Where do I get an application form to become an Arizona Notary Public?
You can complete an application form online at: https://apps.azsos.gov/apps/notary/application/default.aspx
Is all the information on my application form public information? Can it be given to someone other than myself upon request?
Only your name and your business address are now public information. All other information on your application form is confidential. (A.R.S. § 41-312(F))
What if I live just across the border in another state but have an Arizona address?
You cannot be an Arizona Notary Public because you do not live within the borders of Arizona.
Some states allow nonresidents to become notaries if they live outside the borders of the state but work in that state. Does Arizona allow this?
You must be an Arizona resident in order to be an Arizona notary public.
If I was convicted of a felony but have had my civil rights restored, may I become an Arizona Notary Public?
Perhaps. But you need to send a copy of the court papers restoring your civil rights at the same time you send us your application and bond form. Even if your civil rights have been restored, the Secretary of State may deny you a Notary commission if your felony conviction had a reasonable relationship to the functions of the office of Notary Public. Please submit your information. We will file this for you with the Secretary of State's office and they will make a determination regarding your application at that time.
How long does it take to become a Notary Public?
From the time you mail us your application until you receive your commission certificate in the mail, the entire process can take up to 6–8 weeks. Remember that both the Secretary of State's office and the county Clerks of the Superior Court are involved in the process.
Does it take as long to renew my Notary commission as it does to get a first-time Notary commission?
Yes. The process for renewing a commission and obtaining a commission for the first time are exactly the same.
Why does it take so long?
Both the Secretary of State's office and the county Clerks of the Superior Court are involved in this process. Generally speaking, the process usually takes about two weeks in the Secretary of State's Office before that office mails the certificate and qualification form to the respective county where you reside. The Clerk of the Superior Court in that county checks to see if you have filed your bond (which we file for you if you are a notary package customer). If you have not, the Clerk must notify you that you have 20 days in which to file your bond. After the Notary bond has been filed and approved, the Clerk sends the commission certificate to the Notary and the qualification form to the Secretary of State. When you receive your certificate, you are ready to obtain your official Notary seal and journal and begin notarizing signatures on documents. PLEASE MAIL OR FAX your certificate to us and we will order your notary seal and send you your notary journal.
What is a qualification form?
A qualification form is a document the Secretary of State's Office prepares and sends to the appropriate Clerk of the Superior Court along with each notary commission certificate. After the county Clerk of the Superior Court verifies that the notary has filed an appropriate bond, the Clerk fills in the time and date of the filing of the notary's bond and sends the qualification form back to the Secretary of State's Office.
After I've sent the notary application, bond form and have paid the associated fees, can I get a refund if I later change my mind?
No. Once your application has been processed, the State of Arizona considers it processed and filed. Therefore, once the fees have been remitted to the respective offices, no refunds will be provided.
I am in the military. Can I become an Arizona Notary Public?
If you are a commissioned officer in the armed forces of the United States, you are federally commissioned to perform notarial functions for other members of the armed forces and their dependents. The Arizona Attorney General specified this in Opinion I97-011. People other than commissioned officers wishing to become Arizona Notaries Public must meet the qualifications for Arizona Notaries Public and must apply just as if they were not in the military.
Once everything is completed, how long is my notary commission?
An Arizona Notary Public commission is a four-year term. This means that a commission beginning on June 1, 2018, will expire at midnight on May 31, 2022. (A.R.S. § 41-312(A))
How and when do I renew my commission?
About 60–90 days before your commission is due to expire, we will send you a renewal notice to the mailing address we have on file for you. You may also receive a renewal notice from a bonding company 3–6 months before your commission expires. You must submit your renewal application along with the processing/filing fee; you must meet the eligibility requirements; and you must buy a new bond that you must send to the Clerk of the Superior Court in your county of residence along with the appropriate filing fee. In other words, the procedure for renewing your Notary commission is the same as it was to apply for the first time.
What if I don't receive my notary renewal notice?
We cannot guarantee the delivery of the notice. However, if you have moved or your mailing or residence address has changed (whether or not you have moved) during your four-year notary term, you are required by law to notify the Secretary of State's Office within 30 days of the change by certified mail or other means providing a receipt that the Secretary of State's Office does not prepare or mail unless you have enclosed two copies of your notice to that office and a stamped, self-addressed envelope.
Failure to notify the Secretary of State's Office about your change of address will result in their assessing you a civil penalty of $25. You must then pay the Secretary of State's Office the civil penalty before they can renew your commission. If they have your current mailing address and you still did not receive the renewal notice, please contact us and we would be glad to help you with the appropriate application materials.
If I forget to renew my commission in a timely manner, can I get the renewal expedited so that I don't miss time serving as a notary?
There is no real way for a commission application to be expedited. There are certain procedures within the Secretary of State's Office that that office must follow. However, you may contact our office for assistance in expediting your notary bond to the County Clerks of the Superior Court.
How do I obtain an Apostille for a document sent to a foreign country? (Or a certificate of notarization authenticity)
Pursuant to A.R.S. § 41-326, the Secretary of State issues apostilles on documents going to a foreign country and also authenticates public documents going to foreign countries. The cost for this service is $3.00 per document. Checks should be payable to the Secretary of State.