Texas Frequently Asked Questions

MAY I NOTARIZE MY SPOUSE'S SIGNATURE? FOR MY SPOUSE'S BUSINESS? FOR MY RELATIVES?

The basic rules are: the act of taking and certifying acknowledgments cannot be performed by a notary public financially or beneficially interested in the transaction; and one who is a party to an instrument, cannot act as a notary public. There is no specific prohibition against a notary public notarizing another spouse's signature or a notary public notarizing for a spouse's business. The facts in each situation will determine whether such action is proper.

MAY I ALTER OR CHANGE THE INSTRUMENT I NOTARIZE?

To answer this question, a distinction must be made between the instrument and the acknowledgment. A Notary Public is not authorized to change, alter or draft any instrument. However, a Notary Public may correct the certificate of acknowledgment to reflect the proper facts. For example, if an acknowledgment is taken in Webb County and the certificate shows Marion County, the certificate may be corrected as follows:

The State of Texas
County of Marion Webb

Before me, (Notary Public's name), a Notary Public, on this day personally … etc.

MAY I PERFORM NOTARIAL ACTS IN OTHER COUNTIES?

Yes. A notary public has statewide jurisdiction and may perform notarial acts in any county in the state of Texas.

MAY I PERFORM FUNCTIONS OTHER THAN THOSE OUTLINED IN TEX. GOV'T. CODE §406.016 AND MAY I CHARGE FEES IN EXCESS OF THOSE AUTHORIZED IN TEX. GOV'T. CODE § 406.024?

No. A notary public's authority is limited to those acts authorized in §406.016. A Notary Public may not charge more than the prescribed fees for performance of notarial acts.

WHAT IF THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE DATE THE INSTRUMENT IS SIGNED AND THE DATE THE ACKNOWLEDGMENT IS ACTUALLY TAKEN?

To answer this question, an example is given. If an instrument ends with the wording: “Signed and executed at Tyler, Smith County, Texas, this 25th day of October, 2001,” and the party whose name appears on such instrument appears before the Notary Public on October 27th, 2001, the Notary Public would fill in the acknowledgment with the true and correct date when the signer personally appeared before the Notary Public.

MAY I TAKE AN ACKNOWLEDGMENT OVER THE TELEPHONE?

No. The person whose signature is notarized must personally appear before the notary at the time the notarization is performed.

MAY I CHANGE MY NAME FROM THE NAME SHOWN ON MY NOTARY PUBLIC COMMISSION?

Yes. A Notary Public may change the name on their commission by sending the Secretary of State a name change application, your current certificate of commission, a rider or endorsement from the insurance agency or surety, and a $20.00 filing fee. The above four elements must be sent at the same time. For an instruction sheet, please contact the Notary Public Unit at (512) 463-5705.

MAY I MAKE A CERTIFIED COPY OF A BIRTH CERTIFICATE OR A MARRIAGE LICENSE:

No. Birth certificates and marriage licenses are recordable documents. A recordable document is one that is recorded with some type of entity whether it be the Secretary of State's Office, a court of law, a county clerk, or the Bureau of Vital Statistics. Certified copies may be obtained by contacting such entities.

A non-recordable document is one that has not been nor will ever be recorded with any type of entity. For instance, a letter is not recorded with anyone but there are times the sender of the letter would like to obtain a certified copy of that letter for his or her file.

MAY A NOTARY PUBLIC DETERMINE WHICH TYPE OF NOTARIAL CERTIFICATE SHOULD BE ATTACHED TO A DOCUMENT?

No. A Notary Public who is not an attorney should only complete a notarial certificate which is already on the document or type a certificate of the maker's choosing. If a notary public is brought a document without a certificate and decides which certificate to attach, that notary public would be “practicing law.” However, a notary public is provided copies of sample notarial ertificates with his or her notary commission. A person for whom a notarization is performed may choose the notarial certificate, and the notary may add such certificate to the document.

SHOULD A NOTARY PUBLIC RELY ONLY ON A CREDIT CARD IN DETERMINING THE IDENTIFICATION OF A SIGNER?

No. If the signer is not personally known by the Notary Public or identified by a credible witness, the Notary Public must use an identification card issued by a governmental agency or a passport issued by the United States to identify the signer.

IS A NOTARY REQUIRED TO ADMINISTER AN OATH TO A DEPONENT SERVED DEPOSITION UPON WRITTEN QUESTIONS?

Yes. The deposition officer (“notary public”) must: record the testimony of the witness under oath in response to the written questions and prepare, certify and deliver the deposition transcript in accordance with Rule 203 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure.