117.01 Appointment, application, suspension, revocation, application fee, bond, and oath.—
(1) The Governor may appoint as many notaries public as he or she deems necessary, each of whom shall be at least 18 years of age and a legal resident of the state. A permanent resident alien may apply and be appointed and shall file with his or her application a recorded Declaration of Domicile. The residence required for appointment must be maintained throughout the term of appointment. Notaries public shall be appointed for 4 years and shall use and exercise the office of notary public within the boundaries of this state. An applicant must be able to read, write, and understand the English language.
(2) The application for appointment shall be signed and sworn to by the applicant and shall be accompanied by a fee of $25, together with the $10 commission fee required by s. 113.01, and a surcharge of $4, which $4 is appropriated to the Executive Office of the Governor to be used to educate and assist notaries public. The Executive Office of the Governor may contract with private vendors to provide the services set forth in this section. However, no commission fee shall be required for the issuance of a commission as a notary public to a veteran who served during a period of wartime service, as defined in s. 1.01(14), and who has been rated by the United States Government or the United States Department of Veterans Affairs or its predecessor to have a disability rating of 50 percent or more; such a disability is subject to verification by the Secretary of State, who has authority to adopt reasonable procedures to implement this act. The oath of office and notary bond required by this section shall also accompany the application and shall be in a form prescribed by the Department of State which shall require, but not be limited to, the following information: full name, residence address and telephone number, business address and telephone number, date of birth, race, sex, social security number, citizenship status, driver’s license number or the number of other official state-issued identification, affidavit of good character from someone unrelated to the applicant who has known the applicant for 1 year or more, a list of all professional licenses and commissions issued by the state during the previous 10 years and a statement as to whether or not the applicant has had such license or commission revoked or suspended, and a statement as to whether or not the applicant has been convicted of a felony, and, if there has been a conviction, a statement of the nature of the felony and restoration of civil rights. The applicant may not use a fictitious or assumed name other than a nickname on an application for commission. The application shall be maintained by the Department of State for the full term of a notary commission. A notary public shall notify, in writing, the Department of State of any change in his or her business address, home telephone number, business telephone number, home address, or criminal record within 60 days after such change. The Governor may require any other information he or she deems necessary for determining whether an applicant is eligible for a notary public commission. Each applicant must swear or affirm on the application that the information on the application is true and correct.
(3) As part of the oath, the applicant must swear that he or she has read this chapter and knows the duties, responsibilities, limitations, and powers of a notary public.
(4) The Governor may suspend a notary public for any of the grounds provided in s. 7, Art. IV of the State Constitution. Grounds constituting malfeasance, misfeasance, or neglect of duty include, but are not limited to, the following:
(a) A material false statement on the application.
(b) A complaint found to have merit by the Governor.
(c) Failure to cooperate or respond to an investigation by the Governor’s office or the Department of State regarding a complaint.
(e) False or misleading advertising relating to notary public services.
(f) Unauthorized practice of law.
(g) Failure to report a change in business or home address or telephone number, or failure to submit documentation to request an amended commission after a lawful name change, within the specified period of time.
(h) Commission of fraud, misrepresentation, or any intentional violation of this chapter.
(i) Charging fees in excess of fees authorized by this chapter.
(j) Failure to maintain the bond required by this section.
(5)(a) If a notary public receives notice from the Department of State that his or her office has been declared vacant, the notary shall forthwith mail or deliver to the Secretary of State his or her notary commission.
(b) A notary public who wishes to resign his or her commission, or a notary public who does not maintain legal residence in this state during the entire term of appointment, or a notary public whose resignation is required by the Governor, shall send a signed letter of resignation to the Governor and shall return his or her certificate of notary public commission. The resigning notary public shall destroy his or her official notary public seal of office, unless the Governor requests its return.
(6) No person may be automatically reappointed as a notary public. The application process must be completed regardless of whether an applicant is requesting his or her first notary commission, a renewal of a commission, or any subsequent commission.
(7)(a) A notary public shall, prior to executing the duties of the office and throughout the term of office, give bond, payable to any individual harmed as a result of a breach of duty by the notary public acting in his or her official capacity, in the amount of $7,500, conditioned for the due discharge of the office and shall take an oath that he or she will honestly, diligently, and faithfully discharge the duties of the notary public. The bond shall be approved and filed with the Department of State and executed by a surety company for hire duly authorized to transact business in this state.
(b) Any notary public whose term of appointment extends beyond January 1, 1999, is required to increase the amount of his or her bond to $7,500 only upon reappointment on or after January 1, 1999.
(c) Beginning July 1, 1996, surety companies for hire which process notary public applications, oaths, affidavits of character, and bonds for submission to the Department of State must properly submit these documents in a software and hard copy format approved by the Department of State.
(8) Upon payment to any individual harmed as a result of a breach of duty by the notary public, the entity who has issued the bond for the notary public shall notify the Governor of the payment and the circumstances which led to the claim.
History.—s. 1, Sept. 13, 1822; RS 218; s. 1, ch. 4544, 1897; GS 302; RGS 413; CGL 479; s. 1, ch. 21765, 1943; s. 1, ch. 63-138; s. 1, ch. 65-256; ss. 1, 2, ch. 67-54; ss. 10, 12, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 70, ch. 71-136; s. 1, ch. 75-161; s. 6, ch. 77-121; ss. 5, 6, ch. 81-260; s. 33, ch. 83-217; s. 3, ch. 88-557; s. 1, ch. 91-291; s. 1, ch. 92-209; s. 746, ch. 95-147; s. 18, ch. 95-280; s. 27, ch. 95-312; s. 2, ch. 96-407; s. 1, ch. 98-246; s. 9, ch. 2003-158.