Prohibitions, Penalties, and Liabilities


A notary cannot certify or notarize that a record is an original or a true copy of another record.

A notary cannot notarize his or her own signature or take their own deposition. A notary may witness the signing of the document and notarize the same document as long as the notary public is not notarizing their own signature. This means that if the witness’s signatures are required to be notarized, the notary public will only be able to notarize the record owner’s signature and the other witness. Best practice in this type of case is to have two witnesses e.g. friends, co-workers, neighbors, etc. witness the document and only have a notary complete the document notarization. Another option is to enlist another notary to notarize the notaries (witness) signature as a notary public cannot notarize their own signature.

A notary cannot claim to have powers, qualifications, rights or privileges that the office of notary public does not provide, including the power to counsel on immigration matters.

A notary cannot use any term that implies the notary is an attorney.

A notary cannot advertise in a foreign language, unless the following statement is prominently displayed in the same language: “I am not an attorney and have no authority to give advice on immigration or other legal matters.” The appropriate fees as specified by statute must also be displayed.

A notary cannot use the term “notario publico” or any equivalent non-English term.

A notary cannot perform a notarial act in connection with a transaction if the notary is named in the transaction or has a direct financial or beneficial interest in the transaction.

A notary cannot perform a notarial act for a direct lineal ancestor or descendant family member on this list:

  • Spouse (current)
  • Grand and Great Grandparents
  • Parents
  • Children
  • Grand and Great Grandchildren
  • Stepchildren
  • Siblings
  • Half-Siblings
  • In-Laws (Current)

However, a notary public may perform notarizations for Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, former spouses and former in-laws.


A notary and the sureties on the notary’s surety bond are liable for damages sustained by a person who is injured by the notary’s official misconduct. “Official misconduct” is defined as:

  • The exercise of power or the performance of a duty that is unauthorized, unlawful, abusive, negligent, reckless or injurious.
  • The charging of a fee in excess of 10 dollars

A notary public’s employer is also liable if the notary was acting within the actual or apparent scope of their employment and the employer had knowledge of and consented to or permitted the official misconduct.

A notary public is not liable for the truth, form or contents of a record that they notarize.