Fulfilling Your Notary Education in Florida:
One of the requirements to be commissioned as a notary public, in the state of Florida, is to complete a notary education course.
Unless necessary and pertinent to their employment, most people are not aware of the spectrum of duties that a notary public in Florida is authorized to perform. Additionally, the risks and responsibilities that go along with every notarization, are often overlooked.
As a result, the state of Florida requires all new notaries public to complete an approved education course that provides essential notary information. This information is meant to help notaries avoid negligent mistakes that can lead to serious legal repercussions. In addition, the requirement of an education course is used to promote ethical notarial practices among notaries in the state of Florida.
Troy Fain’s Florida Notary Education Course also offers flexibility. You can work on the course at your own pace, in your own time. You can stop the course and come back to it as needed. In addition, you have access to the information for your entire four year term and can reference it whenever necessary.
Upon completion of the course, you will be presented with a certificate. This certificate needs to be printed and signed. The signed certificate, then, must be sent to our office in one of the following ways:
Mail: P.O. Box 5077, Tallahassee, FL 32314
Scan and Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Once we receive your bond, completed application and signed certificate, we are able to send all necessary documents to the Secretary of State’s office for review.
The qualifications to become a Florida notary are:
- You must be at least 18 years old
- You must be a permanent resident of the state
- If you have ever been convicted of a felony, you must have your civil rights restored
- You must be able to read, write, and understand the English language
This last qualification can sometimes be overlooked, especially when the diversity of the state of Florida is taken into consideration. It is, however, a REQUIREMENT. This does not mean you cannot perform notarial acts on documents in foreign languages though. It simply means that at a minimum, you must be able to read, write, and understand English. As such, notary materials are only available in the English language.
Due to the diverse nature of our state, bilingual notaries are essential in Florida. That being said, there are restrictions to how you can advertise your services in other languages.
In many Spanish speaking countries, a “Notario Publico” is an attorney or high level public official who is also a notary public. In the past, some notaries have used this knowledge to falsely advertise their services, implying that they have legal authority. Because of this, direct translations of “notary public” are not allowed in advertisements, in any language.
In fact, to avoid future legal issues, Florida law requires notaries to include the following message in both English and the language of the advertisement:
“I am not an attorney licensed to practice law in the state of Florida, and I may not give legal advice or accept fees for legal advice.”
This message must be distinctly and clearly visible on the advertisement. Failure to do so can lead to a suspended license and possible criminal charges.
In honor of customer service week, we thought we would share with you what we consider to be a few of the fundamentals of good customer service.
Customer service should focus on the customer
This may seem obvious, but not all businesses effectively put this focus into practice.
As a notary public, or someone working in customer service, it is important to remember that you are in the business of people. How you conduct yourself and interact with your clients can have an astronomical impact on the success of your business.
So how should you conduct yourself?
If you’re a notary, it is important to remember that not everyone has as much experience with notarial acts as you do. If your client is confused or doesn’t know what act should be performed, do your best to explain to them the different options they have.
REMEMBER: While you can explain the different notarial acts and their purposes to them, you cannot suggest they use one notarial act over another. If they are still unsure after your explanation, encourage them to speak with their lawyer or the party that drafted the document.
Exhibit Clear Communication
If you work in customer service you are probably aware that by the time a customer contacts you, they are already frustrated and/or confused. The best way to alleviate those feelings is with direct communication. Before ending a conversation, always confirm that all the client’s questions and concerns have been addressed.
As a notary public, this is extremely important. Your job as a notary public is predominantly to prevent fraud. Understandably, then, most occasions that require a notary public to perform an authorized duty are significant to the client soliciting your services. If it is important to your client, then it should be important to you. This is an essential component of good customer service.
Working with people is a continuous learning process. Not only do the needs of people change over time, but people themselves change as they adapt to the various situations life throws at them.
In the long term, it is vital that you retain the ability to adapt to changing times, needs, and people.
In the short term, however, your adaptability is imperative to handling unforeseen problems. Let’s face it, you can’t predict every issue that will arise. You can, however, learn to efficiently reach resolutions to predicaments you may not have dealt with before.
Know of any other good customer service practices? We would love to hear your thoughts on it!
What should a Florida notary do when a person is recently married and asking for documents to be notarized?
When you get married, there is a million things to do. Changing your name on all of your various forms, identifications, and accounts can be tedious and time consuming. There is usually an awkward period of changing your name in various areas.
But what’s a notary to do if they encounter a newlywed during this period? It would be difficult to notarize a document for someone with their new, married name when their ID still had their maiden name, or vice versa.
During this situation, you could identify the witness by personal knowledge or you could utilize credible witnesses to verify their identity.
There are two options:
- One credible witness who personally knows the notary and the signer.
- Two credible witnesses unknown to the notary but who personally know the signer.
In either case, the credible witness(es) will have to make a sworn statement verifying the identity of the signer. For a full list of what their testimony must include, look in your Florida Notary Handbook.
Yes, as a notary public you can notarize handwritten documents, in certain circumstances. As always, you have to be careful, trust your gut and follow protocol.
School permission forms or giving someone medical permission for your child are valid handwritten documents. Someone claiming they are the Prince of Persia may not be as legitimate.
The same steps should be followed when completing a notarial act with a handwritten document as for any other document. Ensure the person is physically present, proper ID is presented, they understand what they are signing and appear willing, and there are no blanks.
After you have determined the right protocol is followed, complete the notarial act. As with any other document, you cannot suggest which kind of notarial act should be completed. You can present them with their various options and explain each, if they cannot choose, you cannot pick for them. You can direct them to the person receiving the document, whoever issued it or a lawyer.
The notarial wording should be attached to the document, if you cannot, then attached a loose certificate. You can handwrite the notarial wording when there is limited space, but for most handwritten documents there will be plenty of room to attach a typed certificate.
For questions about specific documents or about the process, please call our customer service.