Georgia Notary Law is located in Title 45 Article 17 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A.). Access the online version of the O.C.G.A. through the Georgia General Assembly website located at http://www.legis.ga.gov/.
The Office of the Clerk of Superior Court approves and issues commissions of notary public. Each commission is for a term of four years and may be renewed prior to the expiration of the notary's term of office.
Individuals desiring to become a notary should submit an application to the Clerk of Superior Court in their county of residence. (Georgia has a neighboring state resident exception. See Notary Public Frequently Asked Questions.) Click HERE for the Georgia Notary Public Application Form for New Appointments or Reappointment. By law (§45-17-2), all information contained in the application is open to public inspection. If you have questions concerning appointments or renewals, please contact your county's Clerk of Superior Court (click HERE for county contact information) or the GSCCCA Notary Division for assistance.
It is unlawful for any person to hold himself or herself out as a notary or exercise the powers of a notary without an effective notary commission. A notary shall not make claims to have or imply he or she has powers, qualifications, rights or privileges that a notary does not possess by law.
Powers and Duties
Notaries Public have authority anywhere within the State of Georgia to:
Witness or attest signature or execution of deeds and other written instruments;
Administer oaths and affirmations in all matters incidental to their duties as commercial officers and all other oaths and affirmations which are not by law required to be administered by a particular officer;
Witness affidavits upon oath or affirmation;
Take verifications upon oath or affirmation;
Make certified copies, provided that the document presented for copying is an original document and is neither a public record nor a publicly recorded document, certified copies of which are available from an official source other than a notary; and provided that the document was photocopied under supervision of the notary; and
Perform such other acts as notaries are authorized to perform by the laws of the State of Georgia.
A "notarial act" means any act that a notary is authorized to perform and includes, without limitation, attestation, the taking of an acknowledgment, the administration of an oath or affirmation, the taking of a verification upon an oath or affirmation, and the certification of a copy.
"Attesting" and "attestation" are synonymous and mean the notarial act of witnessing or attesting a signature or execution of a deed or other written instrument, where such notarial act does not involve the taking of an acknowledgment, the administering of an oath or affirmation, the taking of a verification, or the certification of a copy.
"Notarial certificate" means the notary's documentation of a notarial act.
Disqualifications & Prohibited Actions
A notary shall be disqualified from performing a notarial act in the following situations which impugn and compromise the impartiality of the notary:
When the notary is a signer of the document which is to be notarized; or
When the notary is a party to the document or transaction for which the notarial act is required.
A notary shall not execute a notarial certificate containing a statement known by the notary to be false nor perform any action with an intent to deceive or defraud.
A notary shall not perform a notarial act without confirming the identity of the document signer, oath taker or affirmant based on personal knowledge or on satisfactory evidence.
The commission of any notary who performs an act when disqualified or prohibited is subject to revocation. Any notary who executes a notarial certificate containing a false statement known by the notary to be false or performs any action with the intent to deceive or defraud may be prosecuted for a criminal act as provided by law.
It is lawful for a notary who is an employee, officer, director or stockholder of a bank or corporation to take the acknowledgment of any party to any written instrument executed to or by such business or to sign as official witness to the execution by any party of any document executed by or to such business and may administer an oath to any other employee, officer, director, agent or stockholder of such business PROVIDED, HOWEVER, THAT THE NOTARY SHALL NOT PERFORM A NOTARIAL ACT WHERE SUCH NOTARY WOULD BE WITNESSING HIS/HER OWN SIGNATURE EITHER IN HIS/HER CAPACITY AS AN INDIVIDUAL OR AS AGENT FOR SUCH A BUSINESS.
A notary shall not issue attachments or garnishments or approve bonds for issuing same and shall not issue any summons in a dispossessory case. A notary may attest affidavits in attachment, garnishment or dispossessory actions.
No notary is obligated to perform a notarial act if he or she feels such act is for a transaction which the notary knows or suspects is illegal, false or deceptive; for a person who is being coerced or for a person whose demeanor causes compelling doubts about whether the person knows the consequences of the transaction requiring the notarial act.
Seal of Office & Notarial Certificates
Each notary must provide a seal of office for the authentication of notarial acts. Such seal shall have the notary's name, the words "Notary Public", the county of appointment, and the name of the state.
Embossment of notarial certificate by such seal is authorized but not necessary, and the use of a rubber or other type stamp shall be sufficient for imprinting the notary's seal.
All Notarial Acts Must be Accompanied by the Seal
Each notary will be issued a duplicate original of their Certificate of Appointment for presentment to a supplier of notary seals. The presentment of such a duplicate to a supplier is necessary to obtain a notary seal.
In documenting a notarial act, a notary shall sign the notarial certification in ink exactly as the name appears on the notary commission and shall also record the exact date of the notarial act. However, in connection with attestation of deeds or other instruments pertaining to real property, the date of the notarial act shall not be required.
Fees of Notaries
A notary may but does not have to charge fees for performing notarial services. A notary shall inform the person requesting any notarial act prior to performing the service if a fee will be charged and the amount permitted by law for each act.
The authorized fee is $2.00 for each notarial act. The notary may, upon request of the person asking for notary service, charge an additional $2.00 for providing a certificate from the Clerk of Superior Court of the effectiveness of the notary commission.
Change of Name, Address or Telephone Number
Every notary shall notify in writing the appointing Clerk of Superior Court, with a copy to the Georgia Superior Court Clerks' Cooperative Authority (GSCCCA), of any change in the notary's name, address or telephone number. The notice shall contain both the old and new name, address or telephone number and must be received by the Clerk of Superior Court within 30 days of the change. In the event of a name change, the new signature of the notary must be included. A "Notary Public Contact Information Change Form" is located in the Notary Files and Forms section.
A notary with a new name may begin to officially sign the new name when the appointing Clerk of Superior Court has received the notice; a confirmation of the name change has been received from the appointing Clerk of Superior Court; and a new seal bearing the new name has been obtained.
Notice of Loss or Theft of Seal
Within ten days of the loss or theft of an official seal, the notary shall send to the appointing Clerk of Superior Court, with a copy to the GSCCCA, a written notice of such loss or theft.
A person wishing to resign the notary commission shall send a letter of resignation to the appointing Clerk of Superior Court, with a copy to the GSCCCA. The notary shall destroy the official seal in the event of resignation.
A notary whose commission expires and who does not apply for renewal shall also destroy the notary seal.
This information has been prepared to assist you in the performance of your duties as a notary public. Since this is only a summary of the basic provisions of the law, you should consult your legal advisor in the event you should have specific questions in connection with your duties or obligations under the law.