Online Notary Course  for California
     
 

CHAPTER I.

Part B. Commission

Section 1. Term of Office

The term of office for a notary public is four years starting with the commencement date stated in the commission issued by the California Secretary of State. California Government Code section 8204. This is true whether an appointment is for the first time or whether the person has been issued a previous commission. The critical starting date is the commencement date stated in the commission, rather than the date the commission was issued or mailed by the California Secretary of State or the date the commission was received by the person in the mail.

However, a person cannot serve as a notary public until both their oath of office and bond have been filed with the county clerk, and both must be filed within 30 days of the commencement date of the four-year term stated in the commission. California Government Code section 8213. A notary public commission issued by the California Secretary of State does not take effect unless the oath of office and bond are filed on time with the county clerk. If the 30-day deadline is missed, the commission is invalid.

Section 2. Geographic Jurisdiction

A notary publicís jurisdiction is not limited to the county in which the notary publicís oath and bond are filed, but a California notary public cannot perform notarial acts outside of the borders of California.
California Government Code section 8200

Additionally, a notary public appointed to serve on a military or naval reservation is authorized to act only within the boundaries of the reservation for which he or she is appointed.

EXAMPLE :  Maria Mobileís principal place of business is in Truckee, California. Accordingly, Maria filed her oath and bond at the Nevada County Clerkís office in Nevada County, California. Maria often travels to South Lake Tahoe, in El Dorado County, to perform notarial acts for residents there. Patrick Pressure asks Maria to come to his home in Stateline, Nevada, to perform an acknowledgment on a document to be filed in El Dorado County. Maria must refuse to perform the acknowledgment in the State of Nevada. As an alternative, Maria may request that Patrick meet her in South Lake Tahoe, (El Dorado County), California or any other convenient location in California to perform the acknowledgment.

Section 3. Bond

A notary public must obtain a bond from a California admitted surety insurer in the amount of $15,000. The bond must be filed with the county clerk of the county in which the notary publicís principal place of business is located. California Government Code section 8212. The bond is to provide a limited fund to reimburse members of the public who are damaged by notarial misconduct. However, the notary public and the surety named on the notary publicís official bond are liable in a civil action for all the damages sustained from a notary publicís misconduct or neglect. California Government Code section 8214.

Best practices tip: There may be personal liability for the notary public to the surety for the amount paid on the bond as damages and if the damages exceed the amount of the bond. Therefore, a notary public should consider purchasing errors and omissions insurance, or some other type of liability insurance, to cover damages that may occur in the course of performing their notarial duties. A negligent notary public may still be personally liable for damages, costs and attorneyís fees exceeding insurance policy limits and for damages not covered by insurance.

Section 4. Public Employee Notaries Public

The California Secretary of State may appoint an employee of a California state, city or county public agency, or public school district to serve as a notary public for and on behalf of that public entity. These notary public employees only may perform notarial acts for and on behalf of their public entity employer. These notary public employees are not authorized to perform notarial acts on their own time. These notary public employees must maintain personal control of their journal. The public entity employer may pay the costs of the notary publicís bond and supplies and any fees collected by the notary public employee must be remitted or turned over to their public entity employer. California Government Code section 8202.5.  If the notary public is terminated or resigns, the termination or resignation is treated as a resignation of the notary publicís commission as well. On termination or resignation from employment with the public entity: (1) the employee must immediately send written notice of resignation to the California Secretary of State; (2) all notarial records must be delivered to the county clerk within 30 days; and (3) the notary publicís seal must be defaced or destroyed. California Government Code section 8209.

The California Secretary of State may appoint federal civil service employees to serve as notaries public for military and naval reservations within the State of California. California Government Code sections 8203.1 and 8203.3. A notary public appointed to serve on a military or naval reservation must be a U.S. citizen, but does not have to be a California resident. California Government Code section 8203.1. These notaries public may perform notarial acts only on the reservation for which they were appointed and they cannot collect fees for any service. California Government Code sections 8203.2 and 8203.6. These notary public federal civil service employees must maintain personal control of their journal. If the notary public stops being a federal civil service employee, the commanding officer of the military or naval reservation must notify the California Secretary of State of the termination, and the termination is treated as a resignation of the notary publicís commission. California Government Code section 8203.4. Again, upon termination or resignation from employment with the military or naval reservation, all notarial records must be delivered to the county clerk within 30 days and the notary publicís seal must be defaced or destroyed.
California Government Code section 8209.

 


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All rights reserved. Revised: 01/02/12.