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Notary Public FAQs

Q: What is a Notary Public?

A notary public is an officer commissioned by the Michigan Secretary of State to serve as an unbiased and impartial witness. When a document is notarized, it means a Notary Public personally witnessed the person signing the document after first verifying the identity of the signer.

Q: What are the requirements to become a Notary Public?

According to the Michigan Department of State Office of the Great Seal you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old;
  • Be a Michigan resident or maintain a place of business in Michigan;
  • Be a U.S. citizen or possess proof of legal presence;
  • Be a resident of the county in which you request appointment (if you do not reside in Michigan, maintain a principal place of business in the county you request appointment);
  • Read and write in the English language;
  • Be free of any felony convictions within the past 10 years (if previously convicted of a felony, the 10-year period includes completion of the sentence for that crime, any term of imprisonment, parole, or probation, and payment of all fines, costs, and assessments);
  • Have not been convicted of 2 or more misdemeanor offenses involving a violation of the Michigan Notary Public Act within a 12-month period while commissioned, or 3 or more misdemeanor offenses involving a violation of this Act within a 5-year period regardless of being commissioned;
  • Have filed with the appropriate county clerk a proper surety bond in the amount of $10,000 and taken the oath of office as prescribed by the State Constitution;
  • Sign a declaration that all information on your application for Michigan Notary Public Commission is correct, that you have read the Michigan Notary Public Act, and that you will perform all notarial acts faithfully;
  • Any individual currently serving a term of imprisonment in any state, county or federal correctional facility is prohibited from being appointed or serving as a notary public.
  • Licensed attorneys in the State of Michigan are not required to file a surety bond with the county clerk as of April 1, 2007.

Q: How do I apply to become a Notary Public?

  • Complete the Application for Notary Public Commission. To avoid delays in processing your application, please print neatly and complete all fields. Make sure to print or type your name as you would like to be commissioned in the “Commissioned Name” field at the bottom of the application. Your signature must match. This is the signature that you will use when notarizing documents.
  • Obtain a surety bond in the amount of $10,000. These are available through insurance agencies or bonding companies. A list of licensed agencies is available at www.michigan.gov/difs.
  • File surety bond with the County Clerk. There is a fee of $10 to file the bond. At that time, the county clerk will also administer an Oath of Office and complete the designated area on your completed Notary Public Application. Your original signature must then be placed on the form, agreeing to all conditions stated.
  • Once you have fulfilled the filing requirements at the county level, you must forward your completed application (with a $10.00 non-refundable processing fee) to the following address:

Michigan Department of State
Office of the Great Seal
7064 Crowner Blvd
Lansing, MI 48918

Q: What is a Surety Bond?

Notaries public are required to obtain a $10,000 surety bond and file it at the office of the County Clerk in the county where the notary will be appointed. A list of licensed agencies is available at www.michigan.gov/difs.

Please note that a surety bond is not an insurance policy to protect you. A surety bond provides coverage for damages to anyone who suffers financially due to an improper official act on the part of the notary. The surety may still seek reimbursement from you for any damages it pays on your behalf.

Q: How long is a Notary Commission?

Each notary public commission is for a 6 to 7 year period ending on the notary's birthday. Once your notary commission expires, you must apply for a new commission no more than 60 days prior to the expiration date.

Q: Where do I apply to be a Notary Public?

If you are a Berrien County resident and will be notarizing documents in Michigan, you must apply in Berrien County at the County Clerk’s office.

If you are a resident of another county in Michigan, you must apply in the county where you live.

If you are an out of state resident working in Berrien County, you must apply for a Michigan Notary Commission in Berrien County. In this case, you may only notarize documents in Berrien County.


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