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New Law Changes For Notaries
Updated April 26, 2017 6:55 AM
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(INDIANAPOLIS) - The largest group of public officials in the state of Indiana will soon see big changes in how they are commissioned for public office.

Indiana is updating its notary laws to provide better protections for notaries and their clients.

A notary public is a public officer of the state, authorized by law to certify documents, take affidavits, and administer oaths. Currently, notaries must live in Indiana, acquire a $5,000 bond and are limited to a $2 fee for services. To bring Indiana's notary laws in to the 21st century and in line with the rest of the nation, the Governor has just signed a new notary law that will take effect July 1, 2018.

"The ability to get documents notarized can have a significant impact on an individual's ability to do business," said Secretary of State Connie Lawson. "Many transactions such as purchasing a home or car require notarized documents. This new law will open up opportunities for additional notaries while ensuring integrity and oversight."

The new law will increase security for notaries and their clients by raising the bond requirement to $25,000. The average settlement against a notary is $18,000. By raising the bond, notaries will be able to cover expenses that may occur as a result of an improper notarization and clients will be able to recover for damages due to fraudulent acts. The Secretary of State's office, which issues notary commissions, will keep electronic copies of bonds. Currently, no proof of bonding is required. Notaries are simply required to say they have a bond or list a piece of property owned by someone other than the notary as collateral. These practices will be eliminated under the new law, with proof of bonding required.

Many notaries are required to travel to notarize documents. They are only allowed to charge $2 for their services even though on many occasions it costs the notary more than $2 in gas to get to their destination. The new law allows notaries to charge travel expenses at the federal mileage rate, plus up to $10 for notary services.

It is common practice for many businesses to have someone in the office commissioned as a notary. This has been a problem in border areas of the state. Many of these businesses employ individuals who live out of the state. These employees were automatically disqualified from being an Indiana notary due to their residence. To eliminate this inconvenience, Indiana will allow individuals primarily employed in the state of Indiana to become Indiana notaries.

To ensure all notaries understand their role and the upcoming changes, educational requirements will be introduced for all notaries. Currently, applicants must take a short test prior to receiving their commission, although unlimited guesses are allowed. Under the new law, the test will be expanded and notaries will be required to take an educational course every two years during their commission. This course will refresh a notary's knowledge of their responsibilities and help reduce the number of errors.

All notaries public commissioned under existing law will be grandfathered in for the duration of their current commission. For instance, if a notary has posted a freehold bond worth $5,000 and their commission does not expire until 2022, they will be allowed to keep their current bond until they renew their commission, at which point they will renew under the new bond requirements. No existing commissions will be revoked and notaries will not need to make adjustments until their existing commission expires.

About Notaries Public

A notary public is a public officer of the state, authorized by law to certify documents, take affidavits, and administer oaths. Notarization is important as an attestation that the signature or signatures on a document have been witnessed, and the parties identified by an impartial public official. Because transactions may be between virtual strangers, notarization serves to protect all parties by assuring their identities. Notaries are expected to be impartial, unbiased and without a financial interest in the agreements they notarize. A notary public is appointed for an eight year term, and their jurisdiction is statewide.

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