There are many situations in which you might need the services of a notary public. If you are selling your car, the Certificate of Title must be notarized. If you are getting a mortgage, or refinancing, you'll need a notary public when executing those documents. Living trusts, powers of attorney--at one time or another, you'll probably need to find a notary public.
What is a notary public?
As defined by Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS § 41-312E), an Arizona notary public is a public officer commissioned by the Secretary of State to perform notarial acts.
A notary is an impartial witness who verifies identities of signers of documents.
Every state has notaries, but the requirements and terms may differ from state to state. In Arizona, a notary public must:
- Be at least eighteen years of age.
- Be a citizen or a legal permanent resident of the United States.
- Be a resident of this state for income tax purposes and claim the individual's residence in this state as the individual's primary residence on state and federal tax returns.
- Never have been convicted of a felony.
- Maintain a manual that is approved by the secretary of state and that describes the duties, authority and ethical responsibilities of notaries public.
- Be able to read and write English.
In order to become an Arizona notary public, one must apply, pay a fee and secure a bond for liability purposes. There are supplies that must be purchased in order to perform the tasks. Once accepted, the term for an Arizona notary is four years.
Where Can I find a Notary Public in Arizona?
The Secretary of State maintains a database of all commissioned notaries. You can search for a notary public in Arizona online. If you don't have someone in mind, enter a zip code to find one near you.
Does a Notary Public Charge a Fee?
A notary public is entitled to charge a fee for the service, and you can assume that he or she will if the notary is not employed by a business that is a party to the transaction.
You may also find a notary public at mail and postal businesses, like PostNet or UPS. They will charge a fee for notary services. Your bank or credit union has notaries on staff, and there may be a fee. Make sure to ask if the fee can be waived if you have a good account relationship.
Where Can I Get Something Notarized for Free?
Many documents that need to be notarized are related to transactions through a business with which you are dealing. For example, when purchasing a home, you'll be dealing with a title company that will require that real estate documents be notarized. Many legal documents generated by your attorney are required to be notarized. Those types of businesses typically have one or two employees who are notaries, and you can utilize those services as part of your transaction without an additional charge.
Tip #1: Call first to make sure the notary public is available. Even at a law firm or a title company, there may be only one or two people that are notaries, and you'll want to make sure they will be there when you need them. Same for postal/mail businesses, and banks. A bank may require you to be a customer to provide notary services.
Tip #2: If the notary you've chosen is an individual not employed by a company that you are conducting business with, you'll have to find one.
You might notice that at the Secretary of State website there are no phone numbers. Try the phone book. You might want to look up that notary at the Better Business Bureau first to make sure that there are no outstanding complaints. Actually, this might be a good place to start your notary search! The BBB does not charge you to access their information.