Delaware Secretary of State
Delaware Notary Information
(Information from Delaware Secretary of State Website)
Please note: Delaware law provides for the commissioning of Delaware electronic notaries. The State of Delaware is not issuing electronic notary commissions at this time. The questions and answers below pertain to traditional paper notaries only.
Q. What are the requirements and steps to become a notary?
A. There are different types of Notaries Public with different requirements. Please click the “Individual Applicant” link on the left navigation menu for more information. Effective October 11, 2010, all notary applications and renewals must be submitted using the online system.
Q. Why did Delaware transition to an online application system?
A. The new online system was designed to provide faster, more efficient service to notaries and notary applicants. The process of applying, approving and issuing the commission will be more efficient and the online system will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, except for maintenance down-times. Commission certificates will be electronically signed and issued via email, thereby eliminating the cumbersome signature process and mailing time. Once an application is approved, the commission certificate will literally be issued within minutes.
Q. Why do I need an email address?
A. An email address is required because all communications and correspondence, including the commission certificate and renewal notices will be sent electronically by email.
Q. How do I get an email address if I don’t have one?
A. You can create a free email account at www.hotmail.com, www.yahoo.com or www.google.com. (Note: These companies are not affiliated with the State of Delaware.)
Q. Why do I need a notary profile?
A. The notary profile has been designed into the new system to allow the notary to track application status, manage information and renew commissions. For example, if a notary moves or changes employers, the notary will be able to log into the profile and make the change. In addition, notaries will be able to easily renew commissions by logging into their profiles. Instead of submitting an entirely new application, the current information will be displayed and the notary will simply review and update current information as needed, then submit and pay for the renewal online. Notaries and applicants will also be able to track the status of the applications
Q. How do I change my email address?
A. The email address is one field you cannot update within the notary profile. You will need to contact the Notary Public Section at 302-739-4111 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org to update your email address. For security purposes, you will be asked to provide the following identifying information: name as it appears on your commission, date of birth and notary profile user id. Note: We will not request your profile password.
Q. Can a non-resident become a Delaware Notary?
A. Yes. Title 29 §4301(c) states that nonresidents may be appointed “…provided that such individuals maintain an office or regular place of employment in Delaware.”
Q. What types of payments do you accept?
A. . Electronic checks (ACH) from personal or business checking accounts, and Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express credit cards are accepted for payment. You will be required to make payment during the online application process. Additionally, organizations which anticipate a high volume of notary applications or renewals may establish a pre-funded depository account for the payment of application fees. For information on establishing a depository account, please send an inquiry to email@example.com.
Q. Will my application fees be refunded if my application is rejected?
A. No. Application fees are non-refundable pursuant to Title 29 §4307(a).
Q. Are Delaware notaries required to be bonded?
Q. Is training required to become a Notary Public?
A. No. Training is currently not required to become a notary. Our web site contains a link to the Delaware law as well as answers to frequently asked questions. The Delaware Notary Handbook is available directly from the American Society of Notaries, whose contact information is available on the Notary Organizations link on our web site. If you wish to receive training you may want to contact one of the listed organizations.
Q. I just received my commission certificate. What do I do next?
A. You must sign and take the Oath of Office before a notary public and return a copy to the Notary Public Section. Please follow the instructions in the email which contained your commission certificate.
Q. My name has changed. What are my options?
A. You may choose to sign both names (e.g. Jane A. Doe now known as Jane A. Smith) until your commission expires or you may log into your profile and change your name. The Notary Public Section will receive notification of the change and will email a name change certificate so that you may obtain a new stamp. There is no charge for this service.
Q. I have misplaced my commission. How do I obtain a replacement?
A. Since commission certificates are sent electronically by email, it is recommended you print the commission certificate but also save the electronic file in case you misplace the hard copy. If you did not save the file, you may send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to request a replacement. An email with the commission certificate will be sent at no charge.
Q. How do I report a change of address?
A. You can log into your notary profile and update the information. If there is a problem with the information you submit, the Notary Public Section will contact you.
Q. How do I renew my commission?
A. You will log into your profile and click the “Renew Commission” link. Your current information will be displayed. Please review and update the information as required, then submit and pay for the renewal.
Q. How will I know when it is time to renew my commission?
A. Please check your notary seal. Delaware law requires the commission expiration date to be contained in the seal. If you have created a notary profile you will also receive an email notification around the middle of the month prior to the month in which your commission expires. Renewal notices are no longer sent out by mail.
Q. Am I required to turn over my notary stamp and commission to my employer if I leave my job?
A. No. Even if your employer pays for the commission and stamp, the notary public is commissioned by the Governor to serve the public until the commission expires, the Notary resigns, or the commission is revoked. When you leave employment, your stamp/seal, commission and journal/record book (if applicable) leave with you.
Q. If I leave employment, do I have to resign my commission if my employer asks me to?
A. No. As stated above, the commission belongs to the Notary Public. Note: This answer does not apply to notaries appointed under the Limited Governmental or Service Organization categories.
Q. My employer paid for my notary commission and I am being told I cannot perform notarizations outside my workplace after hours. Is this true?
A . No. You may perform notarizations outside of your workplace after work hours and collect fees associated with such notarizations. Your employer has the right to collect any fees associated with notarizations performed as part of your employment. Note: This answer does not apply to notaries appointed under the Limited Governmental or Service Organization categories.
Q. What if my boss insists that I notarize a document when the person has not signed or acknowledged his or her signature in my presence?
A. Explain to your boss that Delaware law requires that the signer appear before you personally before you can notarize the document. Failure to follow this procedure could result in liability for you and your employer as well as the revocation of your commission.
Q. Does Delaware require a record book or journal?
A. No, it is not required by law but is highly recommended that a notary keep one for his or her own records.
Q. Does the State of Delaware provide my notary stamp/seal?
A. No. You may order your stamp or seal from any office supply store, stamp supplier, or notary organization. Please visit the “Notary Organizations” link on our web site for a list of notary organizations.
Q. What are the requirements for the Notary Seal?
A. It must be either a metal embossing seal or a black-inked rubber stamp, must contain the notary’s name exactly as it appears on the commission, and must contain the words “My Commission expires on” and the commission expiration date, and the words “Notary Public” and “State of Delaware”. For Limited Governmental Notaries, the expiration date statement is replaced with “My Commission expires upon office.”
Q. Is it necessary for a signer to appear before the notary?
A. Yes. The personal appearance of the signer is required by law.
Q. What are the acceptable ways to identify the signer?
A. Personal knowledge and satisfactory evidence of identity. Delaware law defines “satisfactory evidence of identity” as identification of an individual based on:
Examination of 1 or more of the following documents bearing a photographic image of the individual’s face and signature: a United States Passport, a certificate of United States citizenship, a certificate of naturalization, an unexpired foreign passport, an alien registration card with photograph, a state-issued driver’s license or a state-issued identification card or a United States military card; or
The oath or affirmation of 1 credible witness unaffected by the document or transaction who is personally known to the notary and who personally knows the individual or of 2 credible witnesses unaffected by the document or transaction who each personally knows the individual and shows to the notary documentary identification as described in paragraph (a) above.
Q. Should I notarize a document that contains blanks?
A. No. If blanks remain in a document after notarization takes place, the possibility exists that the document can be altered. A notary should do everything possible to ensure the integrity of the document being notarized. Therefore, if you are presented a document that contains blanks, please indicate these to the signer. The signer must fill in the blanks with information or if the blank does not apply, the signer should write in “N/A” or “not applicable.” The notarization cannot proceed until all blanks are filled in.
Q. May I notarize documents outside the State of Delaware ?
A. No. You may only perform notarizations within the boundaries of the State of Delaware .
Q. Must I sign my name exactly as it appears on my commission?
Q. How much can I charge for notarization?
A. $5.00 is the maximum a notary may charge per notarization. A notary may choose to waive the fee . Title 29, §4312 of the Delaware Code also provides special fee provisions for certain services to members of the armed forces and to veterans.
Q. I have been presented a document without any notarial wording. Should I decide what type of notarial certificate belongs on the document?
A. No. Unless you are an attorney, you cannot give legal advice. The signer will need to provide that information. The signer may need to check with an attorney, or the issuing or receiving agencies of the document to see what is required.
Q. Must a notary determine the competence of the person signing the document?
A. Although this is not specifically addressed in the law, many experts recommend that the notary make a limited inquiry into the person’s ability to understand the contents of the document that the person is signing. The notary can make a quick assessment by asking the person if he or she understands the document. As a best practice, a notary should refuse to notarize the signature of a person who appears unable to understand the document or who appears to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Q. Can I notarize a document for a relative?
A. This is not addressed in Delaware law; however, since a notary public by definition is an impartial witness the best practice would be not to notarize the signature of a relative. In addition, if the document to be notarized contains any financial gain or beneficial interest to the notary, the notary should decline to notarize since he or she would not be an impartial witness.
Q. I have been presented with a document that I do not feel comfortable notarizing. Can I refuse to perform the notarization?
Q. Can I notarize a copy of a birth certificate?
A. No. Pursuant to Title 29 §4322(d) of the Delaware Code, “Notaries public . shall not attest to copies of official or public records, only of documents that cannot be certified by a public official.”
Q. Can I notarize a document in a foreign language?
A. Delaware law does not prohibit notarizing documents in a foreign language. Caution is recommended since a notary must be able to properly perform the notarial act and must be able to determine if they are permitted by law to notarize that type of document. Please note: Any document that is in a foreign language and will be submitted to the Delaware Secretary of State, Division of Corporations for an Apostille or authentication must have the English translation attached to it. The English version must also be notarized.
Q. What is required in the certificate for a notarial act?
A. The requirements are specified in Title 29 §4327 and §4328 of the Delaware Code.
Q. How do I obtain an apostille or authentication for use in a foreign country?
A. Apostilles and authentications are handled by the Delaware Division of Corporations. For more information please visit their website at www.corp.delaware.gov or call 302-739-3073.