A National Document Signing Service Company

North Carolina Secretary of State

The Notary Public SectionNorth Carolina Department of the Secretary of StateP.O. Box 29626 Raleigh, NC 27626-0626
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  • 919.807.2219

North Carolina Notary Information

(Information from the North Carolina Secretary of State website)


1.         I just found an old or expired notary public seal.  What should I do with it?

You need to return it to us.  You can do that by:

Certified Mail sent to:

NC Department of the Secretary of State

Attn:  Notary Public Section

PO Box 29626

Raleigh, NC 27626-0626

Hand delivery or by delivery service to:

NC Department of the Secretary of State

Attn:  Notary Public Section

2 South Salisbury Street

Raleigh, NC 27601-2903


We will take care of properly disposing of the seal.


2.         What is the penalty for keeping a notary seal once I am no longer commissioned?

The notary law has at least one provision that could lead to criminal charges for failing to turn in a notary seal once you are no longer commissioned. NCGS 10B-60(f)  says that “[a]ny person who without authority . . . conceals , , , the seal , , , is guilty of a Class I felony”.


3.         Is a notary allowed to certify a true copy of a document?


No, a notary can’t certify a document as a true copy.


4.         If a notary resides in one county, can he or she notarize a document in another county?


Yes. A North Carolina notary public may notarize documents in any North Carolina county.


5.         What happens if a notary violates the law?


We will investigate.  The notary will have a chance to present his or her side.  If we find that the notary violated the law, we can:

*  Send the notary back to class

*  Warn the notary

*  Restrict the notary’s commission

*  Suspend the notary’s commission

*  Revoke the notary’s commission

*  Prosecute the notary for a misdemeanor or felony.


6.         What are the crimes a notary can be charged with?


Under the Notary Act, notaries can be charged with both misdemeanors and felonies.  Click here to see the violations that are crimes.  Some crimes committed by notaries may also violate other laws.


7.         May a notary public notarize a document that is in a foreign language?


Yes, but the notarial certificate must be in English.


8.         How can I find out how to authenticate a notarized document so I can use it outside the U.S.?


You can contact the Authentications Unit in the Corporations Division by:

Calling: 919-807-2140
Checking the website:  Click here
Emailing your question to: authen@sosnc.com




9.         How long will it take for my notary application to be processed?


We may take up to 2 weeks to process your application if it is complete and correct.  It may take longer if it is not complete or if it is incorrect.


10.      My commission is about to expire.  How far in advance can I apply for reappointment?


You can’t apply for reappointment earlier than 10 weeks before your commission expires.


11.      My commission is about to expire.  Will I have to take a test to get reappointed?


Yes, you will have to take and pass a test before you can be reappointed.


12.      What’s a passing score on the reappointment test?


You have to get at least 80% of the questions right to pass the reappointment exam.


13.      Is there anyone who can get reappointed without taking the test?


Yes, there are 2 groups of people who don’t have to take the test to get reappointed.  You don’t have to take the reappointment test if you:

1.  Are a licensed member of the North Carolina State Bar or

2.  Are a notary who’s had a North Carolina commission since July 10, 1991, and it has never lapsed and you have never been disciplined by us.


14.      Where can I take the test so I can get reappointed?


You can take the test online at our web site at www.sosnc.com.


15.      How many times can I take the exam if I don’t pass the first time?


You can take the exam 3 times in 30 days.


16.      What happens if I fail three exams within 30 days?


You will have to take the Notary Public course over again.



17.      Where can I buy the current Notary Public Guidebook for North Carolina?


You can:

•           Order it online at www.sog.unc.edu

•           E-mail sales@sog.unc.edu

•           Write to:   School of Government, UNC Chapel Hill, CB #3330, Knapp-Sanders Building, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3330;

•           Call 919-966-4119; or

•           Contact a bookstore in your area or at a local community college.


18.      Do I need to do anything about my commission if I have changed my name?


Yes, you need to:

1.  Submit a signed notice of change form to us within 45 days of the change.

2.  Take the oath of office at the Register of Deeds office in your commission county within 45 days after you get the oath notification letter from us.

3.  Get a new seal.

4.  Return your old seal to us by certified mail, return receipt requested.


19.      What happens if I don’t follow the steps for a name change?


If you don’t follow the name change steps, we can discipline you.


20.      I want to resign my commission.  What do I need to do?


You must submit a signed letter to us including a date of resignation. Within 45 days of resigning, you have to send your seal or stamp to us by certified mail, return receipt requested.  You can also hand deliver it to us.  We will dispose of your stamp or seal.


21.      Can I notarize a document if it doesn’t have notarial wording?


No, you can’t notarize a document without notarial wording.


22.      Can I decide what kind of notarial act or certificate to use if the person didn’t provide one? 


If you are not a licensed attorney, you can’t decide what kind of notarial act or certificate to use if the person didn’t provide one. If you are a licensed attorney, you can decide what kind of notarial act or certificate to use if the person didn’t provide one.


23.      Someone brought me a document to notarize and it doesn’t have notarial wording.  If the person tells me what kind of notarial act they want done, can I offer them a selection of certificates to pick from?


Yes, you can offer a selection of certificates.


24.      I am notarizing a vehicle title.  Who can I contact for help if I have questions?


You can call DMV at 919-715-7000.  Or, you can go to the DMV Web site at www.ncdot.org/DMV.


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