[ Download the Missouri Notary Handbook ]
To qualify for a notary commission as a Missouri resident, an applicant
must meet certain legal qualifications:
A non-resident of Missouri may apply for a commission as a notary public. A non-resident must also meet certain legal requirements in order to qualify:
As either a resident or non-resident applicant, the applicant must also
indicate on their application whether or not they have ever been convicted
of or pled guilty or nolo contendere to any felony, or to any misdemeanor
incompatible with the duties of a notary public, and if so, shall attach a list of such convictions or pleas of guilt or nolo contendere.
Any person is eligible to apply for a commission as a notary public if they are a permanent resident alien under Section 245 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. If the applicant qualifies under Section 245, they must send a copy of their “green card” with a completed application to our office.
If the notary is presently commissioned as a non-resident notary public and they move into Missouri, the notary may immediately be appointed and commissioned as a notary upon becoming a resident. The notary will need to return their nonresident notary certificate with a request to cancel that commission, along with a completed reapplication as a resident and the $25 fee for issuing another commission.
An application for a commission as a notary public can be downloaded from our website at www.sos.mo.gov/business/commissions. Additional applications may be obtained by calling (866) 223-6535 (toll free) or (573) 751-2783, or by writing: Secretary of State, Commissions, PO Box 784, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0784.
Applications may also be obtained from the secretary of state branch offices located at: 815 Olive St., Suite 210, St. Louis, MO 63101; 615 E. 13th St., Ste. 513, Kansas City, MO 64106; and 149 Park Central, Rm. 624, Springfield, MO 65806.
The application and re-application forms prescribed by the secretary of state must be used.
As provided by law, a $25 fee must be paid to receive a notary commission. See Sections 28.160.3 and 486.225.3, RSMo. All checks should be made payable to the State Director of Revenue.
Prior to submitting an application to the secretary of state, each new applicant or reapplication for appointment shall read the Missouri notary public handbook and complete a computer-based training or other notary training in a manner prescribed by the secretary of state. Each new applicant or reapplication shall attest to reading such handbook and receiving such training at the time of submitting the application for appointment and commission as a notary public.
Instructions for completing the application are provided with the application.
The application MUST be typed. All information requested on the
form must be completed before the application will be approved. If we have
to return the application to verify information, or to request that blank spaces be completed on the form, there will be a delay in issuing the commission. Any changes or information which is completed after the original receipt of the application by our office must be initialed. Applications which appear to have been tampered with are not accepted. The secretary of state may prohibit, for a period not less than 30 days and not more than one year, an applicant from reapplying for an appointment and commission
as a notary public following the rejection of such applicant’s application by the secretary of state.
The information requested on the application determines whether the applicant is qualified to receive a commission as a notary public. All information requested must be completed.
At the top of the application, the applicant must fill in their exact name as they want it to appear on their commission. Complete the oath at the bottom of the application and sign the application with the exact complete name as is indicated at the top of the application. This determines the applicant’s exact official name as a notary public as well as their official signature. Initials may be used for first and middle names. A notary is required by law to use their exact official name and signature for all notarizations.
The applicant must request that our office issue their notary public commission for the county in which they reside. Please indicate this information on the application in the space labeled “County of Residence.” If the applicant resides in St. Louis City, they must indicate “St. Louis City” in this space. A notary may use their notary commission in any county in Missouri or St. Louis City.
Non-resident applicants applying for a Missouri notary public commission must indicate the name of their employer and the Missouri county or St. Louis City where the employer is located and where the applicant reports for work.
A commission as a notary public for the State of Missouri is valid only in Missouri.
After our staff has approved the application, the applicant’s commission will be issued and mailed to the appropriate office in the county where they reside. We are required by law to forward all completed commissions to the appropriate county office.
The same day the commission is issued, we will mail a letter to the applicant advising that their commission has been issued and mailed to the appropriate county authority. The letter contains the address where the applicant is to be sworn in, their commission number and the dates the commission begins and expires.
The law allows up to ninety days from the date the commission is issued for the applicant to qualify. Failure to qualify within 90 days will result in the commission being cancelled. To meet the qualifications provided by law, the applicant must appear in person and present a $10,000 surety bond to insure their four-year term as a notary public. The clerk or deputy will administer the oath of office, after which the applicant must submit a handwritten specimen of their official signature on the oath of office. This signature MUST match the exact name typed on their commission certificate. The clerk will staple the bond to the oath of office and official signature filing and mail them to our office. The clerk or deputy will then present the notary with their commission certificate.
The commission certificate will contain the notary’s exact official name as a notary public, the commission number, the commission beginning and expiration dates and the date the commission was issued by our office. The notary should keep the commission in a safe place throughout their term as a notary public.
The secretary of state may prohibit, for a period not less than 30 days and not more than one year, such person from reapplying for an appointment and commission as a notary public following the failure to appear and qualify within 90 days after the commission is issued.
All commissions as a notary public are issued for a four-year term of office. This term is set by law.
The $10,000 notary bond may be purchased from a personal insurance agent, a bank or from a bonding company. The notary bond is separate from any other bond coverage the notary might presently have and is required in addition to other bond coverage. The bond should be executed by the insurance company within 90 days after the application is submitted to our office. The bond must be written for a term of four years, covering the same dates as the term of office.
An errors and omissions policy does not replace a bond. An errors and omissions policy is not required by law, but may be purchased as it protects the notary public and pays for any charges the notary might owe for legal fees and costs should the notary be sued.
Missouri law requires every notary to use either an engraved embosser seal or a black inked rubber stamp seal on every notary certificate. The print on the embosser or stamp must be in type not smaller than eightpoint type. The print on the engraved embosser seal should resemble the first example in the box below and must contain the same information. To be legally recognized, the engraved embosser seal or the black inked rubber stamp seal must contain:
The notary must also type, print or have a rubber stamp in print not smaller that eight-point type with certain information on every completed notary certificate: their exact name as it appears on their commission, “Notary Public,” “State of Missouri,” their expiration date and the county for which they are commissioned. The notary may use a black inked rubber stamp ONLY if the seal contains the information in #1, #2 and #3 above, as well as the county for which they are commissioned and the expiration date of that commission. Examples of notary seals accepted in the state of Missouri are shown in the box below. The Great Seal of the State of Missouri can not be used on the notary stamp.
The notary seal is the exclusive property of the notary and the seal may not be used by any other person or surrendered to an employer upon termination of employment.
The notary is required to keep a permanently bound journal of their notary acts. Each notary public shall keep a permanently bound journal of his or her notarial acts containing numbered pages, except those notarial acts connected with judicial proceedings, and those for whose public record is publicly filed within ninety days of execution. Each notary public shall record in such journal the following: the month, day and year of notarization; the type of notarization such as acknowledgment or jurat: the type of document; the name and address of the signer; the identification used by the signer; the notary fee; and the signature of the signer.
The journal can be purchased from a local office supply store or may be supplied to the notary by a notary company or association.
The notary journal is the exclusive property of the notary.
All commissions as a notary public are issued for a term of four years. There are no provisions in the law for renewals. If the notary wishes to again become commissioned as a notary public they will need to submit a notary re-application to our office no earlier than one month before their current expiration date. No person is automatically reappointed as a notary public. The notary is responsible for obtaining the $10,000 notary bond for their new term of office. The notary must follow all of the same procedures as though they have never held a notary commission before.
A notary public is allowed to charge fees for notarizing documents. Section 486.350, RSMo, allows a notary to charge two dollars for each signature on a document and the proper recording of the notarization in their journal. The maximum fee for any other notarial act is one dollar.
A notary may charge two dollars for each 8 1/2 x 11 inch page they certify as a facsimile of an original document. The certification of a facsimile must also be recorded in the notary journal. The notary must also retain a copy of each page in their notary file.
A notary public may charge a travel fee, not to exceed the approved federal mileage rate and may charge an expedited convenience fee not to exceed $25, when traveling to perform a notarial act, provided that:
(1) The notary explains to the person requesting the notarial act that the travel fee is separate from the notarial fee and is not specified or mandated by law; and
(2) The notary and the person requesting the notarial act agree upon his or her fees in advance of the notary affixing his or her official seal.
Notaries are not permitted to charge a fee for notarizing the signature on any absentee ballot or absentee voter registration card.
An application for a request for an amended commission can be obtained from our website at www.sos.mo.gov/business/commissions.
To change the exact name on a notary commission, the notary is required to send the following documents to our office:
If a notary changes their legal name during their term of office, an application for a name change must be made within 30 days of the name change.
The fee allowed by law for a name change is five dollars. Once we have received all of the necessary materials and processed the request for a name change, we will forward the amended commission directly to the notary at their residence address. We will notify the appropriate county clerk of the name change. The notary must also have a new stamp and/or embosser made for their seal with their new exact name as commissioned.
To change their county of residence, a notary is required to send the following documents to our office:
If the notary changes their county of residence, they are required by law to apply for an amended commission for their new county of residence within 30 days of the county change. The notary must be a registered voter in their new county before submitting the application. When we have received the proper documents and processed the request for an amended commission, we will forward the notary’s amended commission certificate to their new residence address and notify the county clerk’s office in the new county of residence. The notary will need to check with the entity that issued their bond as to whether they will need a rider. If a rider is needed, a copy of that rider must be sent to our office. Such rider must indicate the name of the new county of residence. If the notary is using a rubber stamp, this must be changed to reflect the new county of residence.
If a notary moves, and their street address changes while they are commissioned as a notary public, the notary is required to file within 30 days an address change with the Secretary of State. Please complete the Notary Change of Address in Same County amendment form and send it to Commissions. You may obtain this form on our website at www.sos.mo.gov/business/commissions.
During a non-resident notary’s commission, if there is a change of employer in the same county or the employer is in a different county, the notary is required to file within 30 days an employer change and county change if applicable with the secretary of state. Please complete the Change Employer County amendment form or the Change of Employer Resident Notaries Non-Resident Notaries amendment form and send it to Commissions. You may obtain the applicable form from our website at www.sos.mo.gov/business/commissions.
If the notary’s seal has been stolen, the notary shall immediately notify the secretary of state in writing to report the theft. Upon receipt of the written documentation, the secretary of state shall issue the notary a new commission number for the notary to order a new seal. The secretary of state may post notice on the Secretary of State’s Website notifying the general public that the notary seal of such notary with the stolen commission number is invalid and is not an acceptable notary commission number.
If the notary journal is lost or stolen, the notary is required by law to send a letter to the secretary of state. The letter will be placed in the notary file, advising us of the date the journal was lost or stolen. The notary can then purchase a new journal. The notary does not need to apply for a new commission. The date the seal or journal was lost or stolen should be noted in the notary records. The notary may also want to contact their local police department and see if they require a police report to be filed for stolen goods.
If a notary wishes to resign their commission, submit a letter of resignation along with their commission certificate to the Office of Secretary of State. The notary is not required to state a reason for resigning.
The law contains several sections relating to civil damages and providing for criminal punishment. You may refer to the notary statutes for more information. The notary statutes are located on our website at www.sos.mo.gov/business/commissions. The law defines official misconduct, provides for civil damages to persons injured through a notary’s misconduct, establishes employer’s liability for such damages and also provides such violations are punishable as misdemeanors by fines and imprisonment. Further, official misconduct may result in revocation of the notary’s commission by the Office of Secretary of State.
The law governing notaries public is provided on the Secretary of State Website at www.sos.mo.gov/business/commissions. If there is any conflict between the text on the website and the applicable statutes, the statutes will govern.
According to Missouri law, persons convicted of a felony may not be able to become a notary public as such persons may be disqualified from registering to vote.
On October 27, 1983, the attorney general issued Opinion No. 114-83, which states “An executing witness, as provided for in Section 486.340, RSMo, is neither a notary public nor an officer authorized by law to administer oaths within the scope of Section 115.291.1, RSMo.” Therefore, the affidavit of a person voting an absentee ballot may not be subscribed and sworn to before an executing witness.
Each county or city official will charge fees for recording each notary commission and administering the oath of office. These fees are allowed by law. If you have questions regarding such fees, contact the applicable county or city official in county of residence. For St. Louis City residents contact the circuit clerk of St. Louis City.
Certified court reporters and certified shorthand reporters may administer oaths and affirmations as provided in Section 492.010, RSMo. If you have any questions concerning authority to administer oaths and affirmations, please contact the professional certified court reporters association for further information.
A notary cannot notarize his or her own signature. A notary is to be an impartial witness.
A Missouri notary may notarize documents that originate in other states as long as the document is being notarized in Missouri.
Missouri notaries can only notarize documents in Missouri.
Missouri law does not forbid notaries from notarizing the signatures of relatives. However, if the notarized document was ever the subject of a court suit, a judge might determine the notary was not an impartial witness to the signing of the document. The Office of Secretary of State suggests that a notary not notarize documents for a spouse, parent, grandparent, brother, sister, niece, nephew, aunt, uncle, child or grandchild.
A notary does not have the authority to prepare legal documents. All documents presented to a notary for notarization should have the correct form of notary certificate on them. A notary’s duty is to perform the notarial act and complete the notarial certificate.
The best form of identification is one that includes a photograph and signature. A valid driver’s license is a good source of identification. The person can also be personally known to the notary or can be identified by an individual personally known to the notary.
If the notary certificate states “Subscribed and sworn to/affirmed before me”, etc., then the document must be signed by the signer in the presence of the notary. An oath or affirmation must be administered to the person whose signature the notary is notarizing. If the document is already signed when it is presented for notarization, the notary should ask the person to re-sign the document again in their presence.
An acknowledgment need not be signed in the notary’s presence. However, the person who signed the acknowledgment must appear before the notary and acknowledge he or she is the signor and that he or she signed the original document.
The notary law allows a notary public to certify a copy of an original document. Chapter 486.345(3), RSMo, contains the proper wording to use for this type of certification. DO NOT CERTIFY ANY COPIES OF DOCUMENTS WHICH STATE ON THE FACE OF THE DOCUMENT THEY CANNOT BE REPRODUCED. Birth certificates, death certificates, marriage licenses, divorce decrees and school documents (diplomas, transcripts) cannot be certified. Certified copies of these documents should be obtained from the issuing agency. The notary is required by law to keep a copy of any document they certify.
The secretary of state issues Certificates of Authority for notaries. They may be obtained by submitting the original document requiring the certificate with a written request for the certificate to the Office of Secretary of State. The fee for each certificate is $10 and should accompany the request. Certificates of Authority for a notary public may be obtained at any of the Secretary of State Offices in Jefferson City, Kansas City, St. Louis or Springfield.
A proper notarization must contain: