Well, the answer is a) there is no minimum time period.
If you want to become a notary in California, you only need to be a legal California resident. As long as on your notary application you list a social security number and you list a residence address for California, you're assumed to be a legal California resident.
So you might have moved here from Utah or from any other state or frankly, any other country. When you get ready to take your notary exam, you're going to have to present the notary application filled out and signed, and you're going to have to present your ID. They will accept a driver's license from any state, and they'll accept a passport from any country as long as they're valid. By the way just a quick point, if the driver's license is not valid because it's expired, but if it was issued less than five years ago, they will still accept it.
All right. Well, let's get ready to go to question number two. And question number two is going to ask about the term of a notary public commission in California.
Well, it is actually c) July 31st, 2023.
Now if you didn't get that one it's because it's not really that intuitive. If you think about it, when we celebrate, for example, anniversaries or birthdays, we usually celebrate on the same day every year, but the commission term is good for four years.
So if that commission term were indeed valid all the way through the same day four years later, that would be one day too long. So in this case the notary commission term began September 19th of 2018 and it ends September 18th, 2022, exactly if you like, 11:59:59 PM of September 18th because at exactly 12:00 AM on September 19th of 2022 the brand new commission would begin, assuming that the notary did everything that they were required to do.
All right, well that's a great question and it helps you to navigate through that question and know what to look for if that one is on the exam. Let's get ready to look at question number 3.
The answer is, c) One year, but interestingly enough, this is a bit qualified and here's why.
A notary's commission lasts for four years, and if you want to recommission and avoid a lapse between commission, that is a gap between commission periods. Then you're going to want to start the renewal process a little bit early, before your current commission expires. The question here is how soon before your current commission expires would you want to start that process?
Interestingly enough, you'll notice that when you receive your proof of completion for the notary seminar or the home study course that you take, that the Secretary of State accepts that proof of completion for up to two years. While that's great, except that they will not accept the exam results for more than one year. The point is, I don't think that it makes sense for a notary in most cases to take their class because you do have to take a notary course every four years, two years in advance, and then come back a year later to take the notary exam.
In reality, in practical purposes, since the Secretary of State will only accept the notary exam results up to one year, then you probably would not want to start the process more than a year early. That's really the best answer of all of them here, because even though you can take your class two years in advance, you still can't submit your application until one year in advance at the very most.
All right, well question number four that's coming up, is going to talk about what the effective date of a notary commission is. Once you get your letter of commission, that will say “Congratulations, you're a notary,” but your commission is not yet in effect and you cannot notarize anything at all quite just yet. We'll go to question number four on the next question.
The answer is, d)Once the oath and bond have been recorded with the county clerk in the notary's county of business .
You're not allowed to notarize until this oath and bond have been filed and recorded. So the effective date of your commission is not the commencement date as stated on your letter of commission, but the day the oath and bond have been filed and recorded.
All right. Well the next question, question number five, is going to ask us to make a determination as to when the 30 calendar days are up, considering the Secretary of State has some guidelines that aren't necessarily obvious.
The answer is, b) March 31st.
The Secretary of State does not count the first day when calculating our time for performance. So when they say that we have 30 days to file and record the oath and bond, or 30 calendar days to do whatever, but let's stay with filing and recording the oath and bond. And if your term commences on March the 1st, as noted on your letter of commission, you'll want to know when the 30 days are up.
If the term commences on March the 1st, is the 30 days up on March the 30th or 31st? Well, of course we know the answer is the 31st, but let's figure out why.
If we look at a calendar, let's say for March 2019, where the 1st is on a Friday, since they don't count the 1st, we will just ignore the 1st and start the first day, on Saturday the 2nd. If you label all the days one through 30, you'll discover that we end up on 30 on a Sunday, March the 31st. It's due on March the 31st, however, an interesting note, if the day for performance falls on a weekend or a holiday, then the new date is actually on Monday, or the next non-holiday. If, for example, the 30 days is up on a Sunday, it wouldn't be due until Monday.
If it's due on a holiday, let's say the 26th of the month is a holiday, and it's on a Thursday, well, it wouldn't be due until Friday. The important thing to note here, is that when calculating the 30 calendar days, don't count the first day.Start with the day after.
We're going to move onto question number six. This question about the notary bond is, What is required of the surety company that is selling the bond?
The answer is, b)the surety bond must be purchase from a surety company admitted to do business in the state of California.
What is interesting about this question is that this is not a question that we would think that we would need to know, but since it's included in the Secretary of State guidelines, we need to include it here just in case it comes up on the exam.I put a copy of my bond that I purchased most recently. My surety company is Travelers Casualty and Surety Company. They're located in Hartford, Connecticut. You can see I paid $38 for all four years. Remember, this bond is in the amount of $15,000, and exactly $15,000. The point, though, is that while it's located in Hartford, Connecticut, they've been admitted to do business in the state of California.
The interesting part about this question is that we could probably guess that they needed to be admitted to do business in the state of California, but do they need to be admitted to do business in the county? And that answer is no, they do not. Since they're admitted to do business in the state of California, they're admitted to do business anywhere within the state of California.
All right, we're going to move on to question number seven after this, and question number seven is going to ask, what happens if somebody brings a client a copy of a passport and asks the notary to notarize it? What do we do with that request?
The answer is, b) The notary not notarize the copy of the passport.
Notaries in california do not notarize documents, we notarize signatures on documents. And so, if someone presents us a document, and it doesn't have a place for them to sign, then we do not have anything here to notarize. If someone brings you a passport photograph, which is going to be attached to an application, let's say it's an academic application. Sometimes, there are instructions on the academic application that instruct the notary: put a partial image of the notary seal on the passport, and be sure that it covers the passport photograph, once you verified that the image in the passport photograph, represents the person in front of you. We do not notarize photographs. We're not allowed to do that.
The only place that we're ever allowed to put a notary seal on a document, is next to our signature, and the only thing that we sign is the notarial certificate language that states that we followed whatever protocol was required.
If that last part didn't make a lot of sense to you, you're going to want to continue on, because that's something that's really important, with a notary being required to follow a proper protocol. But we'll talk more about that, and we'll have more questions related to that very specific information.
All right. The next question is going to ask us to make a decision as to whether or not we can notarize a permission for a minor to travel form, for a registered domestic partner. We'll see you on question number eight.
The answer is, c), The notary can perform this notary act. Let's talk about why.
In the state of California, notaries notarize signatures not documents, but interestingly enough, a notary can notarize anyone's signature except for themselves.
You can't notarize your own signature, obviously, and one other qualification, you can not have beneficial or financial interest in the document. So, if the document presented to you has direct beneficial or financial interest to you, then you can't notarize it.
So, the real issue is, 'really, we can notarize for anyone, including spouses, relatives? We can notarize for a registered domestic partner, for example, like with this question?'
Well, the answer is yes, as long as you don't have beneficial or financial interest, but look, let's keep in mind we live in a community property state here in California, and you're going to want to be extremely careful with documents related to finances or real estate in particular.
But, this document was a permission for a minor to travel. The notary does not have a beneficial or financial interest in this, and so there would be no reason why a notary would have to turn this one down.
All right, our next question, question number nine, is going to talk about what happens if somebody brings you a document that's in a foreign language and you can't read it. What do we do with that? See you on question number nine.
The answer is, b) The notary must ask the signer for identification and ask the signer to sign if it's not already been signed, then the notary can proceed.
Here's why, a notary does not need to be able to understand the contents of the document in order to notarize.
You might remember from previous question that we notarize signatures, we do not notarize documents. When we notarize, we're not certifying anything about the contents of the document, we're only certifying that we've identified the signer. So, when we put a notary seal on a document, the notary seal reflects that we've properly identified the signer and that we followed all the proper procedures regarding that notary process, and that we recorded the event in the journal. But our notary seal never certifies anything about the document.
We can notarize signatures on documents from anywhere in the world and in any language. Just ask the signer to describe the document so the information can be put into the journal, and continue on. By the way, we always have to follow California notary laws, and sometimes a document's instructions will ask us to do something that's illegal. We can't comply with that request, but more on that later.
All right, well, let's move on to question number 10. Question number 10 is, where we're going to get into what kinds of notary acts a notary usually performs.
The answer is, a) The answer is an acknowledgment.
Notaries in California have two common notary duties: one is called taking an acknowledgement and the other is administering a jurat.
What an acknowledgement means is that the signer must acknowledge to the notary that they've signed the document. Take a look, for example, at this Grant Deed. This Grant Deed has the signatures already and right below the signatures, the notary has filled out what we call an acknowledgement.
We'll take a look at how to complete an acknowledgement a little bit later on. But the point here is that an acknowledgement means that the notary has required the signer to acknowledge to the notary that they've signed the document.
All right. Question number 11 is going to be a question specifically related to this particular discussion. That's going to lay out a very realistic scenario when someone has already signed a document before bringing it to the notary.