What it Means to be a Public Official

Notaries are public officials appointed by the governments of the 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia and the five U.S. territories to serve their citizens as trusted, impartial witnesses to document signings.

A Notary’s geographic authority to perform notarizations is strictly limited to the boundaries of the appointing state or jurisdiction and to the term of the commission, which may vary from 2 to 10 years. They must also uphold the law of the appointing state or jurisdiction. When performing official notarial acts, Notaries are serving the public service on behalf of their state. They cannot violate the law at anyone’s request — and that includes employers, clients, friends or family members.

Notaries must also be impartial, which means they must never refuse to serve, or to discriminate in their quality of service, based of an individual’s race, nationality, religion, politics, sexual orientation or status as a non-customer. As representatives of the state, Notaries must perform their official duties with respect and seriousness for the public service role they play as a trusted, impartial witness.

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