Not a Notary Public

Civil-Law Notary vs. Notary Publicnotary-public-seal

A Florida Civil-Law Notary is not a Notary Public.  A Notary Public is a public officer who notarizes Deeds, Affidavits and other legal documents.  Sometimes called a Common Law Notary, a Notary Public provides nothing more than verification as to the identity of the person executing a document.  A Notary Public has no legal training and offers no advice or counsel.

A Florida Civil-Law Notary is an Attorney, who has graduated from an accredited law school, passed the state bar examination, and practiced law for at least five (5) years.  A qualified candidate must then complete additional training in Notarial Law, Practice and Custom, and pass an examination administered by the Florida Department of State, to receive their appointment as a Florida Civil-Law Notary.

Public Confusion and Deception

Because a Notary in Florida is nothing like a Notary in Spanish-speaking countries, there is great potential for fraud and abuse.  Many Florida residents, who speak Spanish as their native tongue, can easily be misled into believing that a Notary Public can perform legal services.  They can’t.  Unscrupulous notaries public have defrauded unsophisticated consumers into paying substantial sums for what was thought to be the services of an attorney.

In fact, it is illegal for a Notary Public to advertise in Spanish or any foreign language, without the following disclaimer:   “I AM NOT AN ATTORNEY LICENSED TO PRACTICE LAW IN THE STATE OF FLORIDA, AND I MAY NOT GIVE LEGAL ADVICE OR ACCEPT FEES FOR LEGAL ADVICE.”  Florida Statutes Section 117.05(10).

Notary Public fraud is a real problem, as WFTV Action News 9 in Orlando, Florida reported.

Know the Difference

While there are 400,000 Notaries Public commissioned by the Florida Governor, there are just over 100 Florida Civil-Law Notaries in the State of Florida.  If you want to enhance your transaction or business through the use of a Florida Civil-Law Notary, contact us.

Further Reading

For a concise comparison of Texas Notaries Public and Mexican Notarios Publico, see Lost in Translation: Texas Notary Public v. Mexico Notario Publico.   Other distinctions are discussed by the National Notary Association.