How to Become a Vermont Notary Public
In Vermont, Notaries Public are under the jurisdiction of the Assistant Judges in each county, as described in VSA 24, Sections 441 – 446. Therefore, a person who wishes to become a notary must be appointed by the Assistant Judges in the county in which he or she resides or, if a resident of an adjoining state, the Vermont county in which he or she is employed. According to statute, the Assistant Judges may appoint as many notaries public for their respective counties “as the public good requires.” Applicants must be 18 years of age.
The certificate of appointment must be filed and recorded in the office of the County Clerk where issued. Immediately after the appointment of a notary public, county clerks are required to send a copy of the appointment and oath to the Secretary of State for filing. Upon request, the Secretary of State may certify the appointment, qualification, and signature of a notary public. However, the Secretary of State does not appoint, commission, regulate, or discipline notaries public.
Before entering upon the duties of the office, a notary public must take the oath prescribed by the constitution, and “shall duly subscribe the same with his or her correct signature.” This signature must be witnessed and authenticated by a Notary Public or Justice of the Peace. The signed oath must also be kept on file by the County Clerk as a part of the county records. The application, oath, and certification are contained in one form.
To become a notary public, send the completed form, Application Form along with a $30.00 check payable to the Vermont Superior Court and a self-addressed stamped envelope, to the County Clerk of your county of residence or, if you are a resident of an adjoining state, the Vermont county where you are employed.
OTHER INFORMATION FOR NOTARIES PUBLIC IN VERMONT
Powers and Duties: Every notary public is empowered to take acknowledgements, administer oaths and affirmations, certify that a copy of a document is a true copy of another document, and perform any other act permitted by law.
Stamp or Seal: Documents notarized for use within Vermont do not require a stamp or seal, but the Assistant Judges in each county highly encourage that one be used. Documents destined for another state will likely require a stamp or seal.
Term of Office: Notaries public hold office until ten days after the term of the appointing Assistant Judges expire, which is on the same date, every four years. The current commission expires February 10, 2019. A notary who wishes to maintain his or her office without interruption should seek reappointment from an Assistant Judge in the county in which he or she resides by February 1, 2019.
Non-Resident Notaries: As noted above, a nonresident may be appointed as a Vermont notary public, provided the individual resides in an adjoining state and maintains, or is regularly employed in, a place of business in Vermont. Completed applications should be submitted to the Vermont county where the nonresident is employed.
Ex Officio Notaries: By statute, an ex officio notary public has notarial powers by virtue of the position or office he or she holds and, by statute, shall provide notary public services without charge or fee. All ex officio notaries public serve until vacating their position or office. The Clerk of the Supreme Court, county clerks, superior clerks, deputy superior court clerk, justices of the peace, and town clerks and their assistants are all ex officio notaries public. In addition, a county clerk shall, upon application, issue to a town clerk, a state police officer, a municipal police officer, a fish and game warden, a sheriff or deputy sheriff, and a motor vehicle inspector certification of notary public without charge or fee.
Liability: By statute, Vermont notaries public are liable to the persons involved for all damage caused by the notary’s official misconduct, therefore complaints should be referred to the appointing county Assistant Judges. The Secretary of State has no jurisdiction or disciplinary authority over Vermont notaries public.
Code of Professional Responsibility: The Assistant Judges strongly recommend that all notaries public in Vermont follow and abide by the National Notary Association’s Code of Professional Responsibility. This link will bring the reader to the entire document, but the Code’s Guiding Principles are listed here:
- The Notary shall, as a government officer and public servant, serve all of the public in an honest, fair, and unbiased manner.
- The Notary shall act as an impartial witness and not profit or gain from any document or transaction requiring a notarial act, apart from a fee allowed by statute.
- The Notary shall require the presence of each signer and oath-taker in order to carefully screen each for identity and willingness and to observe that each appears aware of the significance of the transaction requiring a notarial act.
- The Notary shall not execute a false or incomplete certificate, nor be involved with any document or transaction that the Notary believes is false, deceptive or fraudulent.
- The Notary shall give precedence to the rules of law over the dictates or expectations of any person or entity.
- The Notary shall act as a ministerial officer and not provide unauthorized advice or services.
- The Notary shall affix a seal on every notarized document and not allow this universally recognized symbol of office to be used by another or in an endorsement or promotion.
- The Notary shall record every notarial act in a bound journal or other secure recording device and safeguard it as an important public record.
- The Notary shall respect the privacy of each signer and not divulge or use personal or proprietary information disclosed during execution of a notarial act for other than an official purpose.
- The Notary shall seek instruction on notarization, and keep current on the laws, practices, and requirements of the notarial office.