State governments appoint notaries public as witnesses and authenticators of important transactions and document signings. Every seven years, individuals must renew their notary commission.
In the commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Secretary of State's office sends renewal applications to notaries whose commissions are about to expire. A notary must fill out the application and return it to the office, as they cannot perform notarial services without renewing.
What a Notary Does
A notary public is responsible for screening people who sign official documents. Notaries establish the signers' willingness to sign documents without intimidation, their true identity, and their understanding and awareness of the contents of a document or transaction.
Some notarial acts require notaries to place under oath those signing a document attesting to the fact that all of the information listed on the documents is valid under penalty of perjury. Notaries will often ask participants in a transaction for their current photo ID in an effort to deter fraud.
It is the job of a notary public to remain impartial in order to gain their community's trust. They do not act according to their own interests. Notaries cannot refuse to serve anyone due to their nationality, political preference, race, religion, sexual orientation or non-customer status.
Becoming a Massachusetts Notary Public
Anyone interested in being a notary public in the state of Massachusetts must meet specific qualifications. They must be at least 18 years of age and a legal resident of the state. If they are not a legal resident, they must regularly conduct business there.
The state does not require specific courses or conduct exams to become a notary, however, it does require applicants to read Chapter 222 of the General Laws amended by Chapter 289 of the Acts of 2016.
Applicants will sign their application under penalty of perjury, verifying that they've read this chapter and will comply with its terms and must also obtain signatures from four respected members of their community.
Filing the Notary Public Application Forms
After completing the application, individuals must send it with a current resume to the Notary Public Office, State House, 24 Beacon St. RM 184, Boston, Massachusetts 02133-1058.
The state charges the applicant a $60 filing fee, which they do not have to pay until they receive word of their approval from the Governor's Council. The application takes about two weeks to process. A notary's term lasts seven years.
Notary Public Commission Renewal Process
When a notary's commission is set to expire, they'll get a notary renewal application from the Secretary of State's office, which it automatically sends out about five weeks before the commission expiration date. Notaries cannot find renewal applications online.
Notaries who fail to receive a renewal application may have changed their address and did not notify the state of that change. According to Revised Executive Order No. 455, Section 14, notaries must contact the Secretary of State's office regarding a change of business mailing address, residence, or name change within 10 days of its occurrence.
When submitting this notification, they must include their notary commission expiration date. They can send their change notification to the Secretary of the Commonwealth, Public Records Division, Commissions Section, McCormack Building, One Ashburton Place, Room 1719, Boston, Massachusetts 02108.
- Mass.gov: No. 455: (Revised) Standards of Conduct for Notaries Public
- Secretary of the Commonweath of Massachusetts: Notary Public Renewal
- Mass.gov: Instructions for the Notary Public Application
- National Notary: How to Become a Notary Public in Massachusetts
- National Notary: What Is a Notary Public?
Michelle Nati is an associate editor and writer who has reported on legal, criminal and government news for PasadenaNow.com and Complex Media. She holds a B.A. in Communications and English from Niagara University.