New requirements for becoming a notary public in Alabama will soon take effect September 1.

The revised Notary Public Act was passed during the previous regular session with a "substantial overhaul," sponsored by State Sen. Sam Givhan (R-Huntsville) and State Rep. David Faulkner (R-Mountain Brook).

The law requires all notaries public applicants except lawyers to successfully complete an online training program prepared by the Alabama Law Institute and the Alabama Probate Judges Association.

The act also specifies certain actions such as claiming to be a notary public without being commissioned or performing a notarial act with an expired, suspended, or restricted commission as crimes. 

“It now very clearly outlines what the duties of a notary public are, and it also specifies clearly what the penalties are if a notary acts improperly,” Mobile County Probate Judge Don Davis told 1819 News in an interview. “If it’s simply a negligence situation, they can be liable for any damages they cause as a result of their negligence. If it’s a criminal situation where they’re actively engaged in trying to hurt or defraud someone, there are going to be criminal ramifications. These are all new things that are in this legislation that are very clear and spelled out. This is a substantial overhaul of what we’ve been operating under.”

The law creates specific grounds to deny a notary public application if the:

  • Applicant is not a resident of Alabama.

  • Applicant makes the application to a judge of probate who is not the judge of probate of the county in which the applicant resides.

  • Applicant has been convicted of a felony or crime involving moral turpitude.

  • Applicant is currently a debtor in a bankruptcy proceeding.

  • Applicant is under a current order adjudicating the applicant to be incapacitated.

  • Applicant provides false information on the application.

  • Applicant is unable or unwilling to successfully complete the required training program within 30 days of submission of application (judge of probate may extend for good cause shown).

Notaries public are appointed by local probate judges for four-year terms.

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