An Alabama notary is appointed not by the Secretary of State, but by the probate judge of whatever county the notary resides in. The judge in turn reports to the Secretary of State. Contact information for the appropriate probate judge is available on the Alabama Secretary of State website. From these simple beginnings, the position of the Alabama notary is changing rapidly.
As of 2012, the application fee to become a notary is now $10, and according to some sources, an Alabama notary may receive up to $5 for some notarial acts. However, the recent increase in the amount of the surety bond –from $10,000 to $25,000—is the big change. This means that Alabama’s 67,000 notaries are more at risk of liability, while the public is protected from financial problems due to notaries’ misdeeds. The recent issue of “robo-signed” documents—for example, where three notaries were charged in Nevada—has increased the public’s awareness of documents that were not witnessed or signed properly, and has contributed to changes such as the amount of the Alabama surety bond required. In a perverse way, it is good news: in every state, notaries are now seen as important and powerful enough to be regulated in a consistent manner.
Until January 1, 2012, there were two main types of notaries in Alabama, a state-at-large notary and a county notary. Both could administer oaths, certify andattest to documents, and take acknowledgments, but one could do so statewide while the other was limited to the county in which he or she was appointed. As of 2012, all Alabama notaries are “state-at-large.” This, like the larger sum for the Alabama surety bond, seems an inevitable result of public awareness, competition, and the one-size-fits all solutions now available onthe Web and at large—in Alabama, and everywhere else.
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