Florida Notary Issues and oddities
Understanding a document
A Florida notary public is NOT required to be able to read all documents being notarized by them, but the signer must be able to read the document. The document must either be in English, or a language the signer can read. This is differently worded from many other states. In California, the notary must be able to communicate directly with the signer, but does not need to understand the contents of the document, nor do the contents need to be in English.
Foreign language signers
The notary must be able to communicate directly with the signer without the help of an interpreter in California. So, if the signer brings their children along to help translate, the notary must decline the job unless direct communication is possible. But, in Florida, the statutes do not specify that the notary and signer must be able to directly communicate, but specify that the signer must have the document translated into a language they understand in order to qualify to get their signature acknowledged.
Verifying a VIN #.
Another unusual official act of a Florida notary is to be able to verify a VIN number on a vehicle. The maximum charge for this is $10 per notary act.
Other states simple forbid notaries from engaging in legal advice, but don’t spell out exactly what legal advice could consist of. A notary public in Florida is expressly forbidden from drafting any type of document for a client — both legal documents and less formal documents. A legal document is often described of one that might be used in court or submitted to a judge or attorney. Additionally, a Florida notary must not fill in blank spaces in documents as that also constitutes unauthorized practice of law or legal advice in FL.
The Florida Notary Manual page 58 states that a Florida Notary should only sell legal forms and type up documents written by their customers.
A notary in Florida may sign on the behalf of a person with a disability if the disabled person requests. Nobody has ever mentioned any rule like this before on any of our forums.
Notarizing for minors
The state of Florida allows notaries to notarize for minors and should ideally document the minor’s age next to their signature.
A notary may not notarize for an individual who doesn’t seem capable of understanding the meaning of the document being notarized.
Marriages – I do!
Florida notaries may solemnize marriages if the couple provides a marriage certificate. ME, NH, and SC, plus one parish in LA are the only other states we have heard of that allow notaries to conduct marriages, but they need a special extra license in NH to the best of our knowledge. The notary may make up their own verbiage for the marriage, and then complete an official certificate for the marriage.