Florida Notary Public Bond: A Comprehensive Guide
October 24, 2022
This guide provides information for insurance agents to help their customers obtain a Florida Notary Public bond.
At a Glance:
- Average Cost: $40 for a four-year term
- Bond Amount: Based on the commission type:
- $7,500 for traditional notaries
- $25,000 for online notaries
- Who Needs it: All notaries public operating in Florida
- Purpose: To ensure the public receives compensation for financial harm if the notary fails to properly perform their duties
- Who Regulates Notaries Public in Florida: The Florida Department of State
Florida Statute 117.01 requires all notaries operating in the state to be appointed, also known as commissioned, by the Governor before performing notarial acts. The Florida legislature enacted this requirement to ensure that notaries engage in ethical business practices. To provide financial security for the enforcement of the appointment requirement, notaries public must purchase and maintain a $7,500 or $25,000 surety bond to be eligible for a commission.
What is the Purpose of the Florida Notary Public Bond?
Florida requires notaries public to purchase a surety bond as a prerequisite to obtaining a commission. The bond protects the public from financial harm if the notary fails to comply with the regulations outlined in Florida Statutes 117.01 and 117.225. Specifically, the bond protects the public if the notary signs any documents for persons committing fraud or does not actually witness the signatures on documents being notarized. In short, the bond is a type of insurance that protects the public if the notary violates the terms of their commission.
How Can an Insurance Agent Obtain a Florida Notary Public Surety Bond?
BondExchange makes obtaining a Florida Notary Public bond easy. Simply log in to your account and use our keyword search to find the “Notary” bond in our database. Don’t have a login? Enroll now and let us help you satisfy your customers’ needs. Our friendly underwriting staff is available by phone at (800) 438-1162, email, or chat from 7:30 AM to 7:00 PM EST to assist you.
At BondExchange, our 40 years of experience, leading technology, and access to markets ensures that we have the knowledge and resources to provide your clients with fast and friendly service whether obtaining quotes or issuing bonds.
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How is the Bond Amount Determined?
Florida requires traditional notaries public to purchase and maintain a $7,500 surety bond, and remote online notaries to purchase and maintain a $25,000 surety bond. Notaries must obtain their traditional commission before applying for a remote online one. As such, remote online notaries simply need to increase their existing bond amount to be eligible for appointment.
Is a Credit Check Required for the Florida Notary Public Bond?
No, a credit check is not required for the Florida Notary Public bond. Because the bond is considered relatively low risk, the same low rate is offered to all notaries in the state regardless of their credit history.
How Much Does the Florida Notary Public Bond Cost?
The Florida Notary Public bond costs just $40 for a four-year term.
Who is Required to Purchase the Florida Notary Bond?
Florida requires notaries to purchase a surety bond as a prerequisite to obtaining their commission. To paraphrase the Florida Reference Manual of Notaries Public, a notary public is a public official who notarizes documents, administers oaths, and serves as an impartial witness to the signing of documents.
How Do Notaries Apply for a Commission in Florida?
Notaries public in Florida must navigate several steps to become appointed. Below are the general guidelines, but applicants should refer to the Florida Department of State’s website and the Reference Manual of Notaries Public for details on the process.
Commission Term: All Florida Notary Public Commissions are valid for four years from the date of issuance.
Traditional Notaries Public
Step 1 – Meet the Qualifications
To be eligible to apply for a notary public commission, applicants must meet all of the following criteria:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Be a legal resident of Florida or a permanent resident alien with a Declaration of Domicile
- Be able to read, write and understand English
Step 2 – Complete an Approved Course of Study
Notaries public must complete a three-hour, approved course of study. The course will review the duties and regulations of a notary public, including electronic notarization, The Department of State provides a Notary Education Program which can be accessed here, or notaries can select a program from the state’s approved education providers. Notaries must apply for appointment within one year of completing the course.
Step 3 – Contact the Surety Company
After completing a course of study, notaries public should contact the surety company (BondExchange) to continue the application process. The surety company will provide the notary with the application form, instructions on how to pay state fees, and assistance on how to obtain notary supplies. Applicants will also purchase a $7,500 surety bond at this time.
Notaries must complete the application in its entirety and include the following items:
- List of professional licenses held in the last 10 years
- Statement of criminal history
- Affidavit of good character from someone unrelated to the applicant
- $39 state filing fee
- Signed oath of office
- Signed certificate of completion of a course of study (first-time notaries only)
Notaries must submit the completed application to their bonding company who will forward the application to the Department of State to review. Once the application is approved, the bonding company will send the notary a commission certificate and notary seal. At this point, the notary public is fully commissioned and free to perform in-person notarial acts.
Online Notaries Public
Step 4 – Complete an Online Education Training Course
Only an active notary public with a current commission are able to register as an online notary. To become an online notary public, notaries must complete an online education training course and obtain a certificate of completion from the education provider.
Step 5 – Obtain a Contract with a Third Party Vendor
Notaries public must obtain a contract with a company that will provide the technology needed to conduct remote online notarizations. The Department of State does not endorse any third-party vendors, but notaries can review the requirements for the technology here.
Step 6 – Purchase a Surety Bond
Online notary publics are required to either purchase and maintain a $25,000 surety bond or increase the limit on their existing one.
Step 7 – Submit an Application
Notaries public must mail a completed application to the Department of State at the following address:
Division of Corporations
PO Box 6327
Tallahassee, FL 32314
Notaries must submit the application in its entirety and submit the following items:
- Online Notary Public Information Form
- $25,000 surety bond
- $10 fee payable by check
- Copy of active notary public commission
- Certificate of Completion from an online education training course
- Evidence of an errors & omissions insurance policy in the minimum amount of $25,000
Once the application is approved, the notary will be registered as an online notary public and the registration will run concurrently with the notary’s original commission.
How do Florida Notaries Renew Their Commissions?
Notaries must apply for a new commission before their existing one expires, as there is no specific renewal process. Notaries are encouraged to renew their commissions at least six months before the expiration date to avoid a lapse in commissions. All Florida Notary Public Commissions are valid for four years from the date of issuance. Online notary public registrations run concurrently with existing notary public commissions and will expire on the same day.
What are the Insurance Requirements for Florida Notaries?
Florida does not require traditional notaries public to purchase any form of liability insurance as a prerequisite to obtaining a notary commission. However, online notaries are required to obtain errors and omissions (E&O) insurance with a minimum coverage of $25,000. Notaries public must purchase and maintain a $7,500 surety bond, and online notaries public must purchase and maintain a $25,000 surety bond.
How Do Florida Notaries File Their Bonds?
The notary’s chosen bonding company will file their signed bond forms with the Department of State during the application submission process.
The bond requires signatures from both the surety company that issues the bond and the applicant. The surety company should include the following information on the bond form:
- Legal name of the entity/individual(s) buying the bond
- Surety company’s name, address, and telephone number
- Date the bond is signed
What Can Florida Notaries Do to Avoid Claims Against Their Bonds?
To avoid claims on their bonds, notaries public in Florida must follow all commission regulations in the state, including some of the most important issues below that tend to cause claims:
- Do not leave any notary supplies (seal and journal) in a place where they can be easily stolen
- Do not perform notary services for entities/individuals who are engaged in acts of fraud
- Ensure that the signers of documents are who they say they are and are not misrepresenting themselves
- Witness the signatures of all documents being notarized
- Record all transactions in a notary journal
What Other Insurance Products Can Agents Offer Notaries in Florida?
Florida does not require traditional notaries public to obtain any form of liability insurance. However, many traditional notaries will consider obtaining errors and omission (E&O) insurance. Online notaries are required to have an E&O insurance policy. Bonds are our only business at BondExchange, so we do not issue liability insurance, but our agents often utilize brokers for this specific line of business. A list of brokers in this space can be found here.
How Can Insurance Agents Prospect for Florida Notary Customers?
Florida conveniently provides a public database of commissioned notaries operating in the state. Contact BondExchange for additional marketing resources. Agents can also leverage our print-mail relationships for discounted mailing services.