Tennessee Notary Public Bond: A Comprehensive Guide
January 24, 2023
This guide provides information for insurance agents to help their customers obtain a Tennessee Notary Public bond.
At a Glance:
- Average Cost: $45 for a four-year term
- Bond Amount: $10,000
- Who Needs it: All notaries public operating in Tennessee
- Purpose: To ensure the public receives compensation for financial harm if the notary fails to properly perform their duties
- Who Regulates Notaries Public in Tennessee: The clerk of the county in which the notary resides or maintains a principal place of business
Tennessee Code 8-16-106 requires all notaries operating in the state to obtain a commission from the clerk of the county in which the notary resides or maintains a principal place of business before providing notarial services. The Tennessee legislature enacted this requirement to ensure that notaries engage in ethical business practices. To provide financial security for the enforcement of the commission requirement, notaries must purchase and maintain a $10,000 surety bond to be eligible for a commission.
What is the Purpose of the Tennessee Notary Public Bond?
Tennessee requires notaries to purchase a surety bond as a prerequisite to obtaining a notary commission. The bond protects the public from financial harm if the notary fails to comply with the regulations outlined in Tennessee Code 8-16-104. 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 Tennessee Notary Public Surety Bond?
BondExchange makes obtaining a Tennessee 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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Is a Credit Check Required for the Tennessee Notary Public Bond?
No, a credit check is not required for the Tennessee 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 Tennessee Notary Public Bond Cost?
The Tennessee Notary Public bond costs just $45 for a four-year term.
Who is Required to Purchase the Tennessee Notary Bond?
Tennessee requires notaries to purchase a surety bond as a prerequisite to obtaining a notary commission. To paraphrase Tennessee Code 8-16-112, a notary public is a public official authorized to provide the following services:
- Administer oaths
- Acknowledge signatures
- Record and transcribe depositions
- Take affidavits
Notaries who wish to perform online notarizations do not need to purchase an additional surety bond. An online notary public is a notarial officer approved by the Secretary of State to provide notarial services using communication technology when the signer is not in the same physical location as the notary public.
How Do Notaries Apply for a Commission in Tennessee?
Notaries public in Tennessee must navigate several steps to obtain a commission. Below are the general guidelines, but applicants should refer to the state’s Notary Public Handbook or the Secretary of State’s website for details on the process.
Commission Term: All Tennessee Notary Public Commissions are valid for four years from the date of issuance.
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
- Live or work in Tennessee
- Be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States
- Not be disqualified under Tennessee Code 8-18-101
Step 2 – Contact the County Clerk’s Office
Notaries public must contact the clerk’s office of the county in which the notary resides or maintains a principal place of business. The county clerk will provide the notary with an application which the notary must complete and return to the clerk. Notaries should complete the application in its entirety and submit an application fee of $12 with it.
Step 3 – Get Elected
Once their application is approved, members of the notary’s county legislative body will hold a vote to determine if the notary will receive their commission. Notaries who are elected will be notified by their county clerk.
Step 4 – Purchase a Surety Bond
Notaries public are required to purchase and maintain a $10,000 surety bond.
Step 5 – File with the County Clerk
After election by the county legislative body, notaries must file a surety bond and take their oath of office with the county clerk. After successfully filing their bond and taking their oath, notaries will receive their commission certificate and may now purchase their notary seal. Notaries may not provide any notarial services until they have received their commission and purchased a seal.
Online Notaries Public
Step 6 – Select a Third-Party Vendor
Only an active notary public with a current commission is able to become an online notary public. Commissioned notaries can apply to become online notary public by first selecting a third-party vendor to provide them with the technology needed to perform online notarizations. The selected vendor must meet the minimum requirements set by the state.
Step 7 – Submit an Application
After selecting a third-party vendor, notaries public must set up an online account with the Secretary of State and submit an application online here. Notaries must complete the application in its entirety and submit the following items:
- $75 application fee
- Name and description of the third-party vendor
- Explanation of the technology that will be used
- Copy of the notary’s electronic seal
- Copy of the notary’s electronic certificate
- Copy of the instructions or techniques allowing the notary to authenticate their electronic certificate
- Copy of the instructions or techniques allowing the notary to conduct identity proofing and credential analysis
The selected third-party vendor will provide the notary with the required documents for the application. Once the application is approved, the Secretary of State will authorize the notary public to begin providing online notarial services.
How Do Tennessee Notaries Public 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 apply for their new commissions before their existing ones expire to avoid a lapse in commissions. All Tennessee 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 Notaries Public in Tennessee?
Tennessee does not require notaries to purchase any form of liability insurance as a prerequisite to obtaining a commission. Notaries public must purchase and maintain a $10,000 surety bond.
How Do Tennessee Notaries File Their Bonds?
Notaries public should file their completed bond forms, including the power of attorney, with the clerk of the county the notary resides in or maintains a principal place of business.
The bond requires signatures from both the surety company that issues the bond and the notary. The surety company should include the following information on the bond form:
- Legal name and county of the entity/individual(s) buying the bond
- Surety company’s name
- Date the bond is signed
- Date of the notary election
What Can Tennessee Notaries Do to Avoid Claims Against Their Bonds?
To avoid claims on their bonds, notaries public in Tennessee must adhere to all state regulations, 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 Tennessee?
Tennessee does not require notaries public to obtain any form of liability insurance. However, many notaries will consider obtaining errors and omission (E&O) insurance. 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 Tennessee Notary Customers?
Tennessee 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.
What Other States Require Notary Bonds?
29 states and the District of Columbia require notaries to purchase a surety bond as a prerequisite to obtaining a commission. Insurance agents should utilize our Main Notary Bond Page for a detailed analysis of the Notary Bond requirements nationwide.