Qualifications, Election and Powers

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All notaries must be 18 years of age and be either a United States citizen or a legal permanent resident. T.C.A. § 8-16-101.  Notaries are elected by the county legislative body in the county in which they reside or have their principal place of business (T.C.A. § 8-16-101), and are approved by the governor. T.C.A. § 8-16-102.  A person with a principal place of business in a Tennessee county may be elected a notary in that county even though that person’s residence is in another state. T.C.A. § 8-16-101.  The same basic disqualifications exist for notaries as for other county offices. T.C.A. § 8-18-101.  A notary may be removed from office just as any other official.  The notary’s term is four (4) years, beginning on the date of issuance of the commission by the governor T.C.A. § 8-16-103.  Renewal is by the same method as the original procedure. 

In addition to the qualifications discussed above, an applicant for notary public must certify, under penalty of perjury, that the person (1) has never been removed from office as a notary public for official misconduct, (2) has never had a notarial commission revoked or suspended by this or any other state, and (3) has never been found by a court of his state or any other state to have engaged in the unauthorized practice of law.  T.C.A. § 8-16-101.

A fee of twelve dollars ($12.00) is paid to the county clerk in the county of election for issuance of a commission, (five dollars ($5.00) to the secretary of state under T.C.A. § 8-21-201 and seven dollars ($7.00) to the county clerk under T.C.A. §§ 8-16-106 and 8-21-701.  The county clerk will certify the election and forward the five dollar ($5.00) fee to the secretary of state, who, upon receipt of the certificate and the fee, will forward the commission to the county clerk issued by the governor.  The county clerk notifies the person to whom the commission was issued, and, after the oath has been taken and bond posted, the county clerk delivers the commission to the person elected.  The county clerk receives a fee of two dollars ($2.00) for taking and recording the official bond under T.C.A. § 8-21-701.  The county clerk must keep a record of the issuance and expiration dates of commissions, noting such on the bond and in a minute entry.  T.C.A. § 8-16-107.

Notaries are required to live in or have their principal place of business in the county from which they are elected only at the time of their election.  If the notary moves to another county, the notary must notify the county clerk in the county from which the notary was elected and pay a fee of seven dollars ($7.00).  The county clerk must notify the secretary of state of the change of address and forward two dollars ($2.00) of the fee to the secretary of state.  The county clerk retains the remaining five dollars ($5.00). T.C.A. § 8-16-109.  If a notary moves out of state, the notary is no longer qualified to act; it is a Class C misdemeanor for a notary to take acknowledgements after moving out of the state.  T.C.A. § 8-16-110.

All notaries public are authorized to act in any county in the state and may acknowledge signatures, administer oaths, take depositions, qualify parties in bills in chancery, and take affidavits T.C.A. § 8-16-112.  Notaries are entitled to charge reasonable fees for their services, and if a fee is charged the notary must keep a record, either electronically or in a well-bound book, of each of the notary's acts, attestations, protestations, and other instruments of publication.  T.C.A. § 8-21-1201.