Public Notaries

What is a Notary Public? What are the differences between a “Notario Publico” and a Notary Public in South Carolina? Although the term “Notary Public” translates into Spanish as a “notario publico” there are fundamental differences between the two:

  • A notary public in South Carolina is generally NOT an attorney, and therefore cannot offer legal advice or legal services. If you are looking for legal services, call SCLS at 1-888-346-5592 or South Carolina Lawyer Referral at 1-800-868-2284.
  • A notary public in South Carolina may not help you with any legal documentation, including any immigration related documents. If a Notary Public claims to be an attorney, you can ask for their South Carolina Bar number and verify their status with the South Carolina Bar.
  • IT IS ILLEGAL FOR ANY PERSON IN SOUTH CAROLINA TO OFFER LEGAL ADVICE OR REPRESENTATION WITHOUT BEING LICENSED BY THE SOUTH CAROLINA BAR ASSOCIATION.

Legally in South Carolina, a Notary Public may:

  • Administer Oaths
  • Take declarations and affidavits
  • Record titles and other instruments that must be notarized under the law
  • Conduct a marriage ceremony between a man and a woman

A “notary” or notary public may NOT:

  • Offer legal advice unless he/she is also a licensed attorney in South Carolina
  • Notarize their own signature
  • Certify copies of documents
  • Notarize blank documents
  • Notarize without checking appropriate identification of those who are signing
  • Notarize for absent persons
  • Postdate or predate attestations
  • Certify vital registries
  • Notarize outside of South Carolina

To become a Notary public in South Carolina one must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Not be in prison
  • Have completed one’s entire sentence including probation
  • Be a registered voter
  • Be a resident of South Carolina
  • Not have an Consent Order declaring that one is Mentally Incompetent
  • Fill out an application and pay an application fee of $25.00

What do I do if a Notary Public is carrying out unauthorized activities?

  • You may sue a Notary Public in court if their actions were negligent or fraudulent
  • You may press criminal charges against a notary public for carrying out unauthorized activities.
  • You may call the office of the Secretary of State for more information about how to revoke a Notary Public’s commission.

For more information, contact:  Pat Hamby, Director of Notary Publics, (803) 734-2512, phamby@sos.sc.gov. If you think that South Carolina Legal Services could help, call their intake line at 1-888-346-5592 to see if they can assist you.