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, [email protected] 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.