Difference Between a Florida Civil Law Notary and a Notary Public

If you’ve ever been party to an official legal document that had to be signed, then you have probably utilized a notary at some point. However, did you know that there is actually more than one type of notary?

In general terms, a notary is someone with some form of legal training who is licensed and authorized by the government to perform certain acts in noncontentious legal affairs—most commonly acting as an impartial witness to signatures being made on legal documents to prove their authenticity and prevent fraud.

The most common form of notary is a notary public. These are public officers of common law, meaning their power and responsibilities are vested through past court decisions as opposed to legal statutes. Conversely, there are also civil law notaries, who are appointed by the Department of State and given all the same powers as a notary public as well as a much broader, less regulated range of powers traditionally delegated to notaries in civil-law countries. These are also known as “Florida International Notaries” in the State of Florida.

The biggest difference between the two is the level of training. In Florida, public notaries can generally be any lay person who has completed at least three hours of notary education and applied for a commission as a notary from the governor. Civil law notaries, on the other hand, are appointed by the Secretary of State and must be a member of the Florida Bar practicing international law for at least 5 years.

Unlike public notaries, thanks to their extensive legal training, civil law notaries can provide legal advice and are responsible for certifying the entire content of a legal document rather than just the signatures.

Generally, civil law notaries are involved in legal situations regarding things like contracts, wills, trust, documents for international use, or other business transaction documents. Civil law notaries are limited to private law, unlike public notaries.

Another big difference is that public notaries in Florida are appointed for terms of four years, while civil law notaries are appointed for life.

Ray Garcia has been authorized by the Secretary of State of Florida to serve as a Florida Civil Law Notary, with the ability to verify and authenticate a wide variety of documents and actions. The broader powers of civil law notaries generally allows for smoother and faster legal transactions, so please contact the Law Office of Ray Garcia to learn more and let us help you with legal matters ranging from simple to the most complex.