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Notary Public
A notary public is a public official whose powers and duties are defined by statute. It is a relatively simple matter to become a notary public, but the office has important responsibilities, limitations, and liability potential. Legal counsel should be consulted whenever specific problems or questions arise concerning any aspect of the office of notary public. All notaries must be:
  • A resident of the county or have their principle place of business in the county from which they were elected
  • At least 18 years of age 

Note: If an individual has a principle place of business in a Tennessee county they may be eligible as a notary even though their residence is in another state.

The Application Process
A Notary Public Application may be obtained from the Shelby County clerk or downloaded below. You must sign the completed application before a notary or bring to it the County Clerk's Office and sign the document before a deputy clerk. The application fee is $16. The County Clerk's Office is located at:
150 Washington Ave.
Memphis TN, 38103

After election by the Shelby County Board of Commissioners and before commencing duties or exercising powers, a notary must post a $10,000 surety bond in the County Clerk's Office. The bond is payable to the state and conditioned on the faithful performance of the duties of a notary public.

The notary must also take and subscribe to an oath before the county clerk or a deputy clerk to support the constitutions of the State of Tennessee and the United States, and that the notary will - without favor or partiality - honestly, faithfully, and diligently discharge the duties of a notary public.

About Notary Stamps / Term of Office
State law requires that all notaries use an official seal prescribed and designed by the secretary of state. The notary must purchase the official seal at their own expense. As of July 1, 2004, a notary must use a rubber or other type stamp (not an impression seal), and the stamp must be imprinted in some color, not black or yellow, that is clearly legible and appears black when copied on a non-color copier.

The notary's term is four years, beginning on the date of issuance of the commission by the secretary of state. Renewals follow the same procedure.

The Shelby County Clerk's Office also certifies notaries public for apostilles as well as applications for adoptions, court actions, and various other purposes. There is a $5 fee for notary certifications.

Additional Resources

Vasco A. Smith, Jr. County Administration Building • (901) 222-2300
160 North Main Street Memphis TN 38103
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