In addition to following notary laws, a professional notary should also follow widely accepted industry best practices and ethics We recommend that notaries follow these guiding principles:
(published by the National Notary Association, NNA)
Notary Best Practices, Guiding Principles
1. The Notary shall, as a government officer and public servant, serve all of the public in an honest, fair and unbiased manner. (See Discrimination in Places of Public Accommodation.)
2. The Notary shall act as an impartial witness and not profit or gain from any document or transaction requiring a notarial act, apart from the fee allowed by statute.
3. The Notary shall require the presence of each signer and oath-taker in order to carefully screen each for identity and willingness, and to observe that each appears aware of the significance of the transaction requiring a notarial act. (See Awareness and Willingness Screening.)
4. The Notary shall not execute a false or incomplete certificate, nor be involved with any document or transaction that is false, deceptive or fraudulent.
5. The Notary shall give precedence to the rules of law over the dictates or expectations of any person or entity.
6. The Notary shall act as a ministerial officer and not provide unauthorized advice or services.
7. The Notary shall affix a seal on every notarized document and not allow this universally recognized symbol of office to be used by another or in an endorsement or promotion.
8. The Notary shall record every notarial act in a bound journal or other secure recording device and safeguard it as an important public record. (See Keeping a Notary Journal.)
9. The Notary shall respect the privacy of each signer and not divulge or use personal or proprietary information disclosed during execution of a notarial act for other than an official purpose.
10. The Notary shall seek instruction on notarization, and keep current on the laws, practices and requirements of the notarial office.
Each principle is further defined by Standards of Professional and Ethical Practice and includes example “illustrations” posing common or typical problems encountered by notaries. For each illustration, an Ethical Imperative or Professional Choice indicates the best course of action to comply with the Guiding Principles and ethical practice.
The word ethics comes from a Greek term meaning “duty”. A notary code of ethics includes duties that professional notaries follow as a code of professional conduct. It does not have the weight of law, but can help distinguish an incompetent, inexperienced amateur from an educated, experienced professional providing higher quality service.
Morals are rules of conduct based on views of right and wrong, good and bad behavior, fairness, honesty, honor and decency derived from a particular philosophy, religion, society, culture, or personal beliefs.
American Society of Notaries (ASN) Code of Ethics
1. To uphold the trust placed in me by the public I serve;
2. To maintain a professional manner suitable to the office I hold;
3. To treat each individual fairly and equally, with kindness and respect;
4. To always be satisfied that the individual appearing before me understands the contents of the document to be executed or oath to be administered, before proceeding;
5. To always satisfy myself as to the identity of the individual appearing before me in my capacity as notary public;
6. To not betray the confidence of any individual appearing before me;
7. To never perform any notarial act in which I am a party in interest or from which I stand to benefit;
8. To never divulge the contents of any document nor the facts of execution of that document without proper authority;
9. To keep informed of the law regarding the duties and powers of the office of notary public in my jurisdiction and not compromise that law;
10. To not use the office of notary public as a means of financial gain, for myself or others, in any other business or profession;
11. To exercise extreme care to insure that the notarial seal, stamp, and records are kept in a safe place and are not used by any other person;
12. To always conduct myself and perform my duties in a manner which will bring credit to myself, my office, and the Society.
Notaries should follow laws, use reasonable care and follow notary best practices and ethics to avoid problems. Business owners should also follow business best practices.
Read the full text of the Notary Public Code of Professional Responsibility on the NNA website.
[Last-Modified Date 2017-07-30] add ethics and morals information