Colorado Notary Handbook
Colorado notaries are required to follow Colorado Notary Law and the guidelines in the Colorado Notary Handbook.
Colorado notaries are commissioned and regulated by the Colorado Secretary of State (SOS). The SOS is authorized to promulgate rules and publish information, including the Colorado Notary Handbook, to help notaries administer the notary laws.
It states the purpose of the handbook is to help familiarize notaries with Colorado Notary Law so that they can perform their duties correctly. By acting as an agent of the state, notaries help to prevent fraud and forgery. Notaries should perform their duties in a manner that merits the trust, confidence and respect appropriate to the office.
The Colorado Notary Handbook is merely a guide to best practices. The Colorado Notaries Public Act, upon which the handbook is based, is an evolving body of law both in form and meaning. All incongruities between the Notary Handbook and the statutes will be decided in favor of the statutes. Notaries are responsible for keeping themselves apprised of changes in the law that may affect the manner in which they perform notarizations.
It includes procedures for administering an oath or affirmation, taking an acknowledgment and making a certified copy. It discusses the importance of watching for signs of duress or coercion, where the signer is not signing voluntarily, of his/her own free will.
It reminds notaries that their role is that of a public official and disinterested witness, and not as a doctor, lawyer, advisor, law enforcement officer, etc.
Protest and Notice of Dishonor
It discusses the rarely used notary power to present and give notice of dishonor and to protest notes and other negotiable instruments, but only in accord with specific sections of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC).
Due to complexity, this notary power should not be used without special training and knowledge. Notaries are cautioned to be aware of potentially fraudulent or illegal protests, usually regarding debts. Protests for debt collection were common among Colonial notaries, but have faded into history with the modern use of computers.
Colorado notary law once had a requirement for the notary’s address on most notarial certificates. This requirement is long gone, but a notary may still encounter a preprinted notarial certificate with blank spaces for the notary’s address.
A notary is not required to put information in those blanks. He/she can simply line or “X” through them. For the customer’s comfort, however, the notary may wish to fill them in. For this purpose, if the notary prefers not to have his/her home address shown to everyone who may see the document, the notary may use a business address.
Preprinted notarial certificates may include a space for the notary’s commission expiration date. The Notary Handbook instructs that this date may be filled in, even though it appears on the notary stamp.
The Colorado Notary Handbook concludes with a discussion on electronic notarization and electronic signatures.
New Colorado Notary Handbook, March 2019
The Colorado Secretary of State has released a new version of the 38-page Colorado Notary Handbook, dated March 25, 2019. The previous version was dated January 18, 2018.
I found no announcement about the new handbook on the SOS website and no description of the changes. I ran a PDF file compare program that showed the only change was the date of the handbook and page 32, explaining the resignation process is now done using the notary’s online account, rather than submitting a paper resignation form by mail.
Colorado Notaries should keep a copy of the Notary Handbook readily available for reference. The Notary Handbook is updated as needed to reflect changes in notary laws.
The latest notary handbook version is available on the Secretary of State website.