Notaries and Notarios Publicos

Notaries are government-appointed public servants who administer oaths and witness signing of legal documents. However, a notario publico cannot be equated to a notary public official. The difference between these two terminologies is vast even though the term ‘notario publico’ translates to ‘notary public.’


Though the qualification to become a notary in the US varies across states, being a resident of legal age, submitting an application, and paying the corresponding fee is a must. Clearing a short written assessment is most often a necessity too.

Duties and Responsibilities

The state’s governing body where the notary is commissioned defines the duties involved. Most often, notaries certify signatures and copies of legal documents, administer oaths, take acknowledgments, and even depositions. Notario publico officials can serve as mediators, arbitrators, issue judicial opinions and intervene in corresponding proceedings. They are equipped to verify property deeds, incorporation documents and wills are devoid of any legal inconsistencies.

High-ranking notario publico officials have considerable legal expertise. Their skills and training equip them to settle disputes and provide legal advice, unlike a notary who is not legally authorized to perform these functions. A notaries’ role is limited to certifying and validating signatures.

Correct Terminology Usage

Given the above differences in roles, you cannot advertise your notary duties by using the phrase ‘notario publico’ anywhere in your business or marketing collateral. It is unethical for a notary to mislead the public by advertising themselves as a notario publico or any kind of immigration consultant.

Permissible Limited Assistance

As a notary public, you can assist immigrants without offering legal advice by:

  • Completing printed immigration forms by translating answers on paper   
  • Securing supporting and vital documents like birth certificates
  • Referring attorneys who can legally represent immigrants should the need arise

Learn more about becoming a certified notary in California by clicking here.

Notary Council has created an exhaustive study guide to help you clear your California notary exam. We assist, guide, and encourage you in your journey to earning your notary certification and putting it into practice thereafter. Our teachers know what it takes to ace the examination and train you accordingly during your online course. Reach out to us now for any assistance you need in taking that first step.

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