Florida is one of only three states which authorize notaries public
to perform marriage ceremonies. The following guidelines should be helpful.
|* The couple must obtain a valid Florida
marriage license from a county court judge or clerk of the circuit court
and present it to the notary public before the marriage ceremony.
* The notary public performs the marriage
ceremony. An example of a simple, civil ceremony is printed below. It may
be personalized, and the bride and groom may even exchange their own vows.
But, the couple's vows must reflect their intentions to make a legally
binding commitment to each other.
* The notary public is responsible for
making a certificate on the
appropriate portion of the marriage license and returning it to the
the county court judge or clerk of the circuit court which issued the
within 10 days after solemnizing the marriage. § 741.08, Fla.
|* A Florida notary public may
perform a marriage ceremony only within the
geographical boundaries of this state.
* A notary public may charge up to $20
for solemnizing the rites of matrimony. §§ 117.04 & 28.24
(29), Fla. Stat.
* A notary public may perform a marriage
ceremony for a person who
is related to him or her by blood or marriage. The prohibition against
notarizing the signature of a spouse, son, daughter, mother, or father
not apply because the notary is not notarizing the signature of the
and groom, but is only certifying that the couple have been joined
marriage by the notary according to the laws of the State of Florida.
Att‘y Gen. Fla. 91-70 (1991).
* The notary should check the expiration
date of the license to
ensure that the license is still valid. The notary should also require
identification if the bride and groom are not personally known.
* It is recommended that two witnesses,
other than the notary, sign the marriage certificate in the event that
proof of the marriage ceremony
is necessary in the future.
Notary states: "Dearly beloved,
we are gathered here today (tonight) to join this man and this woman in
Exchange of Vows
Notary asks the man: " his name
, do you take this woman to be your wife, to live together in (holy)
matrimony, to love, honor, comfort her and keep
her in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, for as long
as you both shall live?"
Man answers: "I do."
Notary asks the woman: " her name
, do you take this man to be your husband, to live together in (holy)
matrimony, to love, honor, comfort him
and keep him in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, for
as long as you both shall live?"
Woman answers: "I do."
Notary states: "Repeat after me:"
Exchange of Rings
|To the man: "I, his name
, take you (her name ), to be my wife, to have and to hold from this
day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for
poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death
do us part.”
To the woman: "I, her name
, take you (his name ), to be my husband, to have and to hold from
this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for
poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death
do us part."
Notary asks the man to place the ring on the woman's finger
and to repeat the following, "I give you this ring as a token and pledge
of our constant faith
and abiding love." (Repeat the same for the woman).
Notary asks the couple to join hands, then declares, "By virtue
of the authority vested in me under the laws of the State of Florida, I
now pronounce you
husband and wife. The bride and groom may now kiss."
Marriage FAQ for Notaries
When "solemnizing the rites of matrimony,"
is it acceptable for the notary public to complete the marriage certificate
without actually performing a marriage ceremony?
No. Completing the marriage certificate
portion of the marriage record is not the same act as performing the marriage
ceremony. Actually, the certificate is your way of certifying that you
performed the ceremony. You should not falsely certify that a ceremony
was performed when, in fact, one was not.
The ceremony does not have to be in any particular form. Any form of
ceremony to solemnize a marriage that the parties choose ordinarily suffices,
as long as both parties agree to the marriage and make a legally binding
commitment to each other. A marriage ceremony is usually performed for
the sake of notoriety and certainty and must be conducted by a person authorized
by law to perform the ceremony.
Is a notary public permitted to perform a marriage
ceremony for two persons of the same sex?
No. Florida law prohibits same-sex marriages.
A notary public or other authorized person may not perform a marriage ceremony
without a marriage license issued in accordance with the requirements set
forth in Chapter 741 of the Florida Statutes. The law provides that a marriage
license may not be issued unless:
Thus, Florida notaries may not perform a marriage ceremony for two
persons of the same sex. If you choose to participate in an unofficial
ceremony "uniting" two persons of the same sex, you must not do so in your
official capacity as a notary public of the State of Florida.
|* Both parties sign an affidavit
reciting their true and correct ages
* Both parties meet the age requirement
or comply with the special provisions set forth for those individuals under
the age of 18
* One party is male and the other party
What fee may I charge when performing a marriage
The law provides that you may charge the same fee for solemnizing matrimony
as the clerks of the circuit court charge for the same service. That fee
is set by law and is currently $20.
Many notaries provide additional services related to the wedding, such
as flowers, reception, photographer, etc., and have a right to be compensated
for these services. If you charge for extras, we recommend that you provide
your customers with an itemized list of charges before the wedding ceremony
in order to prevent any misunderstanding about your fees.
I recently read educational materials from an
organization which stated that, as a notary public, I am not allowed to
refuse to perform notarial services when asked. Must I solemnize marriage
if I have a religious conviction against doing so?
No. You have the right to refuse to perform notary services for any
number of reasons, including your own religious convictions. Of course,
you should never exercise your authority in a discriminatory manner.
Are witnesses required to sign the marriage certificate?
No. Although the marriage certificate has
spaces for two witnesses to sign, witnesses are not specifically required
by law. However, it is recommended that two witnessess, other than the
notary, sign the marriage certificate in the event that proof of the marriage
ceremony is necessary in the future. Remember, though, you are not notarizing
the signatures of the witnesses.
May I perform a marriage ceremony in a different
county than the one where the marriage license was issued?
Yes. A Florida marriage license is good
in any county in Florida. However, after the marriage is solemnized, the
license must be returned to the county that issued it for recording.
May I perform a marriage ceremony while aboard
Yes as long as the ship is in Florida waters at the time of the ceremony.
The legal definition of "Florida waters" is somewhat complex, but is generally
stated as three geographic miles from the coastline seaward on the Atlantic
Ocean and nine geographic miles from the coastline seaward on the Gulf
of Mexico. Determining the actual location of the ship is best left to
the captain or someone qualified to make that judgment.
Many cruise ships prefer to conduct marriage ceremonies while safely
docked in a Florida port. Then, the wedding party enjoys celebrating after
the ship sails. Whether on a cruise ship or a private vessel, you should
ensure that you are in Florida waters at the time of the marriage ceremony.
|Laws Related to Solemnizing Marriage from
the Florida Statutes (1997)
117.04 Marriages; acknowledgments. A notary public is authorized to
solemnize the rites of matrimony and to take the acknowledgments of deeds
and other instruments of writing for record, as fully as other officers
of this state. For solemnizing the rites of matrimony, the fee of a notary
public may not exceed those provided by law to the clerks of the circuit
court for like services.
117.05 Use of notary commission; unlawful use; notary fee; seal....
. (2) The fee of a notary public may not exceed $10 for any one notarial
act, except as provided in s. 117.04.28.24 Service charges by clerk of
the circuit court.
(29) For solemnizing matrimony, $20.00
741.07 Persons authorized to solemnize matrimony.
|(1) All regularly ordained ministers of the gospel or elders in communion
with some church, or other ordained clergy, and all judicial officers,
including retired judicial officers, clerks of the circuit courts, and
notaries public of this state may solemnize the rights of matrimonial contract,
under the regulations prescribed by law. Nothing in this section shall
make invalid a marriage which was solemnized by any member of the clergy,
or as otherwise provided by law prior to July 1, 1978.
(2) Any marriage which may be had and solemnized among the people called
"Quakers," or "Friends," in the manner and form used or practiced in their
societies, according to their rites and ceremonies, shall be good and valid
in law; and wherever the words "minister" and "elder" are used in this
chapter, they shall be held to include all of the persons connected with
the Society of Friends, or Quakers, who perform or have charge of the marriage
ceremony according to their rites and ceremonies.
741.08 Marriage not to be solemnized without a license. Before any of
the persons named in s. 741.07 shall solemnize any marriage, he or she
shall require of the parties a marriage license issued according to the
requirements of s. 741.01, and within 10 days after solemnizing the marriage
he or she shall make a certificate thereof on the license, and shall transmit
the same to the office of the county court judge or clerk of the circuit
court from which it issued.
Summary of Attorney General Opinion 91-70 (September 18, 1991)
Does s. 117.05(6)(d), F.S., prohibit a notary public from solemnizing
the rites of matrimony of persons related by blood or marriage to the notary
public? Section 117.05(6)(d), F.S., as amended effective January 1, 1992,
[and further amended effective April 16, 1992] does not prohibit a notary
public from solemnizing the rites of matrimony of persons related by blood
or marriage to the notary public.
According to Robert A. Butterworth, Attorney General of the State of
"Section 117.05(6)(d) . . . prohibits a notary public from notarizing
the signature of a relative on a document. In solemnizing the rites of
matrimony and certifying on the marriage license that he has solemnized
the marriage, the notary is not notarizing the signature of the relative
on a document. Accordingly, the prohibition contained in s.117.05(6)(d)
. . . would not appear to be applicable"
Verifying a Vehicle Identification
Number ( VIN )
Florida law requires that, when applying for a Florida title for the
first time on a used motor vehicle,
the owner must sign a sworn statement that the vehicle identification
number (VIN) and the odometer reading on the vehicle are correct. Additionally,
a physical inspection of the vehicle must be done by an authorized person
to certify the VIN. Notaries public are
included in the list of persons authorized to certify this information.
A form prepared by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles,
82042 (Rev. 5/95)S, is used for this purpose. Part A requires the owner’s
sworn statement regarding the correct VIN and odometer reading. A jurat,
or notarial certificate, is provided in this section.
The notary should make sure that the information in Part A is complete
prior to the notarization. Part B requires the notary public, or other
authorized person, to certify that he or she has physically inspected the
vehicle and found the VIN to be identical to the number recorded on the
form. The notary public must include the date, sign the document, print
his or her name, and affix his or her notary seal. This VIN verification
form is also found on the Application for Certificate of Title With/Without
Registration, HSMV 82040 (Rev. 5/96)S. These forms and all other forms
related to vehicle registration are available from the tag office of the
Tax Collector's Office in each county.
Certifying the Contents of a
Florida law provides that a financial institution may open a safe-deposit
box if the rental fee is past due, providing that proper notice has been
made and that certain other conditions are met. A notary public is authorized
and required to be present for the opening of the safe-deposit box, to
inventory the contents of the vault, and to make an appropriate certificate
of the opening. The notary is not required to estimate the value of the
contents of the safe-deposit box. As with other notarial acts, the maximum
fee a notary may charge for performing the authorized duties at the opening
of a safe-deposit box is $10. The law authorizing notaries to perform this
function became effective on July 3, 1992, and is found in section 655.94(1),
Procedure for the Notary Public
|* The notary must be present at the time
the safe-deposit box is opened and may
not be a director, officer, employee, or stockholder of the financial
An officer of the institution must also be present with the notary
at the opening of the safe-deposit box.
* When the safe-deposit box is opened,
the notary should inventory the contents of the box and should complete
a certificate reciting the name of the lessee, the date of the opening,
and a list of the contents. Florida law does not provide a form certificate;
however, the following form, prepared by the Notary Section, should be
|STATE OF FLORIDA
On the ___day of _____________, 19__, safe-deposit box number _________
rented in the name of ____________________
____ was opened by (name of financial institution)
in my presence and in the presence of (name of officer)
. The contents of the box consisted of the following:
(List contents here.)
Print or type name of person opening box: ________________________
Print or type name of Officer
of Financial Institution: ________________________
Notary Public ____________________
Print, type or stamp name of notary
* Once the certificate is completed, copies
should be made. The notary should place the original certificate in a package
with the contents of the safe-deposit box and seal the package. The notary
must then write on the outside of the package the name of the lessee and
the date of the opening.
* The notary should leave the sealed package
and a copy of the certificate with the financial institution.
* If the notary keeps a record book or
journal of notarial acts, details of the act should be recorded. It may
be a good idea to require the person opening the box, the officer of the
institution, and any other witness to sign the journal as well
Prohibited Acts for Notaries
From Chapter 117, Florida Statutes A notary public may not notarize
a signature on a document if:
|* The person whose signature is being
notarized is not in the presence of the notary at the time the signature
is notarized. §117.05(6)(a).
* The document is incomplete. §117.05(6)(b).
* The notary public actually knows that
the person signing the document has been adjudicated mentally incapacitated.
§§117.05(6)(c) & 117.107(4).
* The person whose signature is to be notarized
is the spouse, son, daughter, mother, or father of the notary public. §117.05(6)(d).
* The notary public has a financial interest
in or is a party to the underlying transaction. §117.05(6)(e).
Other Prohibited Acts
Also, a notary public may not:
|* Give legal advice, unless the
notary public is a licensed attorney. §117.01(4)(f).
* Take an acknowledgment of execution in
lieu of an oath if an oath is required. §117.03.
* Obtain or use a notary commission in
a name other than his or her legal name. §117.05(1).
* Notarize his or her own signature. §117.05(1).
* Charge more than $10 for any one notarial
act or more than $20 for solemnizing the rites of matrimony. §§117.05(2),
117.04, 28.24(29), 117.01(4)(i), & 839.11.
* Notarize a signature on a document unless
the notary personally knows the signer or has satisfactory evidence of
* Act as a notary public after his
or her commission has expired. §117.05(10).
* Translate the phrase “Notary Public”
into a language other than English in an advertisement for notarial services.
* Attest to the trueness of a photocopy
of a public record if a copy can be made by another public official. §117.05(15)(a).
* Use a name or initial in signing certificates
other than that by which the notary public is commissioned. §117.107(1).
* Sign a blank form of affidavit
or certificate of acknowledgment. §117.107(3).
* Take the acknowledgment of a person
who is blind until the notary public has read the instrument to such person.
* Take the acknowledgment of a person
who does not speak or understand the English language, unless the nature
and effect of the instrument to be notarized is translated into a language
which the person does understand. §117.107(6).
* Change anything in a written instrument
after it has been signed by anyone. §117.107(7).