Notary Public Versus Notario Publico

Learn the Differences to Avoid Legal Issues

In the United States, notaries are most imp​ortant for witnessing the signing of documents and administering oaths. The term "notario publico" is most often used in Latin American countries and refers to someone who has the equivalent of a law license and is authorized to represent others before the government.

Oregon Law Against False Advertising

This difference in notary authority is the reason Oregon h​as a law against advertising as a notario publico, which may convey to Spanish-speaking people vastly different powers than a notary public has in this state.

According to Oregon Revised Statues:

  • A notary public, other than an attorney licensed to practice law, may not use the term “notario” or “notario publico.” ORS 194.350(3)​.
  • A notary that is not an attorney, who advertises their notarial services, must prominently include the statement in each language used in the advertisement: “I am not an attorney licensed to practice law. I am not allowed to draft legal records, give advice on legal matters, including immigration, or charge a fee for those activities.” The advertisement must also include the statutory fees. ORS 194.350(4)(b)​.

Even in the United States, the duties and responsibilities of a notary public vary from state to state. Therefore, it's essential to become familiar with Oregon’s notary laws and rules even if you have served as a notary in another state.

Immigration Consultant Restrictions

Oregon law prohibits anyone other than a licensed attorney to serve as an immigration consultant, including helping someone fill out immigration forms.

There have been cases in the United States of notaries and individuals calling themselves notarios taking advantage of immigrants unaware of the distinction between notario publico and notary public.

Misrepresenting qualifications to offer legal advice can have severe implications for immigrants including missed deadlines, the filing of incorrect or incomplete forms, or the filing of false claims with the government. An immigrant may miss opportunities, could be deported or subject to civil or criminal liability for the filing of false claims.

Don't become a victim of dishonest immigration consultants known as "notarios." Learn how to protect yourself with advice from these immigration attorneys.​​​​​​​

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​Report Notario Fraud

If you see or hear an advertisement for a notario publico, please let us know​.

Resources

Learn how to Avoid Scams 

  • Learn about the duties and responsibilities of the notary public in our Notary Guide (PDF).