A Definition

Public notice is a notice given to the public regarding certain types of legal proceedings. Public notices can be issued by a government agency or legislative body in certain rulemaking or lawmaking proceeding. 

For local government, public notice is often given by those seeking even a minor approval which must be granted by a city council, county commission, or board of supervisors. 

Also, private individuals or companies can be parties to some legal proceedings, such as foreclosures, probate, and estate actions and are sometimes required to publish public notices. 

The purpose of public notice

The purpose of public notice is to display information in places, or better said media, where the public is likely to come into notice. Information about government activities must be accessible in order for citizens to make well-informed decisions. 

How does the government ensure to reach the great majority of population? Selecting the proper media: Before a state designates a newspaper to publish public notices, states generally require the newspaper to have a paid circulation, a minimum percentage of news content, a local publishing address, and a continuous publishing history.


According to the Public Notice Resource Center, public notices must have the following characteristics: 

1. They must be published by an Independent Third Party 

A public notice must be published in a medium independent of political bodies, typically in a national or local newspaper. 

2. They must be archivable 

A public notice must be archived in a secure and publicly available format. This is easily achievable in print newspapers, as the notice can be archived in several different places, formats, and without wait. Newspapers are usually archived by the publishing company and by libraries. This provides the public with the opportunity to retrieve the notices for years after date of publication. 

3. They must be accessible 

A public notice must be capable of being accessed by every segment of population. 

4. They must be verifiable 

 The public must be able to verify that the original content of the public notice was not altered once published.  


Generally, we can divide public notices into 3 main areas: 

1. Government activities 

They are designed to alert the public of government activities, and provide an opportunity for the public to comment on such activities. They include publication of government budgets, notices of public hearings, notices of intentions to change government run or managed programs. 

2. Business 

Public notices that contain government requests for bids for services, purchases and other business-related activities are designed to provide businesses with the opportunity to participate in the government procurement process. The publication of these notices ensures that the government is operating in full respect of the principles of equal opportunity, and provides a right and competitive bidding process. It is also an opportunity for the requesting government to receive numerous bids, reducing costs and improving the service. The Law also requires companies and other business entities to publish their intention to do business in an area. Also public notices can notify when a business or corporation dissolves. This serves to protect creditors and consumers from fraudulent practices. Finally, public notice laws also provide notice of unclaimed property. Unclaimed property notices are some of the largest and most popular public notices that are published in printed media. 

3. Court Notices 

This type of public notice consists of notices by non-governmental entities which use public powers or institutions for a specific reason. They includes wills, probates, Missing Beneficiary Notices and many others.