How to Become a Notary

Becoming a notary involves several steps, and the specific requirements can vary depending on the laws and regulations of your state or country. To become a notary, follow these general steps:

1. Check Eligibility: Review the eligibility criteria for becoming a notary in your state. Common requirements include being at least 18 years old, a legal resident or citizen of the country or state, and having no felony convictions (check for any other disqualifications specific to your location).

2. Complete Notary Training (if required): Some states require aspiring notaries to complete a notary education course or take a notary exam. Check if your state has any such requirements and fulfill them.

3. Obtain a Notary Bond (if required): Some states may require notaries to obtain a surety bond as part of the application process. The bond serves as a financial guarantee to cover any potential errors made during notarial acts.

4. Obtain a Notary Application: Obtain the official notary application from your state’s notary regulating authority. This is typically the Secretary of State or a similar government agency.

5. Complete the Application: Fill out the notary application form with accurate and complete information. Provide any necessary documentation, such as identification, proof of residency, and any educational certificates or exam results if required.

6. Pay the Fee: There is usually a fee associated with becoming a notary. Pay the required application and commissioning fee as specified by your state.

7. Take the Oath of Office: If your application is approved, you may need to take an oath of office before a designated official. This is a formal commitment to uphold the duties and responsibilities of a notary.

8. Receive your Notary Commission: Once your application is processed and approved, you will receive your notary commission certificate. This commission typically has an expiration date, and you may need to renew it periodically.

9. Obtain Notary Supplies: Purchase the necessary notary supplies, such as a notary seal or stamp and a notary journal to record notarial acts.

10. Familiarize Yourself with Notary Laws: Familiarize yourself with the notary laws and regulations of your state to ensure you perform notarial acts correctly and ethically.

Remember that the process and requirements to become a notary can vary significantly depending on where you live. It’s essential to research the specific regulations and guidelines for becoming a notary in your jurisdiction to ensure a smooth and successful application process.

Notary Requirements

The requirements to become a notary public can vary depending on the laws and regulations of the state where you plan to become a notary. However, there are some common requirements that many jurisdictions share. Here are the general requirements to become a notary:

1. Age: You must meet the minimum age requirement, which is typically 18 years old or older.

2. Residency or Citizenship: In most cases, you must be a legal resident or citizen of the state where you want to become a notary.

3. English: Some states require aspiring notaries to be able to read and write in English.

Can I become a notary if I have a criminal record?

In many states, having a criminal record may not automatically disqualify you from becoming a notary. However, certain types of criminal convictions, especially those related to dishonesty or fraud, may be a barrier to obtaining a notary commission.

Some jurisdictions conduct background checks as part of the notary application process to assess an applicant’s eligibility. If a criminal record is found, the notary regulating authority will typically evaluate the nature and severity of the convictions to determine whether they disqualify the individual from becoming a notary.

If you have a criminal record and are interested in becoming a notary, it is essential to research the specific laws and regulations in your state or country. You may also consider consulting with a legal professional or reaching out to the notary regulating authority for guidance on how your criminal record may affect your eligibility to become a notary.

Notary Training

Do I need to take a notary training course?

Whether or not you need to take a notary training course depends on your jurisdiction’s requirements and your level of familiarity with notary practices. Even if not required, investing in education can greatly enhance your effectiveness as a notary and reduce the likelihood of errors or misconduct.

You will need to complete notary training in order to become a notary if you live in California, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon and Pennsylvania.

Most of these courses can be found online. North Carolina requires notaries to take a course at a North Carolina community college or university.

How long does a notary training course take?

Notary training courses usually take 3 to 6 hours.

Notary Bonds and E&O Insurance

Do I need a notary bond?

Most likely, you will need a notary bond to become a notary.

Whether you need a notary bond depends on the laws and regulations of the state or country where you plan to become a notary. In some jurisdictions, obtaining a notary bond is a requirement for commissioning as a notary public, while in others, it may not be mandatory.

To find out if you need a notary bond, you should check the specific notary laws and regulations in your state or country. The notary regulating authority or the Secretary of State’s office is a good place to start. They can provide you with accurate information on the requirements for becoming a notary, including whether a bond is necessary and how to obtain one if required.

What is a notary bond?

A notary bond, also known as a surety bond or notary public bond, is a form of insurance that provides financial protection to the public in case a notary public makes an error or engages in misconduct during the performance of notarial acts. The bond serves as a guarantee that the notary will fulfill their duties and responsibilities ethically and in accordance with the law.

When a notary public is commissioned, some states or countries require them to obtain a notary bond as part of the application process. The bond is typically obtained from a licensed surety bond provider, and its coverage amount can vary depending on the jurisdiction’s requirements.

If a notary public makes a mistake or acts negligently, and a person suffers financial losses as a result, they may file a claim against the notary bond. If the claim is valid and accepted, the surety bond provider will compensate the affected party up to the coverage amount of the bond. The notary public is then responsible for reimbursing the surety bond company for any amount paid out on the claim.

Notary FAQs

On average, the yearly salary for a full-time notary is $33,000.

Yes. You have to be a notary public before you can become a signing agent.

In the State of California, you must reapply to become a notary public.

This includes attaching your proof of completion certificate to a new notary public application, with a 2′ x 2′ passport photo of yourself and a check for $20. You will also need to submit new fingerprints via Live Scan.

If you are a renewing notary public but your commission has expired, you will have to take the 6-hour California notary online course.

You request a duplicate COA via written request to the California Secretary of State.

Address your written request to:

Notary Public Section
P.O. Box 942877
Sacramento, CA 94277–0001

A notary bond and notary Errors & Omissions (E&O) insurance are both financial safeguards that provide protection for notaries, but they serve different purposes and cover different aspects of the notarial profession:

  1. Notary Bond:
    • A notary bond is a type of surety bond that notaries are often required to obtain as part of the process of becoming commissioned.
    • The purpose of a notary bond is to protect the public from financial harm in case a notary fails to fulfill their duties properly and causes losses or damages due to their actions or negligence.
    • If a claim is made against a notary’s bond, the bond company will investigate the claim and, if found valid, provide compensation to the affected party up to the bond’s coverage limit. The notary is then required to reimburse the bond company for the paid amount.
    • A notary bond does not directly protect the notary; rather, it protects the public by ensuring that there is a financial source to cover potential losses caused by the notary’s mistakes or misconduct.
  2. Notary Errors & Omissions (E&O) Insurance:
    • Notary E&O insurance, also known as professional liability insurance, is designed to protect the notary themselves from claims of negligence, errors, or omissions in the performance of their notarial duties.
    • E&O insurance covers legal expenses, settlements, or judgments that may arise if a notary is sued by a client or third party due to alleged mistakes or failures in notarizing documents.
    • E&O insurance focuses on safeguarding the notary’s personal assets and financial well-being in case of lawsuits related to their professional activities.
    • It’s important to note that E&O insurance does not cover intentional misconduct or illegal activities.

In summary, a notary bond primarily serves to protect the public from financial losses caused by a notary’s errors or negligence, while notary E&O insurance is intended to protect the notary themselves from legal claims and associated costs resulting from mistakes or omissions in their notarial work. Both forms of protection can be valuable for notaries, and the specific requirements and regulations for bonds and insurance vary by jurisdiction.

In most cases, a notary public is authorized to perform notarial acts only within the boundaries of the state or jurisdiction in which they are commissioned. This means that you cannot typically notarize a document outside of your own state. Notarial authority is generally limited to the geographic area for which the notary is commissioned.

Each state’s laws and regulations govern the scope of a notary’s authority, and these laws are specific to that state. Notaries are primarily responsible for verifying the identity of individuals signing documents and ensuring that they are aware of the content of the documents they are signing. Because notary laws can differ significantly from one state to another, notaries are generally prohibited from performing notarial acts in states where they are not commissioned.

In many places, notaries are discouraged or prohibited from notarizing documents for close family members due to concerns about impartiality and potential conflicts of interest. This is because the notary’s role is to act as an impartial witness to ensure the authenticity of signatures and the awareness of the parties involved.

In some jurisdictions, notaries might be allowed to notarize documents for family members if they are not direct parties to the transaction and if there is no financial or personal interest involved. However, this practice can still be viewed with caution, as notaries are generally expected to maintain objectivity and avoid any appearance of impropriety.

Yes, because being employed does not mandate that you have any financial interest in the document being notarized or the transaction. However, it is important to note that you should not receive an additional benefit for services rendered for your boss and/or company.


Yes, if you are a commissioned Remote Online Notary (RON).

Different states have different laws. In California, you cannot advertise using the words “notario publico” or the word “notario.” This is because in Spanish a notario publico is similar to a legal professional who can provide legal advice.

In most states, a notary public can notarize a signature on a document written in a foreign language, whether or not they understand the language.

Remember, the function of the notary is to identify persons who come before the notary, and prevent fraud by attesting that a person actually signed a document. It is not the notary’s job to verify the contents of the document. A notary public is in no way responsible for a document’s truthfulness.

However, a notary public must be able to communicate with the customer in so far as the signer is able to swear to the contents of an affidavit or acknowledge the execution of a document, as well as enable the notary public to obtain the signer’s identification and complete the required journal entries. An interpreter or translator should not be used because vital information could be lost in translation. 

If a notary public is unable to communicate with a client, the client should be directed to a notary public who speaks the client’s language.

The notary public should be able to identify the type of document, as well as enter this in the notary’s journal. If the notary public cannot identify the type of document, the notary must make an entry in the journal to that effect, i.e., “document in a foreign language.” As always, the notary should determine if the document is complete, and only then notarize the document. 

The notarial certificate on a foreign language document must be written in English. 

Notaries can officiate weddings in Florida, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Tennessee, and South Carolina.

As long as you’re a commissioned notary you can sign loan documents. We recommend that you have completed a loan signing training and certification course before signing any loan documents, so that you’re familiar with the laws and confident in your ability. 

If you lose your notary stamp, you may be required to send a letter to your Secretary of State or equivalent government body detailing the circumstances in which the notary stamp was lost, the last time you used your stamp, and any other relevant information.

If your notary stamp was stolen, file a police report and include that report with your letter to the Secretary of State.