How to Become a Notary Public

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How to Become a Notary Public

The general steps to become a notary public are:

1. First, make sure that you fulfill your state’s notary requirements.

2. Next, complete your state’s application to become a notary public.

3. Submit your notary application and pay your state’s filing fee.

4. Some states require that you take a notary training course. 

5. Take your state’s notary exam (if applicable).

6. You may have to pass a background check and submit your fingerprints.

7. You will be sent your notary commission certificate from the state.

8. Obtain a surety bond. Most likely, your state will require a surety bond.

9. Take your bond and your commission paperwork to your county clerk.

10. You’re all set! You are now a notary. Congratulations!

Select Your State

For specific step-by-step instructions on how to become a notary in your state.

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How Much Does It Cost To Become A Notary?

Notary Requirements

Notary Public FAQs


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What is a Notary Public?

A notary public is a person of integrity appointed by the Secretary of State or equivalent government office to serve the public as an impartial and an unbiased witness by verifying the identification of persons who appear before the notary.

The function of the notary public is to prevent fraud by witnessing and certifying that a person actually signed a document.


What Do Notaries Do?

Source: Maine Notary Handbook and Resource Guide

“Some of the commonly exercised powers of a Notary Public include the administration of oaths or affirmations; certification of an affidavit or an acknowledgment of instruments related to real estate transfers; certification of copies of private documents; and solemnization of marriages.”

What is a Notarization?

Maine’s Notary Handbook states:

“There is no single act called “notarization.” However, there are specific guidelines related to each function which Notaries Public are authorized to perform. For example: when a document has been drawn up stating a person has “sworn and subscribed” before a Notary Public, that person must have taken an oath and must have signed that document in the presence of the Notary Public. If the Notary Public has questions concerning proper notarial practices, the Secretary of State’s office is available to provide information or resources to assist the Notary Public.”

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How to Become a Notary Signing Agent

  1. Have a notary commission in your state. 
  2. Take and pass a background check. This is required by most signing services and title companies.
  3. Take a Notary Signing Agent Training Course. A notary signing agent certification proves that you have a foundational knowledge of the loan signing business.
  4. Most signing services will require that you have Loan Signing Agent Insurance, offered by our partners at notaryrotary.com.

What is a Notary Signing Agent?

A notary signing agent is a notary public who specifically handles loan documents, deeds, and other property closing documents.

What does a notary signing agent do?

  1. A notary signing agent has to check the borrower’s ID, and document it correctly. 
  2. Notarize documents.
  3. Briefly explain what a document does.
  4. Make sure the borrower(s) sign, date, and initial everywhere required.
  5. Return the signed and notarized documents to the appropriate party.
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How to Notarize a Document in 3 Easy Steps

To notarize a document, the notary must always perform at least two critical steps:

  1. Screen the signer.
  2. Complete the notarial certificate.
  3. Make a journal entry (in some states, this is not required).

Not every notarial act requires the document to be signed in front of the notary public, but the notary should always verify the signer’s identity.

The four steps to successfully screen the signer are:

  1. Personal Appearance: “Personal appearance by the individual requesting notarization is required at the time of notarization in ALL instances.” sos.iowa.gov
  2. Willingness: The notary public must ensure that the signer is willingly and freely signing the document. If the notary public suspects that the signer is being coerced, it is highly advisable that the notary refuse to notarize.
  3. Awareness: The notary public should not notarize the document if the notary has a reasonable belief that the signer is not aware of the significance of the transaction.
  4. Verify Identity: The notary public must always have satisfactory evidence that a person is the true individual whose true signature is on the document. The notary public can verify identity through: personal knowledge, identification documents (US passport, driver’s license, etc.), or identity verification by a credible third-party.

To successfully notarize a document, a notary public must complete and sign a certificate of a notarial act. The certificate will most likely include:

  1. An area at the top to enter the jurisdiction. This is where the notary public is at the time the document is notarized. Example: “State of _” and “County of _.”
  2. An area to include “Notary Public” under the notary public’s signature.

Some states do not require notaries public to keep up a notary journal; however, keeping an up-to-date notary journal is highly recommended by nearly every Secretary of State or other equivalent government body.

To complete a journal entry, the notary public record:

  1. Date and time of the notarization.
  2. Type of notarization (jurat, oath, etc.).
  3. Date of the document.
  4. Type of document being notarized.
  5. Name and address of the signer.
  6. Description of how the signer’s identity was verified, including the ID issuing agency, ID number, and issue/expiration date.
  7. Any additional relevant information.
  8. Signature of the signer.

How Much Does It Cost to Become a Notary Public?

On average, it costs around $100 to become a notary public. 

First, most states require an application. On average, most application fees will cost you about $30.

Second, some states require a notary education course. This course should provide a certificate of completion. This is so your state knows you have completed your course.

Our partner Notary Learning Center offers a live same day class and state-approved exam. This is a great all-in-one alternative versus having to take the exam separately. To sign up for a live same-day class and exam, visit https://www.californianotaryexam.com/

Don’t have the time to take a day off, or prefer to learn from the comfort of your couch? All of our notary online courses are state approved and very affordable.

Third, some states require a state-administered exam. Additionally, this includes an exam fee of about $20.

Fourth, many states require a surety bond. Typically, you would file your bond when you take your oath.

Lastly, you will probably need an official stamp and/or seal. Most stamps cost around $20. Embossers tend to be more expensive, and cost about $50.


Notary Public Requirements

As a general rule, a prospective notary public must be at least 18 years of age, be a legal resident of their state, have no felony charges, and be able to read, speak, and write English fluently. Some states, like D.C. and Maryland, allow residents of neighboring states to notarize within their state boundaries.

Most likely, the answer is yes. Most states will allow you to become a notary if you have minor crimes on your record that are unrelated to dishonesty and/or fraud. Many of these same states will allow an applicant with more serious crimes to become a notary if the applicant has had their civil rights restored. In some states, you cannot become a notary if your criminal record shows that you have been convicted of a felony.

Civil rights include the right to vote, the right to serve on a jury, run for public office, and sign initiatives. Your civil rights may have been restored upon completing your sentence. In some states, you will have to apply with the relevant state agency to have your civil rights restored.

Not necessarily. However, you must be a legal resident of the United States.


Notary Public FAQs

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

A surety bond protects the public from any mistakes you might make while performing your duty as a notary public.

Surety bonds protect the public from you; E&O insurance protects you from the public.

For more information, read our Notary Bonds and Insurance FAQs page.

Most states allow a notary to perform notarial acts within the boundaries of the state the notary is commissioned in. However, some states allow residents of neighboring states to notarize within their boundaries. For instance, New Hampshire notaries can perform notarial acts within the State of Maine.

In many states it is inadvisable for a notary to notarize a document for their immediate or extended family.

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.

No.

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. 

California, Montana, Missouri, Oregon, North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio, Colorado, and Florida require notaries to take a training course. This notary training course can range from three to six hours. Notary.net offers online notary courses for 46 states. To find your online course, select your state from the banner.

If you lose your notary stamp, you would want 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.