How to Become a Notary

The process to become a certified notary public differs from state to state. In general, the steps to become a notary 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. However, keep in mind that some states require you to send your bond (see step 8) with your application.

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

5. Take your state’s notary exam. Of course, not all states require you to take a state-sponsored notary exam.

6. If applicable, 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. Once you’ve received your bond, take your bond and your commission paperwork to your county.

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

Step-by-Step Instructions

Select your state to view your state’s specific instructions on how to become a notary.

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Notary Training

How Much Does It Cost To Become A Notary?

All in all, you’re looking at spending around $100.

Here we’re going to break down the cost of becoming 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.

BTW: 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, costing around $50.


Notary Requirements

What are the requirements to become a notary?

As a rule of thumb, you must be at least 18 years of age, have no criminal record, and be a legal resident of your state. Additionally, you may be required to read and write in English. In some states, like D.C. and Maryland, residents of neighboring states are allowed to notarize within their state boundaries.

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

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 you have felonies on your record.

What does it mean to have my civil rights restored? How do I get my civil rights restored?

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.

To become a notary, do I first have to be a United States citizen?

No. However, you must be a legal resident of the United States.


Common Questions

What is a surety bond?

A surety bond protects the public from any mistakes you might make in performing your duty.

This surety bond amount is decided by your state. On average, surety bonds cost around $20-$50. This is because different states require different surety bond amounts.

FYI: We strongly recommend you purchase Errors & Omissions insurance, also known as E&O. 

What is the difference between a surety bond and E&O insurance?

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

For more information on bonds and E&O, see our Notary Bonds and Insurance FAQs page.

How much do notaries make?

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

How do I apply to become a notary?

First, ensure you fulfill your state’s requirements. If so, your first step would be to fill out an application through your state.

Where am I allowed to perform notarizations?

For most states, you may notarize within the boundaries of the state you were commissioned in. Some states allow residents of neighboring states to notarize within their boundaries; for instance, residents of Maryland may notarize in D.C.

Can I notarize for my children? Can I notarize for my partner?

In many states it is illegal for a notary to notarize for their immediate family.

Can I notarize for my boss?

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.

Can I notarize over the phone?

No.

Can I notarize over video call?

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

Can I deny services?

You may deny service unless you are discriminating on the basis of race or color.

Can I advertise myself as a notary?

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, like an attorney, who can provide legal advice.

Can I notarize a document in a foreign language?

Yes. However, you must be certain of the type of document, and the included certificate must be in English.

How can I officiate a wedding ceremony?

In Florida, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Tennessee, or South Carolina, notaries can officiate weddings.

Can I sign loan documents?

Different states have different laws. However, you should be able to sign loan documents if you have passed your loan signing agent training course and exam. We offer state-approved loan signing agent online courses.

Does my state require me to take a training course to become a notary?

California, Montana, Missouri, Oregon, North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio, Colorado, and Florida require training. This notary training course ranges from three to six hours.