Top 10 Things a New Notary Must Know

Top 10 Things that a New Notary Must Know

Are you a new notary public? 

Do you feel as if you are —

  • Swimming around in murky notary laws that are too complicated?
  • Trying to learn rules stuffed with terms that you do not understand?
  • Attempting to make sense of confusing notary group discussions? 
  • Unable to get a straight answer on anything?
  • Drowning from information overload?

If so, take this to heart:  You can’t learn it all at once. 

You really can’t!  Don’t make yourself feel bad because you don’t know it all. Let’s slow down and take your move into the notary world one small step at a time. 

Today, I want to go over the barest requirements and most basic skills you need to learn before you slap the Mobile Notary sign on your car and drive off to solicit business.

We’ll talk about laying a strong foundation by reviewing the points below. Each point is stated succinctly so that even the most word-weary new notary public can tackle it.

This is what’s required (in my opinion) to start off lawfully as a notary public.  I’m not giving you legal advice.  This is a thin list of what I see as the most basic steps to take when climbing onto the notary career path. 

1 – The first step – make sure you have taken your oath of office before you notarize the first document. Taking the oath of office may take place in the application process before (or after) the notary’s commission is issued.  It depends on each state’s commissioning requirements for notaries. Make sure you are within the law by making SURE you have taken your oath of office.

2 – Consider quality notary training — even if it is not required! 

Do it for yourself.

Notary.net has excellent training — I like the course I’ve taken on Notary.net because it is presented in a multi-media format.  You will both hear and see the information being taught. Prepare for the best outcome possible in your career by taking quality, affordable training today.  Even if your state does not require training, you are required to know and understand the laws, in addition to the procedures and best practices.

3 – Know how to contact your commissioning office. When laws don’t seem clear enough, a call to your state’s notary public administrator (NPA) will help you iron out confusion. Choose your State

4 – Have a list of the types of identification documents that you may use to identify signers. Using ID documentation is a popular method for determining the identity of signers.  So is the personal knowledge method which means that the notary knows the signer personally.  The third method of identification is one in which the signer is introduced to the notary by one or two people who know the signer.  This is called the use of credible witness(es). If you take training on this website, you will be instructed on how to perform all three types of identification methods.

5 – Find out if you are required to keep a journal of your notarial acts.  (A journal may also be called a record book or log.)  This varies state by state. If you must keep a notary record book or journal, you should learn what goes into your journal for each notarization.

If you do not have a journal requirement set by law, look at the recommendations in this article

Again, even if your state does not require a journal, I heartily recommend it.  This is an action to take to protect yourself. Having a record of your notary activities can be powerful if you are ever in court attempting to defend yourself against false allegations over a notarial act or if someone fraudulently uses your name and credentials to perform notarial acts.

6 – Know the language (proper wording) that is required by your state for jurats and certificates of acknowledgment. In Notary.net’s training course for your state, you will learn the language appropriate for your state’s certificates, the value of having loose certificates with you at all times, and how to handle occasions when a document is missing a certificate.

7 – Every notary should have an errors and omissions (E&O) policy.  Why? If accused of an error, your E&O policy may help defray legal defense expenses on your behalf. Right now, as a new notary, you are  vulnerable to making errors. (Please note that a notary bond covers citizens who may be harmed by the notary’s wrongful act.  However, an E&O policy covers the notary’s defense against a lawsuit or damages claimed.)

We all make mistakes.  This type of insurance policy is essential in today’s litigious society.

You can purchase the E&O policy that fits your needs right here

8 – Notary seals/embossers that meet state law requirements are essential for a notary’s  success. Please check yours against your state law’s requirements.  (Contact the NPA referenced in item #3  if you do not know or can’t find out what your requirements are.)

Use Notary.net for this task with confidence.  I have known the owners of Notary.net for 15 years. They strive for quality at excellent prices. 

Notary.net has a collective 60+ years of experience in providing notary bonds, notary E&O insurance, notary training, notary supplies, and notary services to oversee your needs and to ensure its notary customers receive correctly manufactured stamps or embossers that bear all necessary elements as required by the notary’s laws.

9 – When not in use, secure your notary stamp and journal in a locked space. Never allow anyone else to use these items or access them. 

10 – Read your notary laws and notary handbook provided by your NPA. Contact your NPA if you do not know where to find those critical resources.

Finally, please remember that this is only a checklist for general discussion; it isn’t a notary manual or complete guide.

Let us know if you have a particular topic that you would like for us to develop into an article.

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