Written by: Nik Ventouris

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How to Become a Notary Signing Agent

Interested in increasing your earnings as a notary public? Our how to become a notary signing agent guide provides everything you need to get started.

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Ever thought about a job that lets you work flexibly and earn well? Our straightforward guide on how to become a notary signing agent provides everything that you will need to get started.

This article will break down each step of becoming a notary signing agent, highlight the importance of understanding state-specific regulations, and delineate the most important tips when it comes to thriving in this role.

Recommended: Interested in getting started? Have a look at the National Notary Association’s state-approved packages, which come with E&O insurance, notary supplies, and a surety bond.

4.5 out of 5 starsNational Notary Association ($79+)

Loan Signing Agent vs Notary Public

Before you get started, it is important to ensure that you understand the difference between a notary public and a notary signing agent.

A notary public is a public officer commissioned by a state government to help prevent fraud. Their duties involve witnessing the signing of documents, verifying the identity of the signers, and administering oaths when necessary.

On the other hand, a notary signing agent is a specialized type of notary public who is trained to handle and notarize loan documents. NSAs are often used in mortgage finance and real estate industries in order to facilitate the closing of loans. It’s a state-specific role that requires understanding of loan documents and the loan signing process.

Remember, even though becoming a notary signing agent can be a rewarding career, it requires dedication, knowledge, and a deep understanding of the legal landscape.

Becoming a Notary Signing Agent

In order to become a notary signing agent in your state, you will need to follow a few simple steps.

Step 1: Become a Notary Public

Before you can become an NSA, you will first need to get commissioned as a notary public. Although the process varies from state to state, some common steps include:

  • Meet the Basic Qualifications: These usually include being at least 18 years old, being a legal resident of your state, and having no criminal record
  • Complete an Application: Fill out the application form provided by your state’s Secretary of State office or similar designated department
  • Take a Notary Course: Many states require applicants to take an educational course, which covers state-specific laws and general notarial procedures
  • Pass an Exam: Depending on your state, you might have to pass an exam to demonstrate your understanding of notary law and ethical obligations. This can sometimes be included within your application form
  • Purchase a Surety Bond: A bond protects the public from mistakes you might make during your notarial acts. The amount you will need to purchase can vary from state to state
  • Purchase E&O Insurance: This will protect you from any liability that arises as a result of personal negligence or misconduct on your part while operating as a notary public

If you have not already been commissioned as a notary public, we recommend having a look at our state-specific How to Become a Notary article before moving forward.

Step 2: Take a Loan Signing Training Course

Once you’re commissioned as a notary public, the next vital step in your journey to becoming a notary signing agent is acquiring specialized training.

This is accomplished through a loan signing training course, which is designed to equip you with in-depth knowledge about loan documents and the overall loan signing process. By the end of the course, you should be fully prepared to handle real estate transactions efficiently and professionally.

These training courses are commonly offered by both notary associations and private companies. They are typically flexible with their delivery methods, providing options to complete the course in-person or online.

Note: These courses are optional, yet highly recommended. This is because they should help you thoroughly understand the responsibilities, processes, and best practices involved in loan signing.

Recommended Course

We recommend the National Notary Association’s state-approved packages, which come with E&O insurance, a surety bond, and the required notary tools.

4.5 out of 5 starsNational Notary Association ($79+)

Step 3: Purchase Signing Agent Supplies and E&O Insurance

After you complete your training, you will need to invest in the necessary notary public equipment. This includes items like a notary seal, journal, and a printer.

This is important because having high-quality, reliable equipment will ensure that you can perform your duties efficiently and professionally.

In addition, obtaining Errors and Omissions (E&O) insurance is strongly recommended. E&O insurance provides a safety net in case you encounter claims of negligence or errors during the notarization process. The industry suggests a minimum coverage of $25,000, but you might want to consider a higher limit based on your volume of work and level of risk.

This insurance not only protects you but also reinforces your professional image by demonstrating your commitment to safeguarding the interests of your clients.

Step 4: Become SPW Compliant (Optional)

As a final step, you can elect to satisfy additional, optional compliance measures in order to stand out and improve your earnings as a notary signing agent – this is where Signing Professionals Workgroup (SPW) compliance comes into play.

To become SPW compliant, you’ll need to pass an exam and undergo a background screening. These assessments are crucial for demonstrating your industry knowledge, your understanding of the ethical standards expected in the role, and your equitable character.

Achieving SPW compliance is not just a formality, but a critical milestone in your career. It greatly enhances your credibility in the eyes of prospective clients, proving that you adhere to the industry’s high standards.

Furthermore, SPW compliance opens up a wider range of job opportunities, making you an appealing candidate for mortgage lenders, title companies, and signing services.

Step 5: Start Working as a Notary Signing Agent

With the preparation complete, you can start working as a notary signing agent.

You can get started by receiving assignments from title companies, lenders, and signing services, or by finding your clients independently.

Remember, gaining practical experience is key in building your reputation and expertise.

Step 6: Promote Your Business

Promotion is essential in growing your NSA business.

We recommend joining notary signing agent directories in order to get more visibility, as well as utilizing digital marketing techniques, engaging with local business communities, and delivering excellent service to attract more clients and build a strong reputation.

State-Specific NSA Restrictions and Requirements

Understanding the state-specific regulations governing the activities of notary signing agents is crucial for your career.

We recommend having a look at these before you start your application, as it can significantly affect how you will be able to operate.

StateRestriction and/or Requirement
ConnecticutOnly a Connecticut attorney may conduct the closing of a sale or refinance of Connecticut real estate. Out-of-state attorneys and non-attorneys are prohibited from conducting real estate closings for most mortgage loans.
DelawareOnly a Delaware attorney may conduct the closing of a sale or refinance of Delaware real estate.
GeorgiaA real estate closing is the practice of law, requiring a Georgia attorney to be present or involved.
IndianaAnyone conducting a real estate closing, including an NSA, must hold a title insurance producer license.
MarylandPersons conducting a real estate closing must hold a title insurance producer license.
MassachusettsNon-attorney notaries are prohibited from conducting real estate closings unless employed by a lender to notarize documents in conjunction with the closing of the employer’s real estate loans.
MinnesotaPersons conducting a real estate closing must hold a closing agent license.
NebraskaA Nebraska law has been construed to limit notaries to charging only the maximum fee for a notarial act and the per-mile rate for travel authorized for government employees.
NevadaNevada statute limits the fees notaries may charge for notarial acts and travel fees based upon the time of day traveled.
New YorkCertain companies providing assignments to signing agents may choose to use only licensed attorneys. In some parts of the state, a New York attorney may be required to conduct a closing for the purchase or sale of real estate.
North CarolinaWhile notaries who are not North Carolina attorneys may provide loan signing services at a real estate closing, oversight and supervision by an attorney is required.
South CarolinaA South Carolina attorney must supervise and conduct all real estate closings.
TexasHome Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) loans must be closed in the office of a lender, an attorney, or a title company. 
VermontRequires a Vermont attorney to be present or involved in a real estate closing.
VirginiaMust hold a title insurance license if they receive or handle money for closing costs even once.
West VirginiaMust be an attorney in order to conduct real estate closings.

How to Become a Notary Signing Agent FAQ

What type of notary makes the most money?

Notary signing agents (NSAs) often make the most money. This is because they specialize in handling and notarizing loan documents, which requires additional training and certification. This added expertise typically translates into more money in comparison to general notary work, and they are often hired by title companies and escrow officers. For more information, have a look at our What Does a Notary Signing Agent Do article.

How much does it cost to become a notary signing agent?

In order to become a notary signing agent, you will need to pay somewhere between $100 and $500, depending on your state and a variety of other factors. These include notary commissioning expenses, NSA certifications, background checks, and essential supplies such as a notary seal and a notarial journal. For more information, have a look at our What is a Notary Signing Agent article.

How can I become a certified notary signing agent?

To become a notary signing agent, you must first be a commissioned notary public. Then, you’re required to undergo additional training focused on loan signings. Once the course is completed, you need to pass an exam and a background check. Additionally, you’ll need to invest in necessary supplies and error and omission insurance. Note: All notaries working as signing agents are recommended to purchase E&O insurance.

What’s the difference between a notary public and a notary signing agent?

A notary public is an individual authorized by the state to perform notarial acts, including verifying and witnessing signatures on legal documents. On the other hand, a notary signing agent (NSA) is a notary public who has undergone extra training and certification to handle and notarize loan documents specifically, typically in real estate transactions (e.g., can perform loan signing appointments, etc.).

Do I need to be a notary public in order to operate as a NSA?

Yes, you will need to have an active notary commission in order to operate as a notary signing agent (NSA). Note: Keep in mind that notary signing agents are not loan officers and thus should not answer questions asked from a signer that relate to the terms of a loan.