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Are you thinking about becoming a notary public? You’ve come to the right place.
Our How to Become a Notary article offers a comprehensive guide to kick-start your journey, examining factors such as:
- State-Specific Requirements
- Notary Courses and Statutory Law
- Surety Bonds and E&O insurance
- Commission Applications and Filing Fees
- Essential Notary Supplies
Recommended: For state-specific instructions, we recommend selecting your state from the dropdown menu.
Become a Notary
In order to become a notary, you will need to follow a variety of simple steps.
Step 1: Understand Your State’s Requirements
Understanding the unique requirements of your state is the first step to becoming a notary. This is because each state has its own set of rules in relation to:
- Age: In most states, you will be required to be at least 18 years old in order to become a notary; having said that, a few states like Nebraska set the minimum age at 19. This might not seem like a big difference, but it should be noted as it can delay your plans if you’re a younger notary public applicant.
- Residency: In most cases, you will need to be a legal resident or own a business with a license to operate in the state in which you are seeking to get commissioned in order to be accepted.
- Education and testing: Some states require you to complete certain education requirements, as well as pass an exam in order to qualify as a notary.
You will also need to satisfy your state’s background check requirements, which usually require all applicants to not have been convicted of a felony, as well as of a non-felony crime that involves dishonesty.
Keep in mind that different exceptions can apply in each state. We recommend selecting your state from the dropdown menu above for more applicable information.
Step 2: Complete Education Requirements
Next, you may be required to complete some form of notary education.
This can be an online course, a state-approved PDF, or a cited statute on Notary law, and is meant to ensure that you have a comprehensive understanding of what operating as a notary entails (both from a practical and from a legal point of view).
Note: Not all states have education requirements; even when they do, these can vary significantly from state to state.
For example, some states require applicants to complete a course before sitting an exam and filing their application, whereas others require some form of education to be completed after an applicant has already been commissioned (e.g., reading statutory notary law before starting to operate, etc.).
Step 3: Pass Your Notary Public Exam
Depending on your state, you may be required to sit and pass a notary public exam in order to submit your application.
This is not always the case, and — similarly with the education requirements discussed above— is not always applied in the same manner.
For example, this can be a part of your actual application form, or an entirely separate process that must be completed before your application has even begun.
Step 4: Purchase a Surety Bond (If Required)
A surety bond, also referred to as a notary bond, is used to protect the general public from any misconduct or negligence that occurs from a notary public.
Once again, the requirements for this can vary significantly.
For example, some states do not require you to purchase a surety bond at all. Even when they do, there can be different stipulations in relation to the exact amount required (e.g., $5,000, $7,500, etc.), as well as to when you will need to get it (i.e., before or after filing your application).
Recommended: For more information, we recommend selecting your state from our dropdown menu above and having a look at your state’s specific requirements.
Step 4: Submit Your Notary Application
Once you’ve ensured that you satisfy your state’s qualifying requirements and pre-application procedures, you will need to complete and file your Application for a Notary Commission.
This is often done online, but (in some states) can be done via mail as well.
Generally speaking, you will need to provide your personal information, check that you satisfy all qualifying requirements, and sign an Oath of Service (either as a separate form or as a section of the application). The last step needs to be done in front of an already commissioned notary public.
Note: The processing fee for your application can range anywhere from $10 to $60, depending on your location and on whether you do this online or via mail.
Step 6: Purchase Errors and Omissions (E&O) Insurance
While not required by any state, Errors and Omissions (E&O) insurance is often recommended.
This is because this type of insurance can protect your personal assets against any lawsuits or liability that arise as a result of negligence or personal misconduct on your part as a notary.
Examples of how such liability could arise include:
- Improper record-keeping: Notaries are required to maintain a journal of their notarial acts. If there’s an error in the record-keeping, or if the notary neglects to keep a journal entirely, they might become the subject of a lawsuit.
- Failure to properly identify a signee: A fundamental role of a notary is to confirm the identity of the person signing a document. If a notary fails to do this properly, an indemnification or negligence lawsuit could be filed against them.
- Misdated documents: If a notary incorrectly dates a document — either by mistake or intentionally — this could cause significant legal problems down the line.
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Step 8: Obtain Your Notary Supplies
After receiving your notary commission, you’ll need to purchase your notary supplies.
Generally speaking, you will be required to purchase a notary seal or stamp (in order to notarize documents), as well as a notary record book or journal.
It’s important to note that specific requirements for these supplies can vary from state to state. For example, some states mandate the use of an embossed seal, while others allow a rubber stamp. The required information in a notary journal may also differ.
How to Become a Notary FAQ
How much does it cost to become a notary?
This can vary significantly depending on your state. Generally speaking, expenses can range anywhere between $100 and $500. This includes application fees, notary public training courses, exams, and the procurement of necessary supplies such as a notary seal and journal. Some states also require a surety bond. Check out our How Much Does it Cost to Become a Notary article for more information.
What does a notary do?
A notary public serves as an impartial witness during the signing of important documents in order to prevent fraudulent activities. This can entail confirming the identity of the individuals involved, witnessing a signing process, and administering oaths or affirmations. For more information, we recommend reading our What Does a Notary Do article.
How much does a notary make?
The income of a notary will depend on several factors, such as their location, the level of demand for notarial services, and the specific services they offer. Typically, notaries can charge a state-regulated fee for each notarial act. This can range anywhere from $2 to $15 per act. See our How to Make Money as a Notary article for a more in-depth overview.
What is a notary?
A notary, also known as a notary public, is a public officer appointed by the state government. Their role is to help deter fraud by witnessing the signing of important documents, verifying the identity of the signers, and, in some cases, administering oaths. Check out our What is a Notary article for more information.
How long does it take to become a notary?
The time it takes to become a notary largely depends on your state’s process and requirements. However, on average, it should take anywhere between two and six weeks. This includes your application, education, testing (if required), background check, and receiving your commission certificate and supplies. For more information, have a look at our How Long Does it Take to Become a Notary article.