How Long Does it Take to Become a Notary

Written by: Nik Ventouris

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How Long Does it Take to Become a Notary

Interested in becoming a notary public and curious about how quickly you can get started? You’re in the right place!

In this How Long Does it Take to Become a Notary article, we’ll help you swiftly launch your career by exploring the key factors determining the length of your notary application, such as:

  • The basic requirements you will need to meet
  • Whether you need to take a notary training course and/or exam
  • How state-specific regulations can lengthen this process

In addition to this, by the end of this article you should also have a better understanding of both a notary’s responsibilities and potential earnings.

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+)

Becoming a Notary

While the specific steps may differ depending on your state, the general process tends to remain similar.

Requirements and Qualifications

Before you can begin the notary commissioning process, you will normally need to make sure you satisfy your state’s individual eligibility requirements.

Typically, this requires you to be over the age of 18, be a resident of the state, and not have any felony convictions — though your particular state may have additional requirements.

Typical Application Process

First, you’ll normally need to fill out an application and submit it along with a filing fee to the Secretary of State. In some jurisdictions, you’ll also need to undergo a training course or successfully pass an examination before filing your notary bond and oath of office.

After receiving your notary commission, all that’s typically left to do is buy the necessary supplies, such as an official notary seal and a notary journal.

While not a legal requirement, getting Errors and Omissions (E&O) insurance is also highly recommended for notaries in all states.

Notary Application Process Timeline

Becoming a notary shouldn’t take very long — in most states, the application process outlined above will normally take between two and six weeks.

In fact, most of the time spent in the process of becoming commissioned is likely to be dedicated to waiting for your application to be processed by the Secretary of State office.

In states where training courses are required, they can typically be completed fairly quickly and conveniently. Many states even offer the option to complete both your notary training and exam online.

State-Specific Notary Regulations

While it is generally true that the notary commission process shouldn’t take too long, this is highly dependent on the specific state in which you’re applying.

Moreover, there are a number of states with irregular steps in their commission process that can greatly increase the total time required. Some of these states have been outlined below:

  • Arkansas — Applicants need to submit two oath of commission certificates once approved: one with the Recorder of Deeds and another with the Secretary of State
  • Connecticut — Applicants need to complete a jurat, writing sample, and Certificate of Character
  • Hawaii — Applicants need to submit a Letter of Justification and a Letter of Character
  • Indiana — Applicants need to obtain their Indiana State Police Limited Criminal History Record
  • Maryland — Applicants must wait for their senator to approve their applications and for the Secretary of State to send their notary commission to the county clerk’s office
  • Minnesota — Applicants need to register their commission certificate with their specific county
  • New Hampshire — Applicants need to complete and notarize the Criminal Record Release Authorization Form
  • New Mexico — Applicants need to complete a notary Stamp Registration Form
  • Ohio — Applicants need to get a criminal record check
  • Utah — Applicants need to complete a mandatory background check
  • Washington D.C. — Applicants need to get a Letter of Request

In all of these states, each of the irregular steps outlined above can add significant processing time before you can start working as an active notary public.

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+)

What is a Notary

Notaries are public servants authorized by the Secretary of State to oversee the signing of important papers, administer oaths/affirmations, and certify acknowledgments or other such written instruments.

What Does a Notary Do

A notary public’s primary duty is to prevent fraud. They do this by checking a few key things from the people signing important papers, namely:

  • Who they really are
  • If they truly want to sign (and aren’t being forced or pressured)
  • If they understand what’s in the document or contract

Some common examples that often need a notary public to be involved include property ownership papers, powers of attorney (which let someone else make decisions for you), and wills.

How Much Does a Notary Make

Each state has its own set of regulations that dictate the maximum amounts notaries are permitted to charge up until for each notarial act.

This typically falls somewhere within the $5–$25 range across all states except in the following states, in which there is no commission fee:

  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Tennessee
  • Vermont

Ultimately, this means that the amount a notary can make is dependent on a number of factors, such as the state they’re working in, the number of clients they serve, and the demand for their services.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Notary FAQ

Is the notary exam hard?

The difficulty of the notary public examination will vary depending on your state and its specific exam format. While it can be challenging, proper preparation and practice exams can greatly increase your chances of success. For more information on this step of the notary public commission process, see our article on How Long Does it Take to Become a Notary.

How much does it cost to become a notary?

Overall, total expenses typically range from around $100–$150 depending on your state and its specific requirements. This includes the cost of application fees, training courses (if required), surety bond premiums, and notary supplies. We explore this topic in more detail in our How Much Does it Cost to Become a Notary article.

How much can I earn as a notary?

Each state has its own individual regulations regarding how much notaries public are allowed to charge for each notarial act, which typically ranges from $5–$25 per notarial act (including electronic notarization). However, your earnings as a notary largely depend on the demand for notarial acts in your area and the number of clients you serve. To find out more, see our How to Make Money as a Notary.

Which is the hardest state to become a notary?

States like California, New York, and Florida are often mentioned as having more challenging notary commissioning processes due to their stringent requirements and many notary forms. For more information on why it’s worth becoming a notary even in these states, check out our article on What Does a Notary Do.

What is a notary?

A notary, also known as a notary public, is an individual authorized by the state government to perform certain legal duties, primarily witnessing and certifying documents with their notary stamps. They play a vital role in preventing either person signing an important document from committing fraud. See our What is a Notary article for more information on a notary’s other duties.

Am I eligible to become a notary public?

In order to become a notary, applicants must meet the minimum requirements laid out by their state. This typically involves being over the age of 18, being a legal resident of the state, and having a clean criminal record. However, each state has its own specific requirements, so it’s best to refer to your Secretary of State’s website for more information.

Do I need to renew my notary public commission?

With the exception of a few states, a notary public commission will only be valid for a certain amount of time, such as two, four, or eight years. After this period, which is unique to every state, each notary public will be required to follow their state’s renewal process for their commission if they want to continue to offer notarial services.