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In this comprehensive guide on how to become a notary in Washington State, we lay out the roadmap to achieving this goal. With easy-to-follow, actionable steps, we’ll help you navigate this intriguing process, turning the complex into simple.
Whether you’re looking to serve your community or generate additional income, this article will offer everything you need to know to get started.
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Become a Notary in Washington
In order to become a notary in Washington, you will need to complete a few simple steps.
Step 1: Meet the Basic Requirements
First and foremost, there are several essential requirements for applicants. You must be:
- At least 18 years old
- Able to read and write English
- A permanent legal resident or citizen of the United States
- Live in Washington State, or have a place of employment or practice in Washington
Note: Any acts or omissions you’ve committed that demonstrate a lack of integrity, honesty, or reliability necessary may disqualify you.
Step 2: Purchase a Surety Bond
After ensuring you satisfy the requirements outlined above, the next step is to get a state-registered $10,000 surety bond.
Washington State requires all notaries to get this as it provides protection to the public in the event that your mistake or omission causes them financial harm.
It is important to note that this notary bond ONLY protects the public. To ensure you are protected, it’s a good idea to consider investing in an Errors and Omissions (E&O) policy.
This is a type of insurance that provides coverage for any potential mistakes or omissions that you might make as you perform notarial acts. It’s an extra layer of protection that can give you peace of mind while operating for a relatively low opportunity cost.
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Step 3: Complete Your Application
There are two ways for you to complete your application, which have been outlined below.
Your application can be completed online by using Washington’s SecureAccess portal.
Preparing the following documents in advance will save you a lot of time:
- An electronic copy of your notary bond
- An electronic copy of your notarized Oath of Office
Once you’ve filled out your online form, you will be asked to pay a $40 application fee to complete the process.
Note: For guidance on how to notarize your Oath of Office, see the top of the form for instructions.
To submit your application by mail, you’ll need to start by completing the Washington Notary Public Commission Application and printing it out.
Then, the following forms need to be sent to the Washington Department of Licensing:
- The Notary Public Commission Application, printed out and signed
- A physical copy of your signed Washington notary bond
- A check or money order for the $40 application fee made payable to the Department of Licensing
Send all these documents to the following address:
Notary Public Program
Department of Licensing
PO Box 3777
Seattle WA 98124-3777
Step 4: Equip Yourself With the Necessary Supplies
Once your notary commission is approved, get yourself set up with the necessary supplies. These include a notary stamp or seal and a Washington notary record book.
The Washington state seal is used to authenticate your notarial acts, and the record book is for logging all the services you provide.
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Step 5: Purchase a Course (Optional)
Even though this last step is not a legal requirement, you should note that several Washington notary applicants choose to invest in a course. This is because it can offer several benefits, such as:
- Understanding the Law: Notary laws can be complex and vary from state to state. A course can help ensure that notaries fully understand Washington regulations and how to apply them correctly
- Professional Development: A course can enhance professional skills, making a notary more effective and competent in their role
- Reducing Liability: By better understanding the rules and best practices, notaries can reduce the risk of making errors that could result in legal action
- Increased Confidence: These courses can boost a notary’s confidence by giving them a solid foundation of knowledge and expertise to draw from
- Staying Updated: Laws and procedures change over time. A course can help notaries stay current with any changes in notary regulations and practices
So, while it’s not mandatory in Washington, many aspiring notaries find value in such courses. It’s a personal decision based on individual comfort and professional goals.
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How to Become a Notary in Washington FAQ
How much does it cost to get a notary license in Washington?
The cost to become a notary in Washington State can vary. However, generally, you might expect to spend about $40 for the application fee payable to the Department of Licensing. Note that this does not include the costs of acquiring your $10,000 surety bond, a seal, stamp, or journal, and optional E&O insurance.
How long does it take to get a notary license in Washington?
Once you submit your application along with the required fees, it generally takes the Washington Department of Licensing a minimum of four weeks to process. That being said, processing times can vary greatly according to the completeness of the application and the workload of the licensing department. For more information, see our article on How to Become a Notary.
How long does a notary commission last in Washington?
A Washington notary commission lasts for four years. This means that once you have been commissioned as a notary, you can perform notarial acts for four years from the date of commission. After this period, you would need to renew your commission before its expiration date if you wish to continue as a notary.
Do I need to sit an exam to become a notary in Washington?
No, notaries in Washington are not currently required to take any courses or exams in order to get licensed. However, the Washington State Department of Licensing recommends taking a notary education course from one of their approved providers. For more information on the Washington notary requirements, see our How to Become a Notary in Washington article.
How can I get an electronic notary endorsement?
You need to submit a Notary Public Electronic Notarization Endorsement Application to the Department of Licensing along with a $15 fee. Following the receipt of your endorsement, you have a 30-day window to inform the DOL about your selected electronic notary software. The DOL prohibits you from working as a Washington electronic notary public until they’ve been notified of your chosen software.
For all related articles, have a look at our How to Become a Notary page.