How to Become a Notary Public

Two businesspeople shaking hands.A notary is a public official appointed by the state of his/her residence to authenticate and witness signatures on various legal documents such as wills, vehicle title transfers, contracts of real estate or bills of sale. To authenticate signatures, the notaries must affix their seal or stamp on the document that is meant to be notarized. They should also enter all notary activities in a log with the date of the notarization act, the name of the person whose signature they notarized, the purpose of notarization, and the location of the notarization act. To become a notary, a person needs to apply to their state. Following are the steps that need to be taken to become a notary public:

Step 1

The first step is to meet the basic qualification requirements for a notary public. In the majority of states, the applicant must be at least 18 years of age, a permanent resident of the state that he/she is applying in, must be able to read and write English, and with no prior felony charges. In some states, it is a requirement that the applicant must be a US citizen and not have had his notary commission cancelled in any other state of US.

Step 2

The second step is to complete the coursework required to be a notary public and then take the exam if it is a requirement of the state. Many states do not require applicants to take an exam. In the states that do require an exam, such as Missouri and California, the proof of completion of the exam must be attached with the application, or the applicant must attest that he/she has completed the required training. In some states, all an applicant needs to do is to get notary handbook and get acquainted with the laws and regulations.

Step 3

Download and submit an application online or submit it in person to the secretary of State’s office. The application must have the Social Security Number, full name of the applicant, permanent address, and date of birth. The applicant might also need to give permission to run a background check on him/her and they might also be asked to provide information about any criminal record in the past or attest that there are no felony charges against him/her.

Step 4

iStock_000008619465XSmallComplete and submit the application with any necessary documents or fee to the State’s office. The fee varies from state to state.

Step 5

If the state requires it, the applicant might also need to obtain a notary bond. A bond is a kind of business insurance and the amount of the bond varies from one state to another. For instance, in Missouri, applicants are required to purchase a $10,000 surety bond. The applicant must follow the regulations of the state about when to submit the proof of the bond.

Step 6

The 6th step is to take an oath. Who may administer the oath and the conditions of the oath varies from state to state. Depending on the state, an applicant might take an oath in a courtroom, county clerk’s office or even online in some cases.

Step 7

The last step is to purchase the stamp or notary seal. Many office supply stores might not sell one without identification or proof of commission. Generally, a seal includes the name of the notary, commission number and a phrase that identifies him/her as a notary in the state. These requirements may also vary from state to state.

Follow these simple steps to become a commissioned notary public.


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