While there are many requirements to becoming a notary public, the process can be relatively easy if you follow each step carefully. While, these can differ by state, here are the general steps to becoming a notary:
- Make sure you meet your state’s specific qualifications.
- Complete all required coursework to become a notary and take your state’s required exam.
- Download and submit an application online or submit it in person to the secretary of State’s office.
- Complete and submit the application with any necessary documents or fee to the State’s office.
- Obtain a notary bond (if required).
- Take a notary oath.
- Purchase a stamp or notary seal.
- Begin Serving as a Notary Public
Read on for in-depth information on each step.
Step #1: Make Sure You’re Eligible
Before applying to be a notary, make sure that you’re eligible to become one. Keep in mind that each state varies on what its exact requirements are, but you’ll have to meet these basic requirements at least:
- Must be at least 18 years old
- A legal resident of the state with no criminal record
- Able to read and write in English
Once you’re sure you qualify, you can go to your state’s website or local office to begin the application.
Step #2: Complete Coursework and Your State’s Required Exam
Your state might require you to attend classes and pass written exams as part of your application process. Currently, these states require an educational course or exam:
- District of Columbia
- New York
- North Carolina
If your state is listed here, then you might see a question like this on your exam:
That’s why you’ll want to purchase the necessary course material, including training guides and handbooks. You can also do practice exams if you want to study essential information before taking the test.
Step #3: Submit an Application to Secretary of State’s Office
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 process to become a notary may include a background check, fingerprinting, a surety bond, and receiving a commission certificate.
For this process, you might spend anywhere between $100 and $200. These costs might include the application, the cost of any training or exams, background checks, supplies, and the cost of your bond.
Step #4: Submit Application with Any Necessary Fees/Documents to State’s Office
Complete 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 Required): Obtain a Notary Bond
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: Take a Notary Oath
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: Purchase a Stamp or Notary Seal
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.
Step #8: Begin Serving as a Notary Public
Once you pass the application process, your state will send you a certificate ordaining you as a notary public! At this point, be sure to purchase your supplies and organize relevant paperwork so that you can begin advertising your services. You can also join an existing agency like Superior Notary Services, which is excellent for guaranteed work.
Anyone who is over the age of 18 and does not have a criminal record may become a notary public. In addition, you must be a legal resident of the state where you’re seeking a notary commission in order to qualify to provide notary services. As part of the application process in your state, you’ll supply this information under oath, swearing as to the accuracy of the statements.
As a practical matter, you should be fluent in reading and writing English to properly perform notary tasks, which involve communicating with the people who will be signing the documents. You’ll also need to arrange for your notary seal or stamp in order to officially certify a notarial act.
Each state has different laws regulating notary public services, so you should check with your jurisdiction to find out exact requirements. In most states, you work with the Secretary of State’s Office to file your application, pay fees, receive your commission and handle renewals.
In some states, you may have to complete training and/or pass an exam regarding your position as a notary public. Other states have such requirements as:
- Filing a passport-style photo with your application;
- Obtaining a copy of your fingerprints;
- An application fee;
- Proof of bond coverage in the designated minimal amount, usually around $15,000; and,
- Keeping a notary journal to track all transactions where you’ve provided notary services.
Your Job as a Notary Professional
Once you obtain your notary public credentials and meet all other requirements of your state, you are now ready to provide notary services.
Tasks required for a notarization to be legally sufficient include five essential factors:
- Presence of the Signers: Signatories must be physically present for the notarial act to be effective. This requirement ensures that the signers are acting through their own free will, in the absence of intimidation.
- Verify Identity: The signatory must be “personally” known to you as notary public. Because it’s rare that you’ll actually know the person signing, you will typically verify identity by reviewing a government issued identification card.
- Review the Document: Here, you’ll simply verify what the document is, ensure that it’s an original, and check to see that it’s complete, with no blank spaces.
- Proper Notarial Language: This requirement serves to demonstrate that the notarial act occurred contemporaneously with the signing of the document. Common language would be: “Subscribed and sworn to before me this [date].”
- Apply the Notary Seal/Stamp: Place your stamp or seal along the notary language and signatures.
Common Transactions & Documents that Require Notarization
Considering that the role of the notary public is to reduce the risk of fraud, there are certain documents and transactions where notarization will be required by law. Typically, the subject of a notarial act will be a life-changing document or paperwork of significant financial impact. States will vary on exact requirements, but common scenarios include:
- Documents conveying title to real estate, such as through sale, gift, or other transfer;
- Loan documents related to real estate, including the mortgage, promissory note, and other legally binding paperwork;
- Wills, trusts and estate planning documents;
- Prenuptial agreements;
- Structured settlement documents;
- Powers of attorney appointing an agent to manage real and personal property; and,
- Powers of attorney appointing an agent to make decisions regarding healthcare and medical treatment.
In addition, there are other transactions where parties may seek notary services, even if not required by law. Where a significant amount of money is being exchanged, it can be helpful to have a notary seal to enforce an agreement’s terms or compel payment.
Finally, there may be other notary services involved with executing paperwork, depending on the type of document and/or legal requirements.
At times, a signer is required to formally declare that they acknowledge the execution of a document. This means that he or she:
- Understands the contents of the paperwork;
- Acknowledges that the signature on the document is his or her own; and,
- Applies the signature without coercion.
Oath & Affirmation
Some documents require the signer to swear to a notary that the contents of the document are true and accurate. Documents filed with a court commonly require that a litigant provide an oath and affirmation that the statements made within are true and correct, especially where the signatory has stated certain facts known to him or her.
The job of a notary public is an important one, so equally important requirements must be fulfilled in order to qualify to provide notarial acts. There are general and state-specific prerequisites to become a notary professional, as well as ongoing conditions you’ll need to meet in order to maintain your status. The good news is that, once you’ve obtained your notary public credentials, you can work for any one of a number of professional notary services in a fulfilling, personally satisfying career – one that will be as in demand now and in the future as it has been for generations. Contact a notary public directly for more information on the laws in your state and other requirements to become a notary.
How To Join Superior Notary Services’ Ranks
Almost every official document requires a notary’s signature, which makes them in high demand just about everywhere. Because of this, agencies like Superior Notary have developed ways to cut wait times for clients in half. Instead of waiting in line or setting an appointment, mobile notaries are providing quick and convenient solutions.
Currently, Superior Notary Services has more than 50 thousand notaries across the U.S. and more than 160 thousand clients. And there’s a reason why: Working with Superior Notary Services can lead to clients, provides quick payment, and organizes your workload without skipping a beat!
Step #1: Meet the Requirements
Before applying to Superior Notary Services, make sure you meet these qualifications:
- You are a commissioned notary
- You have E&O insurance
- You have ID verification and a background check report readily available
If you’re a licensed notary, then you should already have your E&O insurance and background check report available.
Step #2: Register Online
When you’re ready, you can apply on the Superior Notary Services website here through SnapDocs. Upon registering, Superior Notary Services will ask for some more information so that we can better match you up with clients that fit your criteria, such as:
- Languages that you speak
- A short description, including cities covered, signings completed, any areas of expertise
- Whether you have a laser printer, dual tray printer, or are a licensed attorney
SnapDocs will be your notary dashboard. There, you can upload your relevant documents, set your available times, and keep track of your clients’ payments. You can also refresh your memory and check out the signing agent basics quiz on your dashboard!
Step #3: Receive Work
Once you upload all of your documents, the Superior Notary Services team will look at your credentials before offering a position with the agency. Once you accept the position, you can set your availability. Then, you’ll begin receiving work immediately!
Becoming a notary public is not only simple, but it’s incredibly beneficial. While polishing some necessary skills, you’re also able to meet new people, make extra money, and work whenever you want.
And for those looking for immediate work, signing on as an agent for Superior Notary Services is easy and one of the best decisions you can make. Sign up today to take your career as a notary public to the next level!