How to Become a Notary

By Jordan Fabel •  Updated: October 18, 2021  •  10 min read  •  Business
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If you want to learn how to become a notary, it might be a good idea to start with understanding what a Notary Public is and the benefits of becoming a notary. However, there are many things to understand outside of just how to become a Notary Public.

What is a Notary Public?

The state government appoints a Notary Public to serve as an impartial witness when signing documents. Commonly, you will need a Notary Public when signing a mortgage, your last will and testament, or even a vehicle title in some states. This impartial witness helps to deter fraud and must follow specific rules when carrying out their job.

Become a Notary

The Duties of a Notary Public

Before you learn how to become a Notary Public, it’s a good idea to understand what they do and what the job requires. A Notary Public must screen the signers of documents and make sure they are truly who they say they are. Screening may be by checking their identification, such as a driver’s license. They must also make sure the singers are not under duress or being intimidated into signing the documents.

In some cases, as a Notary Public, you will put signers under oath, and they will be stating that the information they have provided is true and correct. Commonly, powers of attorney, property deeds and wills require a notary.

As a Notary Public, you will need to remain impartial. It is always best to be trusted by those signing the documents, and you are duty-bound to avoid acting in situations where you might have a personal interest. As a Notary, you must never refuse service to someone based on their religion, politics, sexual orientation, race, nationality, or status as a non-customer.

You are an official representative of the state as a Notary Public. Most likely, your duties will include working in the real estate industry, with attorneys, and working with other professionals that create documents requiring a witness when signed.

The Basic Requirements to Become a Notary

You will need to meet the basic eligibility requirements of your state to become a Notary Public. Of course, every state is a bit different, but you will likely need to fill out an application, pay a fee, meet a minimum age requirement, and potentially pass an exam.

Top 3 Reasons to Become a Notary Public

Add to Your Income

As a Notary Public, you can add to your income. While you might not charge a large sum for your services, it can become a way to make a little extra money. You can even become a mobile notary, which means you go to where the individuals need a Notary.

You can charge for an individual notarization, but most clients will need more than just one signature notarized. You can also charge for your travel, expenses, and supplies.

Work a Flexible Schedule

As a Notary Public, you will be able to set your hours and work your schedule. You decide when you work and which jobs you take. As a mobile notary, you can work in the evenings, weekends, or anytime you prefer. This can work very well as a second job or as a part-time job.

Add to Your Resume

Some industries value the skill set of a Notary on your resume. If you plan to work in the mortgage industry, real estate industry, or another industry with regularly signed documents, you might benefit by adding this skill to your resume.

How To Become a Notary Public: Step-by-Step Instructions

The process to become a Notary Public may differ a bit from one state to another, but it’s pretty similar. In some states, you will need to take a course and pass an exam, which can often be done online. However, other states don’t require a course or an exam.

Here are the steps you will likely need to follow to become a notary:

  1. Check the state requirements and make sure you meet them
  2. Complete your application and submit it to the state
  3. Pay the filing fee
  4. Take a training course, if necessary, from an approved vendor
  5. Pass the state Notary Public exam, if necessary
  6. Pass a background check and go through the fingerprinting process
  7. Receive your certificate from the state and get your surety bond, if necessary
  8. File your paperwork with the notary regulating official and buy your supplies.

These are the basic steps for becoming a Notary, and again this list may vary from one state to another.

How to Make Money as a Notary Public

There are several ways you can market yourself and make money as a Notary. In some cases, it will simply be a way to add to your current income from the job you currently hold. For example, you may sell mortgages and also be able to act as a Notary Public at the closing table.

Here are a few of the ways you can work as a notary and make money:

Join the Chamber of Commerce in your City

The Chamber of Commerce is a great way to make contacts and network. Joining your local Chamber of Commerce and attending meetings will help you meet people in need of your services.

Join Professional Notary Organizations

The NNA and other professional notary organizations can help give you more credentials and help you network with the right people to make money as a notary.

Network with Other Notaries

When you network with other notaries, you can gain business, as they may have more clients than they can handle. Referring clients to each other, when necessary, can help both you and other notaries grow your income.

Attend Professional Events

Workshops and conferences offer a great way to network with people looking for a Notary Public. Your services will be in high demand if you attend the right types of conferences, and you can learn how to promote your notary business better.

Make and Use Business Cards

An easy and cheap way to make money as a notary is simply having business cards made. This can give you an easy way to let others know you offer notary services.

Most Common Types of Notary Public Jobs

After you learn how to become a notary, you might be wondering what type of job you can get. There are several types of Notary jobs. Let’s look at a few of the main options.

Clerical Jobs

It’s common for a Notary Public License to give you a leg up when you apply for a clerical job. This is because you are more valuable than someone without this skill. This job category may include bank tellers, loan processors, closing agents, and even government positions.

Mobile Notary

You can work independently as a mobile notary and provide on-demand services for clients. It’s even possible to charge an additional fee for emergency calls at the last minute.

Mobile notaries commonly serve the real estate industry. However, they can also help with other legal documents, including divorce papers and documents to make changes to an investment account.

Wedding Officiant

Some states allow Notary Publics to officiate weddings, such as Nevada, Maine, Florida, and South Carolina. You can legally officiate a wedding ceremony in these states if you’re a licensed Notary.

Real Estate Closing Notary

You can work as a closing agent or real estate closing notary if you become a Notary Public. This type of person will notarize documents for buyers and sellers in residential or commercial real estate.

Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Notary Public

Who can apply and become a Notary Public?

The requirements to become a notary will vary from one state to another. Generally, you need to be at least 18 years of age and a legal resident of the state without a criminal record. In most cases, you will also need to be able to read and write English.

How much is the Notary application fee?

The fee to become a Notary will vary quite a bit from one state to another. Typically, it’s less than $100, but in some states, it can cost more. The filing fee won’t include any cost for notary training or exams.

Which states require Notary Training?

There are several states where you will need to go through notary training, including:

These states require notary training approved by the state, and many have online training you can do from your home. Delaware also requires continuing education for electronic notaries.

Which states require a Notary exam?

Most states won’t require a notary exam, and even some states requiring notary training don’t require an exam. However, some states are requiring that you pass a notary exam before you can become a Notary Public and these states include:

Along with these states, Wyoming encourages you to take an at-home test, but they don’t require it to become a Notary Public. The notary exam is usually about an hour long.

Where do I find Notary training if it’s required?

The most likely places you will find notary training is:

Many offer classroom and online options for notary training.

What’s the cost of Notary training, if necessary?

Most notary training courses will cost less than $100, with some live seminars ranging up to $200.

How long will my Notary training course last?

Most notary training courses will last from three to six hours, depending on the state requirements. If you do this type of class in the classroom, it will likely be done in one session.

Online courses will allow you to work at your pace and finish the notary training on your own time.

How long will it take me to become a Notary Public?

If your state requires training and an exam, it may take 7 to 9 weeks to become a notary. However, with states not requiring training or an exam, the process may only take around four weeks.

How long will my Notary term last?

The length of your term as a notary depends on your state. Commonly, your term will last four years, but it can range from 4 to 10 years, depending on what state you live in. Of course, you can renew your term and remain as a notary, as long as you remain in good standing.

Do I need a Notary bond in my state?

Most states require a notary bond if you want to work at a notary. This bond is known as a surety bond, and the amount may range from $500 to $25,000, depending on the state. Most states require a surety bond of $5,000 to $10,000.

The surety bond will help protect the consumer if you make a mistake that causes damages to someone. While you may need a surety bond in your state, you will not be required to carry liability insurance. You may want to consider errors and omissions insurance, however, even if it’s not required.

Still Thinking of Becoming a Notary?

Use the steps above to become a notary and check the state requirements where you live. Then, if a course or an exam is necessary, make sure you find the right options online or in the classroom for your needs. After you go through the process, you can become a Notary Public and start working in your local community.

Jordan Fabel

Jordan Fabel

Covering different 'paths' that people's lives can take. Creative, foster parent, ticket dismissal, you get the idea. Exploring the requirements, certifications, exams, and obviously, approved courses along each path.