How to Become a Notary Public: The Different Roles and Requirements

While procedures differ from state to state, the general steps to become a Notary are: Make sure you meet all of your state's qualifications. Complete and submit an application. Pay the state's filing fee. Get training from an approved education vendor (if applicable). Pass a state-administered exam (if applicable). Complete fingerprinting and background check (if applicable). Receive your commission certificate from the state. Get your surety bond (if applicable). File your commission paperwork (and bond) with your Notary regulating official. Buy your Notary supplies.


What is a notary public?

According to the Notary Public Association of the United States, a notary is the official who is entrusted with signing certain important documents for people. When someone applies for a document or signature with the notary, that person is trusting that the notary will honestly sign their documents. A notary's responsibility is to do the following: Answer questions about the content of the documents and verify that the person is the rightful owner. Trust the documents you sign. Completely sign the documents and maintain personal copies of all documents you sign. Notary procedures vary by state. And depending on your state's requirements, you may need to follow certain steps in order to become a notary.


Who can be a notary public?

Notary service is generally offered to the public and many states require a person to be at least 18 years old. But in a few states, it is legal to be 14, 15, or even 16. The following examples indicate that these age restrictions may vary from state to state: Alaska: 16 years old and an adult is able to open a separate bank account or change your address in any of the state’s official business offices. Colorado: It is legal for a 16- or 17-year-old to sign contracts in the state. District of Columbia: 16-year-olds can perform non-binding legal documents. Florida: 17-year-olds may serve as notaries. Kansas: 17-year-olds may serve as notaries. Maryland: 17-year-olds may serve as notaries. Missouri: 17-year-olds may serve as notaries. Nebraska: 17-year-olds may serve as notaries.


The different roles of a notary

There are a few different roles and responsibilities of a notary, each of which is required by law for people to become a notary in their state. A notary also takes on duties that do not fall into these six categories. To see what those duties are, and which ones fall under which roles, take a look at the listings below. A notary public A notary is a person who can be appointed to represent and attest to the authenticity of documents, such as birth certificates, real estate titles, and government documents. Notaries usually take on government positions and are thus required to become either a state or national notary public. Some states also allow certain notaries (known as sealers) to participate in certain documents, such as "bank seals" or commercial tax seals.


How to become a notary public

There are different levels of the notary status in each state. Being a "deputy notary" means that you can't do more than work as a deputy notary for the Secretary of State, but you can solicit funds or perform other functions as a notary public. However, you will still need to submit your commission certificate with each new Notary Public license application. If you are interested in becoming a full-fledged Notary, you will need to meet the following requirements: Pay the full state filing fee. Complete and submit the application. Pay the state-administered exam (if applicable). Pass a state-administered exam (if applicable). Pay the state commission exam fee. Use your state-issued seals (if any).


Qualifications for becoming a notary public

It takes a long time and a lot of studies to become a notary public in every state. In addition to the required education, some state laws (such as Florida's and Massachusetts' laws) mandate that all notaries get more education in addition to college to make them better at their job. Below, we've broken down some of the requirements for becoming a notary in each state.  The United States has a patchwork quilt of state laws when it comes to the requirements for being a notary public. At the end of the day, each state's requirements are different. (This is not the only way to become a notary in each state, but it's a good place to start.) As long as you meet any of the requirements listed below, you can be a notary in every state: Are at least 21 years old.


Applying for a commission

To obtain your commission, you must take the official state examination for your state. A state board determines which exam best serves the state's need for a candidate. Note that the tests are not necessarily the same for every state. For instance, the National Notary Association (NNA) state exam is used in more than 20 states, and the NNA exam is used in almost 15 states. When you have passed the state exam, you will receive a commission certificate from the state where you practiced law. For example, if you are a Florida resident, you would get a certificate from Florida's Office of the Attorney General. Consult the NDA exam lookup tool to determine which state's exam to take.


Training and certification requirements

Some states don't require you to have a particular certification to be a notary public. Others do. As noted above, some states provide certification, such as the Real Estate Notary Licensing Exam (REALTOR) or the Multiple Listing Service Notary Licensing Exam. Many states do not require certification for new notary publics, but in some states, such as Ohio and Virginia, all notaries must become certified by taking a required state-administered course and passing a state-administered exam. If you need to get certified in another state, you should consult with a notary licensing agency before you pursue your commission.


Testing requirements

All states require that you take and pass a written test to demonstrate your knowledge of the state law that governs a notary public's activities. If you are a minor, and have never taken the test before, you'll need to appear before a board of education to take the test. Another reason that many state boards require that you take the test before you can practice law is to make sure that you know what you're doing, to avoid or minimize potential abuse of their system of regulation. Some states require that candidates pass the written test before they can take and pass the practical exam, which in most cases is the examination that state boards want you to perform in order to earn your commission.


Bonding requirements

Notaries must pay a surety bond. This is a financial security deposit that the state requires its Notaries to maintain, as well as meet with in person on a monthly basis. Each state has its own bond requirements and requirements for bonding the title that is to be executed. The bond money is paid to a person that holds title to the property that you are transferring your authority to sign. At the very least, you should have to buy a $300 bond, in addition to paying the state filing fee. If you have enough equity in your home, you may be able to use the proceeds from your home's equity as a surety bond. Most states require that the bond cover the entire transfer, including the signing of the document.


A notary public has many important responsibilities, which include authenticating important documents and conducting important business transactions. You can't become a Notary without earning your commission and passing the exam, which varies by state. If you have the necessary skills, knowledge, and experience to become a notary public, you're one step closer to fulfilling a lifelong dream.


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