Notary FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

The services of a notary public are often used during the course of business. Notaries are most commonly requested when someone is buying a house or refinancing their mortgage, creating or changing a will, or executing any type of legal document. Let’s face it: notaries can be confusing! We may not even know what they do. Here, is everything you need to know about notaries in one article.

What is a Notary Public?

According to the U.S. Secretary of State, a notary public is a person who is qualified to perform “official sealings” of documents. This means that a notary can solemnize and witnesses an act of any type of legally binding document such as a deed, a will, or an affidavit. While technically any notary can solemnize a document, there are individuals with training, experience, and particular skills who are required to solemnize different types of documents and functions. Some common notary skills include a notary’s ability to record signatures, the ability to verify the identity of both parties in a document, and the ability to discern if a document has been altered or falsified. If I become a notary public, what can I do for my clients?

 

What are notaries used for?

Before we delve into some specific scenarios, here is a basic rundown of what notaries do: Notaries serve as legally authorized witnesses to important events. When someone needs to sign something, they need a witness. For example, your accountant needs to be a witness in order for you to buy that new car. However, this is typically done in person. If you need to execute a will, for example, you are ordering a notary to witness and sign the will. Your will should already have been drawn up and signed by someone else, but you are ordering a notary to do the signature. This is where the need for a “color copy” comes into play. Color copies can be useful, but not all notaries can do this type of service. For example, any notary can witness your signature. Who is an accredited notary public?

Who can become a notary public?

A notary public is a person who is a citizen or permanent resident of the United States. However, most states require you to be a citizen. This rule is in place to help prevent the potential fraud of notaries who work from abroad. Notaries are elected to serve on a local, state, or federal level, depending on the state in which they are certified. The first word “notary” means to witness. A notary public has to swear to the accuracy of the information they have gathered. This oath is in place to protect the public. A notary public must be able to read, write, and speak the English language fluently. Notaries are required to practice not only at their offices but also at public meetings.


Notaries perform a variety of services for the public and various industries. There are many different notaries that specialize in various fields, including notary stamp companies, bank-specific notaries, and legal notaries. Sometimes it’s hard to choose which one to work with. To assist you, we compiled a list of different notaries, with short descriptions and links to their websites.

What is the cost of becoming a notary public?

The cost to become a notary is typical $100 to $200. To become a notary in all 50 states, you must pass a series of background checks. These include a review of your birth certificate, the FBI national criminal database, and driving records. After you pass the background check, you must take a federal and state notary exam, which you can take online. After passing the exam, you must take the Oath of Office, then use your own signature stamp. In addition to fees, additional training may be required to perform your duties as a notary. For example, an attorney and a notary may not sign documents for same-sex marriage or non-resident alien marriages. Notaries also may not perform legal or commercial transactions involving land, securities, or vehicles.

 

Can a Notary Draft Documents

A Notary Public is forbidden from preparing legal documents or acting as a legal advisor.  Violators may be fined and/or imprisoned for practicing law unauthorized.

Why documents need to be notarized?

The Notary Public officiates the document signing process insuring the documents are signed correctly and that signers are knowingly and willingly entering into an agreement. Documents must contain the proper notarial wording and text committing the signer in some way.

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