What Are the Requirements to Become a Notary? A Guide

  • By NotaryCam

  • 18 June, 2024

So, you’re curious about what goes into becoming a notary? I get it. It’s a pretty cool gig. You get to help people make their documents all official and stuff. But before a notary starts stamping and signing away, there are a few things they need to do. I’ll explain what are the requirements to become a notary, step by step. It’s not as complicated as you might think. Ready to learn? Let’s do this.

Table Of Contents:

What Are the Requirements to Become a Notary?

So, you’re wondering about the requirements to become a notary public. As someone who’s been through the process myself, I can tell you it’s a rewarding way to serve your community and add a valuable skill to your resume. But before you can start stamping documents and taking oaths, there are some important notary requirements you’ll need to meet. These vary by state, but generally include:

Age and Residency Requirements

In most states, you must be at least 18 years old and a legal resident of the state where you’re applying for your notary commission. Some states, like California and Florida, also allow nonresidents to apply if they work in the state.

Education and Training

Depending on your state, you may need to complete a notary education course and pass an exam. These courses typically cover state-specific notary laws and procedures. Even if it’s not required, I highly recommend taking a training class. It’ll give you the knowledge and confidence to perform your notarial duties correctly.

Background Check and Fingerprinting

Many states require notary applicants to pass a background check and get fingerprinted as part of the application process. This helps ensure that notaries are of good moral character and haven’t been convicted of any disqualifying crimes. Meeting these notary public requirements is just the first step. But don’t worry, the notary application process is pretty straightforward once you know what’s involved. Let’s break it down.

The Notary Application Process

Gathering Required Documents

The first step is to get your hands on a notary application form from your state’s notary regulating agency, usually the Secretary of State’s office. Some states let you apply online, while others require a paper application. You’ll need to provide basic info like your name, address, and contact details. The application will also ask about your background and eligibility to serve as a notary.

Submitting the Application

Once you’ve filled out the application, it’s time to submit it along with any required supporting documents, like proof of completing a training course or passing the notary exam. In some states, you’ll need to sign the application in front of a currently commissioned notary. They’ll verify your identity and witness your signature – a taste of notarial duties to come.

Paying the Application Fee

Of course, no government process is complete without a fee. The cost to apply for a notary commission varies by state, but expect to pay somewhere between $20 to $120. Some states let you pay the application fee online, while others require a check or money order. After you submit your notary application, the state will review it to make sure everything is in order. Assuming all goes well, you’ll receive your notary commission certificate in the mail. Frame it, snap a pic for social media – this is a big accomplishment. But there are still a couple important steps before you can start notarizing.

Notary Bonds and Insurance

Understanding Notary Bonds

Most states require newly commissioned notaries to purchase a surety bond. This isn’t insurance for you – it’s a type of financial guarantee that protects the public if you make a mistake or engage in misconduct as a notary. Surety bond requirements vary widely by state. Some require a bond of just $500, while others mandate bonds up to $25,000. The good news is, you typically only have to pay a small one-time premium to get bonded, not the full amount.

Obtaining a Surety Bond

You can usually purchase a surety bond directly from an insurance company or bonding company. Many states have a list of approved bond providers. Once you’ve paid for your bond, the bonding company will give you a proof of bond form to file with the state.

Notary Errors and Omissions Insurance

While not always required, many notaries also choose to purchase errors and omissions (E&O) insurance. This optional policy provides coverage if you make an unintentional mistake or oversight that causes financial harm to someone else. I personally carry E&O insurance for added peace of mind. Even the most diligent notary can have an off day, and it’s nice to know I’m protected. Policies are pretty affordable, usually costing around $50-$100 per year.

Notary Supplies and Tools

You’ve got your commission certificate, you’re bonded and maybe insured – now it’s time to gear up with essential notary supplies.

Essential Notary Supplies

At minimum, you’ll need an official notary stamp or seal to leave an impression on documents you notarize. Requirements for these vary by state – some use embossers, while others require ink stamps. You can order a custom stamp online or pick one up from an office supply store. You’ll also want to invest in a good quality notary journal to record details of each notarial act you perform. Trust me, keeping accurate records is crucial in case any issues arise down the road.

Notary Stamps and Seals

When shopping for a notary stamp, pay attention to your state’s requirements. The stamp should include your name exactly as it appears on your commission, your commission number, the words “Notary Public,” your state, and your commission expiration date. If you’ll be notarizing documents in multiple states, you may need separate stamps for each. I once had to carry around a little briefcase with stamps for three different states – talk about a conversation starter.

Notary Journals and Recordkeeping

Your notary journal is your lifeline if you ever face a legal challenge or accusation of wrongdoing. Each entry should include the date, type of notarial act, document details, signer’s info, and your fee (if any). Some states have specific requirements for notary journals, like the number of pages or type of binding. A notary guide or handbook from your state’s agency or a national association can help you choose a compliant journal.

Maintaining Your Notary Commission

Congrats, you’re officially a notary public. But the journey doesn’t end there. To stay in good standing, you’ll need to keep up with a few ongoing requirements.

Continuing Education Requirements

Some states require commissioned notaries to complete continuing education courses to brush up on laws and best practices. This might involve taking a refresher class every few years or each time you renew your commission. I actually enjoy taking CE courses – there’s always something new to learn in the world of notarization. Plus, it’s a chance to network with fellow notaries and swap stories.

Renewing Your Commission

Notary commissions don’t last forever. Most are valid for four years, though some states have longer or shorter terms. As your commission expiration date approaches, you’ll need to submit a renewal application, pay a filing fee, and complete any necessary training. Don’t let your commission lapse. It’s much easier to renew than to start the application process all over again. I once forgot to renew and had to take the notary exam again – not fun.

Updating Personal Information

If you move, change your name, or have any other updates to your contact info, you’ll need to notify your state’s notary agency. This ensures they can reach you with important notices and keeps your commission in good standing. Updating your info is usually pretty simple – just fill out a change of address or name change form and submit it to the agency. Some states let you do this online, while others require a paper form.

Notary Associations and Resources

As a new notary, you might feel like you’re navigating uncharted waters. But fear not – there are plenty of resources and support systems available to help you succeed.

Benefits of Joining a Notary Association

Joining a professional organization like the National Notary Association (NNA) or a state-level association can provide a wealth of benefits. These groups offer educational resources, networking opportunities, and advocacy for notaries’ interests. Many associations also provide perks like discounts on supplies and E&O insurance. I’ve found the community aspect to be invaluable – it’s great to have a network of experienced notaries to turn to with questions or concerns.

Educational Resources and Training

In addition to formal training courses, notary associations offer a variety of educational resources to help you stay sharp. The NNA has a fantastic Notary Bulletin publication with articles on notary best practices, legal updates, and industry trends. State agencies also often provide handbooks, FAQ pages, and other resources specific to your state’s laws and procedures. Bookmark these sites and refer to them often.

Networking Opportunities

Notary conferences and events, both in-person and virtual, provide great opportunities to connect with other notaries and learn from their experiences. I’ve picked up so many helpful tips and tricks from chatting with seasoned notaries at association meetups. Many state and national associations also have online forums or social media groups where you can ask questions, share advice, and stay up-to-date on the latest notary news. Don’t be shy – jump in and introduce yourself. Becoming a notary public is a big responsibility, but also a rewarding way to serve your community and expand your professional skill set. By understanding the requirements, following the application steps, and staying engaged with notary resources, you’ll be well on your way to a successful notarial career. Happy stamping.

Key Takeaway:

Want to be a notary? Start by checking off the basics: Be 18 or older, live in your state, and get ready for some learning. You’ll also need to pass a background check and maybe even get fingerprinted. Once you’ve got that down, fill out an application and pay a fee. Don’t forget about getting bonded and possibly insured – it’s all about protecting yourself and others. Gear up with the right tools like stamps or seals, keep detailed records in a journal, and stay on top of renewals and education to keep your commission fresh.

How NotaryCam Selects Notaries

Becoming a notary public is a responsibility that carries the weight of ensuring the integrity and security of legal documents. At NotaryCam, we understand the importance of selecting notaries who are not only qualified but also deeply committed to upholding these standards. The process involves several key steps designed to vet candidates thoroughly.

Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming Part of NotaryCam

  • Application Process: Prospective notaries must first complete an extensive national notary association-approved application process. This includes providing detailed personal information, previous experience as a legal assistant or in related fields, and any prior convictions or felony charges.
  • Educational Requirements: Candidates are required to undergo specific training courses that cover relevant laws and ethical considerations for notaries public. These courses typically address learning how to prevent fraud, understanding homeland security implications, and mastering the correct handling of sensitive information.
  • Surety Bond and Insurance: Applicants must purchase surety bonds and may be advised to get additional insurance coverage as protection against potential claims. Surety bonds serve as a financial guarantee from bonding companies that protect signers from errors made by the notary.
  • Background Check: A comprehensive background check is conducted on all applicants to ensure they have no history involving crimes that would disqualify them from serving as a trusted public official.
  • Oath Taking Ceremony: Once approved, new members take an official oath in accordance with their state’s requirements before receiving their commission certificate which validates their authority as mobile or online notaries depending on jurisdictional permissions granted by each state’s office responsible for overseeing this sector.

The rigorous selection process ensures every notary joining NotaryCam meets high standards necessary for executing duties with utmost professionalism while offering flexibility like earning extra income through flexible hours suited around other commitments. This makes becoming a notary appealing across various demographics including real estate professionals looking towards becoming signing agents alongside their main careers.

Frequently Asked Questions in Relation to What are the Requirements to Become a Notary

What disqualifies you from being a notary in Ohio?

In Ohio, having a criminal record with felonies or crimes involving dishonesty can nix your chances to become a notary.

How much can a notary charge in KY?

Kentucky lets notaries charge up to $5 for most acts. Travel fees should be reasonable and agreed upon separately.

How much does it cost to be a notary in Ohio?

Becoming an Ohio notary might set you back around $130 when adding up training, application fees, and supplies.

How much does it cost to become a notary public in Hawaii?

Hawaii’s aspiring notaries look at about $40 for the application fee plus extra costs for bonds and supplies.


There you have it, folks: “What are the requirements to become a notary?” in a nutshell. It’s not rocket science, but it does take effort and attention to detail. You’ve got to be old enough, live in the right place, and keep your nose clean. A little bit of training and a few supplies, and you’ll be ready to roll.

But here’s the thing. Being a notary is more than just a title. It’s a responsibility. You’re helping people with some pretty important stuff. So take it seriously, and always do your best. Your clients will thank you for it.

You’ve got the skills, the drive, and the passion to become a notary. What are you waiting for? Start that application process today and watch as your dreams become reality. Before long, you’ll be the one people turn to for their important legal documents. Trust in your abilities – you’ve got this!