Question: Can you be a notary in multiple states?
The short answer is yes, but you’d need specific requirements and qualifications to accomplish this.
Not all states will allow this. For example, the state of New York will enable non-residents to apply for a notary license in the state only if they are operating a business in New York State. Other states allow you to be a notary only in the state you physically reside in. Notary commissions are not transferrable between states. This is for the simple reason that notary rules and regulations can vary between states.
Another reason commissions are not transferable between states is because not all services are allowed in each state. In Florida, for example, notaries are allowed to perform weddings and act as wedding officiants, but in New York, this service is not permitted as a notary.
Often, notaries are asked to notarize for two signers, but the signers live in two different states. You will most likely see this arrangement with sellers who are related and in a contract together, or with buyer and seller contracts when one person sells a property to another person residing somewhere else, but both need to sign the documents.
The notary will notarize the document for the signer in their commissioned state, and then the other signer would have their signature witnessed by a notary in the state in which they reside. The custodians will not sign the documents simultaneously. Instead, there will be two copies of the same document with both signatures.
Now that you have a basic idea of how commissions cannot be transferred and sometimes you cannot be a notary in two states, many notaries may ask…but does it matter which state you provide notary services once commissioned?
The answer is yes; it matters. If you are commissioned in one state and provide notary services in the same state as your commissioned license, you are within your state’s notary laws and guidelines.
If you are commissioned in one state but want to notarize in another state with no commission, you violate your commissioned state laws if you are not doing business in that state. Notary publics are legally allowed to notarize documents from any state as long the notarial act is conducted within the geographical boundaries of the notary’s state of commission.
Which States Allow Remote Notarization?
Since the pandemic hit, remote online notarizations (RONs) have become a popular service. New York will be authorized to perform RONs effective June 2022 and will join 30+ states who have already authorized RONs. Remote online notarization is also called webcam notarization, online notarization, or virtual notarization.
Remote Online Notarizations are performed using video technology so that the signer can see the notary. The signer must be present during the meeting, provide valid identification as if they were in the presence of a notary, and have their signature witnessed by the notary.
Currently, 40 states have passed notary legislation laws for RONs. Out of those states, 34 have laws in effect as of November 2021. Those states include the following:
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont (see below), Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
For more information, National Notary Association has a great resource on How to Become a Remote Online Notary.
If you are interested in becoming a notary or learning more about the process, be sure to follow our blog. We will continue to update our readers on the latest news and changes related to notarizations – including those affecting RONs. In addition, we provide tips and resources that can help both current and aspiring notaries succeed in this field.
For more information about unique Notary services, check out our article on 24 Hour Notary Services.