How to be a notary

What is a Notary Public

How to Be a Notary

A notary public is a public official appointed by the Secretary of State. Each state empowers notaries to perform different duties, such as administering oaths and taking acknowledgments. As a notary, it’s important to remember that you serve the public and may not unreasonably refuse to perform a notarial act for any public member who tenders the statutory fee and meets all requirements prescribed by the statute.

However, notaries are responsible for not exceeding the authority of the office by offering opinions or advice. A notary must always comply with state law and provide high-quality service while remembering that a notary public does not have the training or authority to prepare legal documents or recommend a course of action in legal transactions. In these cases, it’s best to recommend that an attorney be consulted.

Steps to Become a Notary Public

To become a notary, you’ll first reach out to your Secretary of the State. Requirements differ from state to state. In some states, you will be provided with a manual to study and are expected to pass an exam. Depending on each state, the cost to become a notary will vary. There is an application fee and the cost of any background screenings, training and/or required supplies.

There are also renewal fees when your notary commission expires, typically every 2-5 of years. Notaries who choose to become loan signing agents will need to meet separate requirements that are not associated with the Secretary of State, but the basic rules and regulations of performing your notary duties apply regardless of the task or document.

There are some other great resources online. Please also reference this article, How to Become a Notary Public, when you’re finished reading this one.

How do Notaries Make Money?

There are a variety of ways to bring in revenue as a notary. Keep in mind that you will typically act as an independent contractor and receive a 1099 form.  As such, you are responsible for paying your own taxes. 

Here are some of the most common ways to make money.

  1.  Become a loan signing agent. This mobile notary helps facilitate mortgage closings and can earn $100-250 per appointment.
  2.  A mobile notary is a notary public doing general notary work who travels to a home or office to notarize a specific document or a set of documents. Your state will dictate what you can charge for this service.
  3. You can transcribe and notarize court documents for a specific amount. For instance, you can transcribe and sign depositions and affidavits that witnesses provide before a case is taken to court.
  4. Depending on your state, a notary could be a wedding officiant whose responsibility is to verify the marriage license and other legal requirements of the bride and groom. 
  5. Technology has created a platform for a digital notary. This provides more work opportunities for notaries because of its convenience. If you want to work for an online notary company, ensure you are a commissioned e-notary public.
  6. Become a field inspector. Notaries have the reputation of being reliable, precise, and detail-oriented; these are the essential qualities that a field inspector needs to have. Agencies usually hire independent field inspectors to inspect vehicles or commercial and residential properties visually. Financial and insurance companies require the service of field inspectors to check and validate the information that their clients provide about their properties.

A notary has many opportunities to earn a significant income as a side hustle or full time business.  Just make sure you always follow your state laws and keep current with new rules and regulations. 

If you are interested in pursuing a career as a notary, ensure you check the requirements and the application process specific to your state. Once you become a commissioned notary, don’t limit yourself. Explore all the opportunities shared in this article.

Would you like to learn more about being a notary? Read our article on what documents a notary can sign.


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