How to stop being a Notary
How to stop being a notary is not as simple as it might sound. Closing your notary business is a bit of a taboo topic, but sometimes it just happens. And as a notary, you have some specific responsibilities in closing-up-shop that differ from other businesses.
It could be that your mobile notary business never quite caught on in your area. Maybe you found a full time job that was a better fit, or perhaps you won the lottery. For whatever reason, sometimes there comes a moment that it just makes the sense to stop being a notary and close your business. From the moment you received your notary commission, getting bonded and insured, registering with signing services, your first signing experience and your last, it’s important to make the decisions that work best for you.
I ran into this scenario when I landed my dream job working as Spanish teacher in a school where I could create my own program. I had worked as a teacher previously, and then as a nanny (which is when I started my notary business part-time). I recently moved to a different state, it just made more sense to let my commission expire and move forward with more fulfilling pursuits.
There is no problem or shame in this! If you’re like me, notary work has been fulfilling as an adventure, provided an opportunity to own a business, and a chance to meet a wide variety of people with whom I might never have crossed paths.
So, where to begin? Similar to opening your notary business, there are certain steps you should take to close it. Here are some essential actions, as well as some optional routes.
How to resign your notary public commission
While every state is different in how you get your commission, most states will ask you to resign your notary commission when you determine you will no longer be using it. This is done through the Secretary of State’s office.
When I moved to Ohio, I contacted the Wisconsin Secretary of State, who gave me a contact to send both my journal and stamp. Upon the date I requested, my commission was resigned, and I was free to move on or seek commission in a different state. Learn more about transferring your commission between states.
Not all states have the same requirements. Some states require you to turn in your stamp but not your journal, and vice versa. Some states require a written, certified letter to request the resignation of your commission. It’s important to get acquainted with your state’s requirements so not to face any legal ramifications. You should never complete notarizations outside of the state where you hold your commission and legal address, and you should have your personal information up-to-date with the state at all times.
What to do about notary signing services
Take it from me – the best thing you can do for your business is to close it with dignity. If you have followed the golden rule of signing up with at least 100 signing services, you will have a lot of calls to make and emails to send in order to notify them that you’re going to stop being a notary. Most signing services do not have the time to wait for your information to expire, and they definitely do not have the time to make sure your notary commission is still active if you haven’t let them know it is not. Just because your commission has been resigned does not mean you will stop receiving phone calls.
The best course of action is to contact each signing service and let them know you have resigned your commission. You can allow your credentials to expire, but in their eyes, you are in business until you let them know otherwise. Sure, it will take time to make all those phone calls, but it leaves the signing services with a positive image of you in their system in case you ever decide to resume notary work. I prefer to take care of this with a phone call, but it can also be accomplished by sending a standard email to all the companies you’re registered with.
Update your website and contact info
Similar to the signing services, it’s best to retire the contact info for your notary business.
- Change the homepage of your website to reflect your current status.
- Update your voicemail greeting to alert callers that you are no longer doing notary work.
- Contact repeat clients directly and let them know.
- Post a message in your social media channels.
By taking these actions, you are leaving the window open for people in the business to retain your info in case you re-join in the future. It provides a positive exit for you.
Several times throughout the closing of my business, potential clients reached out through my website or one of my listings with notary directories, like Notary Jane. Leaving the window open to tell them personally that I was no longer taking signings allowed me to forward them to a notary that could help them. It left a positive image with them and allowed me to exit with a good reputation. I don’t think you need to fully delete all of your profiles if you plan to return to the business, but it’s important to make sure any info you have available accurately reflects the current status of your business.
Dealing with files and confidential information
At the point of stopping your notary business, you should sort through any paperwork remaining in your possession. If you have confidential documents for any reason, it is important to shred them, so long as you have not been instructed to keep them by a contractor.
If you have educational documents, such as books or training programs, my personal advice would be to hold onto these. You never know when this information will come in handy! My husband is involved in real estate investing, and the biggest takeaway from my notary work is the education I received. I plan to keep my training materials, because I can always reference them when we have questions when working with other NSAs. While anything confidential needs to go, keep your education. You worked hard for it, and no one can take it from you.
Congratulations on your transition!
Closing your notary business is likely to be a bittersweet affair. Hopefully you can find the positives, no matter your situation. Working as an NSA, like anything else, is a unique experience and can be extremely rewarding. Finding the right path for you, even if it is not notary work, can be rewarding as well.
Whatever you decide, make sure to follow the necessary steps to close your business with dignity, feeling proud of all that you accomplished, and making sure not to close any doors, just in case. Thanks for reading and sending you all positive vibes!
For further information, the SBA has a good article on how to Close or Sell your Business.
By Jenny Craven