Getting started as A Notary
Becoming a notary is an easy, but valuable process. This guide will walk you through the steps necessary to become a notary, whether you want to work as a full-time notary or just want to be prepared in case you ever need a notary for your business or personal affairs.
What Is A Notary
A notary public is a public officer appointed by the state to serve the public as an impartial witness in performing a variety of official fraud-deterrent acts related to documents. Most countries have notaries public, but their powers and duties vary widely. In most cases, a notary must be trained, licensed, and bonded before he or she can begin working. In many countries, a notary’s signature, seal, and name are legally binding; in others, these are administrative requirements only.
A notary gives legal value to documents through an oath or affirmation that the contents of the document are true and that any signatures on the document are genuine. This function is known as “notarization,” from the Latin notarius, meaning “a person empowered to administer oaths.” The term has ancient roots and can be found in Roman law.
Why Become a Notary?
Becoming a notary can be an excellent way to earn some extra income. While you’ll have to pay for your training and notary seal, the time you spend could be well worth the money you earn. Notaries public are also able to charge for the time they spend notarizing documents, so if you find a lot of business through word-of-mouth, you can make quite a bit per hour. Notaries public are in high demand and many people need documents notarized. A notary public can provide their services through online or in-person formats, making it a valuable service for both business owners and individuals.
In addition to the benefits of getting paid for witnessing signatures, becoming a notary can also be a great way to provide valuable services to your community. A notary public helps make their community less vulnerable to fraudulent activity, making it an excellent option for those who want to earn some extra income and help keep their communities safe. Finally, some employers also encourage or require employees in certain roles to become notaries.
Required qualifications to become a notary public vary by state. In most states, the qualifications are:
- You must be at least 18 years old.
- You must be able to read and write the English language.
- You must be a citizen of the United States or have legal status as a resident alien.
- You must never have been convicted of a felony or any offense involving moral turpitude.
If you meet these requirements, the next step is to contact your local county clerk’s office and request the application for appointment as a notary public. Many states also require notary applicants to take notary training classes that show applicants how to check for a valid ID, how to spot a person being coerced to sign, and other critical skills.
Bonds & Insurance
There are many reasons why a notary needs to be bonded in addition to being insured:
- Bonding protects the public by providing a layer of financial security in case the notary makes a mistake, such as improperly certifying a document or performing an unauthorized act as a notary.
- It protects the notary and his or her family. If you make a serious mistake as a notary and someone files a lawsuit against you, bonding covers your legal fees and other costs associated with defending yourself.
- It provides peace of mind for your clients.
For most people, hiring the right person to perform a service is just as important as getting the service done right. If they’re paying you to serve as their official witness on an important document, they’ll feel more secure knowing that you’re backed by an insurance company rather than working on your own.
Notaries may face civil lawsuits if they commit malpractice by performing services outside of their jurisdiction without permission from the proper authorities or if they fail to carry out their duties correctly. By contrast, there is no civil liability for executing documents outside of one’s jurisdiction because that is considered to be part of one’s legal authority as a notary public.
Applying For Your Notary Commission
Applying for your notary commission is a one-time event, but you must renew your commission every so often to keep your powers of notarization active. The process of applying for a notary commission varies significantly across states. Some require in-person filing, while others allow online filing and electronic submission of supporting documents. Face-to-face meetings with officials are required in many states, and some states require an interview or exam before granting a commission.
A few states provide online resources to help you through the application process. The National Notary Association also provides several useful resources to help you navigate the application process. If you’re applying for your commission in person, at the office of a county clerk, be sure to arrive early enough that you can make it through the steps without having to rush. Many offices have long lines for notaries on filing day, so be prepared for a wait.
Once your application is accepted by the state, you’ll receive your notary commission and other important documents in the mail.* To file with the county or state, include completed documents and any required fees with your application.* After you’ve been commissioned as a notary public, remember to renew your commission on time!
Once you’ve secured your notary commission, you’ll want to secure the tools you need for notarizing documents. The following list details the most important supplies for a notary:
- A Notary Journal– You need to record each of your notarizations in a journal. This will protect you and your customers from any errors or fraud that might occur at the time of the transaction. A journal is also essential for maintaining an audit trail of all your actions as a notary public.
- A stamp or seal – You’ll use this to mark documents as having been “sealed” by a Notary Public, which indicates that they’re official and legally binding.
- Business cards – Your business card should include your name, address, and phone number, as well as the wording “Notary Public.” These cards are essential when meeting with clients in-person to ensure they can easily find you again if they need to complete another transaction at a future date.
- Pens– To always be able to write your signature or hand out to clients
As a notary, presence matters. You must establish yourself and get new clients who will return.
To succeed as a notary, you will need to:
- Find notarial services leads
- Increase your visibility on the Internet
- Land more notary appointments
So, if you’ve decided that a career in notary services is right for you—go for it! It’s as simple a process as filling out a few documents, taking a class and exam. but once you are ready and have done your research, you can get started. You can find the application or application renewal forms online at the secretary of state website in your state. Go ahead and press on!
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