How to Become a Notary

how to become a notary

You have probably used the services of a notary. Most likely, you needed documents notarized when you transferred ownership of a vehicle.

But a Notary can perform much more diverse work than simple title transactions. They are needed by banks, law offices and more. A county clerk may be required to become a notary, due to the number of documents going through the office that need to be notarized.

What’s the fastest growing segment of the field? The mobile notary.

What is a Notary?

A Notary – also called a Notary Public – by the federal notarial act, is a state-commissioned public official and must be a legal resident. The notary performs various administrative functions, such as certifying signatures on contracts. The notary must verify the identification of the person doing the signing before he or she can notarize documents.

Although a Notary is often involved in the signing of legal documents, notary services do not include any obligation to provide legal advice. A notary public is on the list of service businesses you can always add as part of your company. Moreover, it is also one of the best solopreneur businesses you can start.

How Much Does it Cost to Become a Notary?

The cost varies according to state requirements. Some states require a state-approved training course for notary applicants.

All states require that you make notary application to be tested, take and pass an exam, and you’ll need notary education, often offered as a community college course or self-taught course (using state-supplied materials).

Although states differ, there are certain costs that all states share:

A notary application fee and educational materials- can range from $15 50 $50.

An exam fee – can range from $15 t0 $50.

Notary seal (to make the notary stamp) – from $35 to $100.

Errors and Omissions Insurance – about $700 annually.

How to Become a Notary Public

Remember, each state may have a slightly different notary application process for you to become a notary public. Here are the basics:

  1. Check your Office of the Secretary of State. The state regulates notaries and their terms (typically four years).
  2. Make notary application by applying to take the state exam.
  3. Pay the filing fee
  4. Do the training and study work. Notary courses may often be offered at community colleges, or you can take online courses.
  5. Take the state exam for your notary public commission
  6. Undergo a background check. Most states also require that you be fingerprinted.
  7. Get your state commission certificate
  8. Purchase a surety bond (also called a notary bond). That costs from $700 to $1,000. The bond safeguards the public against the notary’s actions.
  9. File the paperwork for your surety or notary bond with the state’s office.
  10. Purchase notary supplies such as your notary seal.

How to Become a Notary Signing Agent

A Notary Signing Agent is different than a Notary Public. The Notary Public often does a variety of work, but a Notary Signing Agent focuses solely on notarizing home loan documents.

Both go through the same process – make the notary application, study, pass the state exam. The difference is in the narrow scope of the work performed by a notary signing agent.

Notary Signing Agent are hired by loan and title companies.

Both notaries public and notary signing agents need to have passed an exam as required by the Secretary of State notary commission, as required by state law.

A notary public commission is good for four years. A Notary Signing Agent must undergo an annual background screening and exam.

How to Become a Mobile Notary

A mobile notary goes through the process to become a notary. He or she makes notary application, studies, and passes the state exam. They purchase notary bonds.

Here’s the key difference – as you have already guessed – the mobile notary travels. And this is where a notary can make extra money.

States have set fees for the amounts a notary can charge for a service. For example, a typical fee earned by a Texas notary public for a document signing is $6 for the first signature, and $1 for each time the same person again signs the same document.

In following the stipulations of a notary commission, that’s all a notary can charge. But a notary can charge for travel. Since most notary publics are independent contractors, being able to charge for travel is a plus.

States are adapting to technology. Some states allow a notary to witness a signature by using a webcam or shared screen on a computer. You’ll have to check your specific state guidelines.

State Requirements for Becoming a Notary

State requirements may be similar. For example, in all states you must pass an exam. Some states require a score of 80% minimum.

In California and Oregon, a notary must take a state-approved training course. In North Carolina, the fee to get the educational materials is $10, the cost to take the state exam is $50 and you must score 80% or higher to pass.

Check the requirements with your secretary of state. Most states require that you purchase a notary bond.

How Do You Make Money as a Notary?

Once you’ve purchased your notary bonds from a bonding agency and purchased the necessary notary supplies such as your notary stamp, you’re ready to start earning your notary commission. Join your state notary association, which will help customers find you.

Here are 5 ways a notary can make money:

  1. Notarizing deeds connected with the transfer of land and property.
  2. Taking a deposition or written statement from a witness or person involved in legal proceedings.
  3. Handling the transfer of ownership of vehicles, trailers, motorcycles, rvs, boats and similar property.
  4. By becoming a signing agent for home loan documents.
  5. By administering oaths.

How Much Money Does a Notary Make?

Some states set caps on notary fees. Remember that you can also charge for travel, and extras such as printing and courier service (delivery of notarized documents).

The Bureau of Labor Statistics includes the notary salary under “office and administrative support workers.” Office and administrative support workers earn an average of $35,000 annually.

Typical fees a notary can collect are:


$6 for the first signing, and $1 for each successive signing (from the same person). For example, if two people are signing a document, a notary can charge $12 the first time the two make a notarized signature, and $2 each time the two sign again.

Witness Deposition

50 cents for each 100 words.

Single loan closing

An average charge is $150.

Set fees by location

$50 for signings at a hospital or nursing home, $100 for signings at a jail.

Excessive wait

If parties are late (more than 30 minutes), you can add a $45 charge.


Typically, a $25 flat fee plus a mileage charge.

Image: Depositphotos

Lisa Price Lisa Price is a staff writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 4 years. She has a B.A. in English with a minor in journalism from Shippensburg State College (Pennsylvania). She is also a freelance writer and previously worked as a newspaper circulation district manager and radio station commercial writer. In 2019, Lisa received the (Pennsylvania) Keystone Award.