How to Become a Notary

August 19th, 2022 / Notary Association of America

Becoming a notary public has many benefits. Some people pursue it as a way to earn extra income alongside their current job. Others start a notary business to become their own boss.

Whatever your reason is for considering becoming a notary, this guide will tell you how to get started.

Basic Steps to Becoming a Notary

In general, becoming a notary is easy as one, two — that’s it! The two basic steps to becoming a notary is common in most states:

  1. Meet state qualifications for notaries
  2. Complete the notary application process

The first step is the easiest because it’s less about what you need to do and more about your age, residency status, and other requirements (more on that below).

The second step, completing your state’s unique application process, is where a lot of variation and extra steps can come up.

Before we get into more detail, the important thing to remember is you can do this! The process of becoming a notary is less complicated than you might think, and Notaries.com can help guide you along the way if you have any questions.

Notary Requirements and General Qualifications

There is currently no federal notary regulation. All notary laws and requirements are handled by individual states, usually through the Secretary of State’s office. That’s why you’ll find so much regulatory variety between states and why some states require more qualifications to become a notary than others.

However, these are the three basic requirements that nearly every state has in common:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be a legal U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Have no felony convictions

Beyond this, it’s important to check for any state-specific requirements. For example, many states require applicants to read, write, and understand English.

In most states, a notary commission allows you to serve as a notary anywhere within that state. But some states, like Nevada, allow people living in neighboring states to apply if they work in Nevada. Remember to check residency requirements for the state in which you’re applying.

The easiest way to find your state’s application requirements is to click “Select Your State ” at the top of this page and then click on the “Notary Guide” tab. Or, if you have specific questions, you can contact us anytime.

How to Complete Your Notary Application

Once you’ve determined that you qualify to become a notary in your state, the next (and longest) step is completing the application process.

General notary application steps include:

  • Paying the state filing fee
  • Filing all application paperwork with your local regulating official
  • Obtaining notary supplies
  • Completing training or passing an exam*
  • Obtaining a surety bond*
  • Completing a background check*

*Required in many states but not all

Frequently Asked Questions

Looking for more information about the notary application process? Here are some helpful FAQs.

How Much Does It Cost to Become a Notary?

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer that applies to everyone. States set their own prices for things like application filing background checks. The main costs come from the application fee (which ranges from $10 to over $30), the notary bond (if needed), exams (if needed), and notary supplies.

One way you can cut costs and simplify your notary application process is by considering an “all-in-one” solution like Notaries.com. We offer low-priced packages that contain everything required in your state, which can include a surety bond, a notary stamp, and a record-keeping journal. We also provide a frameable notary certificate.

Do I Need to Take a Class or Exam to Become a Notary?

Along with an initial financial investment, becoming a notary can also involve a time investment. Will completing a training course and passing an exam be part of your notary journey? The short answer is maybe.

Like with application costs, states control training requirements. States that require notary training include:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania

If you live in a state that requires training, we include your training course in our comprehensive state notary package! Just select your state to get started.

Don’t like taking tests? Becoming a notary might be a great option because most states don’t require an exam! States that do have an exam requirement are:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Hawaii
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Utah

What Supplies Do I Need to Become a Notary?

You don’t need much to operate as a notary in your community! The three most important things you need include a notary certificate and an official state seal. Your state may also require you to keep a notary journal.

To make things easy, our complete notary package includes everything you need. After you get your notary commission, we send you a custom self-inking stamp. Notary journals aren’t required in every state, but we highly recommend them.

What Is a Notary Bond, and Do I Need One?

Most states require notary applicants to purchase a notary bond and submit proof of purchase along with the application. Think of a notary bond as insurance for your customers. It protects them against any potential notarization mistakes you make that cause financial harm. To protect yourself from potential errors, you’ll need errors and omissions insurance.

What Is Errors and Omissions Insurance? Do I Need It?

No state requires errors and omissions (E&O) insurance, but it’s a low-cost protection that can save you a lot of trouble, especially during the early stages of your notary career. While notary bonds protect customers, E&O insurance protects you, the notary, against any financial costs you might face from a notarization error.

When you purchase one of our complete notary packages, you can purchase an E&O insurance policy that covers you for the entirety of current notary term. You can choose from a number of options to choose a level of coverage that makes sense for you.

More FAQs About Getting Your Notary Commission

Why Choose a Notary Career?

Notaries enjoy benefits such as additional income, flexible hours, and the opportunity to be their own boss. If you’re hoping to work as a notary full time, the average annual pay for a notary public in the United States is $55,061, according to ZipRecruiter.

Can Someone Help Me During the Notary Application?

Yes! When you purchase a complete notary package from Notaries.com, we make the application process simple. In many cases, we take your information and pre-fill parts of the application for you. We also provide detailed instructions for every remaining part of the application that we don’t pre-fill.

Our notary packages also include detailed web instructions. Find these by selecting your state at the top of the page and then clicking the “Notary Guide” tab.

What Exactly Does a Notary Public Do?

A notary public is state-appointed person of integrity who acts as an impartial witness to the signing of important transactions. The notary performs notarial acts, including acknowledgements, oaths, and affirmations, which validate transactions.

A notary's primary purpose is to prevent fraud and forgery by requiring the personal presence and proper identity verification of the signer.

Next Steps

If you’ve decided to pursue a notary commission in your state, you’re already in the right place! Select your state from the list at the top of this page to purchase a complete notary package that provides everything you need to start your notary career.

If you have any questions along the way, we have lots of other articles that can help you. And don’t forget to contact us with any questions!