Frequently Asked Questions
Am I qualified to become a notary in my state?
In all states, you must be at least 18 years old, a legal resident of the state you wish to become a notary in, and to have not committed a felony.
How long will my notary commission last?
The length of the commission depends on the state, which are as follows:
Alabama: Four Years
Alaska: Four Years
Arizona: Four Years
Arkansas: Ten Years
California: Four Years
Florida: Four Years
Idaho: Six Years
Illinois: Four Years
Indiana: Eight Years
Kansas: Four Years
Kentucky: Four Years
Michigan: Six Years
Missouri: Four Years
Nebraska: Four Years
Nevada: Four Years
New Mexico: Four Years
North Dakota: Four Years
Oklahoma: Four Years
Pennsylvania: Four Years
Tennessee: Four Years
Texas: Four Years
Utah: Four Years
Washington State: Four Years
Wisconsin: Four Years
Do I need a seal and stamp?
Most states require notaries to have a stamp; those that don't recommend it.
How do I renew my notary commission?
States do not have automatic renewal processes. Therefore, in order to renew your commission, you must reapply through a state approved bonding agency.
When should I start the renewal process?
While the length it takes to become a notary changes per state, it is generally recommended you start the process at least six to nine months early.
Do I need to take any classes to become a state notary?
Most states do not require aspiring or renewing notaries to complete any education, but Florida, Missouri, and Pennsylvania do. We offer online notary education at www.notaries.com.
Do I need to buy a notary surety bond?
Yes, a notary must provide a surety bond to the state. The amount of the bond limit varies per state.
Do I need errors & omissions insurance?
No, no State requires notaries to purchase errors & omissions insurances. However, most states recommend it as it serves to protect the notary, unlike the notary surety bond, which protects the public. Notary errors and omission (E&O) is a critical component of any notary's portfolio. E&O insurance protects you, the notary, against any potentially devastating financial costs of lawsuit that could result for an error you make as a notary. It is a misconception that your notary bond protects you when it in fact, protects only your customers. If your bonding company has to make payment on a claim against you, under the principles of surety, you are required to reimburse the bonding company for the claim plus legal expenses. With E&O insurance, you'll never have to worry since it provides primary protection and pays your claim first—before your bond.
Doesn't my employer protect me while notarizing on the job?
No. Notaries are individually responsible for all of their actions. Even if you notarize for your employer, you are responsible—no matter who paid for your notary commission.
What types of losses does Notary E&O cover?
Simple oversights such as failing to affix your notary stamp/seal or properly identifying the signer(s). Even if the claim isn't valid, you still could be faced with court costs while defending yourself. Without E&O, these costs would come out of your pocket.
What does notary E&O provide me?
- Protection against any claim for an error or omission allegedly made by you
- Protection from personal liability
- Coverage of all defense costs
- No deductible. The policy pays from the first cent
- Protects the notary whether the claim is true or false
- Covers you on the job
- Provides for legal fees and expenses
- Offers affordable protection
- Provides you with peace of mind
Do I need to keep a notary journal?
Most states require notaries to keep a journal of their activities. Even if it's not required, it is recommended.
What can a notary do?
Usually appointed by the secretary of state, a Notary Public serves as an impartial witness to the signing of important documents in order to deter fraud and similar acts. The number one job of a notary is to authenticate identity. Notaries are often the first defense in stopping identity theft.
Notaries may also take acknowledgments, administer oaths and affidavits, verify vehicle identity numbers, attest photocopies, verify contents of safe deposit boxes and solemnize marriages (in Florida and South Carolina only).
Can my business pay for my notary application and training?
If my business pays for my notary and I leave my place of employment, am I still a notary?
Yes. The notary is personal to the individual no matter who paid for the notary commission.
Can my business keep my notary stamp if I leave employment for any reason?
No. The notary stamp belongs to the notary. Any business keeping the notary stamp should be reported immediately to the office that issued the notary commission such as the Governor or Secretary of State's office.
Can I notarize for family members?
No. You may not notarize for mother, father, sister or brother. You can notarize for stepmother, etc…
Does the person whose signature I'm notarizing have to be present?
Yes. If they are not, you are in violation of state notary statutes. Notaries are never under any circumstance allowed to violate the presence requirement.