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Becoming a Notary May Be the Right Career For You

There are critical identifying attributes that everyone possesses to confirm their identity. One is the compulsory and ubiquitous social security number granted by the United States government; another is our signature, which is self-generated by each individual. The government-granted social security number is a very objective and finite identifier. Unfortunately that means it must be protected and kept from the public eye. Ultimately, an individual's thumbprint is potentially the most secure and definite identifier (and that is exactly why it is used by law enforcement). A person's signature, however, is more easily forged (copied) by creative, perfidious individuals whose integrity is questionable. Enter the concept of the Notary Public. Incredulously, the first Notary Publics can be traced back in history to ancient Egypt as far as 2750-2250 B.C.! Regardless of its origin, the concept of the Notary involves using secondary sources to ensure that a person's signature was indeed produced by the correct person. This deters fraud and protects the entire citizenry. With that said and the Notary Public defined, could you possibly be a viable candidate to obtain your Notary?

The 8 Steps to Obtain Your Notary

Although the steps may differ slightly from one state to another, the following is a general guide in obtaining your Notary license:

  1. Check out the statutes for the Notary requirements in your state of residence;
  2. Pick up the Notary application from your local county government office;
  3. Carefully complete the application and submit it with all pertinent information and fees, if applicable;
  4. Upon state approval, post any applicable bond and take the oath with the local office;
  5. File the new Notary with the local office;
  6. Determine the scope and extent to which you wish to use your new endeavor;
  7. Determine your fee and advertise your new credential via word-of-mouth, social media, or paid advertisement;
  8. Be sure to maintain a current license. Renewal requirements vary from state to state.

The Steps Explained

Early groundwork in getting the Notary license involves checking online with the particular state for a list of requirements, such as residency, background checks and administrative fees. Almost all states process Notary applications through either the Governor’s office, the Lieutenant Governor’s office or the Secretary of State.

The Notary application can almost always be picked up from the local county government office. This is usually the county clerk’s office but it might differ state to state. There are a few states that do require an exam to become a Notary (namely Connecticut, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine, Nebraska, New York and Utah); there are also a few who require a Notary education course (namely California, Colorado, North Carolina and Oregon).

Carefully complete the application and return it to the noted office provided with any required fee (usually nominal, such as $10). In most cases, the application will be processed by the state office and returned to the local office, who will notify the applicant. Again, it is important to note the process on the given application. The applicant then has a reasonable time frame (such as 30 days) to come to the local office to do the following:

  • Post a bond (if required);
  • Take the Oath of Office; and
  • File and record the commission with the local county clerk's office.

The Notary Commission is very rarely a position of substantial compensation when simply based on affirming documents for the public. This is because the general public can obtain a notary service for free at local banks and sometimes at public libraries. However, this does not preclude any and all profiting of a notary’s time and effort; it is possible, and even probable, that a notary may charge a nominal fee of $5 to $10 for notary services. Some citizens may be surprised to learn that notaries in Florida, Maine and South Carolina can perform civil wedding ceremonies and sign the marriage licenses! Hence, this may be a viable avenue for earning moderate fees.

It is critical that the Notary applicant must complete prudent research for their resident state before proceeding with this mission. In most cases, possessing a notary license is most useful as a “side” act in addition to a full-time job. Keep in mind that there are ethical rules that must be followed, such as not notarizing family members and friends’ documents if they do not meet the required criteria. Ultimately, the Notary commission is a business endeavor that can produce minimal financial results while reaping plentiful business experience.