Your Guide to Becoming a Notary Public and Notary Exams

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Become a Notary

Learn how to become a notary public.

Become a Notary

There are many reasons to want to become a notary - as part of your current employment, to create your own small business, to get involved in government and serve as a public official, and more. Whatever the reason you have for wanting to become a notary public, it is important that you follow the correct procedures for becoming a notary and prepare fully for your responsibilities. Being a notary public is an important and trusted job and many people in your community will rely on your services.

What is a Notary Public?

A notary public is an official government representative, normally appointed by the Secretary of State, who serves as an official witness to the signing of documents and verifies the authenticity of important documents. Although notaries perform many duties, there most common role is witnessing the signing of documents such as mortgages, deeds, wills, trusts, and contracts. First the notary verifies the identity of each party and then ensures that each part is signing of their own free will. They also may have the parties take an oath before signing. In addition, many notaries provide the public with official, notarized copies of important public records like birth and death certificates. The notary seal is an important part of today's society and stands for trust and veracity.

How to Become a Notary

Depending on the state you live in, you will need to follow a specific procedure to become a notary in your state and begin working as an official notary public. This procedure is unique to each and every state, and sometimes even to counties. The following is an overview of what it could look like to become a notary.

  1. Get the State Notary Public Application
    The first thing anyone should do who wants to become a notary is to get the notary public application for your state. The application may be available from the state website or you may need to go to a local Secretary of State of County Clerk's office for the application. Having the application will provide you with the specific instructions for your state so that you can start the process to become a notary.
  2. Take a Notary Public Class
    In many states you are required to take a notary public class, either online or at a local community college in most cases, to learn about the duties of a notary public. These classes in most cases must be completed before you submit your notary public application. In all cases, it is recommended that you take a notary class even if your state doesn't require it to ensure you fully understand the responsibility and role of a notary public.
  3. Pass the State Notary Exam
    Many states require that you pass a notary public exam before you can become a notary. These exams normally can be taken online or in person and there is a minimum passing score. Taking a notary class is the best way to prepare for the notary exam but there are also books and state produced materials that can help.
  4. Complete the State Notary Public Application and Submit References
    Once you have taken the notary class and passed the notary exam, you are now ready to turn in your notary public application, pay the state mandated fee, and submit any letters of reference that are required. In some states you will need 1-3 letters of recommendation along with your application.
  5. Take Your Notary Oath of Office
    Once your notary public application is accepted, in most states you will need to take an oath of office to officially become a notary. This usually takes place in another notary public's office or with the Secretary of State.
  6. Purchase Your Notary Seal, Notary Bond, and Notary Journal
    To work as a notary public, you will be required to have a notary seal, notary bong, and a notary journal. In some states you may need to purchase your notary bond before you submit your application. This notary bond protects you in case any mistakes occur while notarizing a document.
  7. Begin Working as a Notary Public
    Finally you are ready to become a notary public and start working. Reach out to local businesses that usually require notary services like real estate agents, law firms, and other places of business with contracts. Tell friends and family to spread the word. Leave business cards in local businesses and watch your business grow.