Your Guide to Becoming a Notary Public and Notary Exams

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Notary Public

Most people are unaware of the important role that a notary public plays.

Notary Public

A notary public, also sometimes just called a notary, plays an important role in today's legal system and economy. Most commonly known for notarizing documents, or affixing their stamp or seal to a document, most people are unaware of the important role that a notary public plays or what their actual responsibilities include.

Role of a Notary Public

The role of a notary public is a very important one. Their main responsibility is to verify the signing of important documents, as well as verify that important public records are in fact real. As a sworn government official, a notary public protects people from fraud by ensuring that people are who they say they are, are free and willing to sign important documents, and that documents are official. Some common functions of a notary public include notarizing, or affixing their notary seal or stamp, to public record (birth certificates, death certificates, land deeds, etc.); witnessing the signing of official documents like mortgage documents; and verifying the identities of people signing important documents or agreements.

Responsibilities of a Notary Public

The notary public can perform many different services and have many different responsibilities. The most common responsibilities of a notary public are:

  • Notarizing official public documents like birth certificates, death certificates, and land deeds
  • Verifying the identity of parties about to sign a document
  • Giving people a sworn oath before important documents are signed
  • Witnessing and providing a notarial certificate after the signing of official documents
  • Making sure that both parties signing a document are doing so of their own free will
  • Recording official protest letters
  • Certifying power of attorney documents
  • Verifying the age of the person signing a document
  • Working with law firms, banks, real estate agents, and other businesses in the community to notarize official documents and keep public records
  • Keeping an accurate notary journal
  • Following the correct procedures for notarizing documents and witnessing signatures

Working with a Notary Public

If you need to work with a notary public, there are certain things you should look for as well as prepare for to make sure the transaction goes smoothly. First, make sure to look for a notary public with experience who is well known in your community. Ask friends or family who work in industries where a notary public is often needed (like law, real estate, banking) for recommendations. Additionally, be prepared to pay for the notary fees in your state. These fees generally range from $1-$10. You can also look for a mobile notary if you want to find a notary public that will travel to you.

Becoming a Notary Public

The process for becoming a notary public differs in each and every state. In most states the process involves completing a notary public application, paying a fee, and passing a notary exam that makes sure you are ready to perform your duties as a notary public. In some states you may also have to take a notary class. Once you submit your application, either the office of the Secretary of State or County Clerk will review it. If you are accepted as a notary public you will be sworn into office and ready to start your business as a notary public.