We Know: All About Becoming a Notary Public

What Is a Notary Public?

A notary public has been licensed by a state to perform certain functions. The functions and licensing procedures vary from state to state, and your notarization is valid only if performed in the state for which you're licensed (in other words, if you're a California notary, you can't notarize documents in Oregon). The most basic function of a notary is to place a seal on official documents or documents to which the assignatory parties (the folks who signed it) have to swear or attest to its veracity and legitimacy.

In some states, notaries public are recommended to the notary board by a public official; in others, notaries public need to attend a short course of classes to learn what they need to know.

Particularly if you are of Hispanic background, you should realize that a Notary Public is NOT the same thing as a Notario Publico; American notaries have much more limited powers and may not give legal advice or prepare legal documents. Their function is more that of a professional impartial public witness.

How Do I Become A Notary In My State?

You are best off contacting your state's notary board. This is usually included under the State Attorneys Office. You can also look at the online site of the National Notary Association for more information.

How Much Does It Cost?

This varies a little from state to state. In states where you have to take a class, you will have to pay your own tuition, which should fall in the mid-3 figures. Every state requires notaries to carry a bond insurance policy (you can get information about this by talking to your insurance agent -- many homeowner's insurance companies will also bond) which will cost a small premium annually. And you'll have to purchase your notary seal and stamp and any other items your state requires. Typically, you can become a notary for under a thousand dollars, and in states where you aren't required to take a class, for under a hundred.

Can You Make Much Money as a Notary Public?

Unfortunately, probably not by itself. Most people become licensed notaries to enhance other professional duties: Legal secretaries and paralegals, for instance, often become notaries, and every bank needs at least one notary on staff. In places like California or Florida, where notaries public can marry people and perform other functions, you may have a better chance of making money as a notary.

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