A Notary Public, or just Notary, provides a great service to the community, and being a Notary can be a great side hustle as well.
If you are an adult without a criminal background you likely qualify to become a Notary in your state. Here’s what you need to know about becoming a Notary and how you can use the designation to serve the public and earn some extra cash at the same time.
Table of Contents
- What Is a Notary?
- What are the Duties of a Notary?
- Are there Necessary Qualifications to Become a Notary Public?
- Who Can Become a Notary Public
- How Can One Become a Notary Public?
- Find Your State’s Notary Public Designation Website Page
- Review the General Procedures for Becoming a Notary
- Potential State Variations You Might Find
- How to Earn Money as a Notary
What Is a Notary?
A Notary is a person appointed by a state whose duty is to be an objective party verifying the legal signature of people on important documents such as wills, mortgage loans, and other legal documents.
U.S. States instituted the designation of the Notary Public to help protect citizens from fraudulent activity committed in their names. Notary Publics have one important duty, but that duty helps protect citizens in a variety of capacities.
Note that in this article we are referring to common-law notaries and not civil-law notaries. The common-law notary status we are discussing here refers to a public officer designated by an individual state.
A civil-law notary status is an educational status typically attained by attorneys who need special designation to attest to the validity of a document.
What are the Duties of a Notary?
A Notary’s primary duty is to witness and verify the legal signature of persons on relevant legal documents. When a Notary performs a notarization (or notarial act) on a legal document, the Notary is verifying that the person signing the document is indeed who they claim to be.
For instance, a Notary might verify identities and signatures on items such as:
- New mortgage loans
- Wills and estates
- Divorce decrees
When an authorized Notary verifies authentic signatures on various legal documents, they validate the verification with a Notary seal or stamp containing the signature of the Notary Public.
This stamp verifies that the signature of the legally responsible person was validated by obtaining the proper identification. Notary Publics require legal identification such as a valid Driver’s License or passport to be able to notarize a document.
And the Notary Public has a duty to confirm that the photo and description of the person in the valid ID matches the description of the person signing the legal document in their presence.
Are there Necessary Qualifications to Become a Notary Public?
There are required qualifications that must be met to become a designated Notary Public. Those qualifications are determined by the laws of the state in which you are working to obtain Notary Public designation.
We’ll talk more about how to find those required qualifications shortly.
Who Can Become a Notary Public
Each U.S. state has different requirements for becoming a Notary Public. However, on the whole, most states agree that applicants must be at least 18 years of age and must be a legal resident of that state with no criminal record.
Note that some states allow residents of neighboring states to obtain Notary Public designation for the state next to the one they live in or residents of any U.S. state to become a Notary Public for that state.
For example, any U.S. resident can obtain designation and serve as a Notary Public for the state of Wisconsin. Next, let’s talk about how one can go about obtaining the designation of Notary Public.
How Can One Become a Notary Public?
Here are the steps you need to take to obtain the designation of Notary Public in your state.
Find Your State’s Notary Public Designation Website Page
Each state has its own government page containing instructions on how to become a Notary. Finding your state’s Notary Public website page is easy.
When you visit the website of the National Notary Organization, you’ll find instructions on becoming a Notary for each state. Just choose your state from the drop down box to get the directions for your specific state.
Note that this is a for profit website that will give you instructions by state for becoming a Notary. However, it also tries to sell you additional services for becoming a Notary Public. It is not a government agency.
Most Notary Public designation applications are handled by the state’s Secretary of State or similar department.
Instead of using the link above, you can also do an internet search for “How to become a Notary Public in (insert your state’s name here)”. Doing so should lead your search results to your state’s responsible department for issuing Notary Public designations.
Review the General Procedures for Becoming a Notary
Once you find your state’s website, you’ll want to review the listed procedures and requirements for becoming a Notary. Then, follow the directions as stated.
In most states, you will have to pay a fee to become a Notary Public. The fee ranges in price from $10 up to over $100 depending on the state.
Be sure you read the procedures carefully to avoid delaying your Notary Public designation.
Potential State Variations You Might Find
Besides ranging in fee prices, you might find variations in state designations for Notary Public. Some of those variations might include:
- Which state you must reside in to obtain Notary Public designation for any given state
- Allowable legal records histories
- Length of designation period – usually between four and ten years
- Which states require you to be bonded
- Training required – most do not require training but some do
And other variations. Again, read the fine print on your state’s designated web page to determine the specific qualifications and variances for your state.
How to Earn Money as a Notary
After you obtain your state’s Notary Public designation, there are a few different ways you can use that designation to earn some side hustle income. Here are some suggestions.
Get Involved with Your Local Chamber of Commerce
The Chamber of Commerce in cities are popular spots that residents use to find Notary Public services. If you can get on the list of resources for your city’s Chamber of Commerce, you may find some income from that source.
Find a Niche
There are certain niches that need Notary Public services often, such as real estate. If you can form a relationship with local builders, title companies, or mortgage companies in your area, you may find they have need of regular notary services.
Advertise Your Services
Another way to find work as a Notary Public is to advertise your services on social media or at your place of employment. Decide ahead of time what you will charge for your services.
The rate you charge will depend a lot on your market. Some states suggest charging as little as $5 or $10 for notary services. Other resources will tell you that you can charge up to $100 for notary services.
You’ll get a feel for what you can charge based on the response you’re getting when you advertise your services. You may want to check with competitors to see what they’re charging as well.
Becoming a Notary is typically an easy process. Notaries provide a needed service to the community and having a Notary Public designation can be a way for you to potentially earn some extra cash.