Wallet Hacks

How to Find a Notary Public to Notarize Documents

Before we bought our first house, I had no idea what a notary public did.

Turns out that notary public is a public official that has been given the right to “administer oaths and affirmations” by the state. When you need to sign a document and “prove” you were the one signing it (or more importantly, the document requires it), you need to find a notary public (usually shortened to notary) to watch you do it. You show your ID, you sign, and they put their stamp on the document indicating they witnessed it.

If you've ever looked for Missing Money (I recommend you give it a look if you haven't in the last few years), the claim forms will require you to get it notarized.

When I worked at a company, all the administrative assistants were notary publics. It made finding a notary for my home purchase documents simple.

In the years since, having left corporate America, finding a notary has become slightly harder.

Where to Find a Notary Public

Anyone could be a notary public. So just start stopping people on the street and asking!

I'm just kidding, here are the best places to look:

It's best to find someone who you know you can find again, like the bank or UPS store, because you may need to reach out to them again in case there's something wrong with the document. 99.9% of the time it's unnecessary but precautions are usually to make those rare 0.1% less impactful, right?

Why Not Become a Notary?

It's not difficult to become a notary. In Maryland, you can apply with the Maryland Notary Public Division and the fee is $11 ($9 for the application, $2 to pay with a credit card). You have to pay for various supplies too, like the record book. A commission lasts four years. It's pretty cheap.

I thought about doing that too.

Here's the catch – you can't notarize your or your family's own documents! You can't notarize anything where you have a vested interest or could benefit from. While the universe of situations where you can turn your notary public stamp into a foundtain of cash is … well, nil… it's frowned upon. (maybe my imagination isn't wild enough)

Technically, you should “refrain” from it so it's not expressly forbidden … but why push it. 🙂