A notary business is quick to start and some notaries can earn upwards of $30,000 per year of additional income, and requires as little as $200 to begin. Just filling out an application, meeting your state requirements, completing a few courses, securing a bond, and filing your paperwork will get you up and running.
In your notary business, the state will set the maximum amount that you can charge per signature for notarial acts. While the initial salary may seem limited in charging 50 cents to $15 per signature, the opportunities in beginning a notary business are endless. For example, with only a bit of additional training after your notarial certificate, you can become a notary signing agent which can often charge $100 for a single loan signing.
Here are the six steps to follow to start your own notary business.
Step 1: Confirm Your State’s Requirements
Individual states have their own requirements, but there are some basic commonalities between them. They include that you:
- Be at least 18-years old
- Reside in the state you’re applying to
- Have no felonies or convictions in areas related to notary service (such as fraud)
- Read and write in the English language
- Haven’t been revoked by a notary commission in the past
State notary requirements can vary from state to state, even among the basic guidelines stated above. For example, the state of Pennsylvania requires that a notary be able to read and write in English, while the state of California does not have this requirement.
The National Notary Association provides a guide to see the specific requirements in your state to become a notary. Use the drop-down menu below to select your state, then view the requirements on the National Notary Association website.
Step 2: Complete Your Education and Training
While most states have a standard application process for becoming a notary, the education and training they require can vary. For example, after your initial application, Pennsylvania law requires you to choose a classroom course or e-learning course and pass an examination within six months of your initial application. This is a fairly typical path for a notarial certificate in states that require education.
How Long Will Training Take
From filing an application to a finished exam, in states that require coursework to become a notary, you can complete your requirements comfortably in 3 months if every organization is operating optimally. The efficiency of communication within government organizations can vary depending on the state, however, and sometimes be delayed. In planning your notary business, it is important to take into consideration the pace at which some government organizations operate, and not to draw any hard lines.
It should be noted that only 12 states mandate training to become a notary, while the rest highly encourage individuals to take educational training voluntarily. To find out what your educational requirements are to become a notary, visit the Department of State for your own state of residence.
If your state has no education requirement to become a notary, but you’d like to learn more about the profession before offering services, the National Notary Association does provide information on courses that you can take on your own and a number of resources to get you up to speed.
What Does Notary Training Cost?
Of those states that required education, most courses were approximately three to six hours long, around $200 in cost, and could easily fit into an already busy schedule. States like Florida offer education to become a notary free of charge and online. Be sure to check to see what the requirements are in your state, you might be pleasantly surprised.
Step 3: Get a Surety Bond if Required
While it is expected that you will perform your duties well as a notary, a surety bond that protects the consumer in case you make an error that causes them financial damage. A surety bond for a notary will be different than purchasing a surety bond for another business and usually far less expensive. The amount of surety bond required for you to become a notary will vary by state.
What Does a Surety Bond Cost?
A notary surety bond for $10,000 costs about $30 for four years of coverage and gives the consumer confidence in your work and some protections if there is an error. For example, if you acquire a surety bond, it would pay any consumer damages up to the amount of the bond in the case of your negligence or error.
It’s important to remember that a surety bond is not the same as an insurance policy, and as the notary, you would be required to pay the bond company back for any amount they give on your behalf. Unlike educational requirements to become a notary, most states (over 30 at the time of this article) do require a surety bond.
Some notaries, although not required, do choose to carry an insurance policy called an “Errors and Omissions Insurance Policy” because it would offer far more protection.
Step 4: File Notary Paperwork to Be Official
After all the requirements are met, filing the paperwork to become a notary seems like it should be very straightforward, but often it is not.
Every state commissions notaries according to their own guidelines, so be sure to check your particular state for how they prefer submissions to be conducted. Sometimes states require that you submit applications through your bonding agency, while others only require that you submit materials online.
While the method of submission varies by state, what you submit will likely be fairly consistent. Required elements often include:
- Documentation of completed coursework and/or exam (if required)
- Background check (if required)
- Citizenship or residency
- Proof of bonding
- Other elements you would be familiar with when reading through this article
When your application is approved, you’ll receive your commission certificate and are officially a notary! Commissions typically last for four years before they require renewal, with some states extending that time a bit longer.
Step 5: Buy Your Notary Supplies
While you should purchase your notary certificates (approximately $25 per 100 certificates) and state notary primer (approximately $20) from your state of commission or through the National Notary Association, here is a list of other products and their estimated prices that you can purchase elsewhere:
Most states will require that you purchase two items when you become a notary — an official seal stamp and notary certificates. It’s also highly recommended that you purchase two other items — a notary journal and a state notary primer book.
While the official seal stamp is how you will make your mark, notary certificates are absolutely essential purchases for less obvious reasons. When you become a notary, you will perform different types of notarizations and they require different certificates — all of which have specific wording required by law in the state you practice. Be sure to order a good supply of various types.
A pro tip with your notary certificates is that when you are a member of the National Notary Association, you can often download notary certificate forms at no cost!
A notary journal, in our opinion, should be a required purchase and is also highly recommended by the National Notary Association. When you become a notary public, you want to be sure that you protect both yourself and the general public by keeping a solid record of your notarizations. While not necessarily required by law, it is one of the easiest, least expensive, and most important thing you can add to your notary arsenal.
While not absolutely essential, if you live in a state that does not offer mandatory training (and even if they do), you may consider purchasing the guides offered by your state to keep on your shelf. For example, Pennsylvania offers a “Pennsylvania Notary Primer,” which is a guide you can always refer back to for notary laws and procedures. A small purchase like this can make all the difference when you want to operate your new opportunities smoothly and with confidence.
Step 6: Advertising Your Services
When you finally become a notary, you can begin advertising your services. In a digital world, people will be looking for notaries online so that’s exactly where you want to be when they search.
For a lot of people, where to begin advertising can seem overwhelming. We have some great tips on how to advertise your services on Google to gain new business and even $150 in free credits to get you started with Google and Bing. As a new notary without an established client list or reputation, you want to be where people are looking. As individuals search for a notary in their area to assist them, be the person who is savvy enough to get their lead.
The process to starting your notary business begins with completing the requirements for commission.
The Bottom Line
Talking about how to become a notary in real estate is really a discussion of how to expand your career and income potential. Starting off as a notary has five specific steps to completion, all of which can easily be completed in well under six months, for a reasonable price, and with minimum upfront investment.
After your initial notary commission is completed, you have opportunities to begin earning money in addition to your existing real estate business. Feel free to add your new skills to your website or build a separate website advertising your services. You may find yourself having some new real estate clients or clients from real estate who decide to use your notary services in the future.
If you are so inclined, being a notary also opens the possibility to become a signing agent where you have the ability to facilitate mortgage signings and use many of the connections you’ve already built over the course of your real estate career. However, the first step to becoming a signing agent is to first have your notary commission.