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Q. Where can I get something notarized?
A. You can either go to a notary office, or have a mobile notary come to you. Please type in a zip code in the search box above to find a mobile notary in your area.

Q. What is a notary public?
A. A notary public is a state official who works independently to notarize signatures on documents, administer oaths & affirmations, certify copies of certain documents, and in some states write affidavits, depositions, and protests. The most important purpose of the notary public is to make sure that the person who signed the document is properly identified and that there is a permanent record of the information pertinent to the signing in the notary journal. Please keep in mind that state laws differ and that not all notarizations in all states require identification. This is a generalization that is made to be helpful for people to understand the general reason why the notary profession exists.

Q. Can I become a notary if I have a misdemeanor?
A. It really depends on the nature of the crime and how your state notary division looks at it. Generally, crimes involving dishonesty, fraud, or moral turpitude would disqualify you from being a notary public.

Q. Can I become a notary if I have a felony?
A. All states bar those with felonies from becoming a notary public.

Q. What is the process for becoming a notary public?
A. The process is different in all states. Please consult your state notary division. Contact information is available at http://www.123notary.com/statecontact.asp Generally you have to file an application and many states require a certain number of hours of formal training and an exam.

Q. What is the procedure in California to become a notary public?
A. California requires a six hour course and proof that you completed that course. Like all other states you need to file an application. Then, you need to take a proctored examination. The questions on the California exam have become much harder than in former years and there have been many significant law changes.

Q. Where can I find a good six hour course to become a California notary public?
A. There are many schools that offer courses. www.becomeanotary.us offers take home courses that are reasonably priced.

Q. What is the procedure in New York to become a notary public?
A. New York requires an exam, and you have to file an application too.

Q. Where can I find a good course to become a New York notary public?
A. www.becomeanotary.us offers affordable take home and e-courses to train you for the New York notary public exam. There are many other vendors offering courses too that you can find on Google for example.

Q. What is the procedure for becoming an Oregon notary public?
A. The prospective notary would have to complete a three hour course and then take an online exam.

Q. What if I do something unauthorized with my notary commission?
A. Most states have fines and penalties for notaries who break notary law. The worst penalties are for those who engage in fraud involving deeds to real property which could result in a felony. There are misdemeanors for other crimes. It is necessary to know all of the notary laws in your state and make sure you don't break any.

Q. How long is a notary term?
A. In California and New York a notary public term is four years. Other states are usually four years, but a few are five or more years. Louisiana commissions notaries for life.

Q. Can I renew my notary commission after my term is over?
A. Yes, but some states may require you to take a class, exam, or fill out more paperwork.

Q. Can I notarize outside of my state of commission?
A. No, except in some rare situations. A Georgia notary public can notarize outside of Georgia if the document being notarized is going to be recorded within Georgia. Also, many notaries elect to be dual commissioned, meaning that they get a second commission in a neighboring state or another state. Some states allow dual commissions while others don't. Generally states with major urban centers near a state border will allow it. Examples of areas where there are large urban centers near state borders that have dual state notaries listed on 123notary.com are: New York, Connecticut, New Jersey; Maryland, DC, Virginia; Tennessee, Mississippi; Kansas, Missouri; Iowa, Illinois; Washington State, Idaho; California, Oregon:

Note - A California resident can become an Oregon notary, but not the reverse. There may be other states that allow dual state commission, but these are the ones known to 123notary.com based on our clientele.

Q. Can I notarize in any county of my state?
A. Yes, except in Louisiana which allows you to notarize only in the Parishes which the state authorizes you to do so in.

Q. What are the steps to becoming a notary?
A. There is an application; sometimes mandatory schooling; some states have an online exam, others have no exam, while some have a proctored exam; most state require the notary to take an oath of office that is filed with the county clerk where their commission is based; a notary bond is required in most states; then you would receive your commission document or be informed that it was prepared; getting your stamp is the last step: some states require a written authorization certificate while others just let you go to the five and dime and just get one before you even filed your application. After you are a commissioned notary, you can get your other supplies like certificate forms, journals, embossers, fingerprint pads, bags, etc. Notary Public Q&A

Q. Errors and Omissions insurance?
A. It is usually not required by law in most states, but prudent to have some E & O insurance to protect yourself from lawsuits due to honest mistakes. If you did something fraudulent, you are still personally liable even with Errors and Omissions Insurance.

Q. What fees do I charge?
A. Most states have a maximum fee. Just check your state's notary division website or webpages to verify. Other states have a fixed fee that you must charge without giving discounts, etc. Other states have a set fee for certain types of notarizations but not for others. In such a case, the notary would have to guess what to charge. It might be advisable to charge a similar fee to what is prescribed for other similar notary acts.

Q. Can a notary notarize if the signer is not present?
A. No, the signer must personally appear before the notary public. Some states allow a Proof of Execution where another person can appear before the notary and swear that a third party signed a document.

Q. Can I affix my seal to a document or piece of paper?
A. Not without text on a document naming the individual who is signing, or without notary "boiler plate" wording ( verbiage ) for the type of notary act that is going to be performed. It would be illegal for a notary to stamp a document unless completing a notary act in regards to the document.

Q. Can a notary notarize if the signer doesn't have identification?
A. State laws vary on this point. Many states allow the notary to "personally know" the signer and notarize them without identification. Generally, a signer should have valid government issued identification such as a current drivers license, state ID, or passport. Some states allow credible witnesses to sign the notary journal and identify the signer.

Q. Can a social security card, credit card, or marriage license constitute positive identification?
A. No. Generally, in most states, a proper identification should be a picture ID with a signature, physical description, and expiration date. A credit card with a picture does not meet all of those criteria, nor do the other choices.

Q. Who can be a credible witness?
A. An uninvolved person ( someone not mentioned in the document and not a family member ). Neighbors and friends are commonly used. The biggest problem with credible witnesses is that they might know the signer as "Fred" and not really know what his middle initial or last name are.

Q. What if a person's name on the ID and the document don't match?
A. If the name on the ID includes the name on the document, but is longer, then you can proceed. However, if the name on the ID is different, or shorter, then you need credible witnesses

Q. Capacities? What is that?
A. A capacity is the signer's job or position they are signing as. They could sign in their capacity as an individual, or if they are an attorney, then in their capacity as an attorney. Company president would be another capacity. Check your state laws to see if a notary can legally certify or verify a person's capacity, but on notary certificates, a notary is allowed to document the signer's capacity.

Q. What does the notary do when they move to a new state?
A. They have to terminate their commission in the original state, and may apply to become a notary in the new states. In most states its easy to become a notary, however, California involves diligent study, live scan fingerprints, and a proctored exam, not to mention waiting time between steps.

Q. Can another person use the notary's seal?
A. Never ever!!! Perhaps a co-worker or boss might feel entitled to use the seal, especially if they paid for it, but they could get into legal trouble as a result. Only the notary who's name is on the commission and seal may notarize using that commission.

Q. Can a notary notarize part of a document?
A. If the notary sees that pages are missing from the document, or if the notary is only given the signature page of the document, that is not acceptable. The document must be in one piece ( stapled together ) and the notary certificate must be "attached" which means stapled.

Q. Can a signer add pages to a document that has already been notarized?
A. No. The signer would have to put together a brand new document with the new page and have the whole unit notarized. Smart notaries carry an embosser which leaves a raised seal and emboss all pages of all documents notarized during their commission. That way, if a page is swapped after the fact, it can be proven that its a swapped page and not an original.

Q. Can a notary backdate?
A. Backdating means to record that the notarization took place on a date earlier than the notarization actually took place. It is a crime to backdate. No matter how badly your desperate clients need you to backdate, don't do it. You could lose your commission. If the notarization takes place around midnight, either date would suffice, although its best to look at your watch when they complete their signing of the journal and base the date on that event.

Q. If a notary is notarizing two documents for the same signer, how many journal entrees are necessary?
A. One journal entry signed by the signer is necessary for EACH notarized signature. Getting thumbprints in journal entries is required in some states for deeds involving real property, and also in California for Powers of Attorneys. It is prudent to take a thumbprint in any case since it deters fraud and can not be forged.

Q. Can a notary public notarize foreign language documents?
A. Most states will allow a notary to notarize documents written in a language other than English providing that the notary section is in English. The notary, however, must be able to communicate with the signer without a translator.

Q. Can a notary certify a translation?
A. No. However, you could have the signer write a statement swear under oath that the translation is accurate if the signer needs something in writing that is notarized. They they are the ones certifying the translation, not you.

Q. Can a notary notarize for an elderly person who can not sign their own name?
A. There is a signature by mark or by "X" procedure allowed in many states. This requires two subscribing or signing witnesses to be present, sign the journal, and each witness writes part of the signer's name on either side of the X. Make sure the signer can communicate and knows what they are signing just in case the loving family members who requested you are trying to defraud the signer.

Q. How do I notarize for a signer who can barely communicate who is in bad medical condition.
A. Sometimes its hard to know where to draw the line. The signer should be able to describe the main features of the document as proof that they understand what is going on, otherwise, you can get into trouble down the road if the seemingly loving family members are trying to defraud the elderly signer. Its best to talk with the signer on the phone as a prerequisite to booking the appointment to prove that they can talk. If they are sleeping twenty-two hours a day, chances are they will be sleeping during your appointment too which will make talking quite difficult.

Q. Can I notarize my own signature?
A. Don't notarize your own signature if you are a notary public.

Q. Can a notary attach two certificates for one signature?
A. No. However, a signer could sign a document twice, sign the journal twice and have two certificates notarized.

Q. Can a notary notarize without adding a notary certificate?
A. A notary certificate is a piece of paper with wording on it. The wording for each particular notary act ( varies state by state ) must be either part of the document ( at the end of the document generally or after the signature section ) or attached ( stapled ) as a certificate generally to the back of the document.

Q. Can a notary notarize for a family member?
A. The law differs from state to state. If you have a financial or disqualifying interest in the document or are named or involved in the document, then you should not notarize a document for a family member. If you are not involved in any way with the document, some states will allow it, but its safer to refer them to another notary who is not a family member.

Q. Can a notary notarize a document in which he is named or has financial or beneficial interest?
A. No. Find another notary who is uninvolved and disinterested in the document.

Q. Can a notary notarize a photo?
A. You can not just apply your seal to a photo. You could notarize a signature on a statement regarding a photo and attach the photo to the statement. The signer could swear that the photo is really them for example.

Q. Can a notary notarize a will?
A. As a general rule, a notary should not notarize a will unless an attorney has given him or her clear instructions to do so. Other states allow notarizations of wills, if the drafter of the will ( an attorney hopefully ) write notarial certificate wording at the end of the will which would indicate that he or she wanted it to be notarized. Generally wills require witnesses during the signing, not notaries. A notary could be one of the witnesses.

Q. Can I notarize a certified copy of a birth certificate?
A. No. However, many notaries do what is called a copy certification by document custodian which is where the signer swears that the copy is a true, correct, and complete copy of the original.

Q. Can a notary notarize a certified copy of a marriage certificate?
A. No. However, many notaries do what is called a copy certification by document custodian which is where the signer swears that the copy is a true, correct, and complete copy of the original.

Q. Can a notary notarize a death certificate.?
A. No. However, many notaries do what is called a copy certification by document custodian which is where the signer swears that the copy is a true, correct, and complete copy of the original. Notaries can not make certified copies of vital records. Its best to ask the government office who is the custodian of the document to give you a copy.

Q. Can I notarize a copy of a passport or university transcripts?
A. Many notaries do what is called a copy certification by document custodian which is where the signer swears that the copy is a true, correct, and complete copy of the original.

Q. Can I notarize immigration documents?
A. It depends on which document you are talking about. Affidavits of Citizenship and Affidavits of Support and commonly notarized. Make sure not to give immigration advice and its also recommended to let your clients know that you are not an attorney and can not give legal advice.

Q. Can I notarize a document with blanks in it?
A. You should either have the blanks filled in or crossed out. A document with blanks in it invites the content of the document to be changed after its signed which would be a liability for a notary public.

Q. What are some characteristics of the notary journal?
A. It should be bound and sequential and have areas for the date, time, type of notarization, type of document, name and address of the signer, type of identification provided, additional notes, signature of the signer, fee, and thumbprint of the signer. Not all of these fields are required in all states, but they are all important.

Q. How must a notary keep his or her seal and journal?
A. Many states require the seal and current journal in use to be kept under lock and key. Even if your state doesn't require this, it is prudent to keep that information locked up as the journal has legal significance as it is a record of the notarization of hundreds of documents and as the seal could be used by a fraudulent person.

Q. Can a notary advise the signer as to what type of notarization to do?
A. The notary is not allowed to give legal advice and choosing the type of notarization would constitute legal advice.

Q. Can a boss of a notary who paid for the notary's commission and seal inspect the journal on his or her own?
A. The notary must be present for security reasons when inspecting the journal.

Q. Can a notary in an employee-employer relationship notarize for a non-customer?
A. Since a notary public serves the public, they must be able to notarize for anyone. However, a non-customer might not even be able to get in the door, so there might be practical bars to a non-customer receiving notary service.

Q. Can a notary use his seal after hours in an employee-employer relationship
A. The law says that the notary can notarize 24 hours a day for anyone who is properly identified. However, in real life, its hard to say what each individual employer will allow. Many might try to infringe upon the legal rights of a notary public and for political reasons, the notary might feel too intimidated to protest.

Q. What if there is a conflict between what the boss wants and what the law says?
A. The notary will have to choose who he or she wants to get in trouble with: the law, or the boss. The boss can not throw him or her in jail, but the law can. This applies to independent notaries who work for loan signing companies who want them to backdate or notarize without proper identification. You might lose the customer if you decline, but you will not be in jail at least.

Q. Does the notary have to resign their commission when leaving the company that paid for their commission?
A. No. They can keep their commission as long as its valid. Please consult your state notary website on this matter as each state has different policies on many matters. The notary must always be in control of their seal and journal and in many states they must be kept under lock and key with the notary being the only one with the key.

Q. What if the signer signs their name in Chinese characters or has some really unreadable signature?
A. See if the signature matches the one on the person's identification. If it matches, it is okay.

Q. What are some common documents that a notary would notarize?
A. Loan documents including deeds of various sorts, affidavits, contracts, powers of attorney. Immigration documents that can be notarized would constitute affidavits of support, and please check with your state notary division regarding other immigration documents as this is a sensitive issue. For signers traveling to Mexico, affidavits of citizenship are common, as well as parental consent forms for children to travel accompanied by only one of the parents or another adult.

Q. What do I do if there is no room for the seal?
A. You either cram it in somewhere, or seal it over some of the text. Do NOT affix you seal over a signature or notarial wording or you void the notarization. You could also attach a loose certificate.

Q. Notes in my journal? What is that section for?
A. Once in a while, notaries must appear in court because of some shady activity their clients engaged in. If a notary has good documentation, they might be merely questioned as to whether or not they have a thumbprint in the journal and if they have any recollection of what went on during the signing. The additional notes section of your journal is like "Court insurance". Just write down any unusual things about the notarization. Was someone lying down? Did someone look shady? Did someone try to get out of being thumb printed? These are all noteworthy things to record.

Q. How do I administer an oath?
A. If there is no wording given to you, its normal to ask the signer to raise their right hand. Its amazing how many signers can not physically raise their right hand all the way up. Seemingly normal adults become physically challenged and can not raise their arm more than forty degrees. The notary could ask, "Do you solemnly swear that the contents of this document are true and correct?" If the verbiage is short, the notary could ask, "Do you solemnly swear that you are a citizen of the United States?" if that was the content of what the oath was to be about. Acceptable answers include, "I do", "Yes", but not, "mmm", "uh", "ha", or "ah".

Q. What if the content of the document is wrong?
A. Its not the notary's business to establish if a document is correct or not, so long as its complete and signed.

Q. Can I affix my seal in advance of when the signer signs the document or the journal?
A. No, that is illegal and you can have your commission suspended, or revoked for that, not to mention possible criminal penalties. Its not worth the convenience.

Q. Faxed documents? Can I notarize them?
A. Yes, providing the signature is fresh and not faxed.

Q. What if the husband signs in Shasta county and the wife signed in Mariposa county, what is the county on the venue?
A. You could write "Shasta and Maricopa" after "county of". However, its better to attach two separate certificates so that you can have a definitive county on each one.

Q. What do I do if my seal is blurry or smudged?
A. You could attach a certificate and start the certificate wording and stamping all over again. If the document is being recorded, you could cause financial damage to the lender and/or borrower if the document gets rejected, so you might have the signer sign your journal a second time and keep the original notarization and notarize it again using a certificate so if they like the first notarization, they won't be bothered by the fact that there is a certificate. Some recorders don't like certificates even though they are legal.

Mobile Notary Q&A

Q. What is a mobile notary?
A. A mobile notary is a notary who travels to the client. There is no legal distinction between a notary and a mobile notary as the government has no rules regarding mobile notaries and no paperwork necessary to become one providing you are a notary public in your state. Mobile notaries generally charge a travel fee on top of notary fees.

Q. What travel fees can I charge?
A. There are a handful of states that regular travel fees which can seriously effect your income as a mobile notary. However, most states allow the notary to charge whatever they like as a travel fee. Other states require the notary to agree with the customer either before engaging in travel or before affixing the notary seal what the travel fee would be which would be prudent in any case. Arizona, Connecticut, Maryland, Nevada, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Utah, and Washington all have restrictions as to what travel fee a mobile notary can charge. Some states have fixed amounts a notary can charge per mile while Nevada actually differs its official rate depending on what time of day it is. Please read the details on the page corresponding to your state accessible on the "Find a Notary" page of 123notary.com.

Q. What is a loan signer?
A. Loan signer is a type of mobile notary who is experienced and knowledgeable at facilitating loan signings which generally take place in a borrower's house at their dining room table.

Q. Where can I learn loan signing?
A. Many websites catering to notaries public and mobile notaries have courses including 123notary.com. Please visit http://www.123notary.com/loansign.htm to learn more.

Q. What is a signing agent?
A. A signing agent is a fancy term for a loan signer. It is the same thing.

Q. What is a certified signing agent?
A. Being certified is done by websites who cater to notaries. The certification is not controlled, or standardized by any state government. It is up to the company who provides the certification to set their own standards. Being certified is optional, but highly recommended if you want to do well in the mobile notary business. It is best to get certified by all of the websites that you plan to advertise on. Being certified by the NNA will not help you on notaryrotary, and vice versa.

Q. What if the name on the document needs to be changed per the lender's instructions?
A. Initial the changes under the last several letters of the typed last name and the processor will write in or type the correct name. Then have the borrower sign the way the lender requests. Some processors will even be kind enough to forge your signers initials as a courtesy to themselves.

Q. How does a mobile notary get customers?
A. A mobile notary can advertise on websites such as 123notary.com, physical yellow pages ( online doesn't produce much results ), calling signing and title companies, and distributing flyers to nursing homes are the most effective ways.

Q. Can a mobile notary have their own website?
A. Yes, but creating a good website is expensive, and marketing it is complicated. If you are going to be a full time mobile notary for years and years then you might consider having a site. Websites are not useful unless they are very professionally created and marketed which is time consuming and expensive.

Q. How do I market the website?
A. Good search engine optimization and use of pay-per-click advertising with geo-targeting would be the best way. Also, having incoming links is another great avenue to getting web traffic.

Q. What if I'm asked to go to a bad area at night?
A. You do not have to accept all jobs as a mobile notary. You could also meet the customer in a safer location that you feel comfortable with and that is close enough for them to agree to. Starbucks is a very popular place for mobile notaries to go. One Starbucks became so popular with notaries that they now have a "Grande Jurat-achino" that they swore under oath was the best caffeinated drink they had ever had.

Q. Can the notary explain the terms of a loan?
A. No, that would constitute giving legal advice which is prohibited. A notary can explain where certain pieces of information are, but can not interpret a document even if they are well trained in loan documents. A notary also should not let the borrower when the loan will fund, even if the lender has told them. The borrower must be referred to the lender for all specific pieces of information relating to their loan. Just say, "Please ask your lender".

Q. What should a notary do if they don't get paid by a signing company?
A. Collection companies are easy to hire. 123notary.com staff member Carmen Towles has a standard letter with good verbiage which generally gets people to pay, so give our toll free number a call if you have a problem.

Q. What should a notary do if a Deed of Trust states that a property description will be on an exhibit, and the exhibit is not included in the package?
A. In such a case, you would be notarizing an incomplete document which is not allowed.

Q. What should I know about recorded documents?
A. Recorded documents like deeds and subordination agreements must have no cross outs and clear notary seal impressions otherwise they could be rejected by picky recorders. Each recorder is different, but its best not to take chances.

Q. What if the notary wording given differs from the official wording of my state?
A. Generally, outside of California, its okay to notarize using the out of state wording if the document is being recorded or filed in the state in which the particular wording is used. However, according to new California laws, the notary can get in big trouble, or even fined up to $10,000 if they don't use the correct notary verbiage. Please research your state's notary laws to be sure of what you can and can not do.

Notary Work and Jobs Q&A

Q. Where can I find notary jobs, find mobile notary jobs or notary signing agent jobs?
A.  The best way to market your mobile notary services is to advertise on notary directories such as 123notary.com and in the yellow pages.

Q.  How can I get notary on site field inspection jobs or bank foreclosure field inspector jobs?
A.  There is a lot of information about this topic on our forum.  Please use the search tool and enter the term "field inspection".

Q.  Where can I find signing agent work?
A. The best way to market your mobile notary services is to advertise on notary directories such as 123notary.com and in the yellow pages.

Q.  Where can I find mobile notary network meetings?
A.  Notary forums are the best place to look for mobile notary network meetings.

Notary Signing Agent Q&A

Q. Where can I find notary signing agent courses?
A. 123notary.com has a large variety of notary signing agent courses on our loan signing course page. The LS#3 combo is the most popular and most thorough and comes in a printable format, or online ecourse, or take home book format.

Q. How can I find signing agent work?
A. The best way to get signing agent work is to advertise on online notary directories such as 123notary.com as well as physical and online yellow pages.

Q. How can I find certified notary signing agent jobs.
A. The best way to get certified signing agent jobs is to advertise on online notary directories such as 123notary.com as well as physical and online yellow pages. It also is beneficial to be certified by 123notary.com as a loan signer which is not expensive and can be done in a few hours. 123notary's loan signing certification test is a timed online test and comes with a prep book. Please contact us at info@123notary.com for more information.

Q. Which signing agent message boards are the most popular?
A. 123notary.com has a very informative signing agent message board with posts about signing companies, mentoring, notary law, and much more. In addition, 123notary.com has a rated list of signing companies accessible from the resource page.

Q. What type of site is Signingagent.com?
A. Signingagent.com is a popular directory of signing agents run by the National Notary Association.

Q. What is the background check for notary signing agents?
A. Background checks for signing agents are popular, but it is unclear how many signing and title companies require the notary to have a completed background check. Before you pay for a background check, you may want to ask potential employers if they require it.

Q. Do I need Notary signing agent certification?
A. 123notary.com's research indicates that notaries who have the notary signing agent certification designation get close to double the amount of visits to their listing than those who don't. We highly recommend getting certified by 123notary.com. 123notary.com does not recognize certification's from other agencies as their testing standards vary greatly from ours.

Q. Where can I get notary signing agent training?
A. 123notary.com has a large variety of notary signing agent courses on our loan signing course page. The LS#3 combo is the most popular and most thorough and comes in a printable format, or online ecourse, or take home book format.

Q. Where can I find signing agent companies?
A. 123notary.com has a list of several hundred signing agent companies ( called signing companies ). Please find that information in our resource page.

Q. What are loan signing agents?
A. Loan signing agents are notaries who specialize in loan signing. We generally recommend that you take a course to become knowledgeable about loan signing before accepting jobs. Please visit our loan signing course page for more information about courses to help you become a loan signing agent.

Q. What are normal notary signing agent fees?
A. Notary signing agent fees vary from roughly $40 to $200 per job. The amount of compensation you get can vary greatly depending on what type of contacts you have, and how much experience you have. Being an expert at marketing your services is also very helpful to help you command the highest notary signing agent fees.

Q. Is there such thing as a notary signing agent salary?
A. There are very few companies that hire signing agents on a salary basis. The vast majority of notaries are independent contractors and are paid separately for each job and do not receive anything like a notary signing agent salary.

Q. Which notary signing agent websites do you recommend?
A. 123notary.com, notary rotary, and notary cafe are the most popular sites as of 2008. Gomobilenotary, and notary.net are also popular. We have various posts on our form about which notary signing agent websites our notaries think the most highly of.