Notary is one of the most desirable professions. However, before you are able to claim this title, you will have to go through a process and prove yourself as a person who is suitable for this job. After all, this is an important position.
You will be a local government official who will be responsible for approving documents. As a witness designated by the state, you are the person who will attest that signed legal papers are legitimate. Wills, contracts, deeds, and prenuptial agreements are some of the documents you will get to work with and give state approval.
If you’re thinking about making this your career, these are the steps you need to take before you become a notary.
1. Do You Meet All the Necessary State Requirements?
Although the rules do vary from state to state, there are some stages you will have to go through no matter where you live. You have to be older than 18, a legal resident of the state where you apply, and fluent in English (reading, writing, understanding).
If you have been convicted of a felony, you will not be allowed to apply in some states while others will permit you to go on with the procedure under certain conditions. For example, written statements with details about your crime and life after conviction, the certified state copies of journal entries (sentencing order and judgment), and Restoration of Civil Rights Certificate are required in Florida.
2. Take a Course
To become a notary, you have to gain knowledge regarding the legal area you are going to work in. That’s why you need to take a course and get familiar with what this job actually entails. The training usually takes from 3 to 6 hours while the price depends but should be higher than a couple of hundred dollars.
Also, in most cases, you will be able to listen to these lessons from the comfort of your home thanks to the online classes. After that’s done, in some states you will also have to pass a state-mandated notary test.
3. Fill Out the Application
After you’ve got the necessary training, the next step is to submit the official application. Make sure all the information you provide the state in this document is accurate. You can get a copy in the secretary of state’s office or online. There is also a mandatory notary fee that you have to pay. Just like with the course, the prices differ from place to place, but they generally are somewhere in the range between $10 and $60.
4. A Background Check and Additional Documents
Aside from filling out an application with basic personal information, you might need to submit additional documents. In some states, you will have to go through a background check and prove you are not involved in any legal issues. Something like this usually takes 1 to 2 weeks.
Aside from personal information, you might also need to submit employer information, driver license and car registration, a birth certificate, and character affidavit aka references. The person who is willing to vouch for you has to know you personally, but can’t be related to you.
5. Getting a Notary Seal
This piece of notary supply is essential if you want to perform these duties. Each time you do a notary work you will have to mark those notarized documents with your personal seal. In the case of a Florida notary, this seal will include your name, expiration date, and commission number as well as the words “Notary Public – State of Florida”. Once you get it, make sure all the information on it is correct otherwise it won’t be valid.
6. Notary Journals
Notary journals or record books are not required by each state but are strongly recommended. As its name suggests, this book will serve as a register of every notarization you performed and as such is a form of protection against liability. It will come in handy if any of them gets called into question in the years to come.
7. Taking an Oath
As a public servant, you are required to take an oath before you start a career as a notary. You will have to do this in person, usually, in the county clerk’s office in the region, your business is located. This might be also some sort of a time frame this needs to happen. For example, in California, it has to be done within 30 calendar days from the commencement date of the commission and this deadline cannot be extended.
8. Make a Bond
Bond is created to protect the state from any possible damages a notary might cause. This is done via a bonding company that guarantees that it will pay any losses incurred by the public for any unintentional mistake done by the state appointee. If something like this happens, the surety company will demand reimbursement from the person who caused the damage.
The amount of insurance differs from state to state but is needed as the guarantee that the notary will perform his/her duties professionally and faithfully. The evidence of the bond will have to be submitted along with your application.
Once you complete all these steps, you will have the right to do your notary duties for a period of 4 years. However, this doesn’t mean your commission cannot be annulled. There are several possible scenarios in which this happens, such as resignation, revocation, or you’re no longer maintaining the legal residence in the state you provide your notary services, among others.
If you decide you want to become a notary, it is a process that requires dedication, but it is definitely a profession that can pay off. First of all, you can do it as a side job and add some extra cash to your budget. Also, you don’t need a degree, just a clean criminal record, and a passed course. You can work when you want, there is no obligation to take every client that calls you. And another important thing is that you can earn a decent paycheck by doing this job.