How to Become a Notary Public in Hawaii

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A notary public is an individual licensed by a state to act as a witness on legal documents. The qualifications and process varies from state to state. To become a notary in Hawaii, you must complete an application with the Department of the Attorney General, pass a notary public exam and file a $1,000 surety bond with the Circuit Court.

Things You'll Need

  • Application
  • Notary seal
  • Notary record book
  • $40 filing fee
  • $1,000 surety bond
  • Check eligibility. In order to become a notary public in Hawaii, you must be a U.S. citizen or a national or permanent resident alien who is at least 18 years old and a resident of Hawaii.

  • Fill out an application. The application, which is available online from the Attorney General's office, requires you to provide legal name, residence, occupation and criminal background.

  • Submit two letters with your application: one vouching for your moral character written by someone other than a relative or employer, and another letter from your employer or yourself describing the reason why you want a commission and the types of documents you plan to notarize. Your application will not be considered complete without the accompanying letters.

  • Take the notary public exam. If your application is approved by the Attorney General's office, you must take and pass the state's notary public exam. The exam covers statutory law related to notaries and the practical aspects of a notary's job. The passing score is 72 points or 80 percent. For applicants in Oahu, the exam is given every month. For applicants in Maui or Kauai, the test is given once a quarter. Applicants who live in these three places will receive a notice in the mail of the location, date and time the test will be administered. For applicants on Big Island, the test is generally administered at the Attorney General's office in either Hilo or Kailua-Kona. Big Island applicants will receive a notice in the mail with a name and phone number to call to schedule the exam. For all applicants, test results will be mailed within 30 days of the exam. The Attorney General's office publishes a Notary Public Manual for purchase and recommends all potential notaries obtain a copy before taking the exam.

  • File the $40 fee for the issuance of your commission. After you are notified that you passed the exam, you must pay a $40 fee for the Attorney General to issue your commission. Checks should be made payable to "State Director of Finance."

  • Obtain a notary seal. Your seal must include your name, commission number and the words "notary public" and "State of Hawaii."

  • File paperwork with the circuit court. You must file a copy of your notary commission, an impression of your notary seal and a copy of your signature with the clerk of the circuit court where the notary resides. The signature must match the name displayed on your notary seal. The clerk may charge a filing fee in order to file your commission.

  • Obtain a $1,000 surety bond and gain approval of the bond by the circuit court. The obligee of the bond is the State of Hawaii. Your bond must also include the condition that "the notary will well, truly and faithfully perform all the duties of his office which are then or may thereafter be required, prescribed, or defined by law or by any rule or regulation made under the express or implied authority of any statue, and all duties and acts undertaken, assumed, or performed by the notary by virtue of his color of office." You must obtain the bond from a surety company that is authorized to do business with the state. The bond must be approved by a judge in the circuit court and then filed with the court's clerk.

  • Obtain a notary record book. Each notary must keep a log of all documents he or she notarizes. Each record should include the type, date and time of day of the notarization; the parties involved the persons acknowledging or verifying the documents and some memorandum as to the nature of the instrument being notarized.

Tips & Warnings

  • A commission is valid for four years from the date of issuance. In 2008, Hawaii changed the rules governing the way documents are notarized. Make sure to study the new rules -- Hawaii Administrative Rules Chapters 5-11 -- before taking the exam.
  • If you change your employment, name or residence, you must file an update with the Attorney General's office. If your notary commission expires, you resign or are removed from office, or if the notary dies, the notary seal must be returned to the Attorney General's office. Failure to return the notary seal within 90 days can result in a $200 fine. If your notary commission expires, you resign or are removed from office, or if the notary dies, the notary record book must be returned to the Attorney General's office. Failure to return the notary record book within 90 days can result in a fine of up to $500. Under the new rules, all notary seals must contain the notary's commission number. If you have an older notary seal that does not have the commission number, you will be required to obtain a new seal. You do not have to turn in the old stamp right away, but will have to provide BOTH seals to the Attorney General's if you stop being a notary.

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