How to Start a Notary Business

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A notary public is an appointed public officer who serves as a witness when people sign important documents, such as certain contracts, applications or affidavits. Notaries administer oaths, check identification, and verify that signatures were completed in their presence. Notaries cannot provide legal advice unless they also are licensed attorneys. The cost and application procedures to start a notary business vary by state.

Research state regulations so that you submit a correct, complete application. For example, in California you must be a resident at least 18 years old who has completed an accredited program, passed an exam, and received a clear background check.

Register and complete any required exams. Your state’s department or secretary of state usually maintains information about approved classes. In Florida, you must complete an approved three-hour course; in California you must take a six -hour course.

Submit an application, which likely includes a copy of your fingerprints, to the appropriate state agency.

Satisfy state bonding and insurance requirements. Bonding companies charge premiums and will reimburse your clients, for instance, in the event of theft, misconduct or negligence. Most companies run background checks before offering coverage.

Establish a place of business within your jurisdiction. If you are a notary in New York, you cannot serve as a notary outside of the state. You can start a notary business at home or rent an office space. You can have clients come to you or you can travel to them.

Gather essential supplies, including a stamp seal and official stamp pads to leave the correct impression. You should comply with state rules about documenting your service—by recording each transaction in a notary public journal, for example.

Advertise your services. One marketing approach involves developing rapport with local real estate agents who regularly need notary services.

Tips & Warnings

  • While you might not be able to distinguish authentic versus fake documents, always inspect the identification that witnesses present.
  • You will lose your ability to serve as a notary if you carelessly or negligently allow someone else to use your license. In many states, you can be charged with a misdemeanor crime.

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