What is a notary?
A notary is a person commissioned by the state to certify the person signing a document has proof of identity. Some states authorize additional duties (in Maine, for example, a notary can perform marriages.)
How do I become a notary?
This varies from state. Sometimes it's as simple as filling out a form and mailing in a check. Other states require an exam. You can select your state here to find out what it requires. Often you'll need to secure a bond, seal and insurance.
Who do I talk to about the notary public?
In about three-quarters of the states, you'd speak to the Secretary of State. You can find the right agency for your state here.
Do I have to go to school to be a notary?
In six states (California, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania), you need to take a class in order to become a notary.
Do I have to be an US citizen to be a notary public?
Usually not. You can find a more complete discussion of this question here.
Do I have to live in the same state where my notary commission is?
Typically you do. In a few states, you can be a notary if you have business in the state and live in the next state over.
Can I notarize outside my county?
Usually your commission allows you to notarize anywhere in the state.
Is a notary seal required?
Most of the time, having a notary commission requires a seal. A few states don't have this requirement.
Will the state supply my seal?
No, you'll have to buy your own notary seal. Usually you get it from a state-authorized manufacturer.
How long does the state commission me for?
Louisiana commissions its notaries for life. Other states vary.
Can I make big money being a notary public?
Probably not. The state often limits what you can charge. But a lot depends, as always, on the effort you want to put into it. There are some ideas here.
What's this about doing mortgage loan signings?
Here's the complete story.
How can I be successful as a notary?
Being successful as a notary takes more than getting your commission. If you sit on your laurels after that, you probably won't earn back the application fee.
You need to know how to market yourself--how to let people who need your services know you're available more conveniently than any other notary out there.
Image courtesy of photostock