How to Become a Notary Public

Real estate gets transferred, trusts are amended and marriage vows affirmed, it’s all in a day’s work for a Notary Public. Working behind the scenes, the Notary Public performs important functions for business, real estate, legal system and the public. You might say a Notary Public is the eyes and ears of justice by making certain that the signer of a document is accurately identified and that the signer does so willingly without force. No wonder a Notary Public is called the “witness for the people” .

So how can you become a notary public? Qualifications for this professional service vary from state to state. All states and jurisdictions have three basic requirements: complete an application, pay a fee and take the oath of office. An applicant must be at least 18 years old. Some states, such as Florida, have added a training option prior to earning an appointment as a notary. It’s not a lifetime appointment, the renewal period is set by each state.

Do you have to take an exam to become a notary? In some states, yes, but not in every state. Numerous states require that a Notary Public be able to read and write in English. Since a Notary Public deals with written documents, being able to read the language of the document seems reasonable.

Becoming a notary in some states requires the endorsement or reference of one or more residents, court officials, county officials or attorneys from that state. Speaking of attorneys, several states automatically grant them the privileges of notary public. Since so many legal documents need to be notarized, this is extremely useful.

A Notary Public is a public official with high level of trust. With identify theft on the rise, the notary public carefully follows state procedures so that anyone can rely on that document, that the signature and the person who signed it is authentic. At times the Notary Public’s journal, a detailed record of documents notarized, is the definitive proof in court that protects individuals from fraud or misrepresentation. To become a notary public means to accept a public trust, acting with highest integrity whether it involves a few bucks or several billion.

Even in states without educational requirements, a notary public must know and follow the laws and procedures. Becoming a notary does not mean learning the rules once, then just doing the job. A competent notary seeks continuing education to learn about law or procedure changes, stays current with problems and issues likely to occur and how to work well with other professionals and businesses.

In some states, a Notary Public can perform a marriage ceremony. But what may be even more permanent than that marriage, is the weight the notary seal and signature has on affirming a document as genuine and the identity of the signer. To become a notary may seem a simple process. To live up to the obligations and credibility expected of a Notary Public is the greater challenge.