Notary Public Requirements

The office of a Notary Public is a position of trust and authority. This is not a job that anyone can apply for and be hired. To become a Notary Public, a candidate needs to complete the application process determined by the state of residence. Even then, not everyone who applies receives a notary public commission.

The first step is to download an application form from the state web site. If you have difficulty surfing around the site, several notary bonding companies offer links from their web sites as a convenience. An easy way to find your state requirements is to go to web sites of either the National Notary Association www.nationalnotary.org or American Society of Notaries www.asnnotary.org. These organizations have a section that shows notary requirements for each state. Just click on your state from the U.S. map to see a summary of requirements.

States generally require that an applicant be at least 18 years old. A person with minor brushes with the law might still be considered but a felony record or even a misdemeanor dealing with fraud or dishonesty can cause the application to be rejected. Failure to disclose any criminal record or to mention that a notary commission held in another state was revoked is a “material omission” which is a serious consequence for applicants.

Some states have a residency requirement. Other states allow a person who lives in an adjacent state yet works in the state or owns a business in the state to receive a notary commission without being a resident. A notary applicant must provide proof of U.S. citizenship or a Green Card indicating that the person entered the country legally. A non-resident alien may be asked to give a Declaration of Domicile showing residence within the state.

In several states a notary applicant must pass a written examination. Other states require a three or six hour training course without an exam. Written proof of completing a course or passing with a score higher than 70 is sent with the application as fulfilling notary public requirements for those states. The remaining states have neither requirement but it is the responsibility of the applicant to know the requirements and complete them satisfactorily to earn a commission.

Even if the state does not mandate education, the notary public is fully responsible for reading the state manual and understanding how to complete the actions of the office. Because these tasks are so important, candidates may choose to take a training course to learn proper procedures to take an affidavit administer an oath, prepare a jurat or use fingerprint identification recording. With increased interest in electronic notarization, notaries need to know whether this process is acceptable in their states and any governing rules.

Once commissioned, notary public requirements may vary slightly yet in every state the notary is a respected professional. Acting ethically in all transactions and keeping current with any changes in law or procedure are the ongoing requirements for every practicing notary public.