How to Become a Notary Public

A Notary Public is appointed by their state government to acknowledge the signing of important documents and administer oaths.

Requirements vary according to state and may change from year to year, so you will need to check with the Department of State's, Notary Commissions and Certifications Section for the latest rules regarding new commissions. Commission renewals are usually just a matter of paying the renewal fee and submitting a renewal application. Again, that is depending on the state.

While many states issue a notary commission to any individual submitting an application, that has slowly been changing. An increasing number of states are requiring some sort of training or education before approving a notary.

California, for example, requires an applicant to satisfactorily complete a six-hour state approved course and pass a state exam. Even if they have been a notary before, they would be required to take the course. If they have previously completed the course and are renewing their appointment, they could then take a three-hour refresher course, as long as it is completed prior to the expiration of their commission (if not, its the six-hour course).

In Florida (as of July 1, 2000), all new notary applicants are required to complete a three-hour notary education course, by an approved provider. The notary application can be obtained from a bonding company approved to submit applications to the Department of State. Many of these bonding companies provide everything you need from education course, to collecting the state application fee, submitting the application, and providing your notary seal.

The state does not give out applications or provide notary seals. The fees vary from agency to agency, so you may want to shop around. The state fee is $39, so any variation in price would probably reflect their bonding or stamp fees. The process is usually completed within 2 to 3 weeks.

Always remember to keep a copy of your application, along with contact information for the bonding agency, until you have received everything. For a list of bonding agencies approved by the State of Florida, click here.

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