A public notary is a public servant of the state who’s licensed to administer affirmations and oaths. He can also act as an official witness when important documents are signed. Public Notary are often employed by real estate agents, law offices and banks when conducting financial or real estate transactions. The responsibilities vary according to the jurisdiction, so it’s important to investigate state requirements before you begin your career as a certified notary public.
The process for becoming a notary public differs according to the state. In some states the process is easier than some. In general you’ll need to read the handbook of responsibilities and rules for your area before you complete the notarial training from an approved provider.
Your next step will be to do submit your application with the state and pass the state exam. The exam takes a couple hours and you’ll have to pay relevant fees before you’re allowed to take the exam. Most states also require applicants to take a mandatory background check and fingerprint scan upon successful completion of the exam. The goal with this is to ensure that you do not have a criminal record.
Successful completion of this process will place you one step closer to becoming a notary public. The details of the background check will be submitted to the Secretary of State who will issue your notary commission. A week or two later, you’ll receive your information packet in the mail, which will include instructions, oaths, filing forms, and a certificate of authorization to manufacture Notary Public seals.
You’ll then need to acquire all the necessary materials from approved vendors. Some of the things you’ll need to purchase are the notary public bond, seal and journal. From there, you can take up your duties as a Certified Notary Public. The entire process can take several months, depending on your level of commitment to the process.
Responsibilities of a Certified Notary Public
A notary public can act as an official witness when official legal documents are signed. An official signature will be required in many circumstances, including real estate contracts, marriages, claims, etc.
When acting as a witness the notary public must accurately identify the parties participating in the signing of the legal documents. He must indicate that he verified the identities of the persons in his presence using valid forms of identification to validate all claims. Acceptable forms of IDs include valid passports, driver’s license or birth certificates.
Notaries must have some record keeping system to keep accurate records of all the documents he has certified. This is one area the notary journal is extremely handy.
Your notary seal will be used to verify your presence during the signing of official documents. Every notary public is issued a unique identification number to prevent fraud.
Keep in mind that documents signed in front of a notary public does not make them legal. Unless you’re a licensed attorney, you’re not qualified to prepare documents or offer legal advice.
This Article is written by Crystal for Stamps Done Right, a New York Notary embosser and specialized stamps supplier.