Maybe you think bank tellers and employees of select businesses are some of the only people who can be a notary. The truth is, almost anybody can make money as a notary as a side hustle or an additional business service.
If this has never been an income stream you’ve pursued before, this step-by-step guide to show you what it takes to get your very own notary stamp.
If you’re willing to verify the signatures of people signing official documents, being a notary public can be a relatively easy way to make extra money with minimal effort.
Table of Contents
- How Much Money Do Notaries Make?
- How to Become a Notary Public
- Tips to Make Money as a Notary
- Additional Ways to Make Money as a Notary
How Much Money Do Notaries Make?
As a notary public, you can expect to make between $9 and $21 per hour. How much you make depends on several factors:
- Where you live
- Who you work for
- What documents you notarize
- Are you required to travel?
If your current employer requires you to be a notary, you might receive a pay raise, but you get paid a guaranteed salary based on your current job position. This might apply to you if you’re a bank teller, administrative assistant, or a county clerk.
Many self-employed notaries offer their notary service in addition to their main business because most notary customers are one-time customers. It is possible to become a full-time notary, but it takes time so don’t quit your day job right away.
You will be most successful if you operate a business that requires notarized documents so your customers don’t have to make a trip to their bank or The UPS Store. To be more successful, you might also consider being a “mobile notary” by traveling to notarize documents to serve more clients and earn up to an additional $75 for your effort.
Become Familiar With the Notary Public Fees You Can Charge
How much you can make as a notary also depends on the maximum amount you can charge for your notary services. Each state has different regulations, but you can usually charge between $2 and $5 per document or signature. Although, some states allow notaries to charge $10 per signature so you can make more for complex documents like mortgage applications and divorce paperwork.
How to Become a Notary Public
It takes a few steps to become a notary public, and the following steps are a general guideline. Each state has slightly different application policies and fees so you will need to verify the process with your local county or state government.
Most states enforce these three general requirements to become a notary public:
- Legal resident of your state
- At least 18 years old
- Don’t have a criminal record
Some states allow residents of other states to become a notary public if you conduct legal business in that state. Once again, check with the state you wish to become a notary in first.
You can get more information about becoming a notary in your state from the National Notary Association and where to find official training classes and notary kits too.
Notary Application Process
If you meet your state’s basic qualifications, follow these steps to become a notary:
- Submit a notary public application at your local county clerk’s office
- Take a notary class and pass an exam (if required by your state)
- Be elected by you county commission to become a notary
- Secure a surety bond
- Provide proof of surety bond and submit the application to your state government
- Obtain your notary seal after your application is approved
Each state has different requirements. For example, you might be required to submit a set of fingerprints with your application and take an exam, but don’t need a surety bond. Meanwhile, your friend in an adjacent state only needs to get a surety bond and can skip the fingerprinting and exam.
How Much Does it Cost to Become a Notary?
There are several fees you will need to pay during the application process to become a notary. Because each state and county have different requirements some states will be cheaper than others, but you can expect to pay between $100 and $500 for the entire application process.
These are some of the fees you can expect to pay:
- Application fee ($12 to $60)
- Notary course and exam ($15 to $45)
- Surety Bond ($40 to $100)
- Notary Seal ($40)
All of the above fees are approximate and vary from state to state. The two largest variable costs are going to be the notary exam and the surety bond. Not every state requires these two prerequisites.
Even if your state doesn’t require a surety bond to become a notary, it can still be a good idea to get errors and omissions insurance that protects you if a client sends you a bill for legal damages. How much you pay for error and omissions insurance depends on the amount of coverage you want.
For example, a surety bond for $10,000 coverage will cost less than a bond with $90,000 of coverage, but you can expect to pay between $40 and $100 every four years.
Because the cost of errors and omissions insurance is so affordable, this small investment can be well worth the peace of mind.
Tips to Make Money as a Notary
Once you become a notary, you can begin charging notary fees and perform some of these public services:
- Administer oaths
- Verify signatures on official documents
- Maintaining proper records
Although you can’t notarize the same document that you’re signing, you can notarize documents signed by your business partners. This law might be a minor hassle but it helps protect against notary fraud.
Advertise Your Services Locally
You might decide to print business cards and flyers to leave at local businesses. Another option is to build a website to build an online presence so you can advertise on Facebook and local search engine results for search queries like “Notaries near me.”
After all, your local community needs to know you’re a notary. Social media, search engine queries, telephone book listings, and local advertisements are a few options you have to let people know.
Some of the local businesses you might decide to leave advertisements at include:
- Law firms
- Engineering firms
- Title and signing services
- Medical offices
- Insurance agencies
- FedEx and UPS stores
- Office supply stores
- Grocery stores
- Public libraries
If a business has a table or bulletin board containing business cards of other local businesses, ask if you can leave a pile too. And, don’t forget to tell your friends as word-of-mouth is often a highly effective advertising tool.
Transcribe Depositions and Affidavits
If you also happen to be a legal transcriptionist, you can transcribe and notarize depositions and affidavits. To expedite court proceeding, witnesses can provide a deposition instead of appearing in court. Certifying their testimony is how you can maintain the integrity of the legal process.
Charge the Maximum Notary Fee
Unless your employer requires you to be a certified notary public for your day job, you make money as a notary based on the number of documents that need to be signed. As a freelance notary, you need to make every document as valuable as possible. This is why it’s so important to charge the maximum legal amount per document.
Because you can only charge a few dollars per document, the client won’t squabble much because there is minimal price competition. Unless their bank offers free notary services, they will most likely pay the same rate you charge with a different notary.
Be Available on Weekends and Holidays
Some notaries make the most money on weekends and holidays. These are the days when their bank and most local businesses are closed. Because they can’t wait another day or two for their regular notary to come into work, they might look for freelance notaries like yourself.
Become a Mobile Notary
Being a notary doesn’t restrict you to a single location. If you have a car and are willing to travel with your notary kit, you can charge an additional $50 or $75 to meet your client. This is how you can make close to $20 per hour as a notary because you’re getting paid for the convenience of your services plus the standard notary fees.
Notarize Digital Documents
If you’re a public notary in Virginia, you can notarize electronic documents with Notarize and get paid. Even though you live in Virginia, it’s possible to notarize documents for customers from any state. You will video chat with the client to verify their identity before you notarize the documents.
Additional Ways to Make Money as a Notary
If you’re looking to start your own notary business, it will most likely be on a part-time basis in the beginning until you build a local presence and customer basis. This means you need to diversify your income so you can realize your dream of becoming a full-time notary.
The best strategy is to operate a business where you can offer notary services to your customers, but it’s not required. There are dozens of business ideas to choose from, but here are a few you might explore:
Notaries in Florida, Maine, and South Carolina can legally officiate weddings. There are a few conditions to this privilege:
- The wedding ceremony must take place in your local state
- The wedding license must be issued by a local authority in the same state
If you live in one of the other 47 states, you can still offer notary services aside from officiating weddings and premarital counseling. Soon-to-be-married couples must usually notarize the marriage license application in many states.
Become a Certified Signing Agent
You can take your notary public credentials a step further and become a Certified Signing Agent. Due to recent financial regulation changes, some documents require a certified signing agent seal instead of a notary public. The most common documents to require a Certified Signing Agent–or Notary Signing Agent–are mortgage applications.
If you own a title agency or can partner with an agency, this can be an easy way to begin using your new, upgraded credentials.
Be a Field Inspector
Being a notary isn’t a requirement to become a field inspector, but it doesn’t hurt. This is because field inspectors have flexible hours as you get paid per gig to survey properties. When you’re not serving as a notary, you can travel to a property that needs to be surveyed. This property can be undeveloped, commercial, or residential as you provide the basic property measurements and description.
Like any profession, how much money you make as a notary is up to you. Although there are limits to how much money you can charge per document, there’s a perpetual demand for notaries. Whether you want to be a self-employed notary or receive a raise from your current employer by becoming a notary, there are many ways to make money as a notary.