A notary provides a critical link between the public and the government by confirming the validity of signatures and documents. A notary public is a highly-trusted individual whose services contribute enormously to the efficiency of our society and economy.
Given the bureaucratic nature of notary work, it should be no surprise that obtaining a notary public stamp involves a bit of paperwork and a few official approvals.
However, the process is fairly simple and well worth the time investment if notary public duties are to be an essential part of your career.
Let’s review the steps you’ll take towards obtaining a notary public commission and a notary stamp.
Here’s what you’ll learn:
- The requirements and qualifications for becoming a notary public
- How to apply to become a notary public in your state
- How to obtain a notary public stamp that conforms to your state’s requirements
Details vary from state to state, but the steps below outline the typical process for becoming a notary and obtaining a stamp.
Step 1 - Review Your State’s Notary Public Qualification Requirements
Every US state offers its interested residents a path towards obtaining a notary public commission. Some states also allow non-residents to work as notaries. However, this is usually only allowed if the notary lives in a neighboring state or does business in the state.
Typically, states require that notaries are:
- At least 18 years of age
- US citizens or permanent residents of the US
- A resident of the state (or doing business in the state or residing in a neighboring state)
- Able to speak, read, and write English
Additional qualification requirements vary from state to state. For example, in some states, notary applicants must possess a high school diploma and pass a criminal background check.
To learn the notary public qualifications for your state, visit the American Society of Notaries State Information page and select your state from the map.
Step 2 - Complete a Notary Public Training Course
Some states require new notaries to complete a notary training course. These courses teach you the rules, standard operations, and ethical obligations of the notary profession. Most courses only take a few hours to complete.
Even if your state doesn’t require a training course, it’s a good idea to take one. Learn all that you can before you begin working as a notary so that you’re prepared for all of the challenging situations you may encounter.
Step 3 - Obtain a Notary Surety Bond and Notary Insurance
The table below showcases the two policy types that are often purchased for safeguarding notary public work.
|Surety bond||In some states||The public|
|Errors and omissions insurance||No||The notary|
Some states require notaries to purchase a notary surety bond. Surety bonds provide a form of insurance to the public in the event that a notary error or misdeed causes legal or monetary problems. Bonds protect the public, not the notary.
While not required, some notaries also choose to purchase an errors and omissions insurance policy. These policies protect notaries against lawsuit costs related to errors committed during the performance of notary public duties.
Insurance is a good idea for any notary, especially those who plan to work frequently or in sensitive situations, such as during divorce proceedings. If your employer is covering your other notary application expenses, ask them about purchasing an insurance policy.
Step 4 - Submit a Notary Public Application
Your state government’s website provides notary public application forms. You may be able to complete the form online or you may need to print it out and mail it.
Submitting an application typically involves providing identification info, paying a small filing fee, and providing proof of required documents, such as a training certificate or a surety bond.
Step 5 - Receive and Review Your Notary Commission from Your State
If you successfully complete your application, your state government will mail you your official notary commission. The physical proof of your commission will be provided in the form of a paper certificate.
Once you receive your commission, carefully review it to make sure that the information is accurate. Make paper and digital copies for your records, and put the certificate into safe storage.
Step 6 - Obtain a Notary Stamp and Seal
Once you have your notary commission, you can obtain a stamp and seal.
The appearance of stamps and seals varies from state to state, but typically includes the name of the state, the notary’s name, and the notary’s commission number. Some states require additional content, such as the notary’s filing county or a depiction of the state seal.
To purchase a stamp, select your stamp style (square or round, self-inking or manual) and provide your vendor with all of the information that will appear on your stamp.
For some states, such as California, you’ll need to provide a copy of your commission certificate in order to purchase a stamp.
Where to Find a Notary Public Stamp for Your State
Pro Stamps offers notary public stamps for all 50 US states. We work with Trodat Printy self-inking stamps, the most popular notary stamps in the world. Trodat stamps are good for 5,000 impressions.
We also offer classic rubber stamps made with walnut wood handles. These stamps are operated by hand with a separate ink pad.
Depending on your state’s requirements, you can choose circular or rectangular stamp formats. Each state specifies a maximum stamp size.
To help your notary stamp stand out and prevent loss, we offer self-inking stamps in these case colors:
- Sky blue
Visit the Pro Stamps Notary Stamps and Seals page to find your state’s stamp and seal requirements and to purchase a stamp.
To learn more about your notary stamp and seal options, visit our Stamp Information page.
Frequently Asked Questions
To learn more about the notary public profession and other stamp-related topics, visit the Pro Stamps blog. See below for answers to a few frequently asked questions about obtaining a notary public stamp.
Can I become a notary public if I’m not a US citizen?
Individuals who are not US citizens can become notaries public. Federal law prevents states from denying notary commissions to non-citizens.
State requirements generally specify that notaries live or work in the state and are permanent residents of the United States. Additionally, notaries must be able to speak, read, and write English.
How long does a notary commission last?
In most states, a notary commission lasts for four or five years. The commission you receive will indicate an expiration date. In many states, a commission’s expiration date is included on notary stamps.
The process for renewing a commission is similar to obtaining a first commission, but some steps, such as completing a training course, can sometimes be skipped. When you renew your commission, you’ll need to order a new stamp.
Does Pro Stamps offer digital proofs of notary stamps?
The use of digital notary stamps is becoming more common. Digital stamps allow notaries to perform Remote Online Notarization (RON) for many notarization services.
Every Pro Stamps self-inking stamp or seal purchase comes with a digital proof. We use PDF, TIF, and JPG formats. You’ll receive the digital version of your stamp within 24 hours of placing your order.
What are the Pro Stamps shipping details?
Pro Stamps offers free shipping on all purchases. We ship first class via the United States Postal Service (USPS). We make all of our stamps and seals in the USA and ship orders within one business day. Shipping takes 2–5 days, similar to the speed of priority mail shipping.