Serving as a notary public is a lesser-known but potentially profitable side hustle – one that can pull in $200 per hour for some workers.
Unlike many other part-time gigs, it helps you gain real-life skills useful for a future career change.
Keep reading to discover how to make money as a notary in your state!
What Is A Notary?
When presented with legal papers or documents, you often come across the term “notary.” But have you ever thought about what precisely a notary is and what it is that they do?
A notary, also commonly known as a notary public, is an official commissioned by the state to serve as an impartial witness during the signing of vital legal documents like mortgage loans, deeds, marriage licenses, wills, and more.
People use notarization to protect themselves from fraud all the time. It may not sound like a lot, but the position holds a lot of importance. Over 1.25 billion documents are notarized every year.
In exchange for your fraud-deterrent services, you’ll receive payment.
How Much Money Can You Make as a Notary?
You’re probably wondering, is being a notary public worth it?
You can work as a mobile notary for a few days per week or take your credentials a step further and become a full-time notary signing agent specializing in loan signings (more on this below).
According to PayScale, expect to earn an average of $15.37 per hour as a notary public.
As a notary signing agent, you have unlimited earning potential. Since you can negotiate your own fees, you can make up to $200 per hour! This has got to be one of the easiest side gigs imaginable!
Geographic location determines the salaries for all types of professions. The cost of living for a specific state, city or community directly influences pay rates.
New York has the highest public notary rate. You could also command high rates in Colorado Springs, Colorado and Irvine, California.
Notary rates are closer to the national average in Indiana and Washington.
Notary rates in regions such as Orlando, Florida are quite a bit lower than the overall national average.
How to Become a Notary Signing Agent
Even though the process of becoming a notary signing agent varies from one state to another, there are still likenesses that can be drawn from all the different processes.
Steps on How to Become a Notary
There are certain steps you do need to take to make money as a notary.
Every state has slightly different application policies and fees. To avoid uncertainty, verify the process with your state or local county government.
Meet All Your State’s Qualifications (see below)
Submit a Notary Application
You can do this by filing a Notary Application and Notary Bond with the Secretary of State. Each state has its own application form.
The notary application process is for first-time notaries, notaries whose commission expiration date has passed, and/or notaries who have changed their name. Here’s a listing of State Notary Forms and Applications.
Pay the State Filing Fee
Most applications attract a small fee, so confirm with your Secretary of State. You’ll be allowed to securely pay the state filing fee by credit card at the end of the interview process.
Get Training and Pass a State-Administered Exam (if required)
Complete a Background Check
Some states may require you to pass a background check and take your fingerprints. Others may only require one if on the application you mentioned that you’ve been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony.
You’ll need to take another background check to become a loan signing agent, as this is separate from becoming a notary.
Get Bonded and Insured
You might need to purchase a surety bond depending on your state. Even if your state doesn’t ask for a surety bond to become a notary, it can still be a brilliant idea to get errors and omissions insurance.
If you commit a notary error that damages someone in the course of your work, the bond will be used to compensate them.
Get a Certificate of Authorization
You’ll receive your notary commission certificate from the state after the application, surety bond, and application fee have been received and approved.
The general turnaround time for processing a completed application is a few weeks.
Purchase Your Notary Supplies
After filing your commission paperwork (and bond) with your notary regulating official, you can now purchase notary supplies that may include a notary stamping device, journals, and/or embossers from a vendor of your choice.
The stamp is the seal that you use to certify documents. It should be shaped like a circle, square, or rectangle. A journal will help you keep track of your notarizations.
The requirements to become a notary public in America are pretty lax.
Each state has its own requirements for becoming a notary, but in most cases, you must
- be at least 18 years old,
- be a U.S. citizen or permanent legal resident in the state where you’re seeking approval,
- and have a clean criminal record.
There may also be requirements to read and write the English language. Some states may require that you complete a training course and pass an exam before being certified.
Once again, check with the state you intend to become a notary in first. You can look up the National Notary Association’s searchable database of each state’s guidelines and rules to review the requirements in your location.
Ensure you meet the requirements before you proceed.
Notary publics are expected to operate in an upstanding manner and be highly attentive with an eye for detail.
For that reason, it’s crucial to educate yourself on properly executing the role of a notary. Some states require you to take a training course.
Training to be a notary doesn’t take as long as you’d presume. When I was doing my research, I didn’t find any notary course that took longer than a day to complete.
The training courses normally take a few hours and cost $100-$200. You might be quizzed on notary law, the best way to accurately identify signers, and specific notary situations and how to handle them.
Once you complete the process to become a notary public, you can work for 4-10 years before you’ll be required to renew your certification. Check with your state for specifics.
Market Your Notary Services
After acquiring your notary license, you should now focus on marketing yourself appropriately to effectively solicit business.
The list of things you can do to market your notary services includes action items like:
Become a Member of the Chamber of Commerce
The Chamber of Commerce can be a valuable tool to help you foster immediate connections and promote your notary business.
Being a member of the local Chamber of Commerce will offer you several networking opportunities, as well as educational programs, to help you develop your business.
When you become a member and regularly attend Chamber of Commerce meetings, this adds credibility to your notary business and branding strategy.
To reap the most benefits, search for interest-specific Chambers of Commerce. While your local Chamber may be conveniently located, there are some specialty chambers out there that can help you make impactful connections in your field.
As expected, active members enjoy a more rewarding Chamber experience and better referrals.
Make the most out of your membership. Consider volunteering for the membership committee. See if there is an opportunity to sit on your Chamber’s Board of Directors.
I’d also recommend that you attend ribbon-cutting events for new businesses in your area as this shows solidarity and gives you a platform to market your services. Remember to have fun at the event. Don’t push your business too hard, as this may damage your reputation.
Provide Free Notarizations For Schools And Veterans
Get involved in your community!
Don’t shy from volunteering your notary public assistance to schools, veterans (such as Veterans of Foreign Wars and members of the American Legion), and other people who need but can’t afford notary services. Doing this keeps your business in the minds of your community.
You can offer seminars about identity theft then print promotional pens, mugs and business cards that you can distribute. Maybe a customer doesn’t need your assistance right away, but they have a friend, neighbor or co-worker that will want to hire you.
Join a Notary Professional Organization
One of the most obvious ways to market your notary services is to network, network, network!
To start networking with like-minded individuals, join professional organizations such as the American Association of Notaries, the American Society of Notaries and the National Notary Association (NNA). Doing so is a smart move that will set your notary public business down the right path for success.
These nonprofit professional organizations offer vital resources and support to the ever-growing community of notary professionals. They serve a membership that represents every United States state and jurisdiction.
You’ll be able to keep up on the latest industry trends and land marketing opportunities when you participate in these Notary public affiliations.
Some professional notary organizations provide their members with badges. You can distinguish yourself from competing notary publics in your area by displaying your respective organization’s member badge.
Think about it. If you’re a potential customer faced with the task of picking between a notary public with a member badge and one without a badge, which one will you go for?
You may not receive a call right away, but when someone needs a notary public, they’ll remember you’re the person to contact!
Create a Profile on Notary websites
Your community needs to know that you’re a notary. You can set-up a social media page, create a website, or post on a notary website like SigningAgent.com. Your profile will be assigned a unique URL, which you can link to in marketing emails or social media posts.
The business of developing a unique profile on a notary website is crucial to your success. There’s no need to go into all the discussions about your kids, why you are a notary, etc.
Before you write your profile, have a look at other notaries’ profiles to figure out what you should include (and what you shouldn’t). You can include a professional photograph, contact info and areas you serve, working hours, languages you speak fluently, any relevant non-NNA certifications or training, etc.
If you’re not an excellent writer, find a writer or friend to help you.
Alternatively, build a website to grow an online presence. With your own website, you can appear on local Google search results for search queries like “notaries near me.”
Tips for Making Money as a Notary
There are ways to increase your business volume and, in turn, your overall income as a notary public.
Charge the Maximum Fee
Unless your boss needs you to be certified notary public for your full-time job, you can earn an income based on the number of legal papers and documents that need to be signed.
You can only charge a few dollars for every document, usually $2-$10. Strive to make every document as valuable as possible by charging the maximum legal amount per document.
Notarize Digital Documents
Traditionally, notarization required the physical presence of both the notary and the signing party and a printed copy of the document.
Thanks to technology, digital/electronic notarization is now a thing.
Online platforms like Notarize make it a breeze to sign and notarize digital documents electronically. You can easily notarize documents for clients from any state.
To verify your clients’ identity before signing, you can video chat with them.
Work as a Mobile Notary
Being a notary public does not restrict you to a single location.
While you can notarize in your home or office, you’re likely to make more money if you pursue a mobile notary public role. This is because most full-time notaries only work when needed at their current job.
As a mobile notary, you can be called upon to witness real estate transactions. Not only does this open up more opportunities for you, but you can also charge for travel expenses.
You can charge an extra $50 or $75 to meet your client. This is how you can make up to $200 per hour because you’re getting paid the standard notary fees and for the convenience of your services.
If you have a car and don’t mind moving around with your notary kit, you can also travel to client homes, government offices, and businesses to serve as a witness and authorize signatures.
Set Weekend and Holiday Hours
Here’s a little secret: some notaries earn the most income on weekends and holidays. When people are unwinding after a long week, others are making money as a notary.
A person may need notary services urgently and their bank or regular notary could be off-duty. They might turn to freelancer notary publics like yourself if they can’t wait for a day or two for their regular notary to return to work.
Whether it’s Labor Day, Columbus Day or Thanksgiving, advertise your holiday schedule in advance.
More Ways to Make Money as a Notary
If you’re looking for even more ways to expand your customer base and increase your income, you should:
Become a Certified Signing Agent
Certified signing agents are the best-kept secret in the real estate industry.
So what’s a certified signing agent? It refers to notaries who undergo extra training (through self-study manuals, in-person seminars and online courses) and receive a special certification to participate in real estate matters.
When you pass the final exam, notary groups will list you as a certified signing agent in their directories.
There are literally millions of home sales and refinances that close every year in the U.S. As a certified signing agent, you’ll facilitate the signings of real estate loan closings. You’ve got to know your stuff to answer any questions the customer has.
You will walk your clients through a set of loan documents when they buy or refinance their homes. You’ll ensure that they’ve properly filled out, signed and dated the documents. After that, you’ll send the documents to the lender and collect your fee.
You’ll also be required to deliver settlement checks, witness mortgage and deed signings and courier important documents. As the busiest of all notaries, signing agents tend to earn the highest income. But that’s not the only benefit.
This side hustle has very low start-up costs and you can make money almost immediately. Also, there’s no selling, meaning you don’t need to entice your customers to use you.
So, How Do I Make Money As A Notary?
Hopefully, I have answered your question of how to make money as a notary. I don’t know about you, but making up to $200 per hour doing a gig that requires no degree or long, specialized training is too good an opportunity to pass up.
As a notary public, you’ll be responsible for witnessing important processes and authenticating vital documents.
Since it’s a high-pressure role, it’s possible to make mistakes once or twice. A small error can be costly, and buying Errors & Omissions (E&O) Liability Insurance is the best way to safeguard yourself against financial risks.