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How To Make Money As A Notary Locally Or Online In 2019

Whether you pursue it as a full-time or part-time source of income, it’s not all difficult to make money as a notary – especially in the United States.

This is largely because notary services are in high demand. You need a notary present for the signing of some very common but highly important documents, including (but not limited to) wedding certificates, car deeds, land deeds, court documents, and bank documents.

However, it’s not completely easy either. There are some stringent requirements and qualifications you need to meet before you can start making money as a notary.

How to Become a Notary

General Requirements

While each state will have its own local version of the legal requirements to become a notary, there are a few common ones across the U.S. Check with your local law to ensure you comply with all their application processes and fees.

As far as general requirements go, there are three criteria you’re expected to meet – as a minimum – no matter where you are in the country:

  • Legal resident of your state (important exception – some states allow the residents of other states to become a notary, on the caveat you must conduct legal business in that state)
  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Must not have a criminal record

For more information on your local state laws, where to find official notary training classes, and notary kits, please visit the National Notary Association.

Notary Application Process

If you do meet local state requirements, your next step is to go through the application process:

  • Visit your local county clerk’s office to submit a notary public application
  • Complete notary training and pass the exam
  • Petition your county commission to elect you as a notary
  • Secure a surety bond
  • Submit an application to your local state government with proof of your surety bond
  • Once your application is approved, collect your notary seal

Some states might additionally require you to submit a set of your fingerprints as well as take the exam, but not demand a surety bond.

Others may require a surety bond, but neither the exam nor your fingerprints. Once again, be sure to check with your local state requirements.

Be aware there are fees involved too. As always, these will vary between states:

  • $12 to $60 application fee
  • $15 to $45 notary course and exam fees
  • $40 to $100 surety bond fees (typically recurring every four years or so)
  • $40 for your notary seal

Other fees may also apply. Expect to make an investment totaling between $100 to $500 for the entire process.

Make Money as a Local Notary

One way to go about advertising your services locally is by printing business cards and flyers and leaving them at local businesses. Here’s a quick list of some local businesses that would be suitable:

  • Accountants
  • Engineering firms
  • FedEx and UPS stores
  • Grocery store bulletin boards
  • Insurance agencies
  • Law firms
  • Medical offices
  • Office supply stores
  • Public libraries
  • Real estate agencies
  • Restaurants

You might also want to consider having a website (Bluehost offers an attractive, low-cost solution) and advertising on Facebook.

Attend Networking Meetings in Your Area

Keep an eye on any announcements – on local bulletin boards, newspapers, and online – for any upcoming networking meetings happening in your area.

Here are a few reasons you should attend every networking meeting you’re able to:

  • You get to start and develop business connections that can lead to strategic referrals in the short and long-term
  • Key local influencers will likely be in attendance
  • It improves your visibility

All these have one thing in common: they improve your chances of essentially free advertising through word-of-mouth, which is among the most effective advertising methods for attracting new clients.

Join Your Local Chamber of Commerce and Volunteer to be on the Membership Committee

Many small businesses see their local chamber of commerce as a waste of money. After all, it costs in the region of $100 to $450 to join.

But this is a very narrow-minded way of looking at it. Similar to networking meetings, your chamber of commerce opens countless doors for:

  • Free media coverage through benefits and events arranged
  • Easy networking
  • Promoting yourself to local businesses (you can do this at networking meetings too, but you typically have to stick to elevator pitches there)
  • Public relations

Talk to the chamber president about openings in the various committees and volunteer. This immediately gives the above benefits an extra boost and puts you in good stead with other chamber members before you’ve even said anything.

Transcribe Dispositions and Affidavits

You need to be a legal transcriptionist to take advantage of this opportunity. But if that’s you (or you’re able to meet the requirements), you can offer your services in transcribing dispositions and affidavits.

Charge the Maximum Notary Fee

If you’re a freelance notary (part-time or full-time), you need to make sure every document is as valuable as possible. This means charging the maximum legal notary fee.

Because all notaries in the area will be bound by the same limitations, it’s unlikely you’ll lose clients. The only possible exception would be if they feel it’s more convenient to go to their bank, as many branches offer free notary services to clients.

Be Available on Weekends and Holidays

The fact banks offer free notary services to clients – and many larger businesses tend to have in-house notaries – doesn’t have to draw away all your potential income. After all, these places are usually closed on weekends and holidays.

This means there’s a gap in the market for notaries willing to perform notary services in those timeframes. If you’re willing and able, you can even make yourself available after-hours.

Anyone with a document urgent enough that it can’t wait until the bank or office opens will be more than willing to pay you as a freelancer.

Become Familiar with the Notary Public Fees You Can Charge

This will differ from state to state. As a general rule, most notary charges are between $2 and $20 per signature. Mortgage and loan documents, on the other hand, can go as high as $100 (though you won’t always receive 100% of this fee).

If you’re willing and able to travel, you can hit the road with your notary kit and add the maximum trip fees to your invoice. Depending on local legislation and distance covered, this could be anywhere between $50 and $75.

Officiate Weddings

If you’re based in Florida, Maine, or South Carolina, you’re in luck – notaries in these states are legally permitted to officiate weddings.

The only caveats are:

  • The weddings you officiate must take place in your local state
  • A local authority of that same state needs to issue the wedding certificate

This doesn’t mean notaries in the other 47 states are left high and dry, though. In most states, wedding couples might still need you to notarize their marriage license application.

Make Money as an Online Notary

Notarize Digital Documents

While notarizing digital documents still requires the applicants to meet with you in person, the documents will all be handled electronically.

Bear in mind not all states allow for notaries to offer their services online. Some have the additional requirement of being physically present when the e-documents are signed. You also need to be sworn in as an e-notary, which might involve additional costs.

Notaries in Virginia have the upper-hand here, as you’re able to notarize digital documents for clients anywhere in the country. The only requirement is you’re able to hold a video conference with them to confirm identity prior to notarizing.

Get Hired on Upwork and Similar Websites

If your local state law allows for you to become an e-notary, you can easily find clients on freelance website platforms such as Upwork, Guru.com, and Fiverr.

While these platforms are free to join (Guru has different membership tiers with fees, but there is a free option too), be mindful that they do charge a fairly steep commission fee.

Work for Online Notary Companies

Another option is to join an online notary company. While each will have their own requirements and pay, these can be an ideal solution for anyone hoping to make notarizing their full-time job but lack the necessary local demand to do so.

For a full, regularly updated directory of online notary companies, please visit NotaryFile.com.

FAQs

Is Becoming a Notary Worth it?

Becoming a notary has become such a popular option that there’s an estimated population of 1 notary for every 72 citizens in the United States.

That kind of concentration in numbers – as well as the hassle and costs involved in actually becoming a notary – tends to make a lot of prospectives decide becoming a notary simply isn’t worth it.

But before you give up, consider these 5 benefits to becoming a notary:

  • You can supplement your regular income
    • Becoming a Notary Signing Agent opens up even more opportunities, as you’re able to charge more for notarizing real estate loan documents
      • Notaries are in surprisingly high demand, both online and by banks, financial institutions, medical industries, legal firms, government agencies… the list goes on; becoming a notary can open up a lot of doors for you even in your own industry, as many businesses value the opportunity to have an in-house notary on staff
        • Becoming a notary means you get to set your own schedule – so it’s perfect for work-from-home entrepreneurs, freelancers in other industries, stay-at-home parents, retirees, and just about anyone else looking to supplement their income without it affecting their other work
          • In addition to the community benefits you’ll already be positively affecting by joining your local chamber of commerce and serving as a member of a committee board, notaries tend to have plenty of other opportunities to positively affect the lives of those in their communities

That said, it’s not all sunshine and roses. There are plenty of horror stories of people failing to make back the costs of becoming a notary. Others have tried outlandish ideas in an attempt to charge more by using loopholes (and failing dismally, of course).

So at the end of the day, the only person who can tell you whether or not becoming a notary is worth it is yourself. If you have a company backing you, who will be paying you for other services plus an extra fee to act as an in-house notary, it’s definitely worth it (especially if they offer to cover the costs).

And if, as a freelancer, you’re legally able to find online work, market yourself ruthlessly, and attract a lot of interest as a notary, then it’ll also be worth it.

How Much Money Can You Make as a Notary?

This depends on a number of different factors, including:

  • What state you live in (and what their legislation looks like, particularly in terms of online notarization and maximum fees you may charge)
  • Whether you work entirely for yourself or if you’re working for a company
  • The type of documents you notarize (remember, real estate loan documents pay more, but also require higher upfront costs for the additional qualifications)
  • Whether you’re required and/or able to travel

As a general rule, expect to make between $9 and $21 an hour. But don’t think this means you can make that much money 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, every week in the year (minus maybe three for vacation time).

Still, there are ways to increase your chances of earning a liveable income as a notary:

  • Work for a company as their in-house notary (this will typically result in your receiving base pay for your other duties, plus a raise/retainer for notary services provided)
    • Offer your notary services part-time until you’ve built up enough of a reputation and clientele base to realistically sustain you on a full-time basis
      • Become a “mobile notary” by traveling to clients and charging trip fees (just make sure to limit the distance you’re willing to travel, or the costs will outweigh the extra income)
        • Offer to provide your notary services in bulk at your church, country club, or even your local networking meetings and chamber of commerce (if permissible) – that way, you can have members meet you at once rather than piece-meal. At $5 per signature (or whatever your local state maximum is), that adds up pretty quickly in a short space of time
          • Incorporate a necessity for notary services as part of your other business ventures – so your clients save time and money by having you notarize for them, rather than having to travel to and from their bank or the county clerk, etc.

Conclusion

As is the case with any other industry, your potential to make money as a notary lies squarely on your shoulders. If you want to make more than just a supplementary income that covers the costs involved without much left over for you, you need to put in the time and effort to pursue opportunities for income.

Have you successfully made money as a notary, whether working for yourself, as an in-house notary, or for an online notary company? Let us know about your experience in the comments below!

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