If you’ve ever purchased a home or signed a prenup, you’re likely somewhat familiar with a notary already. They play an important role in society, and there’s a great demand for them. Maybe you’ve even considered becoming one.
But can you make real money as a notary public?
Yes, you can make up to $20 per signature as a notary. And, if you go the extra mile and become a loan signing agent, you can earn up to $200 per appointment. But it takes time to become a notary, and there are a lot of potential startup costs involved.
So, let’s take a closer look at what a notary is, how you become one, how much you can make, and more!
What is a Notary Public?
A notary public is someone who acts as an (unbiased) witness for people signing important documents.
The general idea of a notary is to help prevent fraud acts that are associated with signing important documents.
Notaries are strictly prohibited from using personal discretion and they aren’t allowed to discriminate. The whole point is for them to be impartial.
The main duty of a notary is to ensure the true identity of the person signing the document, as well as ensure that they are aware of the contents of the document they’re signing.
People need notaries for lots of different reasons, including:
- Exchange of real estate
- Prenuptial agreements
- Granting power of attorney
- Living trusts
- Certificates of identity (like birth certificates)
To be clear, a notary is not someone who is a judge, high-ranking official, or lawyer. You don’t need any formal legal training or position to be a notary.
How Do You Become One?
Becoming a notary can take anywhere from 4-9 weeks. It will take longer depending on your state’s requirements and the amount of applicants they have.
Becoming a notary takes a long time compared to some other ways to make money. But if you’re interested, the process can be broken down into three basic steps:
- Make sure you’re qualified
- Get commissioned
- Get the necessary supplies
Let’s take a look at each step in depth.
1. Make sure you’re qualified
As with most jobs, you have to meet certain requirements in order to be eligible. Those requirements vary from state to state, but in general, you must:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Have no criminal history
- Be a legal resident of the state you want to apply in
Some states will also require you to pass a background check. And it’s important to note that, if you do have a criminal history, you might still be able to become a notary. It all depends on your state’s requirements.
One bit of good news is that you don’t have to have a college degree to become a notary, making it an option widely available to everyone.
2. Get commissioned
If you’ve deemed you’re eligible, the next step is to get commissioned.
To be commissioned (in general), you must at least:
- Send in your application and fee to your state’s regulating office
- Receive your documents
- Take an oath of office
But as with the qualification requirements, the steps you’ll need to complete vary from state to state. Some require you to do more, such as:
- Taking a training course
- Passing an exam
- Passing a background check
- Getting a notary bond
A Notary Bond (sometimes referred to as a surety bond) is a financial guarantee purchased by a notary from a surety company.
It’s basically like insurance, but for the public – not you. It’s to protect the public in case you make an error (either by mistake or on purpose).
If you make a mistake that causes someone harm or damage, they would file a claim with your surety company. If the claim is legitimate, the surety company would pay out up to the limit of your bond.
The required bond limits vary by state as well, but they’re generally in the realm of $10,000-$20,000 limits (although some can be as low as $500).
Just keep in mind that, if the surety company has to pay out, you might have to pay money back to them. So, this is a serious undertaking with serious responsibility.
3. Get the necessary supplies
Once you’ve been commissioned, the next step is to get all the necessary supplies together.
Generally, you’ll need a stamp and a notary journal at the very least.
You’ll also need certificates. But because there are so many different types of certificates for different things, it’s better to simply download them and print them off when you need them, instead of having a bunch of different ones in stock.
Once you’ve gathered all the necessary supplies, you’ll be ready to start notarizing!
How Much Does It Cost?
Becoming a notary is an expensive side hustle, especially compared to others that don’t have startup costs at all.
For one thing, you’ll need to pay a fee when you apply. In some states, that can be as little as $10. But for other states, you could be paying nearly $100.
Other costs to consider would be:
- Background checks
- E&O Insurance
Most states don’t require formal training, but for those that do (or if you just wanted to have a bit of training under your belt), you can expect to pay less than $100 for an online course, or up to $200 for an in-person seminar.
As a notary, you’ll need supplies to get you started. These can include:
- Seals for stamping
- Journal for keeping record of notarizations
You should also consider errors and omissions (E&O) insurance to cover yourself in the event that you make a mistake that ends up being costly. The cost for insurance policies will vary depending on your level of coverage.
How Do You Earn Money?
As a notary public, you’re the owner of your own business, so you’ll have to treat it as such.
There are two business routes you can take as a notary: becoming a mobile notary or becoming a loan signing agent.
Mobile notaries are generally contacted by a client in need of notary services, and then they travel to the client.
The main obstacle for mobile notaries is finding clients. This quick video gives a few simple tips to help you find clients:
If you become a loan signing agent, the process looks a little bit different. You would still need to find clients, but because you would be specializing in the loan signing process, you would likely focus on marketing to real estate agencies or banks.
In addition to that, loan signing agents generally require another level of licensing or training. This is because they have the additional responsibility of walking a borrower through the loan agreement and the loan signing process.
How Much Can You Make?
Notaries don’t usually charge on a per-hour basis. Instead, notaries earn money on a per-job or per-signature basis.
For the notary fees, the state usually sets a maximum fee the notary can charge, presumably to prevent price gouging on a needed service (remember, notaries are serving the public).
Generally, notaries charge anywhere from $2-$20 per signature.
Mobile notaries, however, can add on a travel fee to help cover the cost of travel expenses – and there’s no limit set by the state on that.
Loan signing agents, however, make a lot more than that. Their fees can be anywhere from $75-$200 per job, and the whole process generally takes an hour.
What I Like
- Can be a side gig or full-time job
- It offers a flexible schedule
- Can pay a lot of money
What I Don’t Like
- Has potentially high startup costs
- Takes a lot of time to get started
- Take on a lot of responsibility, and mistakes can be costly
Summing It Up
Overall, you definitely can make real money as a notary public, especially if you’re a loan signing agent.
Plus, since you would be your own boss, you could keep this as a side gig to do alongside your full-time job for some extra income or you could turn this into a full-time job itself.
However, the process to become a notary is a long one, and there are quite a few startup costs involved.