What is a Notary Public and Does Your Business Need One?

What is a notary public and how can one help your business? If you're curious about notaries public and how one can help your business, read this FAQ presented by the Allen / Fairview Chamber of Commerce to learn more.

What is a notary public?

A notary public is an official who serves as an impartial third-party witness in the signing of important documents. The purpose of a notary public is to deter fraud by verifying the identity, willingness to sign, and understanding of the signers.

In general, being a notary public is not a full-time job. Rather, notaries public may be employed in an administrative, legal, or other office job where they perform notarial duties in the course of their work and on the side. Some notaries operate mobile notary services as a freelance or full-time business.

What types of documents require notarization?

Many important documents require notarization, including wills, deeds, and powers of attorney. In addition, businesses frequently require notary services for the signing of contracts, leases, memorandums of understanding, and construction and loan agreements.

What are the benefits of having a notary public on staff?

Getting documents notarized can be a time-consuming and costly process for businesses. According to Sapling, the cost to notarize a document ranges depending on your location, the organization or individual, and the number of signatures, plus you should consider the time it takes to locate a notary public service. By keeping a notary public on staff, businesses save both time and money.

Businesses that benefit from a notary public on staff include real estate companies, law firms, lenders, title companies, car dealerships, insurance companies, construction firms, and corporations of all sizes.

Should you hire a notary public?

Certification as a notary public helps candidates stand apart in the hiring process. However, businesses don't have to hire a full-time notary. Instead, an existing member of staff can become a notary public in order to meet the business's needs. All Wrapped Up notes anyone who serves as a notary must act as an independent party, which means it shouldn't be the owner of a business or any other person with direct financial interest in the company.

What are the requirements to become a notary public?

Notary public requirements vary from state to state. All states require notaries to be at least 18 years of age, a legal resident of the state, and without a criminal record. Nine states, including California, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, and Pennsylvania, require a notary training course. Twelve other states require applicants to pass a test. Applicants may also have to complete a background check, submit fingerprints, and purchase a surety bond before becoming certified as a notary public. And while a college education isn’t required to become a notary, having a degree in something like criminal justice or paralegal studies could help you advance in your career.

Notary public commissions are managed at the state level, typically by the Secretary of State's Office. Self-employed notaries also use an attorney or an online formation service to assist with starting an LLC in Texas and reserving a business name. 

Who owns a notary's seal and commission?

Some employers erroneously believe that paying a notary's commission fees entitles them to access the notary's stamps and journals or limit an employee's notarial services outside of work. It's important to understand that a notary public's supplies and commission are owned by the notary and must be safeguarded accordingly. With limited exceptions, as explained at National Notary, the commission, seal, and journal remain with the notary even after the employment relationship ends.

While an employer can't retain a notary's commission, in some cases the employer may collect fees for notary services conducted in the course of business. It's recommended to create a written agreement with employee notaries to ensure mutual understanding of how notary fees are handled.

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