Notary 101: What Is It and What Does It Do

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A notary, defined by the National Notary Association as, “an official of integrity appointed by state government — typically by the secretary of state.” They are held in high regard and known for their commendable integrity who serves the public by impartially witnessing people signing paperwork as a fraud-deterrent, ordinarily very important documents, such as official and legal paperwork, wedding certificates, birth certificates, and divorce settlements, among other things.

Notaries are ordinarily commissioned by the public, meaning they have a strict set of rules they must adhere to.

Is There More Than a Single Type of Notary?

Notaries go back hundreds of years. There are many types of notaries across the United States. However, the two main types of notaries are civil law notaries and common law notaries. The former type of notary is a lawyer who has passed the bar and is more than able to provide you with legal advice whereas the latter is not a lawyer and completely forbidden from giving legal advice, whether their own or of anybody else’s.

How About a Notary Public?

A notary, whether met in person or on the internet, still bears the same flag and maintains the same duty. Their entire purpose is to circumvent attempts at fraud by observing important documents being signed and verifying that they indeed were not forged. Notaries, however, have a whole litany of other purposes, some are to provide the notice of witnessing foreign drafts; acknowledge conveyances such as deeds and others; issue affidavits, and sign statutory declarations. If an important document is signed, you must have a notary witness its signing; however, in the past, a notary would always have to witness it personally. In our current digital age, thankfully, you can now have documents notarized online. Online notarization has become a big thing and quelled the need for many in-person notaries unless of course, it is a very important document!

Can I Become a Notary?

Of course, as with many legal positions, every state issues different requirements for its potential notaries. Though the requirements are different, they still largely follow the same steps. According to the Florida notary service, there are a few fundamental steps one should engage with, should you decide you wish to become a notary in your state. You must first, of course, meet the qualifications necessary for your particular state, whether it be university or college, or night school, you must meet the qualifications. The basic qualifications include:

  • Be 18 years of age or older.
  • A legal resident of the State.
  • Never been convicted of a felony.

You should also complete your applications, submit it, and then pay the fee to become a notary public. You will, of course, as with many legal professions, meet the state exam, if that is required. You will then be sworn in by a member of your local council as a sworn notary public!

Great, you’ve done it!

Unbelievable as it is, it really is that simple; so should you decide to pursue a career as a notary public, everything you need is contained in the paragraphs above!

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John is a serial entrepreneur and writer who is passionate about helping small businesses launch and grow. His work has been featured in Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, and Forbes.