If you are looking for a way to earn extra income, help your community, or enhance your resume, becoming a notary public in Washington State might be a good option for you.
A notary public is a commissioned official who serves as an impartial witness in signing legal documents such as real estate deeds, trusts, affidavits and wills. By notarizing these documents, you help prevent fraud and identity theft, and ensure that the signers are willing and aware of what they are signing.
But how do you become a notary in Washington State? What are the requirements, the process, and the costs involved? In this blog post, I will answer these questions and provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to become a notary in Washington State. Let’s get started!
Related: How to Become a Notary in Missouri
Step 1: Meet the Requirements
The first step to becoming a notary in Washington State is to make sure you meet the basic requirements. According to the Washington State Department of Licensing, you must be:
- At least 18 years old
- Able to read and write English
- A citizen or permanent legal resident of the United States
- A resident of or have a place of employment or practice in Washington
If you meet these requirements, you can proceed to the next step.
Step 2: Get Your Surety Bond
The next step to becoming a notary in Washington State is to get a $10,000 surety bond. A surety bond is a type of insurance that protects the public from any financial losses caused by your negligence or misconduct as a notary. You can obtain a surety bond from any bonding company or insurance agency that offers them. The cost of a surety bond may vary depending on the provider, but it is usually around $50-$100 for a four-year term.
A surety bond is not the same as an errors and omissions (E&O) insurance, which is optional and protects you from any claims or lawsuits arising from your notarial acts. You may want to consider getting an E&O insurance as well, especially if you plan to perform complex or high-value notarizations.
Step 3: Submit Your Application
The third step to becoming a notary in Washington State is to submit your application. You can apply online or by mail. To apply online, you need to log into SecureAccess Washington (SAW), which is a portal that allows you to access various government services. If you don’t have a SAW account, you need to create one first.
To apply by mail, you need to fill out the Notary Public Commission Application, which is available on the Department of Licensing website. You also need to attach a copy of your signed surety bond and your notarized Oath of Office form, which is included in the application.
Whether you apply online or by mail, you need to pay a $30 application fee, which is non-refundable. You can pay by credit card online or by check or money order by mail.
Step 4: Receive Your Commission
The fourth step to becoming a notary in Washington State is to receive your commission. After you submit your application and fee, the Department of Licensing will review your information and issue your commission if everything is in order. The processing time may vary depending on the volume of applications, but it usually takes about two weeks.
You will receive an email notification when your commission is issued. You can also check the status of your application online through SAW. Your commission will be valid for four years from the date of issue.
Step 5: Get Your Stamp or Seal
The fifth step to becoming a notary in Washington State is to get your stamp or seal. A stamp or seal is a device that imprints your name, commission number, expiration date, and other information on the documents you notarize. You must use your stamp or seal on every notarization you perform.
You can order your stamp or seal from any vendor that offers them, such as an office supply store or an online retailer. However, you must make sure that your stamp or seal meets the specifications set by the state law. For example, your stamp or seal must be:
- Rectangular or circular in shape
- No larger than 2 inches in diameter
- Black ink only
- Contain the words “Notary Public”, “State of Washington”, and “My commission expires (date)”
- Contain an image of George Washington’s profile
You also need to keep your stamp or seal secure and prevent anyone else from using it. If your stamp or seal is lost, stolen, damaged, or misused, you must notify the Department of Licensing immediately and obtain a new one.
Step 6: Maintain Your Journal
The sixth step to becoming a notary in Washington State is to maintain your journal. A journal is a record of all the notarizations you perform. You must keep a journal for each commission you hold, and you must enter the details of each notarization in your journal within 15 days of performing it.
You can use a paper or an electronic journal, as long as it meets the requirements set by the state law. For example, your journal must:
- Be bound and have numbered pages
- Have a tamper-evident cover or locking mechanism
- Contain the date, time, type, and fee of each notarization
- Contain the name, address, signature, and identification method of each signer
- Contain a thumbprint of each signer for certain documents, such as deeds or powers of attorney
You must keep your journal in a safe and secure place, and you must not allow anyone else to access it. You must also retain your journal for at least 10 years after the last entry or until the expiration of your commission, whichever is later. If your journal is lost, stolen, damaged, or requested by the Department of Licensing, you must report it within 30 days.
Step 7: Perform Your Notarial Duties
The seventh step to becoming a notary in Washington State is to perform your notarial duties. As a notary public, you are authorized to perform various notarial acts, such as:
- Taking acknowledgments
- Administering oaths and affirmations
- Taking verifications upon oath or affirmation
- Witnessing or attesting signatures
- Certifying copies of certain documents
However, you must also follow the rules and standards of conduct for notaries public in Washington State. For example, you must:
- Require personal appearance and identification of each signer
- Assess the willingness and awareness of each signer
- Use the correct notarial certificate for each notarization
- Complete your journal entry and stamp or seal the document for each notarization
- Charge no more than the maximum fees allowed by law
- Avoid any conflicts of interest or unauthorized practice of law
- Refuse any unlawful or improper requests
By performing your notarial duties with care and professionalism, you will protect yourself and your signers from any potential problems or liabilities.
Step 8: Renew Your Commission
The eighth and final step to becoming a notary in Washington State is to renew your commission. Your commission will expire after four years, unless you resign or revoke it sooner. If you want to continue serving as a notary public, you need to renew your commission before it expires.
To renew your commission, you need to follow the same steps as applying for a new commission. You need to get a new surety bond, submit a new application and fee, and get a new stamp or seal. You also need to keep your old journal until the retention period is over.
You can renew your commission up to 90 days before it expires. However, you cannot use your new commission until the effective date. You can check the status of your renewal online through SAW.
Becoming a notary in Washington State is not difficult if you follow these steps:
- Meet the requirements
- Get your surety bond
- Submit your application
- Receive your commission
- Get your stamp or seal
- Maintain your journal
- Perform your notarial duties
- Renew your commission
By becoming a notary in Washington State, you will be able to provide a valuable service to the society at large.