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How to Become a Notary Public in Kentucky

Applicants for a Kentucky Notary Public commission must take the following steps:

  1. Make sure you meet all of Kentucky's eligibility requirements (see below).
  2. Get a $1,000 surety bond.
  3. Complete and submit your application to the Secretary of State.
  4. Once processed, your Certificate of Appointment will be sent to the county clerk in the county you applied.
  5. You will receive written notice to visit the county clerk's office within 30 days to take your oath of office, post your bond and file your commission.
  6. Buy your Notary seal and journal (optional, but strongly recommended).
  7. Get E&O insurance to limit your financial exposure (optional, but strongly recommended).
  8. Take continuing education and consult Notary experts if you want additional training or guidance (optional, but strongly recommended).

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In This Guide: Kentucky Notary Process | KY Notary Requirements | General Notary Public Information

More Details About the Kentucky Notary Process

Below is more information about applying for a KY Notary Public commission.

What is the difference between a Notary Public State at Large and  Special Commission?

A person commissioned as a Notary Public State at Large is only authorized to provide Notary services within the state's borders. The documents may be recorded in Kentucky or in other states.

The notarial acts are limited to a civil action or legal proceeding originating in Kentucky. You must use this special signature format:

"I, ______________________, a Kentucky Notary Public Special Commission, for acts performed in or outside Kentucky for recordation in Kentucky; my commission expires: ______________________."

How much does it cost?

The state filing fee is $10. The cost of your bond, optional seal and optional journal will vary based on the vendor you choose.

The cost of commissioning can differ depending on whether you are a new or renewing Notary. Supply package prices vary among vendors. New Notaries may need more how-to assistance than experienced Notaries. Books, training and live expert assistance are often must-haves for most new Notaries.

Some vendors may package items with additional fees — processing fees for example. Training can be included in package prices for new Notaries, although the quality of education can vary. Some providers offer their own Notary courses while others do not have the on-staff expertise to develop and support educational content. Several vendors offer Notaries live question and answer support, and others are not able to offer such assistance.

How long does it take to become a Notary Public State at Large?

It can take two to six weeks to become a Notary. You'll need to allow the Secretary of State time to process your application. After receiving a written notice to visit the county clerk, you can complete the rest of the application process within a day.

How long does a Kentucky Notary Public commission last?

The term of a Notary Public commission is four years.

Requirements to be a Notary in Kentucky

Wondering if you have what it takes to become a Notary in the Bluegrass State? Read on below.

Who can become a Notary?

There are basic qualifications for a person to become a Notary in Kentucky. All applicants must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be a citizen or permanent legal resident of the U.S.
  • Be a resident of or have a place of employment or practice in the county within Kentucky where the application is made
  • Be able to read and write English

The SOS may deny an applicant for any act or omission that demonstrates the individual lacks honesty, integrity, competence or reliability as a Notary Public.

Is training or an exam required to be a Kentucky Notary?

No training or exam is required for Kentucky Notaries.

What kind of supplies will I need?

A Notary seal and journal are optional; however, you may want to get a Notary seal, as it imprints information required for every notarization you perform. If you do choose to get one, your Notary seal may be a stamp or an embosser and must be capable of being copied together with the record to which it is affixed or attached. The seal must contain:

  • Your name as it appears on your commission
  • Your title
  • Your jurisdiction
  • Your commission number
  • Your commission expiration date

When shopping for seal stamps, quality and durability can vary greatly among vendors. Stamps should not bleed during or after use, as this can cause county officials to reject documents due to smudging. A second seal can help you avoid downtime if your seal is ever misplaced, and an embosser can help add an additional layer of fraud prevention security.

While a Notary journal is not required by law, Kentucky considers it a best practice for Notaries to use a Notary record book to record all paper notarizations. A Notary journal is however required for electronic online notarizations. When purchasing a journal, there are a few important features to which you must pay close attention. A journal with numbered pages and tamper-proof sewn construction allows Notaries to identify missing pages in their journals, which becomes extremely helpful if you're ever named in a lawsuit. Simple notebooks or glue-bound journals simply do not offer the same level of security.

Supplies are sold by most vendors in packages, which can sometimes provide savings. However, not all vendor packages are created equal — they can vary greatly in terms of quality and content. If you are a new Notary or renewing your commission, the types and quantity of notarizations can require different tools of the trade.

Do I need a surety bond or insurance?

A $1,000 surety bond is required for Kentucky Notaries. Additionally, many also choose to purchase optional errors and omissions (E&O) insurance policies to protect themselves from legal expenses. E&O insurance is not a requirement in Kentucky.

General Notary Public Information

Here are answers to common questions about Notaries Public in Kentucky.

Which state government office handles Notaries?

The Kentucky Secretary of State, located in Frankfort, KY, issues Notary Public commissions.

Although Kentucky does not require training, where can I get it?

You can find several reputable Notary Public training providers with a quick online search. It's important to note that the Secretary of State does not provide workshops or seminars, nor does the Secretary endorse any business that advertises Notary Public training. Since the Secretary of State doesn't have jurisdiction to take action regarding a business that offers Notary training, make sure you thoroughly review any company you plan to work with.

Can anyone help me become a Notary?

Yes. Several companies offer Notary training, supplies, insurance and assistance with the entire application process. Also, the Secretary of State's website has the application with submission details, if you want to get the process started on your own.

Where will I be able to notarize?

You will be able to notarize anywhere in the state of Kentucky.

Who can I notarize for?

You can notarize for everyone, excluding yourself. You cannot notarize your own signature, nor can you notarize documents you are named in or would benefit from. Kentucky law prohibits Notaries from notarizing for a spouse or relative or any documents in which either of them has a direct benefit. If you perform notarizations as part of your employment, your employer may limit the notarizations you perform during your work hours.

What fees can KY Notaries Public charge for notarizations?

In Kentucky, Notaries may set their own fees. As a best practice, make sure the fees you charge are reasonable, and the signer is made aware of them prior to the notarization.

What should I do if I move or change my name?

If you make any changes to your name, mailing address, email address, county of residence or signature, you must notify the Secretary of State within 10 days after making the change. You must complete the Notary Public State at Large Change of Information application and submit the form along with a $10 fee payable to the Kentucky State Treasurer.

How much legal risk will I face?

It depends. Even the most careful and detail-oriented people can make mistakes. As a Notary Public, any unintentional mistake you make or intentional misconduct you engage in could be very costly for everyone involved. Notaries have been sued for financial damages that signers incur, and lawsuits are expensive even if you're innocent. If you are diligent in following the law and keep thorough records, you'll be better prepared if any legal action does come your way.

What is the process to renew my commission as a Kentucky Notary?

The process to renew is the same as it is to apply for a new Notary commission. You should submit your renewal application no earlier than four weeks before your commission expires. You may purchase a new Notary seal to reflect your updated commission expiration date. You may also choose to get a new record book (journal) if your old one is full.

What do I need to know about remote online notarization in Kentucky?

As of January 1, 2020, Kentucky Notaries can apply to perform remote online notarizations. The steps you must take to complete the registration process can be found in this practical guide.

If you're not quite ready yet, we have additional resources where you can learn what a Notary is, what they do and why you should become a commissioned Notary.

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Last updated: May 9, 2023

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