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Notary Bulletin

Hotline Tip: Am I Ready To Get Started?

NNA Hotline Tips For NotariesImportant Virginia Notary Signing Agent Requirements

I’m a recently commissioned Notary in the Commonwealth of Virginia. I have taken the NNA’s Notary Signing Agent course online, passed the test, completed my background check, and purchased my E&O insurance. Is there anything else I need to do before I can start accepting assignments? I will be working as an independent contractor dealing primarily with real estate transactions. – D.M., Richmond, VA

You are qualified at this point to perform a wide variety of notarizations; however, there are some limitations you should be aware of that are specific to your state of Virginia.

Under Virginia’s Consumer Real Estate Settlement Protection Act (CRESPA), any person handling funds in the settlement of a real property transaction, including Notary Signing Agents, must be a licensed title insurance agent for the Commonwealth.

According to the Virginia Bureau of Insurance, the handling of settlement funds, including the passing of a check for settlement costs from a borrower to a Notary signing agent during a home loan signing appointment, requires a title insurance license and an appointment from a title insurance company. Only attorneys, real estate brokers, financial institutions authorized to do business in Virginia under Title 55 or under federal law or licensed title insurance companies and agents may perform escrow, closing, or settlement services (COV 55-525.16 and 55-525.19).

Since the Virginia Bar Association has expressed no formal opposition to “witness closings,” Notary signing agents do manage to operate in the Commonwealth without a title insurance license, but only in transactions that do not require them to handle settlement checks. If closing checks are involved, some signing services will instruct their signing agents to give overnight express envelopes to borrowers so that the borrowers themselves may forward a required settlement check without it being “handled” by the signing agent.

The bottom line: as long as you don’t handle any settlement funds, you have everything you need to begin basic notarizations. However, you will need a title insurance license if you meet the above criteria.

Hotline answers are based on the laws in the state where the question originated and may not reflect the laws of other states. If in doubt, always refer to your own state statutes. –The Editors

Kelle Clarke is a Contributing Editor with the National Notary Association.

 

Confronted with a tricky notarization? Unsure how to proceed? NNA members have unlimited access to our expertly trained NNA Hotline counselors to help you with all of your notarial questions. Call (888) 876-0827Monday through Friday, 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST; Saturday, 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST

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