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How Do I Become A Notary Signing Agent?

If you are interested in becoming a Notary Signing Agent to facilitate loan closings for the mortgage finance industry, this practical guide will answer many common questions. You must be a Notary before starting the NSA certification process. Notaries should be aware that opportunities to conduct loan signings may be limited or restricted in some states.

What is the process to become a Notary signing agent?

  1. Obtain a Notary Public commission and be sure to comply with any specific state requirements or restrictions.
  2. Obtain certification and background screening that meets the requirements of any companies you wish to work for.
  3. Consider taking a training course that will familiarize yourself with the duties of a signing agent and the contents of a typical loan document package.
  4. Purchase any printing and mobile devices you will need for contacting companies and signers, printing and delivering documents.
  5. Consider membership in a professional organization.
  6. List yourself on signing agent databases.
  7. Begin to work as a Notary signing agent.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Notary signing agent (NSA)?
What are the benefits of becoming a signing agent?
Is certification required?
How often do I have to renew?
Why do I need to have a background check?
Are there any special requirements or restrictions in my state?
What is the Signing Professionals Workgroup?
How much can I charge for a loan signing?
Are there any mentors out there?
How do I get started? Where do I find work?
What is a signing service?
Do I need any additional Notary insurance?
What kind of equipment will I need?
How much legal risk might I face?
Where can I go if I have more questions?

What is a Notary signing agent?

A Notary signing agent is a Notary who is specially trained to handle and notarize loan documents. For lenders, Notary signing agents are the critical final link to complete the loan. A Notary signing agent is hired as an independent contractor to ensure that real estate loan documents are executed by the borrower, notarized, and returned for processing on time. Completing this critical part of the loan process enables the loan to be funded.

What are the benefits of becoming a signing agent?

Signing agents not only earn income for loan documents but are also paid to perform courier services and ensure that completed loan packages are returned to the lender in a timely fashion. Many Notaries choose to work as signing agents as a part-time or full-time source of income.
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Is certification required?

Certification is not required by law to become a signing agent. However, many companies ask signing agents they contract for assignments to be certified and background screened to meet Consumer Financial Protection Bureau compliance requirements for third-party service providers hired by financial institutions.

Several private organizations offer training, certification and background screening for signing agents that meet the requirements of lenders, title companies and signing services.
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How often do I have to renew?

There is no legal time requirement specified for renewing signing agent certification and background screenings. The Signing Professionals Workgroup (SPW) which has developed recommended industry certification standards to meet CFPB requirements, recommends that signing agents renew their background check.
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Why do I need to have a background check?

In order to guard borrowers' private financial information, the mortgage industry requires all persons involved in the lending process to undergo background screenings. Lenders in turn instruct title services companies to ensure that everyone with access to mortgage documents has been screened. This requirement applies to everyone handling loan documents including Notaries who act as signing agents.
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Are there any special requirements or restrictions in my state?

It depends on the state. A signing agent must be a commissioned/appointed/licensed Notary Public. Some states limit or restrict Notaries from working as signing agents, or include additional licensing requirements. For more information, see Signing Agent State Restrictions.
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What is the Signing Professionals Workgroup?

The Signing Professionals Workgroup (SPW) creates, maintains and promotes professional standards for Notaries Public who provide signing services in connection with the closing of a mortgage finance or real property transaction. The SPW is an industry workgroup that includes mortgage lenders, title companies, signing services, trade associations, and educators of, and background screening providers and companies offering supportive services to, signing professionals.
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How much can I charge for a loan signing?

There is no set fee schedule for Notary signing agents who perform loan document signing assignments. Signing agents are paid for notarizing documents, but also for courier services and delivery of completed loan packages. Each signing agent must negotiate their own fees based on their business expenses, the companies they work with, travel and time required for assignments and the demand for services in their area.

Be aware that the federal government strictly prohibits collaboration to set fixed fees for loan document signings, including price-fixing agreements, boycotts or attempting to persuade other signing agents to agree to charge an established minimum fee.
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Are there any mentors out there?

Yes, some signing agents do offer mentoring to new people starting out in the industry. You can contact other signing agents through social media to ask if there is an experienced professional in your area willing to mentor you.
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How do I get started? Where do I find work?

To get started, you will first need to be commissioned as a Notary Public in your state and meet any other state requirements to perform loan document signing assignments. Because signing agents must also courier loan document packages, you may also wish to take a training course to familiarize yourself with the additional duties of a signing agent and the different documents included in a loan package. You will also need to obtain certification and background screening that meets the requirements of any companies you wish to work with.

There are several online Notary signing agent directories where you can make your contact information available to lenders, financial institutions and signing services offering assignments. Some directories offer free listings while others offer more prominent listings for a fee — you should compare directory services and see which best suit your needs.
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What is a signing service?

Signing services are private companies that act as middlemen, locating and contracting signing agents on behalf of lenders and title companies for assignments. Though assignments through signing services generally do not pay as well as working directly for lenders or title companies, signing services usually have more assignments available for newer, less experienced signing agents.
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Do I need any additional Notary insurance?

Though not required by law, it’s strongly recommended to purchase an errors and omissions (E&O) insurance policy to covers you against any damages resulting from unintentional mistakes. The Signing Professionals Workgroup (SPW), an industry standards organization, recommends signing agents carry a minimum E&O policy of $25,000 following a study that found most claims against Notary signing agents average around $14,000. However, some individual companies may ask signing agents they work with to carry a larger policy.
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What kind of equipment will I need?

In addition to your Notary seal and journal, signing agents will need reliable transportation to get to assignments, a mobile phone and email for communication with signers and companies that hire them, and a printer and fax machine to print loan documents and fax completed loan documents if required.
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How much legal risk might I face?

Loan document signings are important transactions involving hundreds of thousands of dollars. It’s essential that Notary signing agents not only follow their state’s Notary laws, but federal mortgage regulations as well such as protecting the privacy of a signer’s information. A Notary signing agent must diligently follow proper procedure. Aside from damaging the signing agent’s chances of finding work in the future, carelessness, negligence or improper conduct can result in severe criminal penalties or financial liability for a signing agent.
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Where can I go if I have more questions?

Most state Notary-regulating agencies cannot answer questions related to signing agent assignments, because many of a signing agent’s duties aren’t addressed by state Notary laws. Signing agents are not loan officers and should never try to explain loan documents or answer questions from a signer regarding the terms of a loan. Any questions regarding loan terms or the content of loan documents during a signing should be directed to a qualified loan officer.

If you have other questions about working as a signing agent or industry issues, professional Notary associations and other private organizations that offer signing agent training and certification can often answer your questions. There are also dedicated social media groups for Notary signing agents on LinkedIn, Twitter and private websites where signing agents can go to ask questions and discuss issues affecting their work.
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Read our Signing Agent FAQs for existing Signing Agents

Become a Signing Agent