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How to Become a Notary Public in Alabama

If you are interested in becoming a Notary Public in Alabama, this practical guide will answer many common questions. Learn about notarial duties, and find out how you can become a commissioned Notary. Once you are ready to begin the process of becoming a Alabama notary or renewing your Alabama commission, we'll walk you through step by step.

Alabama Notary Process | Requirements to be a Notary in Alabama | General Notary Public Information

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Alabama Notary Process

The probate judges of each Alabama county set application rules and procedures for the commissioning Notaries. Here are step-by-step instructions for Alabama residents who are interested in becoming a Notary Public:

  1. Make sure you meet all of your state’s qualifications (see below).
  2. Complete an application form.
  3. Get your $25,000 surety bond.
  4. Submit your application and bond for approval by the county probate judge. They may charge a $10 fee.
  5. The county will send your commission information to the Secretary of State.
  6. Buy your Notary seal (inking stamp or embosser).
  7. Consider getting a Notary journal and E&O insurance (optional, but strongly recommended).
  8. If you want additional training, seek out continuing education or consult Notary experts for guidance.

How long does an Alabama Notary commission last?

The term of an Alabama Notary commission is four years.

How long does it take?

The Alabama Department of State recommends allowing 4 to 6 weeks for the processing of a Notary Public commission application.

May I become a Alabama Notary if I am not a U.S. citizen?

Yes. You do not have to be a U.S. citizen to become an Alabama Notary Public. You must, however, be a legal resident of the state and meet all other application requirements.

What kind of training will I need?

Whether an applicant for a Notary appointment must pass a qualifying course or test is at the discretion of the appointing county probate judge. (NOTE: For self-education, video highlights of the Alabama Secretary of State’s 2009 and 2010 Notary Public Conferences — including a session on “Notary Best Practices” by National Notary Association executive and expert William Anderson — are available to all on the Secretary’s website. Conference presentation slides and other materials may be downloaded as well.)

Do I need to take an exam?

There is no state-proctored exam required in Alabama, though an appointing judge may ask a Notary to pass a test at the judge’s discretion.

What kind of supplies will I need?

Alabama Notaries use a rubber stamp ink seal or an embosser for all notarial acts for paper documents. Either an inking stamp or embosser must be used as the official seal.

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.  For example, if you are a mobile or retail Notary, an ID checking guide is recommended because you are constantly dealing with different people, as opposed to someone who notarizes in the same setting for the same group of people day after day.

Though no longer required by law, every Alabama Notary may keep a permanently bound journal of his or her notarial acts containing numbered pages.  When purchasing a journal, there are features to which you must pay close attention. A journal with 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 are not acceptable in Alabama.

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.

How much does it cost?

There is a $10 fee to apply for a Notary Public commission. Additional costs for bonds, Notary tools and education courses vary depending on vendors. There are county fees for filing your bond, signature and commission.

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.

What is a surety bond and why do I need one?

Alabama Notaries are required to purchase a $25,000 surety bond from an authorized company to protect signers against financial damages resulting from the Notary’s negligence or misconduct. A surety bond is a financial guarantee that the Notary will fulfill his or her obligations to notarize in compliance with state laws. This Notary bond specifically protects the public, not the Notary. Any damages paid from the bond go to cover any signer’s losses and must be paid back to the surety company by you.

Notaries can insure themselves against possible legal costs or damages by purchasing a separate, optional errors and omissions (E&O) insurance policy. Though not required by law, an E&O policy covers a Notary’s legal fees and damages up to the amount of the policy.

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Requirements to be a Notary in Alabama 

Who can become a Notary?

A Notary Public applicant in Alabama must meet the following requirements:

  • Must possess all legal requirements to be an officer in the state
  • Must be a resident of county of application
  • A resident of another U.S. state may not apply for an AL Notary commission
  • A person convicted of a felony may not be able to become a Notary Public in AL unless a pardon restores his or her civil and political rights

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General Notary Public Information

Which state government office handles Notaries?

The Alabama Office of Secretary of State, Administrative Services, located in Montgomery, AL. holds all records of Notaries Public and are available to be viewed by the general public. However, the county probate judges appoint and commission Notaries.

Where will I be able to notarize?

An Alabama Notary can perform notarial acts anywhere within the state’s borders.

Who can I notarize for?

Any member of the public, as long as the request meets all statutory requirements for notarization.

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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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