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How To Become A Notary Public In Iowa

If you are interested in becoming a Notary Public in Iowa, 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 Iowa notary or renewing your Iowa commission, we'll walk you through step by step.

Requirements to be a Notary in Iowa
Iowa Notary Process
What Can I Do With My Iowa Commission?
General Notary Public Information

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Requirements to be a Notary in Iowa 

What is a Notary Public?

An Iowa Notary is appointed by the Secretary of State to be an impartial witness to the signing of important documents. Iowa Notaries are authorized to administer several official acts, including oaths, affirmations, depositions, witness signings, copy certifications and acknowledgments. In addition to those acts, Iowa Notaries can also make protests and declarations.

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Iowa Notary Process

What is the process to become a Notary Public?
  1. Make sure you meet all of Iowa’s eligibility requirements.
    • Be at least 18 years old
    • Be a citizen or permanent legal resident of the United States
    • Be known of good character, integrity, and abilities
    • Live or work in the state of Iowa, but any out-of-state applicant must live in a state bordering Iowa
    • Be able to read and write English
    • Not been convicted of a felony involving fraud, dishonesty, or deceit
    • In completing the application, the applicant is making an oath of office.
  2. The completed application must then be sent to the Notary Division with a $30 processing fee. The mailing address for applications is:
    • Office of the Secretary of State
      Notary Division
      321 East 12th Street
      Des Moines, IA 50319
  3. The Secretary of State will issue a new Notary commission and send it to the applicant.
  4. Purchase your Notary seal (inking stamp or embosser)
  5. Purchase errors and omissions insurance (optional, but strongly recommended)
  6. Begin performing notarizations for the public
  7. If you determine you need additional training, seek out continuing education or consult Notary experts for guidance

What is the process to renew my commission as a Iowa Notary?
  1. Be sure you continue to meet the qualifications to become a Notary.
  2. Review the application process and instructions on the Secretary of State’s website.
  3. Approximately two months before commission expiration, a form to renew the commission will be sent to you by the office of the Secretary of State.
  4. Purchase your Notary seal (inking stamp or embosser)
  5. Purchase errors and omissions insurance (optional, but strongly recommended)
  6. Begin performing notarizations for the public
  7. If you determine you need additional training, seek out continuing education or consult Notary experts for guidance.
How much does it cost?

There is a $30 fee to apply for a Notary Public commission. Additional costs for Notary tools and education courses vary depending on vendors.

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?

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

How long does an Iowa Notary commission last?

The term of an Iowa Notary commission is three years for an Iowa resident and one year for a resident of a state bordering Iowa

Who can become a Notary?

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

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be a citizen or permanent legal resident of the United States
  • Be known of good character, integrity, and abilities
  • Live or work in the state of Iowa, but any out-of-state applicant must live in a state bordering Iowa
  • Be able to read and write English
  • Not been convicted of a felony involving fraud, dishonesty, or deceit.
What kind of training will I need?

No course of instruction is required of Notary commission applicants in Iowa.

Do I need to take an exam?

There is no state-proctored exam required in Iowa.

What kind of equipment will I need?

Iowa Notaries use a rubber stamp ink seal for all notarial acts for paper documents. You may use an embosser in place of the rubber stamp, but either an inking stamp or embosser must be used as the official seal.

Iowa notaries are also required to put their commission expiration date on all notarized documents in the following format:

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.

Every Iowa Notary must provide and keep a fair register of his or her notarial acts. This must be a true and perfect record of his or her official acts. 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.

When shopping for seal stamps, quality and durability can vary greatly among vendors. Ask if stamps carry a lifetime guarantee. Stamps should not bleed during or after use, as this can cause county officials to reject documents due to smudging.

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

Iowa Notaries are not required to purchase a surety bond. 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.

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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What Can I Do With My Iowa Commission?

Where will I be able to notarize?

An Iowa 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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General Notary Public Information

Why become a Notary?

Notaries perform an important role in preventing fraud and ensuring the integrity of transactions by verifying the identity of document signers. It’s common for employees of many businesses that deal with signed document transactions on a regular basis — such as financial institutions, law firms or corporations — to become Notaries. Some entrepreneurs become commissioned Notaries as a part-time or full-time business for themselves, traveling to a signer’s home or place of business to notarize documents for a fee.

Which state government office handles Notaries?

The Iowa Office of Secretary of State, Notary Division, located in Des Moines, IA.

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

Yes. You do not have to be a U.S. citizen to become an Iowa Notary Public. You must, however, be a permanent legal resident of the United States.

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