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How to Become a Notary Public in Iowa

To become an Iowa Notary Public, complete the following steps:

  1. Make sure you meet all of Iowa's eligibility requirements (see below).
  2. Complete the Application for Appointment as Notary Public. By filling out the form, you are making your oath of office.
  3. Submit the application and $30 processing fee to the Notary Division of the Secretary of State's office.
  4. The Secretary of State will send your Notary commission to you.
  5. Buy your official Notary seal.
  6. Get E&O insurance (optional, but strongly recommended).
  7. Take continuing education or consult Notary experts for guidance (optional, but strongly recommended).

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In This Guide: Iowa Notary Process | IA Notary Requirements | General Notary Public Information

More Details About the Iowa Notary Process

Here is some more information about applying for a Notary Public commission.

How much does it cost?

There is a $30 fee to apply for a Notary Public commission and a $30 fee to take the state-required training course. Additional costs for Notary tools 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 four to six 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.

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Requirements to be a Notary in Iowa

Information about Notary training and supplies can be found below.

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 U.S.
  • 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 have been convicted of a felony involving fraud, dishonesty or deceit.

Is there training or an exam required to become an IA Notary?

No training or exam is required in Iowa.

What kind of supplies will I need?

Iowa Notaries must have a stamp to notarize documents that is capable of being copied together with the record to which it is affixed or attached. The seal must contain the following information:

  • Your name as it appears on your commission
  • The words "Notarial Seal"
  • The word "Iowa"
  • The words "Commission Number _______ (number the Secretary of State assigned to you)"
  • The words "My Commission Expires _______ (date or blank line)"
  • Other information required by the Secretary of State

If the official stamp has a blank line, you must print the date your term would ordinarily expire on each notarized document.

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.

While not required in Iowa, keeping a record of all notarial acts in a Notary journal is strongly recommended. 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.

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.

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 their obligations to notarize in compliance with state laws. This Notary bond specifically protects the public and not the Notary.

Notaries can insure themselves against possible legal costs or damages by getting 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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General Notary Public Information

Wondering where you can notarize or how much Notaries can charge? Read on below.

Which state government office handles Notaries?

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

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.

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, excluding yourself and your spouse. You're prohibited from performing a notarial act in which you or your spouse have a direct beneficial interest.

How much can IA Notaries charge for their services?

Iowa Secretary of State allows Notaries to charge a reasonable fee per notarization. As a best practice, inform signers of your fees in advance to avoid any confusion.

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

If you move or change your name, you can submit a Notary Public Change/Amendment to Application form to the Secretary of State. If you change your name, you have the option to use your new one or continue using the one on your commission until your Notary term ends. It's recommended to update your name immediately with the SOS in case a third-party requests certification of your commission.

What is the process to renew my commission as an Iowa Notary?

The process is the same. Approximately two months before your commission expires, the Secretary of State will send you a renewal form.

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

On July 1, 2020, Iowa authorized remote online notarizations (RON). Notaries must hold an existing commission as a Notary Public before they can apply. Once you're commissioned, follow the steps in this guide to become an IA remote Notary.

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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