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How To Become A Notary Public In Massachusetts

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

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

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BECOME a Notary

Requirements to be a Notary in Massachusetts

Who can become a Notary?

There are basic qualifications for a person to become a Notary in Massachusetts. Applicants must be 18 years old, reside in the state or regularly conduct business in Massachusetts.  You must also be able to read and write English.

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Massachusetts Notary Process

What is the process to become a Massachusetts Notary Public?
  1. Make sure you meet all of Massachusetts’s eligibility requirements.
  2. Complete the application.
    1. Include a copy of your up-to-date resume.
    2. Include a business card, if you have one.
  3. Pay the $60 commission fee upon notice from the Secretary of the Commonwealth.  Do not include the fee with your application.
  4. Purchase your Notary seal from an office supply store or a Notary trade association.
  5. Consider purchasing E&O insurance to limit your financial exposure.
  6. Begin performing notarizations for the public.
  7. Continuing education and Notary experts are always available if you believe you need additional training or guidance.
How long does it take?

The Governor’s office and Secretary of the Commonwealth estimate a processing time of up to 18 days.

How much does it cost?

The state commission fee is $60. The cost of your seal and journal will vary based on the vendor you choose.

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 kind of training will I need?

Training is not required for Massachusetts Notaries.

Do I need to take an exam?

No, passing an exam is not required to become a Notary in Massachusetts.

Although Massachusetts does not require training, where can I get it?

You can find several reputable Notary Public training providers with a quick online search. It’s important to note that the Secretary of State does not provide workshops or seminars, nor does the Secretary endorse any business that advertises Notary Public training. Since the Secretary of State doesn’t have jurisdiction to take action regarding a business that offers Notary training, make sure you thoroughly review any company you plan to work with.

What kind of equipment will I need?

You’ll need a Notary seal for every notarization you perform. The Notary seal may be a black-inked stamp or embosser, but must contain your name, your name as it appears on your commission, the words "Notary Public,” “Commonwealth of Massachusetts" or “Massachusetts,” “My commission expires on _____ (date)” or “My commission expires _____ (date)” and the Great Seal of Commonwealth of Massachusetts.   You may get a separate stamp with your expiration date, but would need to be used with the Notary seal.

A Notary journal is also required by law to keep record of your notarizations.  When purchasing a journal, there are a few important features to which you must pay close attention. A journal with numbered pages and 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 do not offer the same level of security.

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.

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.

Do I need a bond or insurance?

No. A bond is not required for Massachusetts Notaries, but many choose to purchase optional errors and omissions (E&O) insurance policies to protect themselves from legal expenses. E&O insurance is not a requirement in Massachusetts.

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What Can I Do With My Massachusetts Commission?

Where will I be able to notarize

You will be able to notarize anywhere in the state of Massachusetts.

Who can I notarize for

You can notarize for everyone, excluding yourself. You cannot notarize your own signature, nor can you notarize documents you are named in or would benefit from. Massachusetts law doesn’t specifically prohibit notarizing for a spouse or relative or for a spouse’s business. If you perform notarizations as part of your employment, your employer may limit the notarizations you perform during your work hours.

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General Notary Public Information

Why become a Notary?

Anyone who is interested in serving the public as an impartial witness should become a Notary. Notaries properly identify signers, and verify that the signer understands and is willing to sign the document in hand. Notaries help prevent fraud and add integrity, trust and authenticity to signatures on various important documents. Many companies in the healthcare, real estate finance and legal industries employ Notaries.

How much legal risk will I face?

It depends. Even the most careful and detail-oriented people can make mistakes. As a Notary Public, any unintentional mistake you make or intentional misconduct you engage in could be very costly for everyone involved. Notaries have been sued for financial damages that signers incur and lawsuits are expensive even if you’re innocent. If you are diligent in following the law and keep thorough records, you’ll be better prepared if any legal action does come your way.

Can anyone help me become a Notary?

Yes. Several companies offer Notary training, supplies, insurance and assistance with the entire application process. Also, the Secretary of State’s website has the application with submission details, if you want to get the process started on your own.

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