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How to Become a Notary Public in North Carolina

If you'd like to become a Notary in North Carolina, you must complete the following steps:

  1. Make sure you meet all of North Carolina's eligibility requirements (see below).
  2. Register for the state-required Notary Public Course.
  3. Get your North Carolina Notary Public Guidebook from either your local community college or The School of Government at UNC Chapel Hill.
  4. Attend a Notary Public Course at your local community college.
  5. Take and pass the North Carolina Notary Public exam with a score of 80% or better.
  6. Complete the application and get it notarized.
  7. Submit your application, your up-to-date resume, the $50 application fee and a business card (if you have one) to the Secretary of State. The deadline for submission is within three months of taking the course.
  8. Get your Notary Oath Notification Letter from the Secretary of State via email.
  9. Within 45 days, take your oath of office and pick up your commission at your county's Register of Deeds.
  10. Pay the $10 fee.
  11. Buy your Notary seal.
  12. Get E&O insurance to limit your financial exposure (optional, but strongly recommended).

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In This Guide: North Carolina Notary Process | NC Notary Requirements | General Notary Public Information

More Details About the North Carolina Notary Process

Below, we cover the cost and length of a Notary Public commission in the Tar Heel State.

How much does it cost?

The state commission fee is $50. The cost of your seal 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.

How long does it take?

It may take up to two weeks to process your application, as long as it is complete and correct when submitted.

How long does a North Carolina Notary commission last?

The term of a North Carolina Notary commission is five years.

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Requirements to be a Notary in North Carolina

Wondering what it takes to become an NC Notary Public? Read on below.

Who can become a Notary?

There are basic qualifications for a person to become a Notary in North Carolina. Applicants must:

  • Be at least 18 years old or legally emancipated
  • Be a resident of or regularly conduct business in North Carolina
  • Be a legal resident of the U.S.
  • Be able to read, write and speak English
  • Have a high school diploma or equivalent
  • Keep the most recent Notary manual approved by the North Carolina Secretary of State
  • Not have been released from incarceration, probation or parole within the last 10 years

What kind of training will I need?

A six-hour training course at a local community college is required for new North Carolina Notary applicants; attorneys are exempt. You must also get a North Carolina Notary Public Guidebook from either your local community college or The School of Government at UNC Chapel Hill.

Do I need to take an exam?

Yes, passing an exam is required to become a Notary in North Carolina. A score of 80% or higher is required to pass. You have three attempts to pass the exam in 30 days. Afterward, you'll need to take the Notary Public course again before you can take the exam.

What kind of supplies will I need?

You'll need a Notary seal for every notarization you perform. The Notary seal may be a stamp or an embosser that is either circular or rectangular in shape. Circular seals must be between 1.5" – 2" in diameter. Rectangular seals must be no larger than 2.5" in length by 1" in height. The following information must be on the seal:

  • Your name as it appears on your commission
  • The words "Notary Public"
  • The name of the county in which you were commissioned using the word "County" or "Co."
  • The words "North Carolina" or "NC"
  • Your commission expiration date (optional)

If you do not include your commission expiration date on the seal, you must write it in or use a separate stamp with the commission expiration date on every document you notarize.

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 Notary journal is recommended to keep a 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.

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.

Do I need a bond or insurance?

No. A bond is not required for North Carolina 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 North Carolina.

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General Notary Public Information

Have more questions about being a Notary in North Carolina? We have your answers.

Which state government office handles Notaries?

The North Carolina Secretary of State, located in Raleigh, NC, issues Notary Public commissions.

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.

Where will I be able to notarize?

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

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. While North Carolina allows Notaries to notarize an assignment or reassignment of a vehicle title for their spouse, the state highly recommends not notarizing for relatives. If you perform notarizations as part of your employment, your employer may limit the notarizations you perform during your work hours.

How much can North Carolina Notaries charge per notarial act?

North Carolina authorizes Notaries to charge no more than $5 per notarization. You may not charge travel or mileage expenses to your signers. If you charge a fee for notarizations, you are required to display a fee schedule. This must be in English and printed no smaller than 10-point font. If you are not an attorney and advertise notarial services in other languages, you must post fees in those languages, in addition to English, and a notice required by GS 10B-20(i).

What happens if I move or change my name?

You must notify the Secretary of State within 45 days of any address or name changes. To do so, you must send a signed notice of the change with both your old and new information by fax, email or certified mail, return receipt requested. You may also update your information on the Secretary's website.

If you move to a new county, you can continue using your existing seal, but you'll be required to get a new one when you reapply for your commission in the new county.

For name changes, you may continue using your former name until you receive a confirmation from the Secretary, get a new seal with your new name and have requalified with the county Register of Deeds in your new name. Once you get your new seal, you'll need to return your old one by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the Secretary's office.

If you both change your name and move to another county, you're required to submit an application for recommission and follow the same steps as for a name change. The only difference is your new seal will need your new name and county on it.

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.

What is the process to renew my commission as a North Carolina Notary?

You should begin the renewal process no earlier than 10 weeks before your commission expires. Log into the North Carolina Department of Secretary of State's Notary Reappointment page using your Notary number and password. The process is materially the same as it is to become a Notary. However, you are exempt from taking the exam if you are an attorney or have consistently held your North Carolina Notary Commission since July 10, 1991, and never have been disciplined.

Allow two weeks to receive your notification letter. Once received, take your oath at the Register of Deeds Office in the county where your commission was issued to take your oath within 45 days of the notary commission issue date and pay the $10 fee.

You may use your existing Notary seal stamp if the information on the seal matches exactly the information of your new commission.

How can I become an electronic Notary in North Carolina?

Electronic notarizations involve digital documents and electronic signatures, but the signer and Notary are still required to meet in person for the transaction. You must first hold an existing commission as an NC Notary Public. Then, you'll need to take a three-hour course at a local community college, pass the exam and complete the registration form online.

You'll need to print the form and get it notarized. From there, bring it to the Department of the Secretary of State with a $50 registration fee. You'll receive your Electronic Notary Oath Notification Letter from the Department at which point you'll need to take your eNotary oath of office at the local county Register of Deeds within 45 days. The register will provide you your Electronic Notary Certificate, which you'll use to get an eNotary signature and seal.

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

Remote online notarization (RON) is not allowed in North Carolina, but it is legal in 25 states. If you'd like to learn how RONs work, check out this article.

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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