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How To Become A Notary Public In North Carolina

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

North Carolina Notary Process | Requirements to be a Notary in NC | General Notary Public Information


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North Carolina Notary Process

What is the process to become a Notary Public?

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 and attend a Notary Public Course at your local community college.
  3. Take and pass the North Carolina Notary Public exam with a score of 80% or better.
  4. Get your North Carolina Notary Public Guidebook from either your local community college or The School of Government at UNC Chapel Hill.
  5. Complete the application and get it notarized.
  6. 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.
  7. Get your Notary Oath Notification Letter from the Secretary of State via email.
  8. Within 45 days, take your oath of office at your county's Register of Deeds.
  9. Pay the $10 fee.
  10. Buy your Notary seal.
  11. Consider getting E&O insurance to limit your financial exposure (optional).

How long does a North Carolina Notary commission last?

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

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 off 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.

What kind of training will I need?

A six-hour training course is required for new North Carolina at local community colleges; 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.

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 embosser, but must contain your name as it appears on your commission, the words "Notary Public,” the name of the county where commissioned using the word “County” or “Co.”, “North Carolina” or “NC.” Your commission expiration date on the seal is optional, but must be included when notarizing, either by separate stamp or hand-written.

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).

A Notary journal is recommended 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.

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.

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.

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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Requirements to be a Notary in North Carolina

Who can become a Notary?

There are basic qualifications for a person to become a Notary in North Carolina. Applicants must be 18 years old, reside in the state or regularly conduct business in North Carolina, and legally reside in the U.S. You must also be able to read, write, and speak English. Applicants must also have a high school diploma, or equivalent, keep the most recent Notary manual approved by the North Carolina Secretary of State, and no less than 10 years since incarceration, probation, or parole.

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General Notary Public Information

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.

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. North Carolina 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.

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.

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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.

Are you ready to get started?

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