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The Transition Process: From Signing Agents To Certified Signing Specialists

Nov--Mag-Cover.jpgWith tens of thousands of Signing Agents and numerous lenders, title companies and signing services in the real estate finance environment, there is naturally going to be a transition period before the Certified Signing Specialist program is fully in place. Here’s how the transition will work:

  • In the coming months the Signing Professionals Workgroup will create the exam and begin to approve vendors authorized to offer the Certified Signing Specialist designation program.
  • Once that occurs, you will be able to obtain your certification from vendors such as the NNA.
  • In the interim, the NNA has updated its current certification program to comply with the Certified Signing Specialist Standards, and you will continue to be an NNA Certified Notary Signing Agent.

Some lenders and title companies are already requiring the annual background screenings, as prescribed in the Standards. Here’s how to accomplish that:

  • If you purchased a background screening-Notary Signing Agent certification package from the NNA in 2013, wait until we contact you. Your screening meets the Standards. The NNA will contact you one year after your last screening to authorize another at no extra cost.
  • If you purchased a screening from the NNA in 2012, we will contact you to let know that you need to be re-screened. That screening will be offered at a one-time discounted fee of $39.
  • If you purchased a screening from the NNA in 2011, you will need to be re-screened. That screening is offered at a new $65 rate.
  • If you purchased a background screening from another vendor in 2013, send us a copy of your receipt. You will be given a store credit for the amount you paid for that screening when you purchase a new screening from the NNA at $65.
  • Going forward, the normal cost of the more rigorous annual background screening compliant with the Signing Specialist Standards as well as the Certified Signing Specialist annual exam from the NNA is $65.

The NNA's current, SPW-compliant Background Screening includes the following checks:

  • 10-Year Search Of Criminal Records
  • Social Security Number Trace-confirms identity and provides address history where criminal record searches will be conducted
  • Motor Vehicle Records
  • National Sex Offender Database search-this is an automatic disqualification for a positive match
  • Nationwide Criminal Database
  • Federal District Court Search
  • USA Patriot Act search (Automatic disqualification for positive match):

-United Nations Named Terrorist List
-Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) Specially Designated Nationals & Blocked Persons
-Bank of England Sanctions
-Department of Defense Trade Controls (DTC) Debarred Parties
-U.S. Bureau of Industry and Security Unverified Entity List
-U.S. Bureau of Industry and Security Denied Entity List

Updated 8-21-14: There are eleven (11) states where convictions can only be reported for seven (7) years. The states are: CA, CO, KS, MD, MA, MT, NV, NH, NM, NY, and WA. New York has restricted the criminal checks available for past or current resident to a statewide level and does not offer county criminal court searches. New York is the only state with this restriction. DMV record searches are unavailable in the states of WA and PA.

As mentioned above, the SPW is developing procedures for approving vendors to offer certification services, such as background screening and certification exams. The SPW believes that a strong vendor management program is crucial to the success of the Standards because vendors will be the ones verifying that you are properly qualified. To be approved to offer certification services, vendors will have to demonstrate that their programs fully comply with the Standards. The SPW also will create a system to monitor and audit vendors to make sure that their certification services remain in compliance with the Standards.

Michael Lewis is Managing Editor at the National Notary Association.


Add your comment

30 Aug 2014

I just need to take the test and cant get into it,can you help me?

National Notary Association

03 Sep 2014

Hello, We're sorry you're having technical difficulties with an exam. Please contact Customer Service at 800-876-6827 or and let them know you are having problems accessing a test. They should be able to assist you in resolving the issue.

Barbara Holland

17 Feb 2015

I have my NNA certificate as Notary Signing Agent. How do I get the designation as a "Certified Signing Specialist"? This is a step up, correct?

National Notary Association

17 Feb 2015

Hi Barbara, The SPW is working on the exam, so the Certified Signing Specialist designation is not yet available. When we have updates, we’ll make sure our social communities are informed. In the meantime, if you’d like to read more about the designation, please visit or

09 Aug 2015

When will the new certification and training be posted for the new mortgage documents.

National Notary Association

11 Aug 2015

Hello. Just to clarify, are you referring to the SPW's Certified Signing Specialist training or training related to the new Closing Disclosure document changes scheduled to roll out later this year?

Sue Godwin

08 Sep 2015

What is the motor vehicle record standard?

04 Jan 2016

In doing my annual profile update, I searched for newer information about the SPW and CSS, but was not successful. I wonder if you might let us know where this certification stands now?

National Notary Association

06 Jan 2016

Hello and thanks for reaching out. The SPW hasn’t announced when the exam will roll out, so the certification isn’t currently available. We will share the latest news with our readers as soon as more information is available.

Claudette Rojas

21 Jun 2016

I would like to become a Signing Specialist but where is the application? I am a Notary Public now

National Notary Association

24 Jun 2016

Hi Claudette. Please see this article for more information:

13 Oct 2017

where can I get a copy of my NNA Certificate

National Notary Association

13 Oct 2017

Hello. If you are referring to a certificate for your status as a Certified Notary Signing Agent, verification is available online through your profile. For more information, please see these articles: and

16 Apr 2020

I have took the course work and would like to take the exam. Would you show me how to the exam portion?

Jan Swalley

18 Apr 2020

Anyone wanting time become a certified loan signing agent needs to register and get certified through NNA . Call for information .

22 Oct 2020


National Notary Association

27 Oct 2020

Hello. If you have not received your certificate, please contact our Customer Care team at to request assistance.

06 Mar 2021

How do i get a copy of my nna certificate?

National Notary Association

08 Mar 2021

Hello. Unfortunately, we cannot provide a physical copy of the certificate that indicates you are certified. We apologize for the inconvenience. However, you can use a link on your profile that will show your profile and which can be used as a digital verification. For more information, please see here: If you have any further questions you may contact our Customer Service at 800-876-6827. Representatives are available Monday through Friday from 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (PST). You may also contact us via email at

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