Your Cookies are Disabled! sets cookies on your computer to help improve performance and provide a more engaging user experience. By using this site, you accept the terms of our cookie policy. Learn more.

The Notary Signing Agent Code of Conduct-Guiding Principle 1


Editor’s Note: In the coming months the NNA will publish commentaries analyzing the individual Guiding Principles of the Notary Signing Agent™ Code of Conduct, released by the Signing Professionals Workgroup in October 2013.

The Notary Signing Agent Code of Conduct logically begins with the qualifications a Signing Agent must possess. Guiding Principle 1 states that a Signing Agent “will satisfactorily meet and maintain all qualifications necessary to perform signing services.”

Under the Code, signing services refer to “coordination of the appointment at which closing documents are signed; receipt, duplication, transportation to the parties for signatures, and delivery to a shipping carrier, of closing documents; care, custody, and control of closing documents while in the possession of a Signing Agent; presentation of closing documents to the parties for signatures; notarization of closing documents; and supervision of the signing of documents by the parties.”

The Standards of Practice in Guiding Principle 1 detailing a Signing Agent’s qualifications are consistent with this definition of “signing services.” Standards 1.1 through 1.4 touch on qualifications influenced by state and federal laws and regulations.

Signing Agents must undergo a background screening because they must safeguard closing documents containing a borrower’s personal, non-public information (1.1). Signing Agents must hold all applicable licenses and commissions required to perform signing services (1.2). While this means that all Signing Agents must hold a Notary commission or appointment, Signing Agents in certain states must also hold additional licenses, such as a title insurance producer or a law license.

Signing Agents must keep current on all state Notary laws and regulations that affect the performance of notarial acts on documents in the closing package (1.3). Further, since signing services are performed in the context of mortgage finance and real property closings, federal laws and regulations come into play.

Signing Agents also must demonstrate an understanding of all relevant federal laws and regulations governing closings that affect the services they perform (1.4). For example, Signing Agents should understand the relevancy of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) rules prohibiting kickbacks and fee splits among settlement services providers. The Standard of Practice mentions several of the most relevant federal laws Signing Agents should know.

Standards of Practice 1.5 and 1.6 pertain to specific industry credentials and knowledge Signing Agents must possess. Contracting companies may require Signing Agents to earn industry certification and demonstrate familiarity with the documents most routinely presented at a signing services appointment. However, as Guiding Principle 4 will clarify, Signing Agents may not use this knowledge to provide legal, personal or financial advice to a borrower.

The ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, “The only constant is change.” Heraclitus was speaking of his doctrine of change in the universe, but he could have been speaking of the modern mortgage finance industry. Faced with new regulations and market forces such as fluctuations in interest rates and the relaxing and restriction of credit, Standard of Practice 1.7 urges Notary Signing Agents to commit to ongoing learning (1.17). In particular, Signing Agents must keep informed of “technical matters” — specific industry knowledge — as well as legal requirements and other developments that affect their skills in rendering signing services.

Standard 1.8 specifically applies to those Signing Agents who operate in the so-called attorney-closing states. Where a statute, court precedent or rule of the court may require any non-attorney participating in a real estate closing conference to be under the direct supervision of an attorney, the Standard urges willing compliance with these rules.

The qualifications described in Guiding Principle 1 are essential for Notary Signing Agents because signing services are performed in an industry that is heavily regulated by the state and federal government. For those Signing Agents looking to distinguish themselves to their current and potential contracting companies, Guiding Principle 1 shows them the way.

Bill Anderson is Vice President of Government Affairs with the National Notary Association.


Add your comment

09 Jan 2015

When i notorize documents do i need 2forms of I.D.

National Notary Association

13 Jan 2015

Hello, So we can better answer your question, can you please let us know what state you are commissioned in?

National Notary Association

28 May 2015

To Janet Lee Butler: Hello. We received your query about a print copy of the Signing Specialist Code of Conduct. We're sorry, but we've been told by the SPW the Code is only available in PDF format at this time. Sorry for any inconvenience.

National Notary Association

28 May 2015

To Janet Lee Butler: Hello. We received your query about a print copy of the Signing Specialist Code of Conduct. We're sorry, but we've been told by the SPW the Code is only available in PDF format at this time. Sorry for any inconvenience.

Yvonne garza

27 Jul 2016

What does the SPWs code of conduct strictly prohibit notary signing agents from

National Notary Association

27 Jul 2016

Hello. The Code is available to read here:

08 Feb 2017

Very helpful

Alicia milton

08 Oct 2017

Is it against any laws to survey an area or residence prior to a signing to see if the area or residence is safe

National Notary Association

09 Oct 2017

Hello. We recommend the follow article for suggestions if you are concerned about safety during a notarization assignment:


11 Oct 2022

Does a notary need to read the closing disclosure to the borrower or simply acknowledge they are aware of the details?

National Notary Association

09 Nov 2022

You are not required to read the closing disclosure to the borrower. They have to sign it indicating they understand the document.

Leave a Comment

Required *

All comments are reviewed and if approved, will display.