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I’m A New Notary. What Do I Do Now?

Tips for new NotariesUpdated 3-6-17. Once you've finished your training, exams, and received your official Notary seal, what comes next? While getting started can feel daunting, here are tips to ensure your first notarizations go smoothly and how to build your career and professional reputation.

Tips For Your First Signing

  • Require Physical Appearance: Signers must appear before you. If a colleague or manager asks you bend this rule, explain that you are protecting everyone involved in the transaction by following the law.
  • Require Acceptable Forms Of ID: Make sure you understand what types of ID are acceptable in your state. Most states have Notary handbooks. You also can check the State Law Summaries posted on the NNA’s website. “I always ask up front before my appointment if the name on their identification matches the documents,” says Angela Varvi, owner of Angela V Mobile Notary. “If not, I refer them back to the source who prepared the document.”
  • Never Advise Signers: You can explain the differences between jurats and acknowledgments, but never advise a signer on which type of notarization should be performed.
  • Record All Notarizations: Most states either require or recommend that you keep a record of all your notarizations. The NNA recommends keeping a journal, regardless of state laws. You should complete each entry at the time of the notarization, and make sure the signer signs the record.
  • Reach Out For Answers: If you have questions, request clarification from the document receiving agency, reach out to a Notary mentor, or call the NNA Hotline.
  • Secure Your Notary Tools: Always keep your journal and Notary seal in a safe, locked place.

Get The Notary Training And Resources You Need

Whether or not you had to go through any type of education to get your commission, continuing training is important. What do you do, for example, if your boss asks to look at your Notary journal? Or if a signer doesn’t have ID?

“Notaries are not just rubber stampers,” says Notary educator and 2009 NNA Notary of the Year Elaine Wright, who teaches courses covering best practices, procedures and advanced Notary topics. Wright recommends going beyond what is covered in state-mandated courses, which focus primarily on Notary laws, and finding ways to supplement your Notary knowledge.

Your Secretary of State’s website is a good place to start. Most of these agencies have Notary handbooks or reference guides.

You can also find online or face-to-face Notary courses within your area. If you are not sure what is available in your state, Colorado Notary Carol Salter, the 2005 NNA Notary of the Year, recommends contacting your Secretary of State. “Even if your state doesn’t offer courses, they may be able to recommend one near you.”

The NNA’s free online webinars take you step by step through common Notary tasks, such as administering oaths and affirmations and handling powers of attorney, as well as tips on handling challenging signers or signing situations, such as ID discrepancies or unlawful requests.

Find A Mentor And Create A Notary Network

Even the most educated Notary can find him or herself in challenging situations. “Don’t be afraid to reach out for help,” advises Salter. Luckily, the digital age makes it easier than ever to find mentors and colleagues.

  • Find a Mentor: Notary mentors provide valuable tips and can join you at signing appointments. “Mentors know how to go into a signing and take control of the situation,” says Howard Blum, owner of Pro Mobile Notary.
  • Make A Digital Connection: Join online discussion groups for Notary professionals such as the NNA LinkedIn groups, where you’ll find colleagues discussing how to deal with difficult signers, handling specific types of notarizations, tricks for maximizing efficiency, and dealing with challenging requests from your boss.

Kelle Clarke is a Contributing Editor with the National Notary Association.

Additional Resources:

Notary Essentials

NNA 2017 Conference



Add your comment

Richard Goryon

29 Feb 2016

Excellent article - thank you NNA

Latoya Brown

01 Mar 2016

Thank you very much I'm new to the game so this helps a lot. If only I could find a mentor willing to help.

Anita Scurry

02 Sep 2016

Great tips. I am a new Notary. I want to be effective and build a successful business. With God's help and continue training that will happen. I am excited to receive my first client

Ann Marie James

14 Mar 2017

Good information.


14 Mar 2017

I have performed over 1,000 signings now in 4 years but for my first signing I took my daughter, who was a Law Student and had been interning with me to double check my work.

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