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Many States Still Lack Education Requirements Despite Calls For More Notary Training

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Lack of Notary training or proper understanding of state Notary laws can result in mistakes that cause major difficulties for signers in any field.

Consider, for example, the political candidate in Georgia — which has no education requirement — who was removed from a ballot because his wife both notarized and circulated election petitions on his behalf in conflict with a state law.

In Minnesota, a UPS delivery driver has spent years enduring legal and financial hardships after a fraud ring stole his identity and an unsuspecting Notary failed to properly identify the imposter. Minnesota is another state that does not require Notaries to be trained.

In fact, less than a dozen states require Notaries to take a mandatory training course, and only four — California, Colorado, North Carolina and Oregon — require Notaries to take an education course and exam to qualify for their commission.

And education bills proposed this year made little if any headway with state lawmakers.

A few bills with education or exam-related provisions were introduced by state lawmakers this year, but were rejected or died — such as West Virginia’s HB 4012, which had an examination requirement in the original introduced version of the bill. The introduced version also required the Secretary of State or an entity approved by the Secretary to regularly offer training courses to Notary commission applicants. These provisions were later stricken from the bill.

The NNA provides complimentary educational resources for Notaries including webinars on commonly asked questions and best practices; our searchable online Law Updates database with information on changes to state Notary laws, and Notary Bulletin articles on new changes affecting Notaries Public.The NNA urges Notaries to take advantage of these complimentary resources to educate themselves beyond state requirements.

David Thun is an Associate Editor at the National Notary Association.

3 Comments

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Lisa Nassour

08 Sep 2014

This article was very informative and I am completely in support of both pre-qualifying and continuing education for Notaries. However, your article lacks information on the State of Louisiana. Louisiana is the only state in the Union that is a Civil Law state, therefore, Notaries have widespread abilities and responsibilities as a Notary Public, and our required exam before we are commissioned has a very low passing rate due its difficulty. We are not just signature witnesses; we can draw up legal documents and notarize them. Please go to sos.la.gov for more information. The "exam" in Colorado is nothing compared to LA (I was also a Notary in Colorado at one time). I also wanted to note in one of your earlier articles you listed FNA for formerly known as. In our state we must use FKA, so I was wondering it may have been a typo. I really enjoy reading your articles, thank you!!!

Robert G. Gostl

10 Sep 2014

Thanks, Lisa, for the comments about our State of Louisiana Notary Commission. Glad to see that someone else recognizes that Louisiana is a part of the United States!!

Patricia Ambrose

15 Sep 2014

I have been a California notary for 20 years. I think it is a dangerous policy not to inform candidates who PASS the exam which questions they missed, especially new applicants. If one answers a question incorrectly, chances are he/she will be doing something incorrectly in the course of their notary work for the next four years (or more). I know the reason for not identifying incorrect answers is so that the correct answers aren't shared, however, if the questions answered incorrectly were transmitted to the applicant, he/she could look up the correct answers. I think the effort to prevent sharing answers puts notaries in a position to make unintentional mistakes that could be detrimental to them and their signers. I don't think E&O insurance should be the back-up plan when an applicant has incorrectly answered exam questions. There should be a way to inform the applicant what questions he/she missed.

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