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5 things to remember when preparing for your first notarization

Updated 10-2-23. You’ve just received your Notary commission and you’ve scheduled your first notarization. But do you still feel nervous? If so, you're not alone. Here are 5 tips to help new Notaries from our expert NNA Notary Hotline consultants:

1. Bring your Notary reference books and materials with you.

Having your state Notary handbook or NNA Notary Law Primer handy can mean the difference between a smooth, first notarization and having to reschedule or stop altogether. With information on your state laws and official procedures at your fingertips, you’ll have easy access to the answers to any questions that might come up while notarizing. And if you’re unsure if you are following proper procedure, your reference books can make sure you don’t accidentally forget anything important.

If you're an NNA member, you can also enter the NNA Notary Hotline number in your phone contacts so that if any questions come up during the notarization, you can call one of our consultants for help. 

2. Don’t forget your seal and journal.

These are vital tools of your trade — before you set out on your first assignment, be sure you have them with you. If you have an ink seal, be sure that it has enough ink to make a clear seal impression.

3. Bring blank copies of the correct Notary certificate wording for different acts.

If the signer’s document doesn’t have preprinted certificate wording, or it has notarial wording from another state that you aren’t authorized to use, you will need to complete and attach a separate certificate with the correct wording to the document to complete the notarization. Having copies of the correct wording for your state’s notarial acts can save both you and the signer valuable time and avoid the need to postpone or reschedule the notarization.

4. Don’t forget a stapler.

Bringing preprinted notarial wording won’t do you any good if you can’t attach it to the document. In addition to your notarial certificates, be sure to have a portable stapler. Before the appointment, make sure that it has staples.

5. Carry extra pens with you.

You can’t finish the notarization if nobody has a pen, or your pen runs out of ink during the notarization. Always be sure to carry plenty of extra pens in the event a spare is needed. Good luck.

David Thun is the Assistant Managing Editor at the National Notary Association.

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5 steps flawless notarization book ad

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Add your comment

Patricia Adams

28 Aug 2017

Why is this required?


28 Aug 2017

just trying to read article


14 Sep 2019

Thank you for all the tips and information you always provide. I always refer to the reference materials that I have gotten through my NNA membership as well as the Hotline. I am a much more knowledgeable and confident Notary.

Laura Biewer

02 Nov 2020

Your recommendations of what to bring are excellent! In addition, I suggest vetting the signer ahead of the appointment to ensure ID requirements can be met, the signer, can sign unassisted, and is alert and aware.

12 Apr 2021

This information was very helpful and informative thank you for the heads up in a stapler too !

Dionne Alyson Degollado

12 Apr 2021

Thank you for your stories to prepare me for my first time being a Notary. It was very assuring and contained extra information to be ready for anything. I am especially grateful for the Notary Hotline as well, just in case I have an issue.

Doris Meyers

12 Apr 2021

Great advise. Wish I had NNA Hotline number for my first signing.


01 Nov 2021

Black or Blue ink. Which is preferable or required

National Notary Association

01 Nov 2021

Hello. To help us answer your question, can you please tell us what state you are commissioned in?

Edite C De Matos

01 Nov 2021

Very informative thank you for the stapler reminder


01 Nov 2021

I’m in Fl

National Notary Association

03 Nov 2021

Thank you. In Florida, “The rubber stamp seal must be affixed to the notarized paper document in photographically reproducible black ink” (FS 117.05[3][a]).


27 Nov 2021

Thank you for the reminders. Y’all are great!

Nanette Levine

29 Jun 2022

Thanks for all the useful infig I will be taking the loan signing agent exam for North Carolina in a few weeks.

National Notary Association

30 Jun 2022

Hello. Please be aware that North Carolina restricts the fees Notaries may charge to the state statutory maximum for Notary acts. Please see here for more information:


03 Jul 2022

Great tips! I have had a few clients that do not want their loose certificate stapled only because they are going to scan or make copies of the documents. I’ll inform them to immediately staple the certificate behind the document once they finished with scanning. I’m in California by the way.

Carlton Marshall

17 Oct 2022

Still hesitant about doing my first notarization. These tips will help my confidence. Although I understand there’s no greater confidence booster than actually doing it.

Sylvia A.Smith

17 Oct 2022

I’m ready to start send everything to help me out

Sylvia Smith

17 Oct 2022

I’m ready to help


17 Oct 2022

Good afternoon everyone. Doris Meyers you can find that information on the second paragraph of the first step, the only thing you have to do is click on the blue letters and it automatically takes you to the site where you will find all the information you need to take. Have a wonderful day. Thank you,

Marcia Vila

18 Oct 2023

Great advice

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