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3 Tips To Help You Apply For Or Renew Your Notary Commission

3 Tips To Help You Apply For Or Renew Your Notary Commission

Applying for your Notary commission can be daunting — especially since every state’s requirements are different. Even experienced Notaries can run into challenges when they renew their commissions. But these tips can help the process go more smoothly no matter what state you are in.

1. Make A Checklist Of Your State’s Requirements

Obtaining a commission can be a complicated process. In California, for example, an applicant must fill out an application form, schedule time to take a proctored exam, and submit fingerprints in order to be background screened. Having a list of your state’s requirements at hand can help you make sure you don’t miss a step accidentally. The NNA has information to become a Notary for each state at that you can refer to when going through the application process. The NNA can also assist current Notaries with renewing your commission.

2. Complete All Your Application Requirements In A Timely Fashion

Whether you are applying for the first time or renewing your commission, it’s a good idea to start the process sooner rather than later. Due to large numbers of applicants and renewing Notaries, state officials may need more time to process Notary commission paperwork. This means that if you wait too long, there may be a delay in receiving your new commission — or if you are renewing, you may not receive your new commission before your old one expires, resulting in a delay before you can resume performing notarial services.

At the same time, be aware that some states only accept applications within a certain timeframe before the current commission expires, and others may require you to complete other tasks within a set time limit. Here are some examples:

California: New Notaries are required to take a six-hour approved study course and pass an exam. Renewing Notaries must take the exam again along with a three-hour refresher course prior to their current commission expiring. If the Notary does not take the three-hour refresher course before their commission expires they must take the full six-hour course again. To avoid a gap between commissions, the state recommends beginning the renewal process at least 6 months prior to the expiration date of the Notary’s current commission.

Florida: First-time Notary applicants must complete a three-hour interactive or classroom course offered by an approved provider within one year prior to submitting their commission application.

Texas: In Texas, a renewal application may be submitted no earlier than 90 days before the Notary’s current commission expires.

Illinois: The state does not accept renewal applications earlier than 6 months prior to the expiration date for the Notary’s current commission. Notaries are normally sent a new application and bond form 60 days prior to commission expiration.

Pennsylvania: Because processing of Notary commissions normally takes at least 4 to 6 weeks, the state recommends filing application for reappointment at least 2 to 3 months prior to commission expiration.

3.  Make Sure Your Name And Address Are Correct

Correcting a misspelled name or wrong address information on your Notary commission can cost you in time and money. To help ensure that your commission is processed smoothly, be sure to double check that all your personal information is accurate and spelled correctly before you submit it.

If you need help or have questions with your state’s commissioning or renewal process, the NNA’s Customer Care team can assist you. You can contact them at 1-800-876-6827 or email

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




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Add your comment

Monica Franklin

20 Oct 2019

I the comission is not renewed on time do I have to start all over again by taking the exam in NYS?

National Notary Association

21 Oct 2019

Hello. The application must be completed and submitted with a $60 fee to the County Clerk where the notary is commissioned within 6 months of the commission expiration date. If you were unable to renew within this timeframe please contact the NY Department of State at 1-518-474-4429 to request instructions on how to re-apply for a new commission.

Nancy Lewis

13 Jul 2023

How soon can I take the Course of Study to renew my Maryland Notary? My current commission expires 11/07/2023

National Notary Association

07 Aug 2023

Notary commissions must be renewed within 60 days before and 30 days after the expiration date of the previous commission. Approximately two months before commission expiration, the Secretary of State will inform the Notary of the renewal of the application.

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