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Notary Commissioning Agencies Impacted By COVID-19 Crisis, Expect Delays And Extensions

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Developing Story, Updated 3-24-20 with Kansas information: State and county government offices around the country are closing or restricting their operations as part of the effort to combat the spread of the coronavirus, and this could impact people who are seeking to become Notaries or renew their commissions. Here is important information to know to help make the commissioning process go as smoothly as possible.

In general, go to your commissioning agency’s website to check on any status changes that may impact you. This also may include the best way to communicate with the office during the crisis. With staffers telework in the affected jurisdictions, many offices might not be answering phone calls.

To date, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Washington, Pennsylvania, Montana, Nevada, Texas and several counties in California have announced closures or restrictions of government offices. Other jurisdictions are likely to follow suit as authorities work to combat the coronavirus.

Most states require Notary commission applicants to file information, such as their bond and/or oath office with a government entity. In many jurisdictions, this will be the Secretary of State’s office. Many states also permit Notaries to complete the commissioning requirements online.

District of Columbia Applicants

The District of Columbia has announced its offices will be closed through March 31. They expect to be able to review online Notary applications, but they will not be able to host orientation sessions or give oaths of office. Notaries will not be able to complete their commissioning processes until after the closure is lifted. 

Washington Notary Applicants

The Washington Secretary of State’s office, which is closed to the public until further notice, specifically recommends that Notary applicants file their applications online, particularly if you are renewing.

California Notary Applicants

In California, 7 counties (Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Marin, Contra Costa and Alameda) have closed their county clerk’s offices to the public. And more counties are expected to do the same. This can be particularly challenging to Notary applicants who are required to file their bonds and oaths of office with the clerk’s office where they are commissioned. However, California state law does permit applicants to file by certified mail or by any means of physical delivery that provides a receipt. You should check your county clerk/recorder’s website to  see if they are accepting Notary oath and bond filings by mail. Los Angeles County is one county that is.

To file by certified mail or other means of physical delivery that provides a receipt, you will need to include all the required materials:

  • A photocopy of your commission certificate.
  • Your original bond signed by you.
  • 2 signed and notarized oath of office forms (you’ll have to find a Notary and have these notarized in your county).
  • Filing fees (check your county clerk/recorder’s website for information on fees).
  • A daytime phone number where you can be reached.
  • A photocopy of your bond.
  • A letter requesting a conformed copy of your bond as confirmation that it has been filed.
  • A self-addressed, stamped envelope (to return the conformed copy).

Without the letter requesting the conformed copy and the self-addressed, stamped envelope, you won’t have the filing confirmed.

Also remember, if you are mailing your documents, you will need to find a Notary to administer your oath who is commissioned in the same county where your bond and oath are filed.

Pennsylvania Notary Applicants

In Pennsylvania, services from the Department of State will be restricted as a result of the Governor’s order for state employees to work from home through March 30. The department has issued the following guidance for Notary applicants:

  • Notary applicants have 6 months to pass the state-required test. PearsonVUE, the Commonwealth’s testing agency, has closed its testing centers for at least 30 days through April 16. PearsonVue will begin candidate cancellation notifications March 16 (CDT), which will provide instructions for scheduling new appointments on or after April 16, 2020. 
  • Applicants also have 45 days to take and record their oath of office and file their bond and commission with their county recorder. They also must register their official signature with the county prothonotary. Deadlines to accomplish these tasks will be extended

At present, the best way to contact the Department of State with any questions is via email (ST-NOTARIES@pa.gov).

Montana Notary Applicants

The Montana Secretary of State's office is operating with reduced staff, but reports that they are still processing new and renewing Notary commissions online and are able to receive phone calls and emails. However, Montana Notaries may encounter processing delays due to closures of other government agencies such as recording offices. 

Nevada Notary Applicants

The Nevada Secretary of State's office is closed to the public, though staff are answering phone calls and emails. At this time, all Nevada Notary applications must be submitted online or by mail.

Texas Notary Applicants

The Texas Secretary of State's office is closed to visitors and customers and operating with reduced staff. Texas Notary applicants can submit or update commission applications and information online.

Kansas Notary Applicants

While the Kansas Secretary of State's office is operating with minimum staff, they are currently open and processing Notary applications. 

Virginia Notary Applicants

The Notary Division is extending the pickup date for commissions printed between Monday, January 13, 2020 and Monday February 24, 2020. The approved notaries in this date range will now have until Friday, May 1, 2020 to claim their commission from the appropriate circuit court.

A final note: If you are nearing the time to renew your commission, start as early as possible and make sure to monitor your commission authority’s website for any changes. Whether you are a new or renewing Notary applicant, make sure you do not start notarizing documents until you have completed and confirmed all the required steps.

We will continue to update this article with new information as we receive it from state Notary agencies.

Michael Lewis is Managing Editor of member publications for the National Notary Association. 

27 Comments

Add your comment

Diane Tejada-Negron

18 Mar 2020

I sent my renewal form a few weeks ago. I want to know the status.

National Notary Association

18 Mar 2020

Hello. If you need to check on the status of a renewal through the NNA, please contact our Customer Care team at 1-800-876-6827. Thank you.

VOLA ACUFF

18 Mar 2020

just checking to see if you have filed for my renewal

National Notary Association

18 Mar 2020

Hello. If you need to check on the status of a renewal through the NNA, please contact our Customer Care team at 1-800-876-6827. Thank you.

Charlene Reeder

18 Mar 2020

Will you address safety issues in using our self inking pads for thumbprints in our journals. What is best practice rule during this time?

National Notary Association

19 Mar 2020

Hello. We recommend ensuring that each signer sanitizes their hands before use. We are also reaching out the manufacturer to see if they have any other sanitizing recommendations.

Mary Flores

18 Mar 2020

Thank you for this!

Rosemarie Helen Miller

18 Mar 2020

Any idea if the conference in Arizona will be canceled?

National Notary Association

19 Mar 2020

Hello. At this time, NNA2020 in Arizona is not cancelled. However, we are continue to monitor the ongoing situation and will notify attendees of any changes as soon as possible.

Victoria Eskilson

19 Mar 2020

I paid for my Notary class to renew my commision May 2020 kn San Diego will class still be given

National Notary Association

19 Mar 2020

Hello. The NNA has cancelled live seminars in California for the month of March, and is monitoring the situation regarding classes scheduled later in the year. More information is available at https://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2020/03/nna-california-live-notary-seminars-cancelled, which will be updated as new information becomes available. If you have additional questions about a specific seminar or class, you can contact our Customer Care team at 1-800-876-6827.

Phyllis Cupil

20 Mar 2020

Where do I check my status for new commissions in IL?

National Notary Association

20 Mar 2020

Hello. If you need to reach the Illinois Secretary of State's office, their number is 800-252-8980. If you applied for your commission through the NNA, please call our Customer Care team at 1-800-876-6827 or email us at services@nationalnotary.org.

Tera

21 Mar 2020

When are you going to address safety of notaries? The shut down. Not just mortgage standards. What are notaries doing to protect themselves. How can one who depends on this income get help if needed bring most are independent contractors. Emails circulating around about curbside or window signings (which I do not do).

Tony Dadoush

23 Mar 2020

I submitted my application, bond, and took the oath at the county clerks office before submission. Bond purchased through NNA and have $500,000.00 E&O. My current commission expires today. How do I keep working if I haven't received my renewal? I am in Nevada.

National Notary Association

23 Mar 2020

Hello. We are urgently reaching out to state government bodies to request guidance for Notaries in different states during the ongoing coronavirus situation. Please keep watching the Bulletin for updates, as we will be posting any new information we receive in the Bulletin as soon as possible.

Patricia Johnsen

23 Mar 2020

I am from NJ. My commission expires April 28. I have everything i need to renew but I cannot get sworn in at the county clerks office as it is closed due to the corona virus. Will my time be extended to renew?

National Notary Association

24 Mar 2020

Hello Patricia. At this time, New Jersey has not confirmed if it will be extending commission renewal times or not. However, we are reaching out to state Notary offices to request guidelines for Notaries such as yourself who are due to renew or have other questions due to government office closures, and will post updates in the Bulletin as soon as we receive them. In the meantime, you can contact the NJ Division of Revenue directly with questions at (609) 292-9292.

Eliz Kyuchukyan

30 Mar 2020

I need to attend the class to renew my commission. It expires in September/2020. What do I do? Thanks

National Notary Association

30 Mar 2020

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

asia9893@yahoo.com

05 Apr 2020

My stamp expires on 4/14, Is it too late to submit my renewal application to NNA or should I visit my GA County for processing and is there a grace period?

National Notary Association

06 Apr 2020

Hello. Please contact our Customer Care team at 1-800-876-6827 for assistance.

Dana Horn

06 Apr 2020

My commission expires 4/8/2020 and I have done everything but get my affirmation notarized because I can't find any notaries available in my area due to Covid-19 shutdowns. I am in a rural town in Colorado that is currently under strict shelter in place orders and even our local banks don't have notaries available at this time. How can I complete this process without being able to find another notary?

National Notary Association

07 Apr 2020

Hello. Colorado has issued a temporary executive order permitting notarizations using remote audiovisual technology in lieu of personal appearance during this emergency. Please see here for guidelines: https://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2020/03/states-emergency-action-remote-notarization

Kenneth C. Wright

23 Apr 2020

I renew My CA Realtor's License Online. Shouldn't we be able to Renew a Notary License Online? It's much less involved than a Real Estate License, it makes little sense than the Notary Renewal Demands appearance. At least During Covid 19 Restrictions?? Anybody looking into that possibility?

Keya S. Williams

20 Jun 2020

Hello my name is Keya S. Williams, I would like to check on the status of my renewal form.

National Notary Association

23 Jun 2020

Hello Keya. If you renewed through the NNA, please contact our Customer Care team at 1-800-876-6827 for assistance.

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