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2022 NNA Notary Census, Part 2: 4.4 million U.S. Notaries are adapting to serve the nation today

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Part 2 of a 2-part series. Part 1, covering Notary demographic trends in the past five years, can be found here.

Notaries in the U.S. have weathered major upheavals in their profession during the past 5 years. In the face of a global pandemic, they adapted their business model to meet growing need for their services, with many Notaries going mobile and embracing new technologies to better serve their customers thanks to the widespread enactment of remote notarization in most U.S. states.

While the number of Notaries in individual states varied — with some seeing steep growth and others a decline — overall the total U.S. Notary population remained remarkably stable at 4.4 million Notaries, ensuring that document signers across the country will have enough Notaries available to meet their needs.

The NNA conducts a census of the state and national population of Notaries in the United States every 5 years, using data gathered from state officials and Notary survey participants. In this article, we look at significant trends in the U.S. Notary population from 2017 through 2022.

"The Notary census numbers tell the story that the Notary Public office is remarkably resilient come what may and a lot has been thrown our way," said NNA Vice President of Government Affairs Bill Anderson.

Some states saw unusual Notary growth in 2022, other declined sharply

Between 2017-2022, states such as Florida and Pennsylvania reported steep declines in commissioned Notaries. However, booming growth in other states such as Texas and New Jersey balanced out the overall number of Notaries in the U.S. today at 4.44 million — a slight drop from 4.48 million five years ago.

For example, Florida, which previously had the largest Notary population of any state in 2017, saw its numbers decline by more than 21,000 Notaries. In 2022, Texas took the lead with the highest statewide number of Notaries at 484,230 currently commissioned, an increase in more than 56,000 new Notaries since our last census.

Chart showing Notary Census 2022 information on Notary population
The total number of Notaries today remains stable at 4.4 million. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau & NNA Research)

Je T’aime Swindell, director of Government Filings at the Texas Secretary of State’s office, sees a correlation in the increase of commissioned Notaries with the increase in the state’s population.

“Many individuals and companies have made Texas their new home, and have increased the business ecosystem,” she says. “Notaries play an important role in business and legal transactions. Additionally, during these economic times becoming a Notary is a way to supplement [an individual’s income] by serving the public.”

New Jersey also experienced an unusually large Notary upswing. It experienced more Notary growth than any other state, with more than 61,000 new commissions in the past 5 years.

While the Garden State recently enacted new Notary laws, including allowing persons living outside New Jersey to apply for commissions in some circumstances, state Notary officials said it is too early to tell if the new law contributed to the increase.

5 states with the largest Notary populations in 2022

  1. Texas484,230
  2. Florida474,670
  3. New York278,741
  4. New Jersey196,199
  5. Ohio194,919

5 states with the smallest Notary populations in 2022

  1. Hawaii5,274
  2. Vermont10,628
  3. Wyoming11,460
  4. North Dakota13,898
  5. Montana14,384

Pennsylvania saw an overall decline of around 40,000 in its Notary population, but, according to Mark Walters, deputy communications director at the Pennsylvania Department of State, this change is just part of a natural cycle in the state.

“While there has been a gradual decline in the number of Notary applications since 2017, 2021 showed an increase in applications that surpassed 2017 numbers. It is not unusual for Notary numbers to ebb and flow over the course of several years,” he says.

Changes in commissioning laws have been part of the reason for the ebb in flow, he adds.

“Pennsylvania’s commissioning requirements last changed with the implementation of the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts, effective Oct. 26, 2017. Since that time, education has been required for all Notaries — many had been exempt under prior law — and a test is required of all new Notaries,” Walters explains further. “There is anecdotal evidence of long-time education-exempt Notaries declining to renew their commissions under the new requirements, but there appears to be other individuals stepping up to take their places as Notaries.”

Internet softens COVID impact on Notaries  

Between 2007 and 2012, the U.S, Notary population dropped by more than 400,000 as the Great Recession disrupted the mortgage and real estate industry. The COVID-19 pandemic didn’t have the same negative impact on Notary commissions during 2017-2022. The rapid enactment of remote online notarization emergency orders and laws in many states gave Notaries the ability to serve customers without risk of face-to-face spread of illness during lockdowns. But Notary officials said they had to make many adjustments to keep the commission application process going during the pandemic.

For example, the online application process helped New Jersey, making it “impervious” to any disruptions caused by COVID-19. However, swearing in is done in person, and this required that extensions had to be granted to the swearing in period to allow time for clerks to adjust operations during in light of restrictions for a safe working environment.

  1. New Jersey+61,785
  2. Texas+56,674
  3. South Carolina+11,467
  4. Minnesota+10,396
  5. Tennessee+9,289
  1. Pennsylvania-41,612
  2. Florida-21,221
  3. North Carolina-19,628
  4. Louisiana-19,035
  5. Massachusetts-17,777

Pennsylvania has offered an online Notary application since 2011, which about 75% of applicants used pre-pandemic, and now sees about 90% use. In March 2020, the state took the next step and updated its commissioning and bonding process—making it wholly electronic.

“The updated process also included emailing appointment and bonding information to recently appointed Notaries,” says Walters. “This system upgrade took several time-consuming and expensive processes and made them electronic and much faster. Notaries and the public can now see commissioning information updated in real time on the department’s database after a Notary records the bond, oath, and commission at the county level.” 

Texas experienced a few challenges to its operations, according to Swindell. “There were many paper Notary applications that needed to be processed on site,” she says. “The office was closed for a period of time which delayed our usual processing times. There were also delays as we worked to staff the office while following the necessary social distance protocols. Luckily, our online filings did not see similar delays.”

What’s the optimal number of Notaries?

With the ebb and flow in individual states, one key question needs to be asked — is there a “right number” of Notaries needed to serve the needs of the public?   

Overall population doesn’t tell the whole story. Texas currently, has a Notary for every 1,600 residents, Pennsylvania one for every 500, and New Jersey one for every 2,100, and Florida one for every 2,200.

Though it’s likely a question that has no “right” or “best” answer, Swindell offered a practical response. “In my opinion, the ‘optimal’ number of Notaries allows any citizen to easily access a Notary that can provide a notarization that aligns with proper protocols,” she says.

Even if there’s no “magic number” it’s clear in 2022 that signers need not fear a shortage of available Notaries. No matter what state they are commissioned in, Notaries remain ready and willing to perform their essential duties of identity verification and document fraud prevention throughout the United States.

2022 NNA Notary Census

Notaries by State

Download the PDF

13 Comments

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James E Chafin

29 Aug 2022

I appreciate the update and thankful for the NNA I am proud of the West Virginia part of the association as well as the whole Organization Thank You

National Notary Association

29 Aug 2022

Thank you James. We appreciate it!

JOANNE BEVERLY

29 Aug 2022

Is there any data on how many remote notarizations take place each year?

National Notary Association

16 Sep 2022

Hello. We're sorry, but that data is not available at this time.

stella rigli

29 Aug 2022

thank you for the information

Olivia Allen

29 Aug 2022

I’ve been a notary for the past five years but this is my first time stepping away and trying to do it for full-time. This is one of the smarter decisions I made. This article was very informative. I would like to continue to receive these newsletters.

Tammy

29 Aug 2022

California loses certificates?

Emily

29 Aug 2022

Thank you for the update CA saturated with notaries

Lisette

29 Aug 2022

Thank you for the update, this helps understand where we stand as notaries.

Marva Hubbard

30 Aug 2022

Very useful information. Thanks for sharing.

ERVENA WASHINGTON

30 Aug 2022

Thanks NNA for the2022 Census update very informative I have been a South Carolina Notary for 11years and just decided to go into it full time once again thanks sincerely for The National Notary Bulletin Updates.

National Notary Association

30 Aug 2022

Hello and thank you for the kind words! We're glad you found the information helpful.

Patricia S Roy

30 Aug 2022

I always like to keep up to date on the latest NNA information. Thank you for sharing! I enjoy doing signings in Arizona and hope for many more!

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