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Why it’s important to keep careful records of your Notary fees

A person using a calculator

Keeping a written record is always a sound practice when it comes to financial transactions. But in the past, many people didn’t pay attention to tracking Notary fees. Years ago, most Notary fees were very small (often only a few dollars per notarization). Consequently, few people worried about keeping track of these payments, unless required to do so by state law.

Today, Notary fees are no longer small change. Many states have significantly increased the fees Notaries may charge for their services. Some, like Tennessee, do not set a statutory limit to the amount Notaries may charge (although Notaries in such states are typically not legally permitted to charge in excess of reasonable fees). Many states that authorize remote notarizations allow Notaries to charge significantly more for remote services than for traditional pen-and-paper notarizations.

The money being paid to Notaries is reaching more substantial levels — as should be expected and encouraged. Some companies employ hundreds or even thousands of Notaries across numerous locations. The revenue generated by these notarial fees may amount to hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars annually. And not surprisingly, more and more state laws are expressly allowing employers of Notaries to collect the fees for notarizations performed by their employees. Because of the increase in the amounts being charged and collected for notarial services, these businesses and all Notaries need careful documentation of notarial and associated fees.

Also, many self-employed Notaries charge customers additional fees related to their other business services. The classic example is the travel fee charged by many mobile Notaries and Signing Agents. If a member of the public asks a Notary to come to the hospital where the individual has been admitted in order to perform an acknowledgment notarization, the Notary should be entitled to charge a fee for the acknowledgment and a fee for traveling to and from the hospital. Increased fees permitted for notarizations mean more income for Notaries, which is a good thing. But along with increased income, there is also the responsibility to report appropriate earnings on income tax returns. Furthermore, a written record should document the fact that a Notary has not violated the maximum Notary fee statute in the many states which have such laws, or that a Notary has not charged more than a reasonable fee in those states (like Tennessee) which do not set maximum Notary fees. That’s why it’s essential Notaries keep thorough, clear records of the fees they charge.

State Notary laws have almost never addressed the need for written fee records or the procedures for creating and maintaining such records – with one important exception. That is, where state laws have required the keeping of a Notary journal, most such laws have directed Notaries to record the notarial fee, if any is charged, in the journal entry. Yet only around half the states even require keeping a journal.

If Notaries need guidance regarding keeping financial records, the 2022 Model Notary Act (MNA) is a good resource. The Model Notary Act includes provisions recommending Notaries:

1.  Inform consumers of fees in writing in advance of services,
2. Provide consumers with itemized fee receipts, and
3. Record itemized fees in the Notary journal entry for each notarization. (See the 2022 MNA, Sections 5-1(c), 6-2(a)(7).)

Such written records will help document the business expenses of Notaries and their customers for income tax purposes.

In conclusion, things are changing for the better regarding Notary fees. However, we all need to pay more attention to Notary fee issues and to create and maintain a proper paper trail regarding fees. Chapter 5 of the Model Notary Act contains extensive, reasonable, and progressive approaches for dealing with fee issues, including written notice and recording of fees for the protection of consumers, Notaries, providers of support services for notarizations and the public. Notaries and lawmakers should look to the MNA for guidance in these matters.

Michael Closen is Professor Emeritus at the John Marshall Law School in Chicago, Illinois. A respected consultant on model Notary statutes and legislation, Closen served on the drafting committees for The Notary Public Code of Professional Responsibility and various editions of the Model Notary Act, and recently authored Professor Closen’s Notary Best Practices: Expert's Guide to Notarization of Documents.

Related Articles:

A guide to Notary travel fees across the United

Additional Resources:

2023 Notary Fees By State


Add your comment

Rita Balli

04 Sep 2023

Gods information to know. Thank you.


04 Sep 2023

Most of my work is as a Notary Signing Agent and my work and fees are confirmed through my work a tiny less than 1% are for work for individuals...those fees I notate ...but the work as a signing Agent I don' there some infraction I am committing? My entries in the journal show the name of the company that hired me


06 Sep 2023

My comment is the same as above and I would like to know the answer. "Most of my work is as a Notary Signing Agent and my work and fees are confirmed through my work a tiny less than 1% are for work for individuals...those fees I notate ...but the work as a signing Agent I don' there some infraction I am committing? My entries in the journal show the name of the company that hired me" ~ Ann Dye

National Notary Associationp

08 Sep 2023

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

Monica Arteaga

12 Sep 2023

I'm a CA notary and always enter my notary fee in my journal, although I do keep a separate computer file showing both notary fees and travel fees and how they were paid. My travel fees always vary depending on how far I'm driving.

Ildefonso Del Rosario

26 Dec 2023

As a Notary Signing Agent, we get paid by a title agency or signing service. Most requires some docs to be notarized. Do we record the amount they pay in the journal? The total amounts are larger than what the states allow. New Jeresey

National Notary Association

23 Feb 2024

Do not record a fee amount your journal that is in excess of the state regulated Notary fees. For signing agent services, you can enter “none” or “n/a” since the fee you’re being paid is a flat rate that covers the Notary act as well as other non-notarial services.

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