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Notary Voices: The challenges Notaries face beyond the stamp and signature

Person with frustrated expression, hand on face.

In the world of notarization, the role of a Notary Public is often misunderstood. Many believe it's a straightforward job of signing and stamping documents. However, the reality is far more complex, with Notaries encountering a myriad of challenges in their day-to-day work.

We recently reached out to the NNA’s social media community to better understand some of the difficulties that Notaries face today, asking the question “What's the hardest thing for you about being a Notary?”

The responses were eye-opening. Frankly, being a Notary isn’t easy.

The following is a deeper dive into some of your more common pain points.

Constantly changing procedures and rules

Notaries are responsible for ensuring documents are correctly notarized according to their state’s statutory or procedural requirements. Keeping track of changing laws and rules can be tough! As one Notary noted, "Keeping up with constant (procedural) changes and rules! I do not have enough hours in the day! However, I am blessed and very thankful for my job and clients!"

This comment highlights the ever-evolving landscape of Notary rules and regulations. As these regulations change, Notaries must invest time and effort in staying updated to avoid costly mistakes.

Navigating tricky identification situations

Another challenge Notaries often face is dealing with individuals who present expired or insufficient identification. One Notary expressed frustration, saying, "Explaining to signers why I cannot accept their expired driver’s license or the ID with their maiden name even though they have their marriage certificate as proof."

It's common for Notaries to encounter signers who lack the necessary identification, leading to difficult conversations with customers and potentially having to refuse the notarization.

The constant quest to build a client base

For many Notaries, getting clients is a significant hurdle. One Notary shared, "The hardest thing for me has been finding leads. I have signed up with over 100 companies, Signing Services, created my business page, and distributed flyers and business cards in both NJ and PA over the past 2 months."

Despite their expertise, some Notaries struggle to attract clients, emphasizing the importance of effective Notary marketing and networking efforts.

Unrealistic expectations from signing companies

Signing companies sometimes place unrealistic demands on Notaries. One Notary recounted, "Signing companies expecting US to do their escrow and lender jobs. I recently encountered a company that expected me to know when a loan file was completed before signing. I am a Notary Public, not a real estate agent, escrow, or loan officer. How would I know?"

This highlights the need for clear communication between Notaries and signing services to ensure that each party's responsibilities are well-defined and understood.

The battle against unlawful notarizations

Lastly, Notaries often encounter individuals seeking to notarize illegal documents. As one Notary lamented, "People always trying to get illegal things (notarized). It's annoying: I will say no, and they keep asking. I have to break it down to them how illegal it would be."

Upholding the law and ethical standards is a fundamental duty of Notaries, even when faced with persistent requests for illicit notarization.

Our hats off to all the dedicated Notaries out there!

The challenges highlighted by Notaries across our social media communities underscore the complexity and importance of your role. It's amazing that, despite these challenges, Notaries remain dedicated and committed with a focus on serving the public and upholding the law and public trust.

If you have an insight or opinion on this topic, please view our recent post on Facebook and share your thoughts and experiences.

View All: Notary News


Add your comment

Marilyn B.

16 Oct 2023

Some customers think that WE, The Notaries are going to break the law in order to accommodate their needs. I asked one individual, "If I break the law, are you willing to go to prison for me?" When I put it in that perspective the person apologized and walked out of the office.


16 Oct 2023

I am struggling being a notary because of the pay cycles. I can’t afford to do it because I use my time and I don’t get paid when I need to. I can’t keep it going.

Patricia McConn

16 Oct 2023

I completely agree with all of these. Especially trying to build a client base. That is extremely hard. You can only market so much before you become frustrated. I'm a NJ notary and NSA as well and I've only had a handful of clients for GNW in the past few months. The laws and regulations issue is a bit much. You can spend days and weeks just reading through the changes and trying to remember them is a constant struggle. Lastly trying to get more people to do remote or electronic Notarizations is a pain point as well. I spend a lot of time explanating what it is and assuring clients that it is a legitimate form of notarizing.

Karlean Grey-Allen

16 Oct 2023

Excellent article.


16 Oct 2023

Amazing how this article makes no mention of the fact that - for Signing Agents in 2023-2024 - a severe drop in available signings is an undeniable “challenge.” Really, it’s time for a new line of work until the market shifts significantly.

Luz Rose

16 Oct 2023

People want me to create docs. For example, “My husband and I are in the process of getting separated and he wants to leave our home to me. I am not on the loan or the Deed.” I have to explain the process.

National Notary Association

16 Oct 2023

Hello. Unless you are an attorney qualified to provide legal advice, Notaries should not be advising clients regarding the preparation of divorce documents, property documents or any other legal documents. Unauthorized practice of law by Notaries may result in liability and severe legal penalties, including potential suspension or revocation of the Notary's commission.

B. Dianne Shorte

16 Oct 2023

This issue is very informative.

Ginger Lea Young

16 Oct 2023

My state caps what I can charge for notarizing at $5 per document. I've been a notary for decades, working for a law firm. To me, it's not worth being a Notary as the Bond covers the other party, not me. So unless I have additional insurance, I can be held liable and be fined or imprisoned should something be missing or not done properly, and I can be brought into a lawsuit. Though I trust my knowledge, I've seen other Notaries dragged into lawsuits. I think something needs to be changed - maybe the State offers liability assurances??

Christopher Cook sr

16 Oct 2023

Thank you for the information I'm thinking of becoming a notary here in Illinois this information was very helpful

National Notary Association

16 Oct 2023

You're welcome! Please reach out to us again if we can be of further assistance or if you have any other questions.

Laurie Rangel

16 Oct 2023

Another major issues I face is when the signer does not know what they are signing or have dementia and don’t understand what they are signing or when we give them the oath. I have had Priest, Doctors, Attorneys and Social Workers beg me to notarize a POA and wills but the person doesn’t understand. I tell them I can’t do it they need to know what they are signing. I get the same response “they know we talked about it earlier” each and every time I have to say no and walk away. They end up going to someone else that doesn’t know the law.

Charles Burditt

16 Oct 2023

Not only has the number of loan signings greatly decreased, but some services are now offering less money for a signing than they were 4-5 years ago. Gas is up, paper and ink are up, yet most companies pay me the same fee as when I started 12 years ago.

BK Jackson

16 Oct 2023

Some companies are putting a general location (not exact address), a price they are willing to pay (without any way of negotiating) and a button of acceptance. That's it. We don't have a way of finding out how many pages we will have to print, how many notarized pages we will have, if we have to administer an oath or any number of things that we may have to charge for. When I calculate the round trip mileage and subtract it from the price they've offered, my time, paper, ink, oath, stamp and all other notarial fees are apparently free based on the amount they offer upfront, and the button of acceptance that once I click on it, is my word. As we all know, our word is our bond.


17 Oct 2023

Helpful. This has changed my mind about investing the time. Seems more exhausting than it's worth


17 Oct 2023

I have no problem with finding people who need documents notarized, but I do not do this as a full time job. Rather it is part of the services I offer as an insurance agent and tax preparer. I also have no problem with telling people no if I smell something fishy. Let's face it, the average Joe or Jane who comes to you with something shady will throw you under the bus in a minute with the phrase,"It was his idea to do it !"


17 Oct 2023

"Unrealistic expectations from signing companies" I agree with this.

Rebecca Z.

17 Oct 2023

Many people want me to notarize a dual signature document when one of the signatures has already been made. I have to turn them down. Or I know one of the individuals, but not their spouse/significant other and they have no ID. I won't notarize documentation if all required criteria is not met.

Joni Schmidt

17 Oct 2023

Title Companies send out emails with verbiage like "we value our Notaries, but our costs have increased so we are unable to pay for (mileage, scanning, large packages -- you name it). Meanwhile, they're still charging their clients either more or the same plus they get the extra I would have received for the additional services I would have provided. Do they think Notaries work for free? Or for minimum wage? That's what these $75 for a 240-page HECM application while driving 40 miles one way would end up being. Chances are -- I would wind up paying THEM for the privilege of conducting that transaction!

Patricia Davis

17 Oct 2023

These are the reasons why I have I pretty much left the signing agent business.


17 Oct 2023

I read the constant struggles to maintain an income while signings are down and fees reduced...I got my credentials to do IPEN digital signings but it also requires upgrading your devices to work on certain will be the future for the majority of signings so getting credentialed now is a good thing to do is possible...Good Luck everyone...I've been in high and low times..nothing remains the same....just find extra income until the recovery...


17 Oct 2023

My advice to anyone starting as a notary is only accept assignments from national title insurance companies. Tbey usually know the signers and real estate agents and will not send a new notary on an assignment beyond their capabilities.

Joanne Hunton

17 Oct 2023

I decided to let my notary expire due to all the paperwork/bookkeeping/expenses/time and liability. Just not worth it to me.

Marion Sylvester

17 Oct 2023

As a Notary Signing agent, my biggest challenge is just being paid FAIRLY. All of my / our expenses (paper, toner, gas)have gone up. YET, ALL of the title companies are offering less per job. We "try" to charge what the state allows (IN. is $10 per notarization) but the titles companies have and are ignoring this. THIS ... is my biggest problem and I'm sure other notary's around the country are experiencing similar problems.

Deb Yost

17 Oct 2023

Well said BK Jackson. I agree. The signing companies could give us a little more information ahead of time. If it’s local, I don’t have a problem with surprises, But if it’s an hour drive one way, and the signing companies give you the documents a few hours ahead of time, you have to print 250 + pages and the signing last more than an hour. Then you have 2 hrs to review and scan back. Sometimes the stress is not worth the pay and really is unrealistic. Of course, just my opinion.

Jen S.

07 Dec 2023

Waiting for documents. I have a 2pm signing today and as of 10:30 no documents yet. I woke to a 2nd offer this morning that I could've done on the way to the 2pm, but had to turn it down due to the other order not being ready. Is having the documents the evening prior too much to ask?

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