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The Official 2012 NNA Census: Notary Population Declines

Chatsworth, California - May 08, 2012

Companion Online Survey Reveals Nearly One Third Of Notaries Asked To Do Something Improper Or Illegal

The National Notary Association announced this week that the number of Notaries Public in the United States declined by 9.3 percent in the past five years, caused by the worst recession in 80 years. Yet, there are still 4,380,351 commission-holders protecting America’s consumers and businesses from fraud.

The 2012 Notary count marks the first decline since 1972 when the NNA began conducting its official Notary Census — the nation’s only comprehensive census of Notaries. The key findings of the NNA’s Official 2012 Notary Census were published this week in The National Notary magazine.

“This drop was caused by the recession, the decline of the housing market and the high unemployment rates associated with that industry. However, that decline appears to be leveling off as the economy has stabilized,” said NNA President and Chief Executive Officer Thomas A. Heymann. “The current population of Notaries is sufficient to meet the national demand for document authentication.”

Every five years, the NNA analyzes data from the Notary regulating officials in every state, the District of Columbia, and all U.S. Territories. Thirty states posted declines while 20 saw their Notary populations grow. California, New Jersey and Florida accounted for two thirds of the decline in the Notary population.

This year for the first time, the Association supplemented its Census with an online survey of Notaries that offered a fascinating glimpse of the Notary community. Among other things, 30 percent of the 2,178 survey respondents said they are occasionally or frequently asked to perform an improper or illegal act.

The survey also pointed to a need for more Notary-related education. More than one Notary in five has received no formal education regarding their official duties, relying instead on their own review of state laws and regulations, according to the online survey. Thirty-nine percent of the respondents said they have taken some type of formal training course on their own, and another 39 percent went through state-mandated training.

Currently only 18 states and the District of Columbia require any type of education or testing for Notary applicants. The issue of Notary education has come into the public spotlight in the wake of the “robo-signing” crisis, which came about as a result of the widespread improper notarizations and document signing practices.

In general, Notaries are a relatively well-educated group. Sixty-one percent have at least an associate’s degree compared to just 37 percent for the general population. Nearly three out of every four Notaries are women and 63 percent are over the age of 40.

About the National Notary Association
Established in 1957, the National Notary Association (NNA) is the nation’s foremost professional member organization serving the communities of Notaries in every state. The nonprofit NNA is dedicated to educating, serving, and advocating for the 4.4 million Notaries in the U.S. by imparting knowledge and understanding, promoting a positive public perception of the office, and bolstering consumer protection through best practices. The Association’s professional programs, services, and model legislation help Notaries advance their careers and serve the American public with the highest level of professionalism and ethics. To learn more, visit us at