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How to Become a Notary Public in Rhode Island

If you want to become a Rhode Island Notary Public, take the following steps:

  1. Make sure you are a member of the Rhode Island State Bar.
  2. If you are not a member of the Rhode Island Bar, you will need an endorsement from an appropriate city official or town clerk confirming your status as a Rhode Island registered voter.
  3. Take the Notary Knowledge Assessment on the Secretary of State's website.
  4. Complete the application. Get your signature on the form notarized.
  5. Submit your application and $80 fee to the Department of State.
  6. Take your oath of office. Submit it to the commissioning agency.
  7. Buy your official Notary stamp.

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In This Guide: Rhode Island Notary Process | RI Notary Requirements | General Notary Public Information

More Details About the Rhode Island Notary Process

Learn the cost and length of a Notary Public commission in the Ocean State.

How much does it cost?

There is an $80 fee to apply for a Notary Public commission.

Supply package prices vary among vendors. New Notaries may need more how-to assistance than experienced Notaries. Books, training and live expert assistance are often must-haves for most new Notaries.

Some vendors may package items with additional fees — processing fees for example. Training can be included in package prices for new Notaries, although the quality of education can vary. Some providers offer their own Notary courses while others do not have the on-staff expertise to develop and support educational content. Several vendors offer Notaries live question and answer support, and others are not able to offer such assistance.

How long does it take?

Once the Rhode Island Secretary of State's office receives your application, it is processed within three business days.

How long does a Rhode Island Notary commission last?

The term of a Rhode Island Notary Public commission is four years.

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Requirements to be a Notary in Rhode Island

Wondering how to qualify to become an RI Notary Public? Read on below.

Who can become a Notary?

A Notary Public applicant in Rhode Island must meet the following requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be a citizen or permanent legal resident of the U.S.
  • Be a Rhode Island resident or have a place of employment or practice within the state
  • Be able to read and write in English
  • Demonstrate sufficient knowledge of Notary Public powers and duties
  • Not be disqualified for a commission under RIGL 42-30.1-16

What kind of training will I need?

Rhode Island does not require a training course for Notaries. However, the state recommends taking the Notary Knowledge Assessment to test your knowledge of the powers and duties of Notaries Public. A score of 80% or higher demonstrates you have sufficient knowledge to pursue a Notary Public role. The Secretary of State also has a Notary Public Manual to provide you with further training.

Do I need to take an exam?

There is no state-proctored exam required in Rhode Island.

What kind of supplies will I need?

Rhode Island Notaries must use a rubber stamp ink seal or an embosser for notarial acts for paper documents. The seal must be capable of being copied together with the record to which it is affixed or attached and include the following information:

  • Your name as it appears on your commission
  • The words "Notary Public"
  • Your jurisdiction

When shopping for seal stamps, quality and durability can vary greatly among vendors. Stamps should not bleed during or after use, as this can cause county officials to reject documents due to smudging. A second seal can help you avoid downtime if your seal is ever misplaced, and an embosser can help add an additional layer of fraud prevention security.

Though not mandatory, Rhode Island officials also recommend keeping a permanently bound journal record of their notarial acts.

Supplies are sold by most vendors in packages, which can sometimes provide savings. However, not all vendor packages are created equal — they can vary greatly in terms of quality and content. If you are a new Notary or renewing your commission, the types and quantity of notarizations can require different tools of the trade.

What is a surety bond and do I need one?

The state of Rhode Island does not require Notaries to obtain a surety bond to protect document signers against financial losses. However, Notaries can insure themselves against possible legal costs or damages by purchasing a separate, optional errors and omissions (E&O) insurance policy. Though not required by law, an E&O policy covers a Notary's legal fees and damages up to the amount of the policy.

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General Notary Public Information

Below, we answer the most common questions about being a Rhode Island Notary.

Which state government office handles Notaries?

The Rhode Island Office of Secretary of State, Division of Business Services, located in Providence, RI, issues Notary Public commissions.

May I become a Rhode Island Notary if I am not a U.S. citizen?

Only if you are an attorney who is a member of the Rhode Island Bar.

Where will I be able to notarize?

A Rhode Island Notary can perform notarial acts anywhere within the state's borders.

Who can I notarize for?

Any member of the public, as long as the request meets all statutory requirements for notarization. You may not notarize your own signature nor any documents in which you are named. You're also prohibited from notarizing for a spouse, domestic partner, parent, guardian, child or sibling, including in-laws, step relatives or half relatives.

What fees can Rhode Island Notaries charge for their services?

Rhode Island Notaries may not charge more than $5 per notarization. You may charge a separate travel fee, but it must be equal to or less than the effective federal mileage rate as issued by the Internal Revenue Service. If you charge any fees, it must be displayed in your place of business or upon request.

What should I do if I move or change my name?

If you change your address or name, you must notify the Secretary of State within 10 days of the change by completing a Notary Public Information Update form. To ensure you receive your renewal application on time, mail the completed form to the SOS at least two months before your commission expires.

For name changes, you must get your form notarized before sending it to the SOS. The Secretary will send you a revised commission with your new name. There is no fee to change your address or name.

What is the process to renew my Notary Public commission?

Two months before your commission expires, you'll receive a courtesy renewal notice from the Secretary of State. Complete the renewal application and return it to the Secretary's office before the commission expiration date to maintain your original expiration day and month. Turning in your application past your original date will result in a new commission expiration date.

Once your renewal application is processed, you'll receive your new commission certificate for a four-year term in the mail. Renewal applications submitted earlier than two months prior to your commission expiration date will not be processed.

How do I become an electronic Notary in Rhode Island?

Electronic notarizations are in-person notarizations that involve digital documents and electronic signatures instead of paper documents and wet, ink signatures. To become an RI electronic Notary, you must either hold an existing commission as a traditional Notary Public or be applying for one at the same time. Then, choose a technology you intend to use for electronic notarizations from the state's list of approved vendors. Complete the New Notary Application, Renewal Application or the Notary Information Update form if you're in the middle of your commission term. Mail or bring your application along with a copy of your electronic signature and electronic seal to the RI Department of State. The Department will email you an approval letter to perform eNotarizations.

What do I need to know about remote online notarization in Rhode Island?

While Rhode Island allows electronic notarizations, the state does not have permanent remote online notarization (RON) laws. The NNA Bulletin provides more detail on what you need to know about online notarization and where it's legal.

If you're not quite ready yet, we have additional resources where you can learn what a Notary is, what they do and why you should become a commissioned Notary.

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Are you ready to get started?

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