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How To Become A Notary Public In Rhode Island

If you are interested in becoming a Notary Public in Rhode Island, this practical guide will answer many common questions. Learn about notarial duties, and find out how you can become a commissioned Notary. Once you are ready to begin the process of becoming a Rhode Island notary or renewing your Rhode Island commission, we'll walk you through step by step.

Requirements to be a Notary in Rhode Island
Rhode Island Notary Process
What Can I Do With My Rhode Island Commission?
General Notary Public Information

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Requirements to be a Notary in Rhode Island 

Who can become a Notary?

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

  1. Must be a registered voter in Rhode Island or an attorney who is a member of the Rhode Island Bar
  2. Nonattorney applicants must have a city clerk, a town clerk or a member of their city’s board of canvassers and registration endorse their application to confirm the applicant’s registered voter status

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Rhode Island Notary Process

What is the process to become a Notary Public?
  1. Make sure you are a registered Rhode Island voter or member of the Rhode Island State Bar
  2. If you are not a member of the Rhode Island Bar, you will need to obtain an endorsement from an appropriate city official or town clerk confirming your status as a Rhode Island registered voter.
  3. The completed application must be submitted to the Secretary of State with a $80 fee. The applicant’s signature will need to be notarized on the form. Applications can be mailed to:
    • Office of the Secretary of State
      Business Services Division
      Notary Public Section
      148 W. River Street
      Providence, Rhode Island 02904-2615

What is the process to renew my Notary Public commission?

Be sure you continue to meet the qualifications to become a Notary.

Submit an application form and the appropriate fee to the Secretary of State’s office. If your address changes you must notify the Secretary of State in writing as soon as possible, or at least two months prior to your commission expiration date. You can accomplish this notification by completing and submitting the Notary Change of Address Form on the Rhode Island Secretary of State’s website.

How long does a Rhode Island Notary commission last?

Four years.

How long does it take?

The Rhode Island Secretary of State’s office estimates an average time of three weeks to process a Notary commission application.

How much does it cost?

There is a $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.

What kind of training will I need?

Rhode Island does not require a training course for Notaries.

Do I need to take an exam?

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

What kind of equipment will I need?

Rhode Island Notaries have the option to use a rubber stamp ink seal or an embosser for notarial acts for paper documents. While use of a seal or embosser is not required by law, the state recommends it. 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. For example, if you are a mobile or retail Notary, an ID checking guide is recommended because you are constantly dealing with different people, as opposed to someone who notarizes in the same setting for the same group of people day after day.

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.

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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What Can I Do With My Rhode Island Commission?

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.

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General Notary Public Information

What is a Notary Public?

Rhode Island Notaries are appointed by the Secretary of State to serve as impartial witnesses to the signing of important documents. Notaries are authorized to administer several official acts, including oaths, affirmations, and acknowledgments. In addition, Notaries Public in Rhode Island may certify copies of documents.

Why become a Notary?

Notaries perform an important role in preventing fraud and ensuring the integrity of transactions by verifying the identity of document signers. It’s common for employees of many businesses that deal with signed document transactions on a regular basis — such as financial institutions, law firms or corporations — to become Notaries. Some entrepreneurs become commissioned Notaries as a part-time or full-time business for themselves, traveling to a signer’s home or place of business to notarize documents for a fee.

Which state government office handles Notaries?

The Rhode Island Office of Secretary of State, Division of Business Services, located in Providence.

May I become an 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. Nonattorney Notaries in Rhode Island must be registered voters within the state.

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