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How to Become a Notary Public in South Carolina

If you want to become a Notary Public in South Carolina, complete the following steps:

  1. Make sure you meet all of your state's qualifications.
  2. Complete the application and attach a check or money order for the $25 fee. Get it notarized.
  3. Mail the application to the office of the local county legislative delegation for endorsements. (A list of county delegations is available on the application form.) The office will forward your application to the Secretary of State's office.
  4. Buy your Notary seal.
  5. Buy your journal (optional, but strongly recommended).
  6. Get E&O insurance (optional, but strongly recommended).
  7. Upon receipt of your commission certificate from the Secretary of State in the mail, file your commission certificate with the county clerk and pay the $10 fee.
  8. Take continuing education or consult Notary experts for guidance (optional, but strongly recommended).

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In This Guide: South Carolina Notary Process | SC Notary Requirements | General Notary Public Information

More Details About the South Carolina Notary Process

Learn how much it cost and how long it takes to become an SC Notary Public.

How much does it cost?

There is a $25 fee to apply for a Notary Public commission and a $10 fee to file your commission certificate with the county clerk. Additional costs for Notary tools and education courses vary depending on vendors.

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?

The Secretary of State's office estimates approximately two to 12 weeks to process a Notary commission application, depending on your county of residence.

How long does a South Carolina Notary commission last?

The term of a South Carolina Notary commission is 10 years.

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Requirements to be a Notary in South Carolina

Wondering if you have what it takes to become a Notary in the Palmetto State? Read on below.

Who can become a Notary?

A Notary Public applicant in South Carolina must meet the following requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be a resident of South Carolina
  • Be a registered voter in South Carolina
  • Be able to read and write English
  • Not be under a court order declaring mental incompetence
  • Not be serving a term of imprisonment for conviction of a crime
  • Never have been convicted of a felony or offense against election laws or, if previously convicted, have served a full sentence or received a pardon

Is there training or an exam required for South Carolina Notaries?

No training or exam is required. However, South Carolina Secretary of State regularly conducts Notary seminars around the state. The SOS also highly recommends attending workshops on a yearly basis to stay informed of Notary issues.

What kind of supplies will I need?

South Carolina Notaries must have an official seal of office, which may be in the form of an ink stamp or embosser. The seal must contain the following information:

  • Your name as it appears on your commission
  • The words "Notary Public"
  • The words "State of South Carolina"
  • Your commission expiration date (optional)

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.

Though not required, state officials recommend that South Carolina Notaries keep a record of all notarial acts in an official journal. When purchasing a journal, there are a few important features to which you must pay close attention. A journal with numbered pages and tamper-proof sewn construction allows Notaries to identify missing pages in their journals, which becomes extremely helpful if you're ever named in a lawsuit.

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?

South Carolina Notaries are not required to purchase a surety bond to protect signers against financial damages resulting from the Notary's negligence or misconduct. A surety bond is a financial guarantee that the Notary will fulfill their obligations to notarize in compliance with state laws. This Notary bond specifically protects the public and not the Notary. Any damages paid from the bond go to cover any signer's losses and must be paid back to the surety company by you.

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 Notaries.

Which state government office handles Notaries?

The South Carolina Office of the Secretary of State, Notary Public Division, located in Columbia, SC, issues Notary Public commissions.

May I become a South Carolina Notary if I am not a U.S. citizen?

No, South Carolina Notaries are required to be registered voters in the state. You must be a U.S. citizen to vote.

Where will I be able to notarize?

A South Carolina 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're prohibited from notarizing your own signature or any documents in which you have a direct financial or beneficial interest.

What fees can South Carolina Notaries charge per notarization?

South Carolina Secretary of State sets the maximum fee Notaries can charge at $5 per notarial act. An additional fee for travel can be charged, but only if the signer agrees to it ahead of the notarization and understands the travel fee is separate from the notarization fee. If you charge fees for your Notary services, you must display an English-language fee schedule in your place of business or present it to signers when you're outside of your place of business.

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

Any changes to your address, name or contact information must be reported to the Secretary of State within 45 days. Complete the Change in Status Form and mail or hand-deliver it to the Secretary with payment for the $10 fee. If you move to a different county, your commission expiration date remains the same and you may continue using your existing seal.

For name changes, your commission expiration date also remains the same, but you must get a new seal with your new name. Changing your name necessitates a new commission, which must be filed with the clerk of court in your county of residence. You may continue performing notarial acts under your former name until you receive confirmation from the SOS and your new seal.

What is the process to renew my Notary Public commission?

The renewal process is the same as the application process above. The Secretary of State recommends submitting your renewal application at least eight to 12 weeks before your current commission expires.

What do I need to know about remote online notarization in South Carolina?

South Carolina does not allow remote online notarization (RON), but there are 25 states that do. If you want to learn more about RONs and how they work, check out this article.

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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