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How to Become a Notary Public in Virginia

The following steps briefly explain what you need to do if you want to become a Notary Public in Virginia:

  1. Make sure you meet all of the state's requirements (see below).
  2. Complete and print an application form, using the online Notary Application Wizard.
  3. Pay the $45 application fee online. You'll receive an online receipt with an invoice number that should match the barcode number on your application. You may also pay by check or money order.
  4. Have your signature on Part 3 of the application notarized.
  5. Mail your notarized application and receipt — or check or money order — to the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth.
  6. If you're approved, a notice will be sent to both you and the Circuit Court clerk within two to three weeks.
  7. Within 60 days, contact the Circuit Court to take your oath of office and pay the $10 fee.
  8. Buy your state-required seal.
  9. Get E&O insurance (optional, but strongly recommended).

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In This Guide: Virginia Notary Process | VA Notary Requirements | General Notary Public Information

More Details About the Virginia Notary Process

Here, we cover the cost and length of a Notary Public commission in the Old Dominion.

How much does it cost?

It costs $45 for applicants to file an application. Once the application has been approved, applicants will need to take their oath at the Circuit Court, at which point a $10 fee will apply.

How long does it take to become a Notary?

Once the application is received by the state, the turnaround time is generally two to three weeks.

How long does a Virginia Notary commission last?

The Virginia Notary commission is valid for four years, after which you will need to renew it to continue as a Notary. The commission expires on the last day of the month in which you were born.

Requirements to be a Notary in Virginia

Find out how you can qualify and what supplies you need to become a VA Notary.

Who can become a Virginia Notary?

To qualify to become a Notary in Virginia, applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be able to read and write English
  • Be a legal resident of the U.S.
  • Be a resident of or have a place of employment in the Commonwealth of Virginia

Additionally, applicants must not have been convicted of a felony under the laws of the United States or in the Commonwealth of Virginia, or the laws of any other state, unless their rights are restored.

Is training or an exam required to become a Notary in Virginia?

No training or exam is required. Virginia is a "self-certifying" state.

What kind of supplies will I need?

You will need a seal once you are commissioned. You can choose from either an inked stamp or embosser. The law requires that the seal be sharp, legible, permanent and photographically reproducible. The seal must include the following information:

  • Your name as it appears on your commission
  • The words "Notary Public"
  • The words "Commonwealth of Virginia"
  • Your Notary registration number (optional)
  • The words "My commission expires _______ (date)" (optional)

When shopping for seals, quality and durability can vary greatly among vendors. Ask if the seals carry a lifetime guarantee. In particular, stamps should not bleed during or after use, as this can cause county officials to reject documents due to smudging. If you choose to purchase an embosser, you will also need to purchase an embosser inker to satisfy the requirement that the impression is able to be photocopied.

A second seal can help you avoid downtime if your seal is ever misplaced.

A journal of official acts isn't required but recommended by the state. If you perform electronic notarizations, a journal is required. The journal not only provides important information if there's any question about a notarization you performed but also provides important proof that you performed your duties properly.

Do I need a surety bond or insurance?

A bond is not required. Insurance is optional. Errors and omissions (E&O) insurance helps protect the Notary. If you make an unintentional mistake, or a false claim is filed against you, an E&O policy will cover your legal fees and awarded damages up to the coverage you select.

General Notary Public Information

Have questions about being a Virginia Notary? We have your answers.

Which state government office handles Notaries?

The Secretary of Commonwealth, located in Richmond, VA, is responsible for commissioning Notaries Public in Virginia. The state offers a free download of the Virginia Notary Handbook.

May I become a Virginia Notary if I don't live in the Commonwealth?

Yes. You do not have to be a resident of Virginia to become a Virginia Notary Public if you are regularly employed in the state and perform Notary services in connection with your employment.

Where will I be able to notarize?

Virginia Notaries are authorized to notarize documents anywhere within the borders of the state. You may also notarize for signers outside of Virginia, but only if the documents will be used in Virginia or by the U.S. government (§ 47.1-13, § 47.1-13.1).

Who can I notarize for?

You can notarize for any member of the public who makes a reasonable request and meets all requirements for notarization, such as personally appearing before you and providing satisfactory proof of identity.

You're prohibited from notarizing your own signature, your spouse's signature, or any document from which you or your spouse may benefit.

You may enter into an agreement with your employer to have your employer pay for your commission and supplies. In exchange, the employer may limit your notarizations during business hours to transactions directly related to your employer's business purposes. If you charge a fee for your service, your employer may not require you to surrender the fee.

What fees can VA Notaries charge for notarizations?

Virginia Notaries are not required to charge a fee, but you may charge a maximum fee of $5 per notarial act. You may charge an additional fee for travel expenses, but only if the signer agrees to it in advance.

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

If you move during your commission, you must notify the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth by completing the Change of Contact Information form from the Secretary's website.

If you change your name, you must indicate your original name in which your commission was issued on all notarial acts. The following language should appear on all notarized documents: "I was commissioned a Notary Public as [your original name]." When you renew your commission, you may apply under your new name.

How do I renew my Notary commission in Virginia?

The process to renew your commission is the same as if you were a new Notary. Start by completing your application using the Notary Application Wizard.

How do I become an electronic Notary?

To become an electronic Notary, or eNotary, you must first hold an existing commission as a Virginia Notary Public and get an electronic Notary seal prior to applying. You must complete the eNotary Application and pay the $45 fee online. You'll receive an email confirmation if your application is approved. If it's not approved, you'll receive an email stating the reason(s) for the decision and your application and payment will be refunded.

What do I need to know about remote electronic notarization in Virginia?

In 2013, Virginia became the first state to allow remote online notarizations (RONs). Notaries must get commissioned as an eNotary before they can register to perform RONs. This step-by-step guide will help you with the rest of the registration process. There are additional requirements in order to become a RON including acquiring a journal.

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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Last updated: Feb 28, 2023

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