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How To Become A Notary Public In Washington DC

If you are interested in becoming a Notary Public in Wyoming, 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 Washington D.C. notary or renewing your Washington D.C. commission, we'll walk you through step by step.

Washington D.C. Notary Process
Requirements to be a Notary in Washington D.C.
What Can I Do With My Washington D.C. Commission?
General Notary Public Information

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Washington D.C. Notary Process

What is the process to become a D.C Notary Public?

  1. Make sure you meet all of D.C.’s eligibility requirements.
  2. Complete the application
  3. Must be signed and dated within 30 days of submission
  4. Include a letter by your employer with the reason for their need for Notary services.  If you are self-employed, submit your letter on company letterhead.  The letter submitted should address the need for service and how it will positively impact D.C.
  5. Submit your application, $75 application fee, and letter to
    •    Office of Notary Commissions and Authentications
         441 4th Street, NW
         Suite 810 South
         ​Washington, DC 20001
  6. You will receive a notice via email or phone to schedule your orientation within three weeks of your application submission.
  7. Once orientation is completed, you will receive a letter with your commission date and bond form within two weeks.
  8. Submit your completed bond form and take your oath of commission in the Office of Notary Commissions and Authentications at 441 4th Street NW, Suite 810 South.
  9. If you do not do this within 60 days, your commission becomes invalid and you will have to start again.
  10. Consider purchasing E&O insurance to limit your financial exposure.
  11. Begin performing notarizations for the public.
  12. Continuing education and Notary experts are always available if you believe you need additional training or guidance.

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Requirements to be a Notary in Washington D.C.

Who can become a Notary?
There are basic qualifications for a person to become a Notary in the District of Columbia. Applicants must be 18 years old, reside in Washington D.C. or work in the District.  You must also be able to read, write, and understand English.  No lifetime felony conviction, nor had your Notary commission revoked.

How long does it take? 
Six to eight weeks, once you’ve completed and submitted your application. 

How much does it cost?
The state filing fee is $75. The cost of your embosser, embossment inker, journal, jurat stamp, and bond will vary based on the vendor(s) you choose.

The cost of commissioning can differ depending on whether you are a new or renewing Notary. 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?
D.C. Notaries are required to go through a mandatory orientation within three weeks of submitting your application.

Do I need to take an exam?
There is not a written exam, but you are required to know D.C. notarial laws and regulations.  This will be done during your orientation.

What kind of equipment will I need?
You’ll need a Notary seal for every notarization you perform. The Notary seal must be an inked embosser, and contain a circular border with required wording:

  • In the upper, outer perimeter, your name as it is on your commission
  • In the center, “Notary Public”
  • In the center, your commission expiration date
  • In the bottom, outer perimeter, “District of Columbia”

Because your seal must be photographically reproducible, you will also need an embossment inker.  You will also need a jurat stamp, which imprints wording required to perform a jurat notarization. 

When shopping for seals, quality and durability can vary greatly among vendors. Seals 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.

Unless you are a government Notary, you will also need to display a “NOTARY PUBLIC” sign.

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.

Do I need a bond or insurance?
Yes. A $2,000/five-year bond is required for D.C. Notaries.  Additionally, many choose to purchase optional errors and omissions (E&O) insurance policies to protect themselves from legal expenses. E&O insurance is not a requirement in D.C.

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What Can I Do With My Washington D.C. Commission?

Where will I be able to notarize?
You will be able to notarize anywhere in the District of Columbia.

Who can I notarize for?
You can notarize for everyone, excluding yourself. You cannot notarize your own signature, nor can you notarize documents you are named in or would benefit from. District of Columbia law doesn’t specifically prohibit notarizing for a spouse or relative or for a spouse’s business, but does advise against it due to a possible conflict of interest. If you perform notarizations as part of your employment, your employer may limit the notarizations you perform during your work hours.

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General Notary Public Information

Why become a Notary?
Anyone who is interested in serving the public as an impartial witness should become a Notary. Notaries properly identify signers, and verify that the signer understands and is willing to sign the document in hand. Notaries help prevent fraud and add integrity, trust and authenticity to signatures on various important documents. Many companies in the healthcare, real estate finance and legal industries employ Notaries.

How much legal risk will I face?
It depends. Even the most careful and detail-oriented people can make mistakes. As a Notary Public, any unintentional mistake you make or intentional misconduct you engage in could be very costly for everyone involved. Notaries have been sued for financial damages that signers incur and lawsuits are expensive even if you’re innocent. If you are diligent in following the law and keep thorough records, you’ll be better prepared if any legal action does come your way.

Although the District of Columbia does not require training, where can I get it?
You can find several reputable Notary Public training providers with a quick online search. It’s important to note that the Secretary of State does not provide workshops or seminars, nor does the Secretary endorse any business that advertises Notary Public training. Since the Secretary of State doesn’t have jurisdiction to take action regarding a business that offers Notary training, make sure you thoroughly review any company you plan to work with.

Can anyone help me become a Notary?
Yes. Several companies offer Notary training, supplies, insurance and assistance with the entire application process. Also, the Secretary of State’s website has the application with submission details, if you want to get the process started on your own.

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