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How To Become A Notary Public In Washington DC

If you are interested in becoming a Notary Public in Washington D.C., 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 DC | 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. Use The Office of the Secretary's website and be sure to follow the form's instructions carefully.
  3. Upload a letter of request from your employer.
  4. Pay the $75 application fee.
  5. You will receive a notice via email or phone to schedule your orientation within three weeks of your application submission.
  6. Once orientation is completed, you will receive a letter with your commission date and bond form within two weeks.
  7. 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.
  8. If you do not do this within 60 days, your commission becomes invalid and you will have to start again.
  9. Consider purchasing E&O insurance to limit your financial exposure.

What is a letter of request?

A letter of request is a formal letter from your employer, or if you're self-employed it should be on your company letterhead. The letter should describe the reason you need to provide Notary services and how it will positively impact D.C.

How long does it take?

It takes 6 to 8 weeks after you've completed the application process.

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 supplies 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:

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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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
  • Be a citizen or permanent legal resident of the U.S.
  • Reside in Washington D.C. or work in the District
  • Read, write and understand English

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General Notary Public Information

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.

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.

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

The process to renew as a Notary Public in Washington D.C. is the same as applying for a new commission. You should begin the renewal process no later than six weeks before your commission expires. You may buy a new Notary seal to reflect your updated commission expiration date. You may also choose to get a new record book (journal) if your old one is full.

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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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