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How to Become a Notary Public in Washington DC

If you want to become a Notary Public in the District of Columbia, complete the following steps:

  1. Make sure you meet all of D.C.'s eligibility requirements (see below).
  2. Determine which type of Notary commission you want to apply for. This page will primarily cover how to become a residential or business Notary.
  3. Complete the application. Use The Office of the Secretary's website and be sure to follow the form's instructions carefully.
  4. Upload a letter of request from your employer.
  5. Pay the $75 application fee.
  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. Bring your completed bond form, Notary seal embosser and journal, 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. Get E&O insurance to limit your financial exposure (optional, but strongly recommended).

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In This Guide: Washington D.C. Notary Process | D.C. Notary Requirements | General Notary Public Information

More Details About the Washington D.C. Notary Process

Below is more information about the application process for a Washington D.C. Notary Public commission.

What are the types of Notary commissions in Washington D.C.?

In Washington D.C., there are seven types of Notary Public commissions: 1) Residential, 2) Business, 3) D.C. Government, 4) Federal Government, 5) Dual - Business, 6) Dual - Gov/D.C., and 7) Dual - Gov/Federal.

A residential Notary is a resident of Washington D.C. and serves on behalf of their community for an optional fee. Applicants must submit a residential letter of request and the application fee and purchase a surety bond.

A business Notary does not need to be a resident of Washington D.C. but must have a primary place of business or employment within the District to serve on behalf of their customers for an optional fee. Applicants must submit a business letter of request from their supervisor and the application fee and purchase a surety bond.

A D.C. government Notary serves on behalf of an agency of the District for no fee. Applicants must submit a business letter of request from their supervisor. There is no application fee or surety bond required.

A federal government Notary serves on behalf of a federal government agency for no fee. Applicants must submit a business letter of request from their supervisor and purchase a surety bond. There is no application fee required.

To apply for a dual commission, you must submit two letters of request (one from you and one from your supervisor) and the application fee and purchase a surety bond. Dual commissioned Notaries may charge fees for notarizations done in their residential commissions.

What is a letter of request?

A letter of request is a formal letter from you or your employer, depending on the type of commission you're applying for, that describes the need for the commission. The letter must be on letterhead with a physical address in D.C. that matches the address on the application — and a D.C. phone number, if you're applying for a business commission. The letter should include your name, the reason you need to provide Notary services and how it will positively impact D.C., and the hours you'll be available for public access.

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.

How long does it take?

It takes 45 to 60 days to become commissioned as a District of Columbia Notary Public. This includes the application review, approval of your documentation, orientation and other requirements.

How long does a Washington D.C. Notary commission last?

The term of a Washington D.C. Notary Public commission is five years.

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Requirements to be a Notary in Washington D.C.

Learn the training and supply requirements for a Notary commission in the U.S. capital.

Who can become a Notary?

There are basic qualifications for a person to become a Notary in the District of Columbia. Applicants must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be a citizen or permanent legal resident of the U.S.
  • Be a resident of or have a primary place of employment or practice in the District
  • Not be disqualified to receive a commission under section 23
  • Meet any other qualifications prescribed by rules issued by the Mayor

What kind of training will I need?

D.C. Notaries are required to go through a mandatory orientation within three weeks of submitting their application. Orientation sessions are offered twice a month, usually on Mondays, at 441 4th Street, N.W. (also known as One Judiciary Square) at the Office of the Secretary of the District.

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 as summarized in the Notary Public Handbook. 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 no larger than 1.75" with the required information:

  • Your name as it appears on your commission (in the upper, outer perimeter)
  • The words "Notary Public" (in the center)
  • Your commission expiration date (in the center)
  • The words "District of Columbia" (in the bottom, outer perimeter)

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.

In addition, Notaries are required to keep a record of all notarial acts within a journal. Journals should be a permanent, bound book with numbered pages. Look for security features like tamper-proof sewn binding for another layer of protection. You must keep your journal in a locked, secured area during your commission and until you're required to transmit it to the Mayor under subsections (e) and (f) of [Section 19].

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.

Do I need a surety 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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General Notary Public Information

Have more questions about being a Washington D.C. Notary? We've got you covered.

Which state government office handles Notaries?

The Mayor through the Office of Notary Commissions and Authentications, located in Washington, D.C., issues Notary Public commissions.

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 ONCA does not provide workshops or seminars, nor does it endorse any business that advertises Notary Public training. Since ONCA 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 and your spouse. You cannot notarize your own signature or that of your spouse, nor can you notarize documents either of you are named in or would benefit from. While the District of Columbia law doesn't specifically prohibit notarizing for a relative, the District highly advises 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.

How much can Washington D.C. Notaries charge per notarial act?

District of Columbia Notaries may charge no more than $5 per notarization. You may charge an additional fee for travel, but the signer must agree to it in advance and the fee should not exceed the actual and reasonable expense of traveling to a place where the notarial act will be performed if it's not the usual place where you perform notarizations.

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

Any changes to your address or name must be reported to the Office of Notary Commissions and Authentications immediately. If you move, you must complete the Change of Address During Commission form and email it to notary@dc.gov. You must include proof you have notified your surety bond company of the change in address.

For name changes, complete the Change of Name on Notary Commission form and send it to ONCA by mail or email. You must attach a copy of the legal document showing your name change and proof you have notified your surety bond company of the change in name. Afterward, get a new Notary seal and jurat certificate stamp, and visit ONCA to complete an oath page with embossed seal impressions that reflect the name change.

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.

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 except you're not required to attend orientation — unless your commission has been expired for one year or more. 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.

What do I need to know about remote online notarization in Washington D.C.?

Washington D.C. does not allow remote online notarization (RON), but there are 25 states that do. Learn more about RONs and how they work in 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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