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How to Become a Notary Public in West Virginia

Individuals must complete the following steps to become a Notary in WV:

  1. Make sure you meet all of the state's requirements (see below).
  2. Read the Notary Public Law on the Secretary of State's website.
  3. Complete the application.
  4. State or local government applicants must provide a letter from a supervisor requesting the appointment.
  5. Submit your application and $52 commission fee to the West Virginia Secretary of State's Notary Division.
  6. You'll receive your commission letter and Notary seal information after your application is processed. Check the information carefully to make sure it's correct.
  7. Buy your official Notary seal.
  8. Receive your commission certificate and Notary Handbook.
  9. Buy a journal (optional, but strongly recommended).
  10. Get E&O insurance (optional, but strongly recommended).
  11. Take a Notary training class or consult Notary experts for guidance (optional, but strongly recommended).

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

More Details About the West Virginia Notary Process

Below, you'll find more information to help you with the WV Notary Public application process.

How much does it cost to become a Notary in WV?

There is a $52 fee to apply for a Notary Public commission in West Virginia. If you're a government Notary, the application fee is waived. Additional costs for Notary tools and education courses vary depending on vendors.

New Notaries may seek more how-to assistance than experienced Notaries, so the price of books, training and live expert assistance may factor into your overall cost.

How long does it take?

It takes approximately two weeks to process a West Virginia Notary application.

How long does a West Virginia Notary commission last?

The term of a WV Notary commission is five years.

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Requirements to be a Notary in West Virginia

Wondering what it takes to become a Notary in the Mountain State? Read on below.

Who can become a Notary?

A Notary Public applicant in West Virginia must meet the following requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be a citizen or permanent legal resident of the U.S.
  • Be a resident of or have a place of employment or practice in West Virginia
  • Be able to read and write English
  • Have a high school diploma or equivalent
  • Not be disqualified from a commission under §39-4-21, which prohibits offering unauthorized legal advice and false advertising
  • Not have been convicted of any felony or crime involving fraud, dishonesty or deceit or had a Notary commission suspended or revoked in another state

Is Notary training required in West Virginia?

A training course is not required to apply for a WV Notary commission. However, the application does require you to sign an oath that you have read Chapter 39, Article 4, of the West Virginia Code regarding Notaries.

Do I need to take an exam?

No. An exam is not required to become a Notary Public in West Virginia.

What kind of supplies will I need?

West Virginia Notaries must use a rubber stamp ink seal for all notarial acts for paper documents. An embosser may be used in addition to — but never as a substitute for — the inked seal. The seal must be in a rectangular shape no larger than 1" x 2.5" in size and contain a milled edge or serrated border surrounding the following information:

  • The words "Official Seal"
  • The words "Notary Public"
  • The words "State of West Virginia"
  • Your name as it appears on your commission
  • Your address (residence or business)
  • Your commission expiration date
  • The image of the West Virginia State Seal

Notary stamps should not bleed during or after use, as this can cause county officials to reject documents due to smudging. If you opt to use an embosser to accompany your rubber inked stamp seal, it must include: The words "Notary Seal," your name as it appears on your commission, the words "Notary Public" and the words "State of West Virginia."

While not required by law, it is strongly recommended that Notaries maintain a record of all notarial acts in a 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.

If you are a new Notary or renewing your commission, the types and quantity of notarizations you perform can require different tools of the trade.

Do I need a surety bond or insurance?

West Virginia Notaries are no longer required to purchase a $1,000 surety bond.

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 are answers to the most common questions about being a West Virginia Notary.

Which state government office handles Notaries?

While appointed by the Governor, Notaries are regulated by the West Virginia Office of the Secretary of State, Notary Division, located in Charleston, WV.

May I become a West Virginia Notary if I am not a U.S. citizen?

Yes. You do not have to be a U.S. citizen to become a West Virginia Notary Public. You must, however, be a permanent legal U.S. resident and meet all other application requirements.

Although West Virginia 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.

The NNA offers state-specific training for WV Notaries who want to take an education course before beginning their notarial duties.

Where will I be able to notarize?

A West Virginia 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 any documents in which you or your spouse has a direct beneficial or financial interest. In addition, you may not notarize documents for relatives from which you could receive money or property interest.

What fees can West Virginia Notaries charge per notarial act?

West Virginia Notaries can charge $10 per notarization.

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

You must notify the Secretary of State of any changes to your address or name within 30 days of the change. To do so, complete the Notary Public Name and/or Address Change form. There is no fee to file a change. You must get a new seal bearing your new address and/or name though.

What is the process to renew my Notary Public commission?

The renewal process in West Virginia is the same as the process you completed for your initial commission. The Secretary of State sends out a reminder to Notaries whose commissions are expiring, but it is the Notary's responsibility to submit all required information and fees for commission renewal. You may apply for renewal no earlier than 60 days prior to your commission expiration date. If you'd prefer to keep your commission expiration month and day the same, make a note of that on the application and apply at least two weeks prior.

How do I become an electronic Notary in West Virginia?

Electronic notarizations involve digital documents and electronic signatures and occur during in-person sessions. To become a WV electronic Notary, you must either hold an existing commission as a traditional Notary Public or be applying for one. Then, choose a technology from one of the state-approved vendors. Next, complete the e-Notarization Authorization application and submit it to the Secretary of State. There is no fee to register as an eNotary. You’ll receive a confirmation from the SOS at which point you may begin offering electronic Notary services.

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

While electronic notarizations are allowed in West Virginia, remote online notarization (RON) is not. The NNA Bulletin provides more detail on where RON is legal and how it works here.

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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