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How To Become A Notary Public In West Virginia

If you are interested in becoming a Notary Public in West Virginia, 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 West Virginia notary or renewing your West Virginia commission, we'll walk you through step by step.

West Virginia Notary Process
Requirements to be a Notary in West Virginia
What Can I Do With My West Virginia Commission?
General Notary Public Information

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West Virginia Notary Process

What is the process to become a Notary Public?
  1. Make sure you meet all of your state’s qualifications:
    • Must be at least 18 years old
    • Be a citizen or permanent legal resident of the United States
    • Must be a resident of or have a place of employment in West Virginia
    • High school diploma or equivalent
    • Not be disqualified from a commission under WVC 39-4-23, which prohibits offering unauthorized legal advice and false advertising
    • Must not have been convicted of a felony or any crime involving fraud, dishonesty or deceit or had a Notary commission suspended or revoked in another state
  2. Complete your application form. State or local government Notary commission applicants must provide a letter from a supervisor requesting the appointment.
  3. Submit your application, surety bond form and $52 commission fee to:
    • West Virginia Secretary of State
      Notary Division
      1900 Kanawha Blvd. East
      Bldg. 1, Suite 157-K
      Charleston, WV 25305
  4. Once your application has been processed, you will receive your commission letter and the information that will appear on your seal. Check that all seal information is correct.
  5. Purchase your seal, providing the information that must appear on the seal.
  6. Return the oath to the secretary of state's office as soon as possible.
  7. Purchase your journal (optional)
  8. Purchase errors and omissions insurance (optional, but strongly recommended)
  9. Once you receive your commission certificate and purchase your seal, begin performing notarizations for the public
  10. If you determine you need additional training, seek out continuing education or consult Notary experts for guidance

What is the process to renew my Notary Public commission?

The renewal process is the same as the process you completed for your initial commission. The Secretary of State sends out a reminder to Notaries whose commission is expiring, but it is the Notary’s responsibility to submit all required information and fees for commission renewal.

How long does an West Virginia Notary commission last?

The term of a West Virginia Notary commission is five years

How long does it take?

Approximately two weeks to process an application.

How much does it cost?

There is a $52 fee to apply for a Notary Public commission. Additional costs for Notary tools and education courses vary depending on vendors.

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.

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Requirements to be a Notary in West Virginia 

Who can become a Notary?

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

  • Must be at least 18 years old
  • Be a citizen or permanent legal resident of the United States
  • Must be a resident of or have a place of employment in West Virginia
  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Not be disqualified from a commission under WVC 39-4-23, which prohibits offering unauthorized legal advice and false advertising
  • Must not have been convicted of a felony or any crime involving fraud, dishonesty or deceit or had a Notary commission suspended or revoked in another state
What kind of training will I need?

A training course is not required to apply for a West Virginia 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.

What kind of equipment 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.

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

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.

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.

When shopping for seal stamps, quality and durability can vary greatly among vendors. Stamps should not bleed during or after use, as this can cause county officials to reject documents due to smudging.

Do I need a 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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What Can I Do With My West Virginia Commission?

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.

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General Notary Public Information

What is a Notary Public?

A West Virginia Notary is appointed by the Governor to be an impartial witness to the signing of important documents. West Virginia Notaries are authorized to administer several official acts, including oaths, affirmations and acknowledgments.

Why become a Notary?

Notaries perform an important role in preventing fraud and ensuring the integrity of transactions by verifying the identity of document signers. It’s common for employees of many businesses that deal with signed document transactions on a regular basis — such as financial institutions, law firms or corporations — to become Notaries. Some entrepreneurs become commissioned Notaries as a part-time or full-time business for themselves, traveling to a signer’s home or place of business to notarize documents for a fee.

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.

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.

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.

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