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How To Become A Notary Public In Wisconsin

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

Wisconsin Notary Process | Requirements to be a Notary in Wisconsin | General Notary Public Information

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Wisconsin Notary Process

What is the process to become a Notary Public?

If you want to become a Notary in Wisconsin, you must complete the following steps:

  1. Make sure you meet the state's requirements (see below).
  2. Pass the Notary Tutorial Exam and print your certificate.
  3. Buy your surety bond and official seal (required for the application).
  4. Complete the Wisconsin Notary Online Application.
  5. Submit your application, exam certificate, bond form, oath of office and the $20 fee to the Notary Records Section of the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions.
  6. If your application is approved, you'll get a notice from the Department of Financial Institutions.
  7. Consider getting errors and omissions insurance (optional, but strongly recommended).
  8. If you want additional training, seek out continuing education or consult Notary experts for guidance.

How long does a Wisconsin Notary commission last?

The Notary commission in Wisconsin is valid for four years, unless you are a U.S. resident who is licensed to practice law in Wisconsin and have applied for and are granted a permanent commission.

How long does it take to become a Notary?

The timing can vary. Most Notaries will be approved within two weeks of submitting all of the required documents, but the commissioning process will be faster if you submit your application and payment online.

How much does it cost?

The filing fee is $20.00. The cost of the bond, seal and other supplies will vary based upon the vendor chosen.

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Requirements to be a Notary in Wisconsin 

Who can become a Notary?

Applicants must meet the following requirements to become a Notary in Wisconsin:

  • Be a resident of the United States;
  • Be at least eighteen (18) years of age or older;
  • Have at least the equivalent of an eighth grade education;
  • Be familiar with the duties and responsibilities of being a Notary Public; and
  • Not have been convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor violating the public trust, unless the conviction has been pardoned.

Is training or an exam required to become a Notary?

Notaries in Wisconsin are required to take a tutorial, and pass a final assessment exam with a score of 90% or better. You can take the exam an unlimited amount of times until you pass. Upon completion, you will receive a certificate, which will need to be submitted to the Department of Financial Institutions.

What kind of supplies will I need?

In Wisconsin, your seal can be either a rubber stamp or an embosser. The seal must only include the Notary’s name, and the words “Notary Public” and “State of Wisconsin.”

When shopping for seals, quality and durability can vary greatly among vendors. Ask if the seals carry a lifetime guarantee. In particular, stamps should not bleed during or after use, as this can cause county officials to reject documents due to smudging. If you choose to purchase an embosser, you will also need to purchase an embosser inker to satisfy the requirement that the impression is able to be photocopied.

A second seal can help you avoid downtime if your seal is ever misplaced.

Keeping a journal is not required in Wisconsin, but is recommended by the state. A journal can protect you if a notarization performed is ever questioned, and should be kept in a safe, locked area.

Do I need a bond or insurance?

A $500 surety bond is required to become a Notary in Wisconsin. The bond protects the public from financial damage that may be suffered by them if the Notary fails in their duties.

The bond can be purchased from an insurance agency that is qualified to write surety bonds in Wisconsin. If the bond form is supplied by the agency, it must be in a format that has previously been approved by the Department of Financial Institutions.

If you are sued for misconduct or neglect, any damages awarded over $500 are not covered by your bond, and the bonding company may require you to pay back the damages paid out. Many Notaries choose to purchase Errors & Omissions (E&O) insurance for extra protection. An E&O policy will cover your legal fees and awarded damages up to the coverage you select if you make an unintentional mistake or a false claim is filed against you.

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General Notary Public Information

Which state government office handles Notaries?

In Wisconsin, the Secretary of the Department of Financial Institutions appoints Notaries.

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

In Wisconsin, you must complete the Address/Name/Seal form and submit it to the Department of Financial Institutions within 10 days of an address change.

If you change your name, the state strongly suggests that you purchase a new seal. You are required to submit the Address/Name/Seal form and submit it prior to using your new name and seal. When notarizing, your signature must match the name used on the seal.

Where will I be able to notarize?

A Wisconsin Notary can perform notarial acts anywhere within the state’s borders.

Who can I notarize for?

You can notarize for any member of the public who makes a reasonable request and meets all requirements for notarization such as personally appearing before you and providing satisfactory proof of identity. You cannot notarize your own signature.

Once my current commission expires, will I be automatically reappointed?

No, you must meet the requirements and reapply for a new commission.

What is the process to renew my Notary Public commission?

The renewal process in Wisconsin is the same process as it is to become a Notary. You'll receive a notice from the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions before your expiration date with a renewal code.

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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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Get everything you need with a full Wisconsin Notary Supply Package.