how to become an online notary x

Thanks to remote work, electronic notary services are finally widely available. In this guide, you’ll learn the steps to becoming a notary for online services, the benefits of becoming a notary, insights into state-specific information, income potential and more. 

Let’s dive in:

  1. What is an online notary?
  2. What is a notary certificate?
  3. The benefits of becoming a notary
  4. Seven steps to becoming a notary online
  5. Working with online notary platforms

1. What is an online notary?

An online notary public is authorized to electronically notarize documents. They can work remotely and use digital tools for verification, including video conferencing and digital audio. Thanks to the latest and greatest in tech and the widespread adoption of remote electronic notarization, it’s faster, easier and more convenient than ever to get your important documents notarized – where and when you need them.

The online notary public makes sure all of the signers have and understand all of the necessary paperwork, that they understand their duties and obligations, and that all documents are in order, complete and signed. Oh – and when you come across terms like eNotary, electronic notary and remote notary, they’re one and the same.

2. What is a notary certificate?

A notary certificate is basically your stamp of approval. It means everything is in order, the information is true and understood and everything is signed and verified by the notary. Clients should arrive with paper or electronic documents that already have notary certificates. Then notary publics just fill out the certificates with their information, sign and give it a physical or electronic seal if everything is okay. For in-person meetups, notary publics carry extras just in case.

Notary certificate requirements and how they’re worded can vary from state to state. A jurat certificate is what usually comes to mind when people think of traditional notarizations. It’s a document that verifies the signer signed in front of the notary public. Acknowledgement certificates confirm the signer does in fact understand the documents and the effects of signing them – think duties, responsibilities, transfers of ownership, etc.

3. The benefits of becoming a notary

There are so many benefits of becoming a notary, including:

  • Life-long learning: If you love to learn, you’ll enjoy insights and knowledge opportunities in real estate, business, law and more. 
  • High earnings potential: There are so many opportunities to scale up your earnings. Structure your business accordingly. 
  • Flexible schedules: Design your lifestyle with the flexibility to work from home and choose your days, hours, and workload. Work full or part-time, enjoy the flexibility to be there for your family and enjoy greater control over where and when you travel.
  • Becoming more hirable: Experienced notaries public are attractive hires for companies across a wide range of industries – from advertising to utilities. Start supercharging your resume today!
  • A reputational boost: If you’re a notary, we know you’re someone we can trust. 
  • Making a difference: Get your notary license online to help individuals, governments, and companies achieve their goals and meet their obligations. One day you’re helping a retired senior create a legacy for her family through a will and testament – the next day you’re helping a happy family sign the deed to their new house. Cue the feel-good music.

And there are special benefits to working online. You’ll save money on expensive printing, storage, and disposal – and if you make the switch from mobile to online notary, you’ll save transportation costs too. You and your clients will also save a lot of time

Plus when you work with the right online notary platform ahem, (PandaDoc Notary), your work is fast, easy and secure.

Here’s how to become an online notary…

4. Seven steps to becoming a notary online

1. First things first

To become a notary online, you need to be at least 18 years of age and be a legal resident of your state (you have to apply in your own state). You can’t have any felony convictions and there might be other application process requirements, depending on your state. These are the basics. They also apply to becoming a traditional notary.

2. Pay your fees

The costs will vary based on your state, but they always include a notary application fee and a fee for the exam. Other costs can include notary training materials, background checks, and supplies. Depending on how you plan to work and your state, you might also need a surety bond – which can come with associated fees. Surety bond prices vary based on the amount of the bond and your credit score. 

Pro Tip: If you have a score of at least 700, you’ll pay dramatically less than everyone else!

3. Fill out an application form with the Secretary of State

You might need a separate registration to apply for online notary services too.

4. Take and pass your state’s standard notary exam

It’s offered by state organizations such as the Department of State or Secretary of State; some states also offer the exam via an outside organization, such as Pearson VUE for Pennsylvania applicants. The minimum required score is also state-dependent, but often 70%. Wherever you take it, devote some serious study time to master the subject. State exams range from 1 to 6 hours and can feature different components such as written portions and multiple choice. You’ll also submit your fingerprints and receive a certificate of completion. 

Pro Tip: To ace the test, study with a state-approved educational resource – like an eLearning notary course. The National Notary Association offers tried-and-true training resources for every state.

5. Get your notary license online

To get your notary license online, take and pass any remote online notary (RON) training courses or tests that might be required by your state. If you’re already a notary public, you might need to take a RON exam; this, again, depends on your state. Montana, Nevada, Indiana and Ohio are among the states with RON exam requirements. 

6. Get your digital certificates

Get your digital certificates and other online notary tools, like a secure electronic journal. If you plan to work with PandaDoc Notary, we’ll send you the digital essentials to help you stay compliant and confirm the authentication of your notary services.

7. To err is human

A good insurance policy is your best bet. Buy errors and omissions insurance so you’ll be financially protected if you make a mistake.

When you pass your notary exam, you’ll get a commission packet in the mail. Goodies inside include your official notary public commission certificate, instructions, filing forms, a certificate of authorization to manufacture notary seals, and a list of authorized manufacturers.

5. Working with online notary platforms

If you want to become an online notary, consider working with an online platform like PandaDoc Notary. Get ready for flexible hours, the convenience of working from home, a bigger client base, and all the electronic support you could need. Good times. 

At PandaDoc Notary, we also make sure you’re good to go. Here’s what you can expect: 

  • Comprehensive training resources
  • Auto-recordings of all of your notarial acts, stored in the cloud
  • An electronic journal you can download or view  
  • In-depth identity verification 
  • Secure X.509 digital certificates with every transaction

Wrapping up

There are so many benefits of becoming a notary online – for you and your clients. Now that you know how to become an online notary and why they’re needed, finish reading this article and get started. Scroll down to read the answers to our FAQ first! Learn more – book a demo of PandaDoc Notary.com.

FAQ

How much can you make as an online notary?

Online commissioned notaries public have plenty of flexibility where earning potential is concerned. Let’s say you work as an independent contractor. You could decide to work only a few hours a month or commit to full-time hours to maximize your potential. You’re in charge of how much you market your business and deciding how much work to take on. 

You could also secure a part-time or full-time online notary position. According to ZipRecruiter, an eNotary’s national average salary is $44,366 – with 15% of jobs paying $17,500-$25,499 and 2% of jobs paying $97,500-$105,500.

What states allow electronic notary services?

In 2011, Virginia was the first state to legalize electronic notarization. But it was the 2020 pandemic –and the emergency need for remote tools that came along with it – that led to a major surge in state approvals. And the list continues to grow. It’s a reflection of what it means to run a business in the U.S. today. It’s no longer unusual for companies to prioritize digital-first cultures, remote teams, and digital platforms and tools.

But there’s a difference between electronic and remote notary services. For example, California allows electronic notary services and electronic signatures, but hasn’t legalized remote notarization yet.

Remote, electronic notary services are allowed in these states, as described by the National Notary Association (NNA):

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Some states have temporary authorizations in place: 

Delaware, Georgia, Maine, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Mississippi

And, coming soon…

As of January 1, 2022: Illinois, Kansas, New Mexico

As of February 1, 2022: Louisiana

Is an online notary legal?

It’s legal. As long as every notarial act is performed by a licensed notary and the notarizations fall under the domain of the states mentioned above, they’re good to go. It is important to note that some states have different criteria than others. For instance, the NNA says Rhode Island notaries public need to register to perform online notary services. Delaware approval only applies to notaries who are also licensed attorneys – they’re approved to use audio-video tools.

Guy Pearson has been a commissioned notary for more than seven years. He also runs one of the most established Facebook groups for Remote Online Notarization (RON), with more than 7000 members nationwide. Guy is the co-founder and product leader of PandaDoc Notary. His team drives product initiatives in key verticals, such as Legal, Financial, and Real Estate.

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