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What you need to know to be a notary expert

A Notary is one who certifies – and sometimes drafts – certain legal documents.  Aside from providing a valuable deterrent against fraud and forgery, a Notary Public (as the person providing that service is usually called) is also a reasonably lucrative career path.

Taking a mortgage on your home?  Need a power of attorney document to manage the affairs of ageing parents?  Require a witness when signing an important business contract?  In each case – and many more besides – one would need the service of a Notary.

A Notary provides the seal of approval

In this age of identity theft, one of the critical functions of a Notary is validating identity. Verifying signatures. In fact, the Notary’s post came into being in the days of Ancient Rome when few people could read or write.  A public official was appointed by the state to draw up agreements between parties and to hold them in safekeeping – the title given to this official was ‘Notarius’.

Today, a Notary Public does many more things, including drafting affidavits and wills, and acknowledging conveyance of deeds and other documents. The Notary bears witness to such transactions, makes a record of them and stands as a neutral third party.

Can you become a Notary?

Yes, you can – provided you meet the qualifications for the post as prescribed in your country or state. There may or may not be a government-approved training course, but there usually is an exam of some sort to test your knowledge of a Notary’s duties.  On passing the exam, the government will issue a diploma of similar document certifying you as a Notary and you are set for business. Depending on where you are going to practice, you may be required by law to display this diploma or certificate in your place of work.

 A word of caution – a Notary is required to post a surety bond in some countries, check on that. The bond is intended to compensate the sufferer in case you make a mistake in your professional duties.

Setting up as a Notary Public

You are now ready for business, certified to charge fees for your services. You will require premises to operate from; the size of this is dependent on your budget. Aside from that and basic furniture you will need the tools of your trade:

  • Notary’s Seal – this certifies that the document is genuine or witnessed by you. Nowadays most Notary seals are in the form of a sticker.
  • Stamp and Ink Pad – with your name and qualifications. Your signature and the date of signing are always added after the document is stamped.
  • Register – every transaction must be duly noted in a register which is a matter of public record. This register may be examined by lawyers or the court at a later date, in case of disagreement.

There are stationery shops that specialize in Notary supplies, and your professional tools are easy to obtain. You will also need a good supply of legal paper, stamp paper, general stationery – and, ideally, a computer with a printer.

Finally, Caesar Ritz famously said, “Location. Location. Location.” He was referring to the best attributes of a hotel, but these words are applicable in many businesses. So location of your office can be critical. Can you find a place near the courts? Is there a concentration of lawyers on your street?  Try and find a place where people in need of your services can easily find you.

To help them find you more easily, you could be listed in the local version of the Yellow Pages (printed or digital). You can get yourself a website – or Facebook and LinkedIn pages at the very least, and register yourself on Google Maps.

You’re all set to go…good luck!