How to become an Iowa Notary

Abbreviation: IA   |   29th State   |   Statehood: December 28, 1846 |
How to become a notary in Iowa:
To become a notary in Iowa, a notary applicant must meet all of the following requirements:
  1. Be at least 18 years of age
  2. Be a citizen or permanent legal resident of the United States
  3. Be a resident of or have a place of employment or practice in Iowa
  4. Be able to read and write English
  5. Not be disqualified to receive a commission under Section 9B.23
 
Qualifications for becoming a notary in Iowa:
In order to become an Iowa notary and receive an Iowa notary public commission, a notary applicant must:
  1. Meet the eligibility requirements provided in the previous section.
  2. Complete and file with the Secretary of State an Application for Appointment as Notary Public form.
  3. Pay the application fee of $30.
  4. Execute an oath of office, which is part of the application of appointment.
  5.  

    To download the Application for Appointment as Notary Public form, visit the Secretary of State at https://sos.iowa.gov/business/FormsAndFees.html#NC9B or click here.

 
Can a non-resident become a notary in Iowa?
Yes. A resident of a state bordering Iowa can become an Iowa notary public if the person (1) meets the qualifications as an Iowa resident; (2) is a resident of a bordering state; (3) works or maintains a business in Iowa; and (4) completes an application of appointment, executes an oath of office, and pays the $30 application fee. The bordering states of Iowa are not addressed in the Iowa notary statute. The term of office of an Iowa nonresident notary public is one year.
 
Is an Iowa notary bond required to become a notary in Iowa?
No. An Iowa notary public does not have to be bonded in Iowa pursuant to the Iowa notary statute.
 
Do I need an Iowa notary errors and omissions insurance policy?
Optional. Errors and omission insurance is designed to protect notaries public from liability against unintentional notarial mistakes or omissions that result in financial damages to the public or a document signer. The American Association of Notaries encourages Iowa notaries to purchase an errors and omissions insurance policy for their protection against liability.
 
How much does it cost to become a notary in Iowa?
An applicant to become an Iowa notary public will incur the following expenses: (1) a $30 application fee to process an application for appointment or reappointment; and (2) a notary seal. Based on the notary’s wishes, additional expenses may include the purchase of: (1) a surety bond; (2) a journal to record all notarial acts; and (3) an errors and omissions insurance policy for the notary’s protection against liability.
 
How long is the term of a notary public commission in Iowa?
The term of office of an Iowa notary public is three years, commencing on the date specified in the commission. The term of office of an Iowa nonresident notary public is one year. However, a notary’s commission may be rendered void: (1) by resignation; (2) by death; (3) by revocation; (4) when a notary ceases to reside in Iowa; or (5) when a nonresident notary ceases to work or maintain a business in Iowa.
 
Where can I perform notarial acts in Iowa?
Iowa notaries have statewide jurisdiction and may perform notarial acts anywhere within the geographical boundaries of the State of Iowa. Likewise, Iowa notaries public may not perform notarial acts outside this state.
 
Who appoints Iowa notaries public?
The Iowa Secretary of State appoints Iowa notaries public.

 

Contact information for the Secretary of State is as follows:

 

Iowa Secretary of State
Notary Division
Lucas Building, 1st Floor,
321 E. 12th Street
Des Moines, IA 50319
(515) 281-5204
http://sos.iowa.gov/notaries/about.html

 
How do I renew my Iowa notary commission?
An Iowa notary public may renew his or her commission sixty days before the expiration of the current commission by submitting an application for reappointment with the Secretary of State. The application for reappointment process is the same as the initial application for appointment process. The Secretary of State will send Iowa notaries a blank application for reappointment two month before their commissions expire. However, new with the Secretary of State, Iowa notaries public may now opt to renew their commission using the online Notary Renewal system. To submit an application for reappointment online, a notary public may use the online Notary Renewal system or go to https://sos.iowa.gov/file/notaryrenewal/login.aspx.
 
Are there any exams or notary course requirements to become a notary or renew my Iowa notary commission?
No. Iowa notary law does not require a course of study or examination to become a notary public in Iowa.
 
Do I need to purchase a notary stamp in Iowa?
Yes. Iowa notary law requires all Iowa notaries public to use a seal that is either an embossed seal or an inked rubber stamp to authenticate all notarial acts (§9B.17).

 

Required Elements: Iowa notary law prescribes the information that must be included on the notary stamp:

  • The name of the notary public as it appears on the commission certificate
  • The words “Notarial Seal”
  • The word “Iowa”
  • The words “Commission Number” followed by the commission number
  • The words “My Commission Expires” followed either by the commission expiration date or a blank line to write in the expiration date
  •  

    Note: If a notary’s stamping device is lost or stolen, the notary must promptly notify the Secretary of State.

     
    Is a notary journal required in Iowa?
    No. Iowa notary law does not require an Iowa notary public to record the performance of every notarial act in a journal. However, the Iowa Secretary of State and the American Association of Notaries strongly recommend that Iowa notaries record all their notarial acts in a permanent, paper-bound journal with numbered pages designed to deter fraud as a protective measure against liability. For Iowa notary supplies, visit our website at www.usnotaries.com, call (800) 721-2663, or click here.
     
    How much can an Iowa notary charge for performing notarial acts?
    The Iowa notary statute does not set the maximum allowable notary fees that an Iowa notary public may charge for notarial acts; however, Iowa notaries are permitted to charge a reasonable fee for their notarial services.
     
    What notarial acts can an Iowa notary public perform?
    An Iowa notary public is authorized to perform these notarial acts:
  • Taking acknowledgments
  • Administering oaths or affirmations
  • Noting protests of negotiable instruments
  • Taking verifications on oaths or affirmations
  • Witnessing or attesting signatures
  • Certifying or attesting a copy
  • Can I perform electronic notarizations in Iowa?
    Yes. The State of Iowa enacted the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts, which authorizes electronic signatures used by Iowa notaries public. Moreover, Iowa has adopted the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act, including the provision on notarization and acknowledgment, which authorizes electronic signatures used by Iowa notaries. Section 554D.113 states, “If a law requires a signature or record to be notarized, acknowledged, verified or made under oath, the requirement is satisfied if the electronic signature of the person authorized to perform those acts, together with all other information required to be included by other applicable law, is attached to or logically associated with the signature or record.”

     

    Before a notary public performs an initial notarial act with respect to an electronic record, a notary must: (1) notify the Secretary of State that the notary will be performing notarial acts with respect to electronic records; and (2) identify the tamper-evident technology the notary intends to use to perform notarial acts with respect to electronic records. Most importantly, Iowa state law mandates that the document signer personally appear before the notary public and be physically close enough to see, hear, communicate, and give identification credentials without the use of electronic devices such as telephones, computers, video cameras, or video conferences during the entire performance of the notarial act. Therefore, Iowa notaries public are prohibited from performing online webcam notarizations.

     
    How do I change my address?
    If an Iowa notary public changes his or her residence or business address during the term of the notary’s commission, the notary is required to notify the Secretary of State, in writing, of the change by completing a “Request for Change of Name/Address” form within thirty days after such a change. Iowa nonresident notaries must also report any changes to the Secretary of State, especially if they are no longer employed or maintain a business in Iowa. There is no charge to file an address change. To download this form, go to: https://sos.iowa.gov/business/FormsAndFees.html#NC9B or click here.
     
    How do I change my name on my notary commission in Iowa?
    An Iowa notary public whose name is legally changed during the term of the notary’s commission is required to complete and submit a “Request for Change of Name/Address” form to the Secretary of State within thirty days after the name change. These notaries may: (1) use their new name when performing notarial acts; or (2) continue to notarize under their commissioned name through the end of their term. There is no charge to file a name change. To download this form, go to: https://sos.iowa.gov/business/FormsAndFees.html#NC9B or click here.

    Death/Resignation/Removal:
    Since the Iowa notary statute does not address the following issues, it is highly recommended that an Iowa notary public, or his or her representative, send a written notice to the Secretary of State if the notary: (1) no longer maintains residence in Iowa during the term of the commission; (2) no longer wishes to hold the office of notary public; (3) is deceased; (4) is duty-bound to resign by court order or the revocation process; (5) becomes incapable of reading and writing English; or (5) no longer maintains employment or a place of business in Iowa (for nonresident notaries). In all of the above-referenced situations, the notary or his or her representative should immediately destroy the notary seal.
     
    Prohibited Notarial Acts:
    These activities by an Iowa notary public provide a basis for administrative disciplinary action:
  • Preparing, drafting, selecting, or giving advice concerning legal documents
  • Performing acts that constitute the practice of law
  • Claiming to have powers, qualifications, rights, or privileges that the office of notary public does not provide
  • Using the title “notario publico” when advertising his or her notarial services
  • Acting as an immigration consultant or an expert on immigration matters
  • Representing a person in a judicial or administrative proceeding relating to immigration to the United States, United States citizenship, or related matters
  • Engaging in false or deceptive advertising
  • Notarizing a document that does not contain a notarial certificate
  • Notarizing a document without the signer being in the notary’s presence at the time of the notarization
  • Notarizing a document if the signer of the document is not personally known to the notary or identified by the notary through satisfactory evidence of identity
  • Performing any notarial act with the intent to deceive or defraud
  • Notarizing his or her own signature
  • Signing a notarial certificate under any other name than the one under which the notary was commissioned
  • Notarizing a notarial certificate containing information known or believed by the notary to be false
  • Providing or sending a signed or sealed notarial certificate to another person with the understanding that it will be completed or attached to a document outside of the notary’s place of business
  • Refusing notary services to anyone who is not a client of his or her employer
  • Notarizing a document when the notary or his or her spouse has a personal financial or beneficial interest in the transaction being notarized
  • Notarizing a document that contains blanks
  • Certifying a copy of documents recordable in the public records
  • Affixing a signature and notary seal to a notarial certificate that is incomplete
  • Using a signature stamp to notarize documents
  • Notarizing a document without a notary seal
  • Notarizing a document for a signer when it appears the signer is being forced to sign the document
  • Notarizing a document for a signer who did not possess understanding of the nature and effect of the document
  • Making a fraudulent, dishonest, or deceitful misstatement or omission in the application for a commission as a notary public
  • Failing to comply with Iowa notary statute
  • Official Notarial Misconduct::
    9B.23 Grounds to deny, refuse to renew, revoke, suspend, or condition the commission of a notary public.

     

    1. The secretary of state may deny, refuse to renew, revoke, suspend, or impose a condition on a commission of a notary public for any act or omission that demonstrates the individual lacks the honesty, integrity, competence, or reliability to act as a notary public, including any of the following acts or omissions:

  • a. A failure to comply with this chapter.
  • b. A fraudulent, dishonest, or deceitful misstatement or omission in the application for a commission as a notary public submitted to the secretary of state.
  • c. A conviction of the applicant or notary public of any felony or a crime involving fraud, dishonesty, or deceit.
  • d. A finding against, or admission of liability by, the applicant or notary public in any legal proceeding or disciplinary action based on the applicant’s or notary public’s fraud, dishonesty, or deceit.
  • e. A failure by the notary public to discharge any duty required of a notary public, whether by this chapter, rules adopted by the secretary of state, or any federal or state law.
  • f. The use of false or misleading advertising or representation by the notary public representing that the notary public has a duty, right, or privilege that the notary public does not have.
  • g. A violation by the notary public of a rule adopted by the secretary of state regarding a notary public.
  • h. A denial, refusal to renew, revocation, suspension, or conditioning of a notary public commission in another state.
  •  

    In addition, Iowa notaries public who commit official malfeasance may be subject to criminal liability, civil liability, and administrative disciplinary action by the Secretary of State.

     
    Iowa Notary Laws and Regulations:
    Iowa Code, Title 1, Chapter 9B, “Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts”
    https://www.legis.iowa.gov/docs/code/2018/9B.pdf

     

    Iowa Code, Title XIV, Chapter 558, “Conveyances”
    https://www.legis.iowa.gov/docs/code/2018/558.pdf

     
    Iowa Notarial Certificates:
    Click here to view Iowa’s notarial certificates.

    Revised: January 2018

    Legal disclaimer: The American Association of Notaries makes no claims, promises, or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this page. Information this page is not intended as legal advice. We are not attorneys. We do not pretend to be attorneys. Though we will sometimes provide information regarding federal laws and statutes and the laws and statutes of each state, we have gathered the information from a variety of sources. We do not warrant the information gathered from those sources. It is your responsibility to know the appropriate laws governing your state. Notaries are advised to seek the advice of an attorney in their state if they have legal questions about how to notarize.
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