How to become a Washington Notary

Abbreviation: WA   |   42nd State   |   Statehood: November 11, 1889 |
How to become a notary in Washington:
To become a notary in Washington, a notary applicant must meet all of the following requirements:
  1. Be at least 18 years of age
  2. Be a resident of Washington state or be a resident of Idaho or Oregon who is regularly employed or doing business in Washington state
  3. Be able to read and write English
  4. Have the endorsement of three Washington residents who are eligible to vote and who are not related to the applicant
 
Qualifications for becoming a notary in Washington:
In order to become a Washington notary and receive a Washington notary public commission, a notary applicant must:
  1. Meet the eligibility requirements provided in the previous section.
  2. Complete a Notary Public Appointment or Reappointment Application.
  3. Obtain a $10,000 surety bond.
  4. Submit the completed application form to the Department of Licensing with a $10,000 bond and a $30 application fee.
  5. Purchase a notary seal or stamp when the notary public receives the Notary Public Certificate issued by the Department of Licensing.
  6.  

    For additional information, visit the Department of Licensing at http://www.dol.wa.gov/business/notary/nrequirements.html or click here.

     

    Note: The Department of Licensing may disqualify an applicant for a certificate of appointment if the applicant has within the past ten years: (1) been convicted of gross misdemeanor or a felony crime; (2) been or is currently under indictment, or there is a pending criminal complaint, or charge, against the applicant; (3) had a suspension, revocation, censure, or surrender taken against the applicant’s professional or occupational license, certification, or permit; or (4) had any civil court order, verdict, or judgment entered against the applicant.

 
Can a non-resident become a notary in Washington?
Yes. A non-resident who resides in an adjoining state can become a Washington notary public if the person (1) meets the qualifications of a Washington State resident; (2) resides in Idaho or Oregon; or (3) is regularly employed or doing business in the state of Washington. A non-resident notary public who fails to meet any one or more of the aforementioned requirements shall resign, or the Department of Licensing shall institute hearings to determine if the requirements have been met by the non-resident notary (WAC 308-30-150).
 
Is a Washington notary bond required to become a notary in Washington?
Yes. A Washington surety bond in the amount of $10,000 is required for new and renewing notaries public. The surety for the bond must be a company qualified to write surety bonds in the state of Washington.
 
Do I need a Washington 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 Washington notaries to purchase an errors and omissions insurance policy for their protection against liability.
 
How much does it cost to become a notary in Washington?
To become a notary public in Washington, a notary applicant’s required expenses include the following: (1) a $30 filing fee to process the application for appointment or reappointment; (2) a notary stamp; (3) a surety bond; and (4) a notary journal if the notary wishes to maintain one.
 
How long is the term of a notary public commission in Washington?
The term of office of a Washington notary public is for four years, commencing on the date specified in the commission. However, a notary’s commission may be rendered void: (1) by resignation; (2) by death; (3) by revocation; (4) when the notary public ceases to reside in Washington or an adjacent state; (5) if the notary is found to be incompetent by a court; (6) if a non-resident notary is no longer regularly employed in Washington state; or (7) if a non-resident notary is no longer doing business in Washington state. The notary or notary’s representative must resign and mail or deliver a letter of resignation to the Department of Licensing within 30 days if any of the above-mentioned circumstances come to pass.
 
Where can I perform notarial acts in Washington?
A Washington notary has statewide jurisdiction and may perform notarial acts in any county at any location in the state of Washington. Likewise, a Washington notary public may not perform notarial acts outside this state.
 
Who appoints Washington notaries public?
The Department of Licensing appoints Washington notaries public.

 

Contact information for the Department of Licensing is as follows:

 

Department of Licensing
Notary Public Section
P.O. Box 9027
Olympia, WA 98507-9027
360-664-1550
http://www.dol.wa.gov/business/notary/index.html

 
How to renew your Washington notary public certificate:
A person who has received an appointment as a Washington notary public may be reappointed without the endorsements required in RCW 42.44.020(2) if the person submits a new application for reappointment before the expiration date of notary’s current certificate of appointment. To begin the renewal process, go to: http://www.dol.wa.gov/business/notary/nrenew.html or click here.
 
Are there any exams or notary course requirements to become or renew your Washington notary public certificate?
No. Washington state law does not require a course of study or test to become a notary public in the state of Washington. However, the Department of Licensing strongly recommends that all new notary applicants complete a notary course study so that they can clearly understand the laws, duties, and responsibilities of a Washington notary public.
 
Do I need to purchase a notary stamp in Washington?
Yes. Washington notary law requires all notaries public to use a rubber-inked stamp or embosser to authenticate all notarial acts. Section 308-30-010 of the Washington Administrative Code provides the size and form of a notary seal or stamp.

 

Dimensions: If circular in form, a minimum of one and five-eighths inches in diameter, if rectangular in form, a minimum of one inch wide by one and five-eighths inches long.

 

Required Elements: The Washington notary seal or stamp must contain the following elements (RCW 42.44.050):

  • The words “Notary Public”
  • The words “State of Washington”
  • The date the appointment expires
  • The notary’s surname and at least the initials of the notary’s first and middle names
  •  

    In addition, the notary seal or stamp must: (1) be a minimum of 8-point type; (2) be affixed with indelible ink only; and (3) contain permanently affixed letters and numerals on its face. The notary seal or stamp may not be preprinted on certificates. The use of the Washington state seal on the notary stamp is prohibited.

     

    Note: When a notary seal or stamp is lost or stolen, the notary public must provide the Department of Licensing a signed and written notice setting forth the facts and send it by certified mail. The new notary seal or stamp must contain some variance from the original seal or stamp. If the lost or stolen notary seal or stamp is recovered after a replacement has been obtained, the recovered original seal or stamp must be surrendered to the Department of Licensing.

     
    Is a notary journal required in Washington?
    No. Washington law does not require a Washington notary public to record his or her notarial acts in a journal. However, the Department of Licensing and the American Association of Notaries recommend that Washington notaries record their notarial acts in a permanent, paper-bound journal with numbered pages designed to deter fraud as a protective measure against liability. For Washington notary supplies, visit our website at www.usnotaries.com , call (800) 721-2663, or click here.
     
    How much can a Washington notary charge for performing notarial acts?
    Washington notary fees are set by rule (WAC §308-30-020). The maximum allowable fees that a Washington notary public may charge for notarial acts are listed below:
  • Taking acknowledgments - $10.00
  • Administering oaths or affirmations - $10.00
  • Verification upon oaths or affirmations - $10.00
  • Noting protests of negotiable instruments - $10.00
  • Certifying that an event has occurred or an act has been performed - $10.00
  • Witnessing or attesting a signature - $10.00
  • Certifying or attesting a copy - $10.00
  •  

    Note: A notary public who charges for notarial acts must conspicuously display in his or her place of business, or present to each customer outside the business, an English-language schedule of fees for notarial acts. No part of the displayed notarial fee schedule may be printed in smaller than ten-point type. A notary public may charge a travel fee if the notary and the person requesting the notarial act agree upon the travel fee in advance and the notary explains that the travel fee is in addition to the notarial fee.

     
    Authority:
    A Washington notary public is authorized to perform seven notarial acts:
  • Taking an acknowledgment
  • Administering an oath or affirmation
  • Witnessing or attesting a signature
  • Taking a verification upon oath or affirmation
  • Certifying or attesting a copy
  • Protest of a negotiable instrument
  • Certifying that an event has occurred or an act has been performed
  •  

    Can I perform electronic notarizations in Washington?
    Yes. The state of Washington has not adopted notary statutes or regulations establishing the standards, guidelines, rules, and procedures for electronic notarization. However, the state of Washington has adopted the “Uniform Real Property Electronic Recording Act” (Title 65, Chapter 65.24 of the Revised Code of Washington), which authorizes electronic signatures used by Washington notaries public. Section 65.24.020(3) states, “A requirement that a document or a signature associated with a document be notarized, acknowledged, verified, witnessed, or made under oath is satisfied if the electronic signature of the person authorized to perform that act, and all other information required to be included, is attached to or logically associated with the document or signature. A physical or electronic image of a stamp, impression, or seal need not accompany an electronic signature.” Most importantly, the Department of Licensing website specifically states that “to get a valid notarial services in Washington State, you must appear before a notary public for acknowledgments, verifications, and to have your signature witnessed. This means all the signers must be physically present with the notary while the notarization is taking place. A video image, phone call, or other form of non-physical presentation doesn’t count.” Based on the preceding information, Washington notaries public are prohibited from performing online webcam notarizations.
     
    How do I change my address?
    A Washington notary public whose residence changes during the term of the notary’s certificate of appointment is required to provide a written notice of the notary’s old and new address to the Department of Licensing at no charge via: (1) the Department of Licensing website; (2) e-mail; (3) fax; or (4) mail. For an address change, go to http://www.dol.wa.gov/business/notary/nupdates.html or fax 360-570-7053.
     
    How do I change my name on my certificate of appointment in Washington?
    A Washington notary public whose name is legally changed during the term of the notary’s certificate of appointment is required to provide a written notice to the Department of Licensing of the name change. The notification must include the following: (1) a bond rider from the bonding company showing the new name change; and (2) a $15 fee for a new certificate of appointment. The Department of Licensing will issue a duplicate Certificate of Appointment with the new name. For a name change, go to http://www.dol.wa.gov/business/notary/nupdates.html or click here.
     
    Death/Resignation/Removal:
    A Washington notary public, or his or her representative, is required to send a signed letter to the Department of Licensing if during the term of the notary’s certificate of appointment the notary or non-resident notary is: (1) no longer maintaining a residence in Washington State; (2) no longer regularly employed in Washington State; (3) no longer doing business in Washington State; (4) no longer wishes to hold the office of notary public; (5) is deceased; (6) is adjudicated incompetency by a court of law; or (7) is duty-bound to resign by court order or the Department of Licensing revocation process. In the case of any of the above-mentioned situations, the notary’s seal or stamp must be mailed or delivered to the Department of Licensing. A judicial finding of incompetency of a notary public is a basis for the revocation of the notary’s certificate of appointment. A notary’s signed and written voluntary resignation of his or her certificate of appointment will not be in effect until the notary seal or stamp is mailed or delivered to the Department of Licensing.
     
    Prohibited Notarial Acts:
    These activities by a Washington notary public provide a basis for administrative disciplinary action:
  • Advising or assisting another person in determining the person’s legal or illegal status for the purpose of an immigration matter
  • Selecting, assisting or advising another as to his or her answers on a government agency form or document in an immigration matter
  • Selecting, assisting, or advising another in selecting a benefit, visa, or program to apply for in an immigration matter
  • Soliciting to prepare documents for, or otherwise representing the interests of, another in a judicial or administrative proceeding in an immigration matter
  • Explaining, advising, or otherwise interpreting the meaning or intent of a question on a government agency form in an immigration matter
  • Engaging in the practice of law in an immigration matter for compensation
  • Charging a fee for referring another to a person licensed to practice law
  • Selecting, drafting, or completing legal documents affecting the legal rights of another in an immigration matter
  • Representing, either orally or in any document, letterhead, advertisement, stationery, business card, web site, or other comparable written material, that he or she is a notario publico, notario, immigration assistant, immigration consultant, immigration specialist, or using any other designation or title, in any language, that conveys or implies that he or she possesses professional legal skills in the area of immigration law
  • Giving legal advice and accepting fees for legal advice
  • Charging more than the fee prescribed by law for notarial services
  • Notarizing a document without the signer being in the notary's presence at the time of the notarization
  • Notarizing his or her own signature
  • Endorsing or promoting any service, contest, or other offering if the notary’s seal or title is used in the endorsement or promotional statement
  • Notarizing with an expired seal or stamp
  • Using the Washington State Seal within the notary’s seal or stamp
  • Signing a notarial certificate under any other name than the one under which the notary was commissioned
  • Certifying copies of documents recordable in the public records
  •  
    Official Notarial Misconduct:
    Washington notaries public who commit official malfeasance may be subject to criminal liability, civil liability, and administrative disciplinary action:

     

    RCW 42.44.160. Official misconduct—Penalty.

    1. A notary public commits official misconduct when he or she signs a certificate evidencing a notarial act while knowing that the contents of the certificate are false.
    2. A notary public who commits an act of official misconduct shall be guilty of a gross misdemeanor.
    3. Any person not appointed as a notary public who acts as or otherwise impersonates a notary public shall be guilty of a gross misdemeanor.
    4.  

      RCW 19.154.060. Prohibited Practices—Assistance with immigration matters.

       

      A violation of this chapter shall be punished as a gross misdemeanor.

    Washington Notary Laws and Regulations:
    Revised Code of Washington, Title 42, Chapter 42.44, “Notaries Public”
    http://app.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=42.44

     

    Effective July 1, 2018--Revised Code of Washington, Title 42, Chapter 42.45, “Revised Uniform of Notarial Acts”
    http://app.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=42.45

     

    Revised Code of Washington, Title 64, Chapter 64.08, “Acknowledgments”
    http://app.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=64.08

     

    Washington Administrative Code, Title 308, Chapter 308-30, “Notaries Public”
    http://apps.leg.wa.gov/wac/default.aspx?cite=308-30

     
    Notarial Certificates:
    Click here to view your state's notarial certificates.

    Revised: December 2017

    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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