Pros and Cons of Becoming an Online Notary

Remote online notarizations (RONs) have become more prevalent during the last several years, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. This is not surprising since conducting RONs is convenient and practical for notaries and the public. However, many notaries mistakenly believe that becoming an online notary will instantly generate significant income.

Becoming a successful online notary can be challenging, and profitability may take some time. If you are patient and market yourself effectively, becoming an online notary can be worthwhile in the long run. Let’s look at the pros and cons of being an online notary.

Benefits of Becoming a Remote Online Notary

There are several advantages to becoming an online notary:

1. There are few barriers to becoming an online notary public.  

Compared to other professions requiring a degree or significant training and experience, becoming a remote online notary generally requires much less time and effort. Requirements vary by state and range from merely completing a notary application to taking a notary training course and exam in addition to the application. In short, it is often possible to obtain an online notary commission relatively quickly.

2. You can work from home with a flexible schedule.

Many people nowadays work from home, including remote online notaries. This saves time and money. Not having to drive to meet clients allows you to perform more notarizations and reduces your spending on gas. Another advantage of being an online notary is that you can be your own boss and make your schedule fit your needs.

3. You provide an important service.

People require notarizations for significant transactions, such as purchasing a new house or creating a will. Consequently, RONs fulfill an essential service for society by helping people at critical moments in their lives.

Disadvantages of Being a Remote Online Notary

Becoming an online notary has downsides as well:

1. It can be costly to become an online notary.

Those seeking to become remote online notaries must pay several fees, which can add up. These include the notary application filing fee, the notary course fee (or related study costs), the cost of a digital certificate, and the cost of an electronic version of the official notary signature and seal. Other fees may include storage fees for your notary journal and video recordings, notary errors and omissions insurance, and a notary surety bond if required by your state.

You will also need a desktop or laptop computer, a webcam, a microphone, and a fast, reliable, and secure internet connection to work as an online notary.  Furthermore, in most states, remote online notaries are required to use state-approved RON platforms. Some charge a setup and monthly subscription fee, an identity verification fee, a transaction fee for each notarization, a fee for every additional seal added to a document, a video/audio recording fee, and other fees. These fees can significantly reduce the notary’s income.

Additionally, if you decide to work independently, you will probably want to promote your services through your own website, which will entail website hosting and maintenance fees.   Because you will need to accept credit cards for payment, you should also be aware that credit card payment processing companies may charge costly setup fees, monthly fees, and transaction fees.

2. Notaries are limited as to what they can charge.

State notary laws place limits on how much online notaries can charge customers. These maximum allowable charges are often low and can limit an online notary’s earning potential.

3. Demand for online notaries declined after the pandemic.

At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, the demand for remote online notarizations surged as safety measures prevented in-person appointments. Many people became online notaries to meet this demand. However, now that the pandemic is over, the need for RONs has decreased, reducing the pool of potential clients seeking notarial services.

4. High interest rates have slowed home buying.

The Federal Reserve, in an effort to curb inflation, has repeatedly increased interest rates. In turn, these higher interest rates have slowed home buying, which has curtailed the need for home purchase notarizations. As a result, there are currently fewer opportunities for notaries to help process loan signings.

5. Customers prefer in-person closing.

The Solidififc 2022 Consumer Mortgage Experience Survey, which polled over one thousand residential borrowers eighteen years of age or older in the United States who have refinanced or purchased a home within the last two years, shows customers prefer in-person closings:

“Borrowers continue to want in-person closings to ensure better communication and increased trust. In fact, 81 percent of respondents said that face-to-face is the ideal way to close, with 60 percent preferring a paper process, 15 percent preferring an in-person process with fully electronic documents (‘in-person electronic notary’ or ‘IPEN’), and 25 percent preferring an in-person hybrid process using both paper and electronic documents.”

It is essential to realize that becoming a remote notary does not automatically generate more notary business. You need to understand how to effectively market yourself to be successful. This will take time and effort on your part. Approach remote notarization carefully and consider the pros and cons of RON platforms before jumping in.

Legal Disclaimer: The American Association of Notaries seeks to provide timely articles for notaries to assist them with information for managing their notary businesses, enhancing their notary education, and securing their notary stamp and notary supplies. Every effort is made to provide accurate and complete information in the American Association of Notaries newsletters. However, we make no warrant, expressed or implied, and we do not represent, undertake, or guarantee that the information in the newsletter is correct, accurate, complete, or non-misleading. Information in this article is not intended as legal advice. We are not attorneys. We do not pretend to be attorneys. Though we will sometimes provide information regarding notaries' best practices, federal laws and statutes, and the laws and statutes of each state, we have gathered this information from a variety of sources and do not warrant its accuracy. In no event shall the American Association of Notaries, its employees, or contractors be liable to you for any claims, penalties, loss, damage, or expenses, howsoever arising, including, and without limitation, direct or indirect loss or consequential loss out of or in connection with the use of the information contained in the American Association of Notaries newsletters. It is your responsibility to know the appropriate notary laws governing your state. Notaries are advised to seek the advice of their states' notary authorities or attorneys in their state if they have legal questions. If a section of this disclaimer is determined by any court or other competent authority to be unlawful and/or unenforceable, the other sections of this disclaimer continue in effect.

Notary bonds and errors and omissions insurance policies provided by this insurance agency, American Association of Notaries, Inc., are underwritten by Western Surety Company, Universal Surety of America, or Surety Bonding Company of America, which are subsidiaries of CNA Surety.

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