How to Become a Notary in District of Columbia
The District of Columbia Notary Process:
Are you interested in becoming a District of Columbia notary? Are you interested in generating extra income, starting your own District of Columbia notary business, adding a notary title to your resume, or helping people in your community? The state of District of Columbia appoints notaries to serve the public as unbiased impartial witnesses to document signing. Becoming a notary in District of Columbia is a straightforward process, and as long as you meet the eligibility requirements listed below, you can apply to become a District of Columbia notary. The American Association of Notaries has been helping individuals become notaries since 1994.
This guide will help you understand:
- Who can become a District of Columbia notary
- The process to become a District of Columbia notary
- Basic District of Columbia notary duties
What are the qualifications to become a District of Columbia notary?
To become a notary in the District of Columbia, a notary applicant must meet all of the requirements:
- Be 18 years of age or older.
- Be a citizen or legal or permanent legal resident of the United States.
- Be a resident of the District or have a primary place of employment or practice in the District.
- Not be disqualified to receive a commission under Section 23.
- Meet all other qualifications prescribed by rules issued by the Mayor.
What is the process to become a District of Columbia notary?
In order to become a District of Columbia notary and receive a District of Columbia notary public commission, a notary applicant must:
- Meet the eligibility requirements provided in the previous section.
- Complete and submit a notary application online, by mail, or in person to the Secretary of the District of Columbia, Office of Notary Commission and Authentication (ONCA). The application submitted online or manually must include: (1) the original letter(s) of request explaining the need for the applicant to be a notary for residential or business reasons; (2) the names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses of two individuals willing to be character references; and (3) a filing fee of $75. If the applicant submits the application online, the applicant must pay the application fee by credit card.
- Attend a mandatory orientation session after the new applicant receives notification that his or her application is approved. The date and time of the orientation session will be provided in the notification.
- Purchase the required notary supplies after the applicant’s name is published in the Official D.C. Register and upon receipt of the Appointment Notice.
- Purchase a $2,000 surety bond (when applicable) by using the bond form sent by ONCA with the Appointment Notice.
- Complete the Official Oath Page, which includes an area for the applicant’s original signature and the impression of his or her official seal.
- Personally present to the Office of Notary Commission and Authentication within sixty days after receiving the Appointment Notice: (1) a $2,000 surety bond (when applicable); (2) the completed Official Oath Page.
- Take an oath of office and claim the notary public commission. (Failure to claim a notary public commission within sixty days from the date the Appointment Notice was issued will result in cancellation of the notary public commission, and the applicant will have to re-apply.)
- To download the notary application form, click here.
Note: When filling out the notary application online or manually, do not use any abbreviations and do not use all capital letters. The name of the street and thoroughfare must be spelled out (i.e. Martin Luther King Avenue). It is also important that commas be included after the name of the thoroughfare, suite/apartment number (before the quadrant).
All notifications will be sent by email, unless the applicant specifically informs the ONCA office to use another option for his or her notifications. Make sure to use an email address that will go directly to you for future notifications. The entire application process takes about 45-60 days once the application has been deemed sufficient.
Can a non-resident become a notary in District of Columbia?
Yes. A resident of a state bordering the District of Columbia can become a District of Columbia notary public if the person: (1) meets the statutory eligibility requirements as a resident of the District of Columbia; (2) has a primary place of employment or practice in the District; and (3) follows the initial application for appointment process. A nonresident notary public who ceases to have a primary place of employment or practice in the District must resign his or her notary public commission by notifying the Office of Notary Commissions and Authentications in writing. Notaries who terminate or resign their notary public commission for any reason within the five-year period must turn in their journal (records) and seal to the Office of Notary Commissions and Authentications.
How much does it cost to become a notary in District of Columbia?
A District of Columbia notary applicant’s required expenses include the following: (1) a $75 filing fee to process an application for appointment or reappointment; (2) a $2,000 surety bond (when applicable); (3) a notary seal; (4) a journal; and (5) an errors and omissions insurance policy if a notary public wishes to purchase one for protection against liability.
How do I renew my District of Columbia notary commission?
The process for renewing a District of Columbia notary public commission is the same as the initial application for appointment process except for the orientation session, unless the commission of a notary public has been expired more than one year. The Office of Notary Commissions and Authentications does not notify existing notaries when to send in their application for reappointment to avoid a lapse in their current commission. Before applying for reappointment, notaries public are encouraged to see this link for an approximate timetable to submit their applications to avoid a lapse in their current notary commission. Generally, the application for reappointment must be approved at least 45 days before the expiration date of a notary’s current commission in order to avoid a lapse in a notary’s commission. The application for reappointment may be submitted online with payment by credit card, by mail, or in person. Be sure to read the application instructions very carefully prior to filling out the application for reappointment in order to meet all the requirements. An insufficient application will be returned either by email or mail explaining the deficiencies to be corrected, which could delay the new appointment date. To begin the reappointment process, click here. “A reappointment only applies to those who have been a notary in the District of Columbia within twelve (12)
months of their commission expiration. A notary whose commission has been expired for more
than twelve (12) months must apply as a new applicant” (17 DCMR 2402.5).
Are there any exams or notary courses required to become a District of Columbia notary public or to renew my District of Columbia notary public commission?
Yes. The District of Columbia notary laws require each new applicant to attend a mandatory orientation session covering the applicable notary rules, regulations, and policies in the District. “The Mayor shall establish courses of study for notaries public and applicants for endorsement as electronic notaries. Training shall cover laws, rules, procedures, and ethics relevant to notarial acts” (CDC RULONA Section 22[b]). The Office of Notary Commissions and Authentications schedules the orientation after a notary application is approved, and each applicant will be provided with notification of the date and time of the orientation Applicants are automatically notified of two sessions. A notary public whose commission expired more than 12 months ago and who wishes to reapply for a new notary commission is considered a new applicant and must attend an orientation session.
Can I perform electronic notarization in District of Columbia?
Yes. The District of Columbia enacted the “Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts, effective December 13, 2018, authorizing notaries public in the District to perform notarial acts with respect to electronic records. As of this date, the Mayor, through the Office of Notary Commission and Authentications, a division with the Office of the Secretary of the District of Columbia, has not adopted and promulgated rules to standardize the processes and procedures for performing electronic notarial acts to implement the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts.
The Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts prescribed significant provisions, including the stipulation that before a notary public performs a notarial act with respect to an electronic record, the notary must: (1) receive an endorsement as an electronic notary pursuant to Section 20(i); (2) complete a training course relating to electronic notarial acts and electronic records; (3) take the oath prescribed for civil officers in the District of Columbia; (4) identify the tamper-evident technologies the electronic notary intends to use to perform electronic notarial acts; and (5) file an exemplar of the electronic notary’s electronic signature and electronic official seal with the Office of Notary Commission and Authentications (CDC RULONA Section 21).
In addition, the District of Columbia has adopted the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act, including the provision on notarization and acknowledgment, which authorizes electronic signatures used by District of Columbia notaries public. Section 28-4910 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.”
The District has also enacted the Uniform Real Property Electronic Recording Act (CDC 42-1231 through 1235, including the provision relating to electronic notarial acts). Section 1232(c) 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 is not required to accompany an electronic signature.”
Can I perform remote (online) notarizations in District of Columbia?
No. The District of Columbia has not enacted/adopted statutes, rules, and/or procedures for remote (online) notarizations. “If a notarial act relates to a statement made in or a signature executed on a record, the individual making the statement or executing the signature shall appear personally before the notarial officer” (CDC RULONA Section 6). “All signatures must be completed in person. No electronic signatures shall be accepted” (17 DCMR 2407.3). Therefore, for all notarial acts that relate to a statement made in, or a signature executed upon, a record, the person making the statement or executing the signature must be physically present before the notary public. To obtain a notarial act in the District of Columbia, the document signer must personally appear before the notary public or electronic notary for the performance of the notarial act. Therefore, notaries public or electronic notaries in the District of Columbia are not authorized to perform remote notarizations and/or remote online notarizations.
How long is the term of a notary public commission in District of Columbia?
The term of office of a District of Columbia notary public is five 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) by termination; (5) when the notary public ceases to reside in the District of Columbia; (5) when the notary is no longer a citizen or legal or permanent legal resident of the United States; or (6) when the notary ceases to have a primary place of employment or carry on a business in the District.
Is a District of Columbia notary bond required to become a notary in District of Columbia?
Yes. An assurance in the form of a surety bond or its functional equivalent in the amount of $2,000 (when applicable) is required for new and renewing notaries public. The assurance must be issued by a surety or other entity licensed or authorized to do business in the District of Columbia. Business, residential, federal government, and dual commissioned notaries public must acquire a $2,000 surety bond covering the notary’s five-year commission term. Notaries public who are commissioned only on behalf of the government in the District of Columbia are exempt from the legal requirement of a surety bond, but any dual commission requires a surety bond. New and renewing notaries public must use the bond form provided by the Office of Notary Commissions and Authentications sent with the Appointment Notice. The original receipt of the bond payment must be marked “Paid in Full,” include the amount paid, the date it was paid, the correct beginning and end date of the notary’s commission, and the address where the commission is held. Lastly, the original receipt and/or the surety bond must be submitted to the Office of Notary Commissions and Authentications within sixty days after the applicant receives the Appointment Notice.
Do I need a District of Columbia notary errors and omission insurance?
While 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 District of Columbia notaries to purchase an errors and omissions insurance policy for their protection against liability.
Where can I perform notarial acts in District of Columbia?
District of Columbia notaries public have districtwide jurisdiction, and they must be physically within the geographical borders of the District of Columbia to perform notarial acts. Likewise, a District of Columbia notary public may not perform notarial acts outside the District. The District of Columbia does not recognize licenses or commissions from other jurisdictions; there is no reciprocity.
Who appoints District of Columbia notaries public?
The District of Columbia notaries public are appointed by the Mayor; however, the Office of Notary Commissions and Authentications approves and commissions individuals as District of Columbia notaries public. The Office of Notary Commissions and Authentications is a division of the Office of the Secretary of the District of Columbia. To contact the Office of Secretary of District of Columbia, use the following information:
Office Secretary of the District of Columbia
Office of Notary Commission and Authentications
441 4th Street, NW
Suite 810 South
Washington, D.C. 20001
Do I need to purchase a notary stamp in District of Columbia?
Yes. The District of Columbia notary laws requires all District of Columbia notaries public to authenticate all notarial acts with a seal of office (CDC RULONA §15[b]). Section 17 of the Revised Uniform Law of Notarial Acts of 2018 provides the legal specifications regarding the layout and the information required on all notary seals.
Dimension: The official seal must have a “border in a circular shape no larger than one and three-quarters inches (1.75 in.) surrounding the required words” (17 DCMR 2404.4[e]).
Required Elements: The official seal of a notary public in the District of Columbia must include the following:
- The notary public’s name, exactly as stated on the commission
- The words “District of Columbia”
- The commission expiration date
- Other information required by the Mayor
Section 2404.4 of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations also provides the legal specifications regarding the layout and the information required on all notary seals.
Required Elements: The District of Columbia notary seal must contain the following elements:
- The notary’s name at the top, exactly as indicated on the commission
- The words “Notary Public” in the center
- The words “District of Columbia” at the bottom
- The commission expiration date in the center
Note: “Upon the death, resignation, or removal from office of a notary public, the notary’s records, including all the official papers, shall be deposited with the Mayor” (CDC RULONA Section 18a). “A notary shall keep an official seal that is the exclusive property of the notary. When not in use, the seal shall be kept secure and accessible only to the notary” (17 DCMR 2404.2). “If a notary public’s notarial sealer or signature is lost, stolen, damaged, or otherwise incapable of affixing a legible image, the notary, or the notary’s personal representative or guardian, shall promptly notify the Mayor” (CDC RULONA Section 18[b]). “Each notary public commissioned in the District shall file his or her official signature and an impression of his or her official seal with ONCA” (17 DCMR 2404.1).
Is a notary journal required in District of Columbia?
Yes. The District of Columbia notary laws provide that a notary public or electronic notary must maintain a journal in which he or she records all notarial acts performed. A journal may be created on a tangible medium or in an electronic format. A notary public may maintain a separate journal for tangible records and for electronic records. If the journal is maintained in a tangible medium, it shall be a permanent bound register with numbered pages. If the journal is maintained in an electronic format, it shall be in a tamper-evident electronic format complying with the rules issued by the Mayor. (CDC RULONA Section 19[b]). For District of Columbia notary supplies, visit our website at www.usnotaries.com or call (800) 721-2663.
How much can a District of Columbia notary charge for performing notarial acts?
The District of Columbia notary fees are set by state law and rules (CDC RULONA Section 24a and 17 DCMR 2406.2). The maximum allowable fees that a District of Columbia notary public may charge for notarial acts are listed below:
- Acknowledgments - $5.00
- Jurats - $5.00
- Oaths or affirmations - $5.00
- Protest instruments - $5.00
- All other notarial acts - $5.00
Note: “A notary public may waive a scheduled fee or charge an amount less than the scheduled fee” (CDC RULONA Section 24[c]). A notary public who is exempted from the payment of the application fee pursuant to Section 20(b) must not collect a notary fee. In addition, “a notary public may charge, upon agreement of the person to be charged, an amount not-to-exceed the actual and reasonable expense of traveling to a place where a notarial act is to be performed if it is not the usual place where the notary public performs notarial acts. Traveling expenses shall be in writing, itemized, and separate from the fee for the notarial act” (CDC RULONA Section 24[b]). More importantly, “any notary public who shall take a higher fee than is prescribed by Subsection 2409.2 shall pay a fine of $100 and be removed from office as a notary public” ( 17 DCMR 2406.3).
What notarial acts can a District of Columbia notary public perform?
A District of Columbia notary public is authorized to perform the following notarial acts (CDC RULONA Section 2):
- Take acknowledgments
- Administer oaths and affirmations
- Note protests
- Take verifications upon oath or affirmation
- Witness or attest signatures
How do I update my address for my District of Columbia notary commission?
A District of Columbia notary public whose residence, business, government, or employer address changes during the term of his or her commission is required to immediately notify the Office of Notary Commissions and Authentications in writing by completing a Change of Address form provided on its website at: https://os.dc.gov/service/notary-commissions. The notary must include with this form the document that provides proof that the surety bond company has been notified of the change in address.
Change of Employer: In the case of a change of employer, notary public services can be transferred to a new employer whose offices are physically located in the District of Columbia if the current employer agrees to allow the commission to be transferred. To do so, the new employer is required to submit a letter explaining the need for the services of the notary public and where and during what hours the notary will be available to perform notarial duties. The notary must also provide proof that he or she still has surety bond coverage. “If your employer will not allow you to transfer your commission, you must resign the commission and send us your seal and journal. If you wish to become a notary either for your new business or as a residential notary, you must apply for a new commission, submit a new application with an application fee and letter(s) of request. If you have been commissioned by the D.C. or federal government and will no longer be employed at that agency, you must resign your commission and apply as a new notary. ONCA will not recognize a document notarized by a notary public whose name or place of business has changed unless the notary has complied with these requirements. Please go to our website: www.os.dc.gov, Notary & Authentications, Notary Commissions for the PDF form for each of these changes” (NPH). “Notaries should also inform the surety bond company of the change of name or address; order new seal(s); and provide a new impression of the seal with ONCA” (17 DCMR 2408.3). No fee will be charged for an address change.
Do I have to change my name on my notary commission in District of Columbia?
A District of Columbia notary public whose name is legally changed during the term of his or her commission because of marriage, divorce, or adoption is required to notify the Office of Notary Commissions and Authentications immediately in writing of the name change by completing the Change of Name form provided on its website at: https://os.dc.gov/service/notary-commissions. The notary must include with this form the legal document showing the change of name and the document that provides proof that the surety bond company has been notified of the change in name. The notary must also purchase a new notary seal/sealer that reflects the new name and come to the Office of Notary Commissions and Authentications to complete an oath page and provide an impression of the new official seal that reflects the name change.
No fee will be charged for a change of name. The notary will be provided with a new notarial certificate with the new name. “If the change of name occurs at the time of renewal, the individual should complete a new application with the change in name. When filling out the application, the request letter should state the previous name. The legal document showing the change of name must be provided” (NPH).
Revised: December 2019
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 on 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 states if they have legal questions about how to perform notarial acts.
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.