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How to Become a Notary in Washington, D.C.


To become a notary in Washington, D.C., you must:


  1. Meet the eligibility requirements detailed in the next section.
  2. Complete an online notary application at the Secretary of the District of Columbia’s website. The application submitted online must include the following:
     • The letter(s) of request explaining your need to become a notary for residential or business/ government reasons or both.
     • The names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses of two individuals willing to be character references who are not family members or a supervisor.
  3. Electronically sign the notary application once you receive an email notification from the Office of Notary Commissions and Authentications (ONCA) to sign online.
  4. Pay a $75 notary commission application fee when notified by email to pay. Applicants applying to become only a District of Columbia government notary or a federal government notary are exempt from the application fee.
  5. Attend a mandatory orientation session. You will automatically receive an email notification from ONCA giving you the date and time of the orientation session.
  6. Purchase a notary embosser, impression inker, notary journal, and jurat stamp when you receive the appointment notice.
  7. Purchase a $2,000 surety bond using the bond form sent by ONCA with the appointment notice. Applicants commissioned only as a District of Columbia government notary do not have to purchase a surety bond.
  8. Personally present:
     • the original surety bond form completed by the surety company (when applicable),
     • the surety bond payment receipt (when applicable), and
     • your notary supplies
    to ONCA within sixty days of receiving the appointment notice.
  9. Take an oath of office and claim your notary public commission. If you fail to claim your notary public commission within sixty days after the appointment notice is issued, your notary public commission will be canceled, and you will have to re-apply.

Note: All notifications will be sent by email unless you specifically inform the ONCA office to use another option. Make sure to use an email address that will go directly to you. The entire application process takes about 45-60 days once the application has been deemed complete.

Who can become a notary public in Washington, D.C.?


To become a notary in the District of Columbia, you must meet the following requirements:

  1. Be 18 years of age or older.
  2. Be a citizen or legal or permanent legal resident of the United States.
  3. Be a resident of the District of Columbia or have a primary place of employment or practice in the District of Columbia.
  4. Not be disqualified from receiving a commission under Section 23 of the Act (D.C. Official Code § 1-1231.22) and Section 2423 of Chapter 17-24 NOTARIES PUBLIC.

This Washington, D.C. notary guide will help you understand:


  1. Who can become a notary in the District of Columbia.
  2. How to become a notary in the District of Columbia.
  3. The basic duties of a notary in the District of Columbia.

How do I renew my notary commission in Washington, D.C.?


The process for renewing a District of Columbia notary public commission is the same as for the initial application for appointment process, except the orientation session is not required unless your commission expired more than twelve months ago. The Office of Notary Commissions and Authentications will not notify you when it is time to send in your application for reappointment. Before applying for reappointment, check the Notary Application Renewal Timetable to see when you should submit your notary application. Generally, the application for reappointment must be approved at least forty-five days before the expiration date of your current notary commission to avoid a lapse.

The application for reappointment may be submitted online with payment by credit card, mail, or in person. Be sure to read the application instructions carefully prior to filling out the application for reappointment to ensure you meet all requirements. An insufficient application will be returned either by email or mail with an explanation of the deficiencies to be corrected. This could delay your new appointment date. To begin the reappointment process, click here.

Who appoints notaries in Washington, D.C.?


District of Columbia notaries public are appointed by the D.C. Mayor; however, the Office of Notary Commissions and Authentications approves and commissions applicants 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.

The Office of the Secretary of District of Columbia can be contacted at:

Office Secretary
Office of Notary Commission and Authentications
441 4th Street, NW
Suite 810 South
Washington, D.C. 20001
(202) 727-3117

Can a non-resident of Washington, D.C. apply for a commission as a notary public?


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 of Columbia.
  3. Follows the initial application for appointment process.

A non-resident notary public who ceases to have a primary place of employment or practice in the District of Columbia must resign their notary public commission by notifying the Office of Notary Commissions and Authentications in writing. Notaries who terminate or resign their notary public commissions for any reason within the five-year term period must turn in their journals (records) and notary seals to the Office of Notary Commissions and Authentications.

How long is a notary public's commission term in Washington, D.C.?


The term of office of a District of Columbia notary public is five years, commencing and ending on the dates specified in the certificate of appointment. 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 ceases to reside in the District of Columbia.
  6. When the notary ceases to have a primary place of employment or carry on a business in the District of Columbia.

Is notary training or an exam required to become a notary or to renew a notary commission in Washington, D.C.?


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 of Columbia. The Office of Notary Commissions and Authentications will schedule the orientation before a notary application is approved, and each applicant will be notified of the date and time of the orientation. Applicants are automatically notified of two sessions. A notary public whose commission expired less than twelve months ago and who wishes to re-apply for a new notary commission is not required to attend an orientation session.

How much does it cost to become a notary public in Washington, D.C.?


To become a notary public in the District of Columbia, you must:

  1. Pay a $75 application fee to process your notary application (when applicable).
  2. Purchase a $2,000 surety bond (when applicable).
  3. Purchase a notary seal embosser.
  4. Order a notary journal.
  5. Purchase a jurat stamp.
  6. Order an errors and omissions (E&O) insurance policy to protect yourself if you are sued because of unintentional mistakes or if a false claim is filed against you. (This step is optional.)

Do I need a notary errors and omissions (E&O) insurance policy to become a notary in Washington, D.C.?


A notary E&O insurance policy is optional in the District of Columbia and is not required to become a District of Columbia notary public or to renew your notary commission. However, the American Association of Notaries strongly recommends that every District of Columbia notary obtain a notary E&O insurance policy. This insurance protects you from a claim if a client sues you as a notary. A notary E&O policy covers unintentional notarial mistakes and pays for legal fees and damages based on the coverage a District of Columbia notary public selects.

Do I need a notary bond to become a notary in Washington, D.C.?


Yes. An assurance in the form of a surety bond or its functional equivalent for $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 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 bond payment receipt 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 the surety bond (if applicable) must be submitted to the Office of Notary Commissions and Authentications within sixty days after the applicant receives the appointment notice.

Do I need to order a notary stamp in Washington, D.C.?


A District of Columbia notary applicant needs to purchase a notary embosser, jurat stamp, impression inker, and notary journal to authenticate and record documents they notarize. 17 DCMR 2404.2 provides the legal specifications regarding the layout and information required on all notary seals.

Dimension: The official seal must have a “border in a circular shape no larger than one and three-quarter inches (1.75 in.) surrounding the required words” (17 DCMR 2404).

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.”
  • The words “District of Columbia.”
  • The notary’s commission expiration date.

Note: “A notary public shall be responsible for the security of the notary's notarial sealer and shall not allow another individual to use the notarial sealer to perform a notarial act. Upon the death, resignation, or removal from office of a notary public, the notary’s records, including all related official papers, shall be deposited with the mayor” [D.C. Official Code § 1-1231.17(a)].

“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 representative or guardian, shall promptly notify the mayor” [D.C. Official Code § 1-1231.17(a)]. An applicant for a commission from ONCA as a notary public shall file their signature and deposit an impression of their official seal with ONCA (17 DCMR 2400.2).

To order a District of Columbia notary seal, complete notary package, and notary supplies, please visit the American Association of Notaries website at https://www.notarypublicstamps.com/notary-seals/district-of-columbia.

How much can a Washington, D.C. notary public charge for performing notarial acts?


The District of Columbia notary fees are set by 17 DCMR 2420. The maximum allowable fees that a District of Columbia notary public may charge for notarial acts are as follows:

  • Witness or attest a signature - $5
  • Take an acknowledgment - $5
  • Take a verification upon oath or affirmation - $5
  • Certify or attest a copy - $5
  • Administer an oath or affirmation - $5

An electronic notary may charge a reasonable fee based on the electronic technology they use if that fee is agreed to in advance with the customer and itemized separately on the invoice.

Note: A notary public may waive the notarial fee or charge an amount less than the scheduled fee [D.C. Official Code § 1–1231.23(c)]. A notary public exempted from the application fee payment pursuant to D.C. Official Code § 1-1231.19(b) shall 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” [D.C. Official Code § 1–1231.23(b)].

Is a notary journal required in Washington, D.C.?


A notary journal (also known as a record book, log book, or register book) is your first line of defense in proving your innocence if a notarial act you performed is questioned or if you are requested to testify in a court of law about a notarial act you performed in the past. A properly recorded notarial act creates a paper trail that will help investigators locate and prosecute signers who have committed forgery and fraud. Properly recorded notarial acts provide evidence that you followed your state laws and notary’s best practices.

 

Notary journal requirements in District of Columbia for traditional and in-person electronic notarizations – Notaries are required by law to keep a journal of all notarial acts performed. Notary journals can be maintained physically or in an electronic format. If the notary journal is kept electronically, it must be on tamper-evident technology. If the notary journal is kept physically, it must be a permanent bound register with numbered pages.

 

The American Association of Notaries offers a wide variety of notary journals.

Click here to purchase a tangible notary journal.

Click here to become a member and access our electronic notary journal.

What information must Washington, D.C. notaries record in their notary journals?


For Traditional Notarizations and In-Person Electronic Notarizations – District of Columbia requires notaries to chronicle the following information in their notary journals:

  1. The name and address of each person for whom you notarize a document.
  2. The date he or she appeared before you.
  3. The type of identification presented to you.
  4. The type of document involved.
  5. The fee charged.
  6. The location where the notarial act was performed.
  7. The signatures of all those who signed the document.
  8. In the case of a witness, record the name, address and signature of the witness and the person who signed the documents.

Where can I perform notarial acts in Washington, D.C.?


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. A District of Columbia notary public may not perform notarial acts outside the District of Columbia. The District of Columbia does not recognize licenses or commissions from other jurisdictions; there is no reciprocity.

What notarial acts can a Washington, D.C. notary public perform?


A District of Columbia notary public is authorized to [D.C. Official Code § 1–1231.01(7)]:

  • Take an acknowledgment.
  • Administer an oath or affirmation.
  • Take a verification on oath or affirmation.
  • Witness or attest a signature.
  • Note a protest of a negotiable instrument.
  • Take and certify the acknowledgment or proof of powers of attorney, mortgages, deeds, or other instruments of writing.
  • Take affidavits to be used before any court, judge, or officer within the District of Columbia.

Can I perform electronic notarizations in Washington, D.C.?


Yes. The District of Columbia enacted the “Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts, effective December 13, 2018, authorizing notaries public in the District of Columbia to perform notarial acts with respect to electronic records. As of this date, the D.C. 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.

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 of Columbia 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 Washington, D.C.?


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 do I update my address on my Washington, D.C. notary commission?


A District of Columbia notary public whose residence, business, government, or employer address changes during the term of his or her commission has thirty days to notify the Office of Notary Commissions and Authentications by completing the Change of Address During Commission form provided on the Office of Secretary’s website. You must include with this form proof that you have notified your surety bond company of your change of 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 notary must complete and email the Change of Employment During Commission form with a:

  • Letter of request from the new supervisor stating why the business needs the employee to perform notarial services. The letter must be on letterhead with a DC address that matches the DC address on the form and must include a DC phone number. The letter must have an original or valid electronic signature.
  • Document that provides proof that the notary has notified his or her surety bond company of the change in name.
  • Notification if the notary has been on the Search for a Notary Public Map and if he or she wants to be listed on it.


If an employer will not allow you to transfer your notary commission, you must resign the commission and send your notary seal and journal to ONCA. If you wish to become a residential notary or a notary for your new business, you must apply for a new commission and submit a new application with an application fee and letter(s) of request. If you have been commissioned as a notary 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. No fee will be charged for an address change.

How do I change my name on my notary commission in Washington, D.C.?


If your name has legally changed during the term of your District of Columbia notary public commission, you have thirty days to notify the Office of Notary Commissions and Authentications by completing the Change of Name on Notary Commission form provided on the Office of the Secretary’s website. You must include with this form:

  • The legal document showing your change of name.
  • The document that provides proof that your surety bond company has been notified of your change in name.
  • Notification if you have been on the Search for a Notary Public Map and if you want to be on it in the future.
     

No fee will be charged for a change of name. However, you must purchase a new notary seal and jurat stamp that reflects your 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. You will be provided with a new certificate of appointment 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. The request letter should state the previous name when filling out the application. The legal document showing the change of name must be provided” (Notary Public Handbook).

Revised:


January 2023

Legal disclaimer: The information provided on this page is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. We do not claim to be attorneys and we do not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or reliability of the information provided. You should always seek the advice of a licensed attorney for any legal matters. It is your responsibility to know the appropriate notary laws governing your state. In no event shall the American Association of Notaries, its employees, or contractors be liable to you for any claims, penalties, losses, damages, 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 on any of the American Association of Notaries website pages. Notaries are advised to seek the advice of their state’s notary authorities or attorneys if they have legal questions. 

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.