How to become a District of Columbia Notary

Abbreviation: DC   |   Entered the Union: February 21, 1871 | Founded: July 16, 1790 |
How to become a notary in the District of Columbia:
To become a notary in the District of Columbia, a notary applicant must meet all of the following requirements:

  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Be a resident of the District of Columbia or have a sole place of business or employment located within the District of Columbia
 
Qualifications for becoming a notary in the District of Columbia:
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 form to the Secretary of the District of Columbia, Office of Notary Commission and Authentication (ONCA). The application must include: (1) an original letter 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.
  • Attend a mandatory orientation session covering the applicable notary rules and regulations after the application is approved and the applicant is notified of the date and time of the orientation.
  • 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 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 an official notary seal.
  • Personally present to the Office of Notary Commission and Authentication within sixty days a $2,000 surety bond and the completed Official Oath page, take an Oath of Office, and receive the notary public commission. Click here to download the notary application form.

Note: The Appointment Notice will be sent approximately two weeks prior to the commissioning date. The entire process, once the application has been approved takes about 45-60 days. The commission must be claimed within sixty days from the date of issue by the Notary Commission and Authentication Section or the commission will be cancelled. Please Note--The notary’s signature on the oath page must be the same signature used when notarizing documents. Any notarial transaction performed by a notary public who does not have a signature and impression of his or her seal on file with ONCA is void.

 
Can a non-resident become a notary in the 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 qualifications as a District of Columbia resident; (2) has a sole place of business or employment located within the District of Columbia; and (3) follows the initial application for appointment process. A nonresident notary public who ceases to be employed in a business physically located in the District must resign his or her commission by notifying the Office of Notary Commissions and Authentications in writing.
 
Is a District of Columbia notary bond required to become a notary in the District of Columbia?
Yes. A District of Columbia notary bond in the amount of $2,000 is required for new and renewing notaries public. Employees of the District of Columbia notaries public are exempt from the bond requirement.
 
Do I need District of Columbia notary errors and omissions 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.
 
How much does it cost to become a notary in the District of Columbia?
To become a notary public in the District of Columbia, a notary applicant’s required expenses include the following: (1) a $75filing fee to process an application for appointment or reappointment; (2) a notary seal; and (3) a journal. In addition, a notary public may wish to purchase an errors and omissions insurance policy for protection against liability.
 
How long is the term of a notary public commission in the 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) when the notary public ceases to reside in the District of Columbia; or (5) when a nonresident notary ceases to be employed or carry on a business in the District of Columbia.
 
Where can I perform notarial acts in the District of Columbia?
A District of Columbia notary has statewide jurisdiction and may perform notarial acts in any county at any location in the District of Columbia. Likewise, a District of Columbia notary public may not perform notarial acts outside this state.
 
Who appoints District of Columbia notaries public?
The Office of Notary Commissions and Authentications approves and commissionsDistrict of Columbia notaries public.

 

Contact information for the Office of Notary Commissions and Authentications is as follows:

 

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

 
How to renew your District of Columbia notary commission:
District of Columbia notaries public should contact the Office of Notary Commissions and Authentications at least six weeks prior to the expiration of their current commission. A timetable for deadlines to submit applications to avoid a lapse in the commission may be found on their website. Applicants seeking reappointments are not required to attend orientation unless the commission has been expired for one year or more. However, the renewal application process is the same as the initial application for appointment process, except for the orientation. Click here to download an application.
 
Are there any exams or notary course requirements to become a notary or renew your District of Columbia notary public certificate?
Yes. The District of Columbia law requires each new applicant tot attend a mandatory orientation session covering the applicable notary rules and regulations in the District.The Office of Notary Commissions and Authentications schedules the orientation after a notary application is approved. Each applicant will be notified of the date and time of the orientation by ONCA. Notification will be made via email or by phone. The orientation sessions are offered twice a month.
 
Do I need to purchase a notary stamp in the District of Columbia?
Yes. The District of Columbia notary law requires all District of Columbia notaries public to use an embossed seal to authenticate all notarial acts (§1-1204). Section 2404.4 of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations provides the legal specifications regarding the layout and the information required on all notary seals.

 

Dimension: A border in a circular shape no larger than one and three-quarters inches (1.75 in.) surrounding the required words.

 

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

  •  
    Is a notary journal required in the District of Columbia?
    Yes. District of Columbia notary law requires District of Columbia notaries to record all their notarial acts in a journal. The American Association of Notaries highly recommends that District of Columbia notaries, to protect against liability, record their notarial acts in a permanent, paper-bound journal with numbered pages designed to deter fraud. 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 (§1-1213). 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
  •  
    What notarial acts can a District of Columbia notary public perform?
    A District of Columbia notary public is authorized to perform these notarial acts:
  • Take acknowledgments
  • Administer oaths and affirmations
  • Protest instruments
  • Take verifications upon oath or affirmation
  • Witness or attest signatures
  • Certify copies of pages from the notary record book
  • Can I perform electronic notarizations in the District of Columbia?
    Yes. The District of Columbia has not adopted statutes or regulations that establish rules, guidelines, standards, and procedures for electronic notarization. However, the District of Columbia has adopted the Uniform Electronic Transactions, including the provision on notarization and acknowledgment, which authorizes electronic signatures used by District of Columbia notaries. Section 28-4910states, “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.” Most importantly, District of Columbia law mandates that the principal signer must personally appear before the District of Columbia notary public and be physically close enough to see, hear, communicate, and give identification credentials during the entire performance of the notarial act. All signatures must be completed in person. No electronic signatures shall be accepted (17DCMR 2407.3).
     
    How do I change my address?
    A District of Columbia notary public whose residence or employer changes during the term of his or her commission is required to notify the Office of Notary Commissions and Authentications immediately in writing either by mail or email. The notice must include (1) the notary’s name as it appears on the commission; (2) the new address; and (3) the commission expiration date. A notary public must also notify the surety bond company of the change in address and provide proof this has been done. 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.
     
    How do I change my name on my notary commission in the District of Columbia?
    A District of Columbia notary public whose name is legally changed during the term of his or her commission is required to notify the Office of Notary Commissions and Authentications immediately in writing either by mail or email of the change in name. The notary must (1) provide his or her previous and current name; (2) provide the commission expiration date; (3) purchase a new notary seal that reflects the new name; (4) notify the surety bond company of the change in name; (5) come to the Office of Notary Commissions and Authentications to complete an oath page with an embossed seal impression that reflects the name change; and (6) provide ONCA with proof that the surety bond company has the change.
     
    Death/Resignation/Removal:
    A District of Columbia notary public, or his or her representative, is required to send a written notice to the Office of Notary Commissions and Authentications if the notary: (1) no longer maintains residence in the District of Columbia 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; or (5) ceases to be employed in a business physically located in the District (if a nonresident notary). In all of the above situations, the notary’s records and notary seal must be deposited in the Office of Notary Commissions and Authentications Office.
     
    Prohibited Notarial Acts:
    These activities by a District of Columbia notary public provide a basis for administrative disciplinary action:
  • Preparing, drafting, selecting, or giving legal advice concerning 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 authorize, including preparing any written instrument affecting the title to real estate
  • Presenting a person in any trial in District of Columbia courts if the notary is not a licensed attorney
  • Notarizing a document that does not contain a notarial certificate
  • 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 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 federal documents such as FBI clearances, fingerprints, and I-9 forms
  • Notarizing documents for members of his or her immediate family
  • Notarizing a document if he or she has a financial or beneficial interest in the transaction
  • Certifying copies of documents recordable in the public records
  • Making determination of non-profit [501(c)(3)] forms
  • Taking his or her own oath, affidavit, acknowledgement, or depositions
  • Serving as a witness for his or her own documents
  • Certifying copies of documents issued by Departments of Agencies of the District of Columbia whether original or copies
  • Acting and notarizing as a “Signing Agent” in the closing transaction relating to real property
  • Giving advice in the administration or probate of estate of decedents
  •  
    Official Notarial Misconduct:
    District of Columbia notaries public who commit the following official misconduct may have their notary public commissions revoked:

    §1-1214. Penalties for taking higher fees. Any notary public who shall take a higher fee than is prescribed by §1-1213 shall pay a fine of $100 and be removed from office by the Superior Court of the District of Columbia

     

    District of Columbia Notary Laws and Regulations:
    District of Columbia Official Code, Title 1, Chapter 12, “Notaries Public”
    https://code.dccouncil.us/dc/council/code/titles/1/chapters/12/

     

    District of Columbia Official Code, Title 42, Chapter 1, Subchapter 1, “Acknowledgments”
    https://code.dccouncil.us/dc/council/code/titles/42/chapters/1/subchapters/I/

     

    District of Columbia Official Code, Title 42, Chapter 1, Subchapter 2, “Uniform Law on Notarial Acts”
    https://code.dccouncil.us/dc/council/code/titles/42/chapters/1/subchapters/II/

     

    District of Columbia Municipal Regulations, Title 17 (“Business, Occupations and Professions”), Chapter 24, “Notaries Public”
    https://www.dcregs.dc.gov/Common/DCMR/RuleList.aspx?ChapterNum=17-24&ChapterId=695

     
    District of Columbia Notarial Certificates:
    Click here to view your District of Columbia notarial certificates.

    Revised: February 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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