How to Become an Illinois Notary
The Illinois Notary Process:
Are you interested in becoming an Illinois notary? Are you interested in generating extra income, starting your own Illinois notary business, adding a notary title to your resume, or helping people in your community? The State of Illinois appoints notaries to serve the public as unbiased impartial witnesses to document signing. Becoming a notary in Illinois is a straightforward process, and as long as you meet the eligibility requirements listed below, you can apply to become an Illinois notary. The American Association of Notaries has been helping individuals become notaries since 1994.
This guide will help you understand:
- Who can become an Illinois notary
- The process to become an Illinois notary
- Basic Illinois notarial duties
What are the qualifications to become an Illinois notary?
To become an Illinois notary public, a notary applicant must meet the following requirements:
- Be at least 18 years of age.
- Be a resident of the State of Illinois for at least thirty days, or a resident of a qualifying state bordering Illinois who has worked or maintained a business in Illinois for thirty days preceding the application.
- Be a citizen of the United States or an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States.
- Be able to read and write the English language.
- Not have been convicted of a felony.
- Not have had a notary public commission revoked or suspended during the past ten years.
What is the process to become an Illinois notary?
To become a notary in Illinois and receive an Illinois notary public commission, a notary applicant must:
- Meet the eligibility requirements provided in the previous section.
- Purchase a surety bond in the amount of $5,000.
- Complete the Notary Public Application form online, print it out, and have it notarized.
- Submit to the Secretary of State the following: (1) the notarized notary application; (2) the $5,000 surety bond; (3) a legible photocopy of the applicant’s valid driver’s license or state-issued identification card; and (4) a $10.00 filing fee.
- Record the notary public commission, accompanied by a specimen signature of the applicant, at the office of the county clerk and pay a fee of $5.00, at which time the county clerk will deliver the notary public commission to the applicant. (Note: If you fail to register with the county clerk within the sixty-day time frame, the county clerk will return the notary public commission to the Secretary of State and the notary public commission will be cancelled.)
Note: As of January 1, 2016, the Secretary of State has been authorized to implement an online notary public application system that permits an Illinois resident to apply for appointment and commission as a notary public (5 ILCS 213/2-102.5an). As of the date of this state summary, the Secretary of State has not implemented an online notary public application system.
Can a non-resident become a notary in Illinois?
Yes. A non-resident may apply to become an Illinois notary public if the non-resident meets the following requirements. A non-resident must:
- Have a principal place of work or principal place of business in Illinois.
- Have been in Illinois for at least thirty days preceding his or her notary application.
- Have a physical business address in Illinois.
- Be from a qualifying state bordering Illinois that authorizes Illinois residents to be appointed and commissioned as notaries in that state.
- Satisfy the same qualifications as Illinois residents, setting aside the residency requirements.
- Submit a Non-Resident Notary Public Application form and comply with the same notary application process and procedures as Illinois residents, except that a non-resident must purchase a one-year $5,000 surety bond.
- Continuously maintain a principal place of work or principal place of business in Illinois.
- Relinquish his or her notary commission if the non-resident notary moves his or her place of work or place of business from the county in which the notary was commissioned in Illinois.
- Relinquish his or her notary commission if the non-resident notary ceases to have a place of work or place of business in Illinois.
Note: The Secretary of State’s “Non-resident Notary Public Application Checklist” specifies that the qualifying bordering states that offer such reciprocation are Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Out-of-state residents are commissioned in the county in which they are employed in Illinois. A non-resident notary commission is valid for one year from the effective date of the appointment.
How much does it cost to become a notary in Illinois?
An Illinois notary applicant’s expenses may include the cost for the following: (1) a $10 filing fee to process an application for appointment or reappointment; (2) a $5,000 surety bond; (3) a notary stamp; (4) a notary journal as recommended by the Illinois Secretary of State; and (5) an E&O insurance policy if a notary wishes to obtain one for his or her own personal protection against liability.
How do I renew my Illinois notary commission?
The Secretary of State mails out a written notification of the expiration date to the holder of a notary public commission at least sixty days prior to the expiration of a commission (5 ILCS 312/5-101). Notaries applying for reappointments as notaries public must follow the same process and procedures as the initial application for appointment as a notary public. A preprinted application and bond form will be enclosed with the notification sent by the Secretary of State if a notary public wishes to apply for reappointment. For commissioning information, go to https://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/index/notary/home.html.
Are there any exams or notary courses required to become an Illinois notary public or to renew my Illinois notary public commission?
No. New applicants seeking appointments as notaries public and renewing notaries are not required to take a notary course of study or to pass an examination to be appointed and commissioned as Illinois notaries public.
Can I perform electronic notarization in Illinois?
Yes. The State of Illinois has enacted the Uniform Real Property Electronic Recording Act (765 ILCS 33/1 through 33/7), which authorizes a notary public to obtain an electronic signature and electronic seal to notarize electronic documents in the physical presence of the individual seeking the notarization. On August 25, 2017, the Illinois Notary Public Act was amended by adding a new section (5 ILCS 312/1-105) titled “Notarization Task Force on Best Practices and Verification Standards to Implement Electronic Notarization” to review and report on national standards for best practices in relation to electronic notarization, including security concerns and fraud prevention. The Task Force must prepare a report that summarizes its work and makes recommendations resulting from its review and its findings and submit this report to the Governor and General Assembly no later than June 30, 2020. The report must make a recommendation on whether and to what extent this act should be expanded and updated. This section (5 ILCS 312/1-105) is scheduled to be repealed on July 1, 2020.
First and foremost, the Illinois notary statute requires that the document signer must physically appear before the notary public at the time of the notarial act (5 ILCS 312/6-102an-[c]). This means the signer(s) and the notary are physically close enough to see, hear, communicate, and share identification credentials with one another without reliance on an electronic device such as a telephone, computer, video camera, or facsimile machine at the time of the notarial act. All the same rules, standards, practices, and regulations that apply to a traditional paper notarization also apply to an electronically signed document including, but not limited to, the personal appearance before the notary public. The state of Illinois has not enacted/adopted statutes, rules, and/or procedures for electronic notarizations.
Can I perform remote (online) notarizations in Illinois?
No. The State of Illinois has not enacted/adopted notary statutes, regulations, or established standards and procedures for remote online notarizations. The Illinois notary statute requires that a principal signer must personally appear before an Illinois notary public (be face-to-face) for any notarial act to be performed in that signer’s name. This means that the principal signer and the notary public are physically close enough to see, hear, communicate, and share identification credentials with one another without the use of electronic devices such as telephones, computers, video cameras, or video conferences during the entire performance of the notarial act. The state notary statute does not authorize a notary public to witness an act through video conference or other electronic means if the person making the act is at a physical location different from the notary or otherwise not in the physical presence of the notary public. Therefore, notaries in Illinois are prohibited from performing online webcam notarizations, which are illegal in Illinois.
How long is the term of a notary public commission in Illinois?
The term of office for an Illinois notary public is four years commencing from the effective date of the appointment. However, a notary’s commission may be rendered void: (1) by resignation; (2) by death; (3) by revocation; (4) when a notary public is no longer a citizen or resident of Illinois; (5) when a nonresident notary ceases to have a place of work or place of business in Illinois; (6) when a notary is no longer a citizen or permanent legal resident of the United States; or (7) when a notary is convicted of a felony.
Is an Illinois notary bond required to become a notary in Illinois?
Yes. A surety bond in the amount of $5,000 is required for new applicants seeking appointments as notaries public and renewing notaries (5 ILCS 312/2-105). The surety bond must be issued by a company qualified to write surety bonds in Illinois. The bond shall be conditioned upon a notary’s faithful performance of all notarial acts in accordance with the notary statute during the course of the notary’s four-year commission term. The surety bonding company’s corporate seal must accompany the signature of an officer or authorized representative on the Secretary of State’s prescribe bond form. Upon the filing of any claim against a notary public, the entity that has issued the bond for the notary must notify the Secretary of State of whether payment was made and the circumstances which led to the claim (5 ILCS 312/7-101). To purchase an Illinois surety bond, visit the American Association of Notaries website at www.usnotaries.com, call (800) 721-2663, or click here.
Do I need an Illinois notary errors and omission insurance?
An errors and omissions insurance policy is optional in Illinois. The American Association of Notaries strongly recommends that Illinois notaries obtain an errors and omissions insurance policy for their personal protection against liability. Errors and omissions insurance is designed to protect a notary from liability against unintentional notarial mistakes or omissions that result in financial or other type of loss to the public or from a client who sues him or her for recovery. An E&O policy customarily covers legal fees and damages based on the coverage an Illinois notary selects. For information regarding an E&O insurance policy, visit the American Association of Notaries website at www.usnotaries.com, call (800) 721-2663, or click here.
Where can I perform notarial acts in Illinois?
An Illinois notary public has statewide jurisdiction and may perform notarial acts in any county within the geographic borders of the state of Illinois so long as the notary resides in the same county in which he or she was commissioned. Likewise, a non-resident notary may perform notarial acts anywhere in Illinois, so long as the notary’s principal place of work or principal place of business is in the same county in Illinois in which he or she was commissioned (5 ILCS 312/3-105). Illinois notaries may perform notarial acts in the reciprocating states, which include Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, and Wisconsin, but only if they are also appointed and commissioned as a notary public in those states.
Who appoints Illinois notaries public?
The Illinois Secretary of State appoints notaries public, receives applications for appointment and reappointment as a notary public, administers the commissioning process, and maintains an electronic database of active notaries. To contact the Secretary of State, use the following information:
Illinois Secretary of State
111 East Monroe Street
Springfield, IL 62756
Do I need to purchase a notary stamp in Illinois?
Yes. The Illinois notary statute requires all notaries public to use an official rubber stamp seal to authenticate all their official acts (5 ILCS 312/3-101an.
Dimensions: The official rubber stamp seal must be in a rectangular form and not more than 1 inch in height by 2 ½ inches in length with a serrated or milled edge border. The rubber stamp seal must be in black ink, clear and legible, and capable of being photographically reproduced (5 ILCS 312/3-101an and 312/6-103[c]).
Required Elements: The rubber stamp seal must include the following elements:
- The words “Official Seal”
- The notary’s official name
- The words “Notary Public”
- The words “State of Illinois”
- The words “My Commission expires ___________ (commission expiration date)”
Note: If a notary’s official seal is stolen, “report the theft to the police. If for any reason you lose possession of your seal, it is recommended that you resign your notary commission” (NPH).
Is a notary journal required in Illinois?
No. The Illinois notary statute does not require notaries public to record their notarial acts in a journal. However, notaries who perform a notarial act involving a document of conveyance that transfers or purports to transfer title to residential real property located in Cook County, Illinois, must create a notarial record with very specific details regarding the notarial act. While a journal is not required by state notary statute, the Secretary of State and the American Association of Notaries strongly recommend that Illinois notaries maintain a permanent, paper-bound journal with numbered pages to create and preserve a chronological record of every notarial act they perform. A notary journal is designed to deter fraud and can serve as a protective measure against liability. For Illinois notary supplies, visit the American Association of Notaries website at www.usnotaries.com, call (800) 721-2663, or click here.
How much can an Illinois notary charge for performing notarial acts?
The notary fees in Illinois are set by state notary statute (5 ILCS 312/3-104an). The maximum allowable fees that an Illinois notary public may charge for notarial acts are listed below:
- Acknowledgments - $1.00
- Oaths or affirmations - $1.00
- Witness or attest signatures - $1.00
- Verifications upon oath or affirmation - $1.00
Note: All notaries public must provide receipts and keep records for fees accepted for services provided (5 ILCS 312/3-104[d]).
What notarial acts can an Illinois notary public perform?
An Illinois notary public is authorized to perform the following notarial acts (5 ILCS 312/6-101an and 312/6-102an through [c]):
- Take acknowledgments
- Administer oaths or affirmations
- Witness or attest signatures
- Take verifications upon oath or affirmation
How do I update my address for my Illinois notary commission?
If an Illinois notary public moves or changes employers, and the new residence or place of employment is within the boundaries of the county in which he or she was commissioned, the notary merely reports the change of address to the Secretary of State. Most importantly, if a notary public changes his or her business address without notifying the Secretary of State in writing within thirty days thereof, or, if the notary public is a resident of a state bordering Illinois and no longer maintains a principal place of work or principal place of business in the same county in Illinois in which he or she was commissioned, the commission of that notary ceases to be in effect. When the commission of a notary public ceases to be in effect, his or her notary seal must be surrendered to the Secretary of State, and his or her commission certificate must be destroyed. Those individuals who desire to become notaries public again must apply for new appointments with the Secretary of State (5 ILCS 312/4-101).
Do I have to change my name on my notary commission in Illinois?
When any notary public legally changes his or her name or moves from the county in which he or she was commissioned or, if the notary public is a resident of a state bordering Illinois, no longer maintains a principal place of work or principal place of business in the same county in Illinois in which he or she was commissioned, the commission ceases to be in effect and should be returned to the Secretary of State. These individuals who desire to again become a notary public must file a new application, bond, and oath with the Secretary of State.
Revised: January 2020
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.
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