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How to Become an Iowa Notary


The Iowa Notary Process:


Are you interested in becoming an Iowa notary? Are you interested in generating extra income, starting your own Iowa notary business, adding a notary title to your resume, or helping people in your community? The State of Iowa appoints notaries to serve the public as unbiased impartial witnesses to document signing. Becoming a notary in Iowa is a straightforward process, and as long as you meet the eligibility requirements listed below, you can apply to become an Iowa notary. The American Association of Notaries has been helping individuals become notaries since 1994.

 

This guide will help you understand:

  1. Who can become an Iowa notary
  2. The process to become an Iowa notary
  3. Basic Iowa notarial duties

What are the qualifications to become an Iowa notary?


To become an Iowa notary public, a notary applicant must meet the following requirements:  

  1. Be at least 18 years of age.
  2. Be a citizen or permanent legal resident of the United States.
  3. Be a resident of or have a place of employment or practice in Iowa.
  4. Be able to read and write English.
  5. Not be disqualified to receive a commission under Section 9B.23.

What is the process to become an Iowa notary?


To become an Iowa notary public, you must:   

  1. Meet the eligibility requirements provided in the previous section.
  2. Complete a mandatory initial training course and submit with your application proof that you have completed the initial training course (effective July 1, 2020).
  3. Complete and file with the Secretary of State an Application for Appointment as Notary Public form.
  4. Pay the application fee of $30.
  5. Execute an oath of office, which is part of the application of appointment.

 

Note: The application of appointment contains a check box for electronic records to indicate whether an applicant will be performing notarial acts with respect to electronic records. If yes, identify the tamper proof technology you intend to use. To satisfy this mandatory education requirement, you can take an in-person seminar or complete an online training course. To download the Application for Appointment as Notary Public form, visit the Secretary of State's website.

Can a non-resident become a notary in Iowa?

Yes. A resident of a state bordering Iowa may apply to become an Iowa notary public (IC §9B.21[5]). As a non-resident, you must:    

  1. Have a place of employment or practice in Iowa.
  2. Satisfy the same qualifications as Iowa residents, setting aside the residency requirements.
  3. Complete and file an Application for Appointment as Notary Public form and follow the same application for appointment process and procedures as Iowa residents.
  4. Continuously maintain a place of employment or practice in Iowa.
  5. Relinquish your notary public commission if you are terminated or cease to have a place of work or business in Iowa.

 

Note:  If a notary public who is a resident of a state bordering Iowa ceases to maintain a place of employment or practice within Iowa, the notary public’s commission expires. For a resident of a bordering state, a notarial commission is effective for one year from the date of commission.

How much does it cost to become a notary in Iowa?

An Iowa notary public applicant’s expenses may include: (1) a $30 filing fee to process an application for appointment or reappointment as a notary public; (2) an official notary stamp; (3) effective July 1, 2020, a mandatory initial training course covering the functions and duties of a notary public offered by an approved education provider; (4) an additional remote online training course offered by an approved education provider if a notary wishes to perform remote online notarial acts; (5) a notary bond if the notary wishes to protect the public from the notary’s unintentional or intentional negligence and/or official misconduct in the performance of his or her official acts; (6) an E&O insurance policy if a notary wishes to purchase one for his or her personal protection against liability; and (7) a notary journal to record all notarial acts performed to protect the notary should he or she have a need to verify the performance of a notarial act.

How do I renew my Iowa notary commission?

An Iowa notary public may renew his or her commission sixty days before the expiration of the current commission by submitting an application for reappointment with the Secretary of State. The application for reappointment process is the same as the initial application for appointment process, which includes paying the $30 application fee. The Secretary of State will send Iowa notaries a blank application for reappointment two months before their commissions expire. Iowa notaries may renew their notary public commissions using the Secretary of State’s online Notary Renewal system. The initial training course legal requirement is mandatory only for new applicants seeking an appointment as notaries public. A notary public who is up for reappointment and who wishes to continue performing notarial acts for remotely located individuals, who has satisfactorily completed all of the statutory training courses at least one time, must satisfactorily complete an updated remote online training course within the six-month period immediately prior to the deadline for the notary’s application for reappointment and provide satisfactory proof to the Secretary of State of completion of such a training course. A notary public may use the online Notary Renewal system to submit an application for reappointment as a notary public.

Are there any exams or notary courses required to become an Iowa notary public or to renew my Iowa notary public commission?

Yes. Effective July 1, 2020, all first-time applicants seeking a notary public commission are required to complete a mandatory initial training course. Within the six-month period immediately prior to the submission of an Application for Appointment as Notary Public, an applicant must satisfactorily complete an initial training course approved by the Secretary of State concerning functions and duties of a notary public. The applicant must submit with the application satisfactory proof to the Secretary of State that the applicant has completed the initial training course in accordance with paragraph 721-43.5(3)(a) of the Iowa Administrative Code. To satisfy this mandatory education requirement, an individual can take an in-person seminar or complete an online training course.

 

A notary public who wishes to begin performing notarial acts for remotely located individuals under Iowa Code Section 9B.14A must, within the six-month period immediately prior to the first performance of such an act, satisfactorily complete a training course approved by the Secretary of State concerning the requirements and methods for performing notarial acts for remotely located individuals and must provide satisfactory proof to the Secretary of State that the applicant has completed the course. This training is in addition to the mandatory initial training course in accordance with paragraph 721-43.5(3)(b) of the Iowa Administrative Code.

 

An applicant for reappointment as a notary public who currently holds a notary public commission, who wishes to continue performing notarial acts for remotely located individuals, and who has satisfactorily completed the initial training course at least one time prior to the 12-month period immediately preceding application for reappointment shall, within the six-month period immediately prior to the deadline for application for reappointment, satisfactorily complete an update course approved by the Secretary of State concerning the requirements and methods for performing notarial acts for remotely located individuals and provide satisfactory proof to the Secretary of State that the applicant has completed the course in accordance with paragraph 721-43.5(3)(c) of the Iowa Administrative Code.

What is the process to become an Iowa electronic notary public?

The State of Iowa enacted the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts (2012), which authorizes electronic signatures used by Iowa notaries public. Moreover, Iowa has adopted the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act, including the provision on notarization and acknowledgment, which authorizes electronic signatures used by Iowa notaries. Section 554D.113 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 Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts (2012) required the document signer to personally appear before the notary public and be physically close enough to see, hear, communicate, and give identification credentials without the use of electronic devices such as telephones, computers, video cameras, or video conferences during the entire performance of the notarial act. However, effective July 1, 2020, the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts (2018), as enacted in Iowa Senate Bill 475 (2019 Iowa Acts Chapter 44) and codified in Title 1, Chapter 9B of the Iowa Code, authorizes Iowa notaries public to perform notarial acts for remotely located individuals. In addition, the Iowa Secretary of State has published final administrative rules to implement the new remote online notarization provisions under the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts (2018). 

 

Before you perform an initial notarial act as a notary public with respect to an electronic record, you must:  

  1. Notify the Secretary of State that you will be performing notarial acts with respect to electronic records.
  2. Identify the tamper-evident technology you intend to use to perform notarial acts with respect to electronic records, which must conform to the standards established by the Secretary of State by adopted rule.

 

Most importantly, effective July 1, 2020, the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts (2018) authorizes a notary public to perform a notarial act using communication technology for a remotely located individual that allows the notary and remotely located individual to communicate with each other simultaneously by sight and sound, which means the individual is not in the physical presence of the notary public who performs the notarial act. The Secretary of State’s newly promulgated rules provide that a notarized document is deemed to be in compliance with the requirements for a notarial act on an electronic record under Iowa Code Chapter 9B when either: (1) the notary public attaches an electronic notarial certificate that meets the requirements set out in Iowa Code Section 9B.15[3]; or (2) the document is submitted and accepted on the electronic document management system administered by the Iowa judicial branch. A notary public may select one or more tamper-evident technologies to perform notarial acts with respect to electronic records (IC 9B.20). However, a person must not require a notary public to perform a notarial act with respect to an electronic record with a technology that the notary has not selected. The liability, sanctions, and remedies for the improper performance of a notarial act with respect to an electronic record are the same under the state notary laws for the improper performance of a notarial act performed by a traditional notary public.

Can I perform remote (online) notarizations in Iowa?

Yes. Effective July 1, 2020, the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts (2018), as enacted in Iowa Senate Bill 475 (2019 Iowa Acts Chapter 44) and codified in Title 1, Chapter 9B of the Iowa Code, authorizes notaries public to perform notarial acts for remotely located individuals. In addition, the Iowa Secretary of State has published final administrative rules to implement and conform to the statutory provisions regarding the performance of notarial acts for remotely located individuals using two-way video and audio communication technology that meets the standards adopted by the Secretary of State. The new law clarifies that a notarial act for a remotely located individual satisfies any Iowa law requiring a principal signer to personally appear before a notary public for the performance of a notarial act. The remote notarial acts must conform to all of the provisions in Iowa Administrative Code 721-43, Iowa Code chapter 9B, and every provision of Section 6 of Senate File 475, passed in 2019. The new remote online notarization provisions clarify that if any conflict between the remote online notarization laws and any other Iowa law exists, the remote online notarization laws control.

What is the process to become an Iowa remote online notary public?

A notary public who wishes to begin performing notarial acts for remotely located individuals under Iowa Code Section 9B.14A must, within the six-month period immediately prior to the first performance of such an act, satisfactorily complete a training course approved by the Secretary of State concerning the requirements and methods for performing notarial acts for remotely located individuals and provide satisfactory proof to the Secretary of State that the applicant has completed the course. This training is in addition to the initial mandatory training course that all first-time applicants seeking appointments as notaries public are required to complete. The first-time applicant must submit with the application satisfactory proof to the Secretary of State that the applicant has completed the initial mandatory training course in accordance with paragraph 721-43.5(3)(a) of the Iowa Administrative Code.

 

Before a notary public performs his or her initial remote online notarization, the notary public must notify the Secretary of State that he or she will be performing remote online notarial acts for remotely located individuals.  The process is as follows:

  1. The notary public completes and files with the Secretary of State an additional application containing information indicating that the applicant meets the additional training and technology requirements of Iowa Code Section 9B.14A and the new adopted rules as well as any additional information the Secretary of State may require.
  2. Approval to perform notarial acts for remotely located individuals shall expire on the same date as the individual’s notary public commission.
  3. The Secretary of State will notify the notary two months prior to the expiration date and furnish the notary an application for reapproval.
  4. A notary who currently holds a notary public commission and who wishes to continue performing notarial acts for remotely located individuals must satisfactorily complete an updated remote online course approved by the Secretary of State within the six-month period immediately prior to the deadline for application for reappointment and provide satisfactory proof to the Secretary of State of completion of the course.
  5. A notary may submit the application for reappointment and application for reapproval at the same time.
  6. The notary shall notify the Secretary of State that he or she will be performing notarial acts with respect to remotely located individuals and identify the technologies he or she intends to use.
  7. The notary may not use any technology, including communication technology and identity proofing, that does not conform to the Secretary of State’s standards adopted by rule.

 

Some of the statutory requirements outlined in Iowa Code 9B.14A require a notary public to use a remote online notarization service designed for the purpose of facilitating remote online notarizations, and such services must include the identity-proofing technology, e-signing capability, and storage of notarial act recordings that a notary public will need. The verification of the remotely located individual’s identity is of great importance. Therefore, a notary public must make sure the video resolution is sufficient to see the identity-proofing documents distinctly and that the audio clarity is satisfactory to understand everything the remotely located individual verbalizes. A list of the remote notarization technology providers approved by the Iowa Secretary of State for use in Iowa appears on the Secretary of State’s website at: https://sos.iowa.gov/remotenotary. The registration form is also available to complete and submit on the Secretary of State’s website.

How long is the term of a notary public commission in Iowa?

For a resident of Iowa, the commission term of an Iowa notary public is for three years commencing with the date specified in the notary public commission (IC 9B.21[6]). For a resident of a state bordering Iowa, whose place of employment or practice is in Iowa, the commission term is one year commencing with the date specified in the notary public commission. For a member of the General Assembly, the commission term is equal to the member’s term of office.

Is an Iowa notary bond required to become a notary in Iowa?

No. The Iowa notary statute does not require applicants seeking appointment as notaries public or renewing notaries public to maintain a surety bond during the term of their notarial commissions. While a notary bond is not required by state notary statute, Iowa notaries public may elect to purchase a surety bond in the event the public sustains monetary losses caused by the notary’s unintentional or intentional negligence and/or official misconduct. If the surety company pays the assessed damages up to the limited amount of the surety bond as selected by the notary, the surety company will demand reimbursement from the notary public for all paid claims. It is not always possible to prevent a civil lawsuit, but a notary public can reduce its effects with a surety bond.

Do I need an Iowa notary errors and omission insurance?

An errors and omissions insurance policy is optional in Iowa. The American Association of Notaries strongly recommends that Iowa notaries obtain an errors and omissions insurance policy for their personal protection against liability. Errors and omissions insurance is designed to protect notaries from liability against unintentional notarial mistakes or omissions that result in financial or other type of loss to the public or a client for which a notary public is sued for recovery. An E&O policy customarily covers legal fees and damages based on the coverage an Iowa notary selects.

Where can I perform notarial acts in Iowa?

An Iowa notary public has statewide jurisdiction and may perform notarial acts anywhere within the geographical boundaries of the state of Iowa. Likewise, an Iowa notary public may not perform notarial acts outside the state of Iowa.

Who appoints Iowa notaries public?

The Iowa Secretary of States receives applications for appointment and reappointment for notaries public, electronic notaries public, and remote online notaries public and administers the commissioning process for all these types of notaries public. To contact the Iowa Secretary of State, use the following information:

 

Iowa Secretary of State
Notary Division
Lucas Building, 1st Floor
321 E. 12th Street
Des Moines, IA 50319
(515) 281-5204
Fax: (515) 242-5953
https://sos.iowa.gov/notaries/about.html

Do I need to purchase a notary stamp in Iowa?

Yes. Iowa notary laws require all notaries public to authenticate all their notarial acts with an official stamp (IC §9B.17). Section 9B.17 provides the information required on all official stamps. However, this section does not provide the legal specifications regarding the layout, ink color, shape, design, or measurements required on an official stamp.

 

Required Elements: A notary public shall provide and keep an official stamp, which shall clearly show, when stamped or affixed to a document, the following elements:

  1. The name of the notary public as it appears on the commission certificate.
  2. The words “Notarial Seal.”
  3. The word “Iowa.”
  4. The words “Commission Number” followed by the commission number.
  5. The words “My Commission Expires” followed either by the commission expiration date or a blank line to write in the expiration date.

 

Note: The official stamp of a notary public must be capable of being copied together with the record to which it is affixed or attached or with which it is logically associated. A notary public must promptly notify the Secretary of State upon discovering that his or her official stamp is lost or stolen. A notary public is responsible for the security of the notary’s stamping device and must not allow another individual to use the device to perform notarial acts.

Is a notary journal required in Iowa?

No. Iowa notary law does not require an Iowa notary public to record the performance of every notarial act in a journal. However, the American Association of Notaries highly recommends that Iowa notaries record all their notarial acts in a permanent, paper-bound journal with numbered pages to create and preserve a chronological record of every notarial act performed as a protective measure against allegations of fraudulent notarial acts and official misconduct. For Iowa notary supplies, visit the American Association of Notaries website at www.usnotaries.com, call 800.721.2663, or click here.

How much can an Iowa notary charge for performing notarial acts?

The Iowa notary statute does not set the maximum allowable notary fees that an Iowa notary public may charge for notarial acts; however, Iowa notaries are permitted to charge a reasonable fee for their notarial services.

What notarial acts can an Iowa notary public perform?

An Iowa notary public is authorized to perform the following notarial acts (IC §9B.2[5]):  

  • Take acknowledgments
  • Administer oaths and affirmations
  • Take verifications on oath or affirmation
  • Witness or attest signatures
  • Certify or attest a copy
  • Note protests of negotiable instruments

How do I update my address for my Iowa notary commission?

An Iowa notary public is legally required to notify the Secretary of State of any changes made to the information contained in his or her application for appointment as a notary public using the form prescribed by the Secretary of State within thirty days of such change. A non-resident notary public in a state bordering Iowa must also notify the Secretary of State of any changes made to the information contained in his or her application for appointment and/or any changes regarding the notary’s place of employment or practice in Iowa using the form prescribed by the Secretary of State within thirty days of such change. To download the Notary Public Change/Amendment to Application form, visit the Secretary of State website at: https://sos.iowa.gov/business/FormsAndFees.html#NC9B

Do I have to change my name on my notary commission in Iowa?

An Iowa notary public whose name has legally changed during the term of his or her notarial commission is required to complete and submit a “Notary Public Change/Amendment to Application” form to the Secretary of State immediately after the name change. These notaries may: (1) use their new names when performing notarial acts; or (2) continue to notarize under their commissioned names through the end of their commission terms. Occasionally, a third party requests certification of a commission. The Secretary of State cannot certify a commission when the notary’s name has changed and is different from what the records reflect. There is no charge to file a name change. To download the Notary Information Change form, visit the Secretary of State website at: https://sos.Iowa.gov/business/Pages/notary-public-forms.aspx.

Iowa notarial certificates:

Click here to view your state’s notarial certificates.  

 

Revised:  June 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. The 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 a Notary’s legal responsibility to know his or her state’s notary laws. You are advised to seek the advice of an attorney in your state if you have any legal questions regarding the performance of notarial acts and/or performing notarial acts for remotely located individuals.

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.