How to Become a North Carolina Notary
The North Carolina Notary Process:
Are you interested in becoming a North Carolina notary? Are you interested in generating extra income, starting your own North Carolina notary business, adding a notary title to your resume, or helping people in your community? The State of North Carolina appoints notaries to serve the public as unbiased impartial witnesses to document signing. Becoming a notary in North Carolina is a straightforward process, and as long as you meet the eligibility requirements listed below, you can apply to become a North Carolina notary. The American Association of Notaries has been helping individuals become notaries since 1994.
This guide will help you understand:
- Who can become a North Carolina notary
- The process to become a North Carolina notary
- Basic North Carolina notarial duties
What are the qualifications to become a North Carolina notary?
To become a North Carolina notary public, a notary applicant must meet the following requirements:
- Be at least 18 years of age or legally emancipated.
- Reside or have a regular place of work or business in North Carolina.
- Reside legally in the United States.
- Speak, read, and write the English language.
- Possess a high school diploma or equivalent.
- Pass the course of instruction described in Article 1 of Chapter 10B, unless the person is a licensed member of the North Carolina State Bar.
- Purchase and keep as a reference the most recent manual approved by the Secretary of State that describes the duties and authority of notaries public.
- Submit an application containing no significant misstatement or omission of fact.
- Not have been convicted of a felony or crime involving moral turpitude that has become final, unless a pardon or certificate of restoration of citizenship rights has been granted in the manner prescribed by law.
What is the process to become a North Carolina notary?
To become a North Carolina notary public and receive a North Carolina notary public commission, a notary applicant must:
- Meet the eligibility requirements provided in the previous section.
- Purchase and keep the most recent edition of the North Carolina Notary Public Manual.
- Successfully complete a six-hour notary public course approved by the Secretary of State. These courses are offered by community colleges.
- Pass a written examination approved by the Secretary of State with a score of 80% or better. (Attorneys licensed by the North Carolina Bar are exempt from the written exam requirement.)
- Complete an application within three months after the course completion and have it notarized. To download the application, go to https://www.sosnc.gov/forms/by_title/_notary. The application form must be signed and dated by the course instructor for a first-time applicant.
- Mail the notarized application to the Secretary of State, along with the $50 fee. (Non-citizens must also provide with their applications a copy of an unexpired U.S. government-issued document that permits them to reside and work in the United States, such as a permanent resident card Form I-551, an employment authorization card/document, or a visa.)
- After receiving the oath notification letter, go to the register of deeds in the county in which the commission is issued to take the oath of office within 45 days of the issue date listed on the oath notification. The register of deeds’ fee for administering the oaths is $10.
- Secure the Notary Commission Certificate from the register of deeds after the oath.
Note: If 45 days lapse before the oath is taken, a new application and a $50 filing fee must be resubmitted. Notary appointments are NOT valid until the oath of office is taken.
Can a non-resident become a notary in North Carolina?
Yes. An individual who resides in a state adjoining North Carolina may apply to become a North Carolina notary public if the non-resident meets the following requirements (GS §10B-5). The non-resident must:
- Have a regular place of work or business in North Carolina.
- Satisfy the same qualifications as North Carolina residents, setting aside the residency requirements.
- Follow the same application procedures as North Carolina residents, including taking a course of classroom instruction of not less than six hours and taking a written examination.
- Submit a proof of employment statement from the employer on company letterhead to be commissioned in the North Carolina county where he or she is employed.
- Continuously maintain and have a place of employment or business in North Carolina.
- Relinquish the notary’s commission if the non-resident notary ceases to have a place of employment or business in North Carolina.
How much does it cost to become a notary in North Carolina?
A North Carolina notary applicant’s expenses may include the following:
- A $50 filing fee to process an application for appointment or reappointment as a notary public.
- Fees for a notary public education course and written examination.
- The cost of the most recent North Carolina Notary Public Manual.
- The cost of an official seal.
- The cost of a notary journal to record all notarial acts performed by the notary public if the notary wishes to adhere to the recommendations of the Department of the Secretary of State.
- The fee for a notary surety bond if the notary wishes to purchase one to protect the public or a document signer from financial damages.
- The cost of an E&O insurance policy if a notary wishes to purchase one for his or her personal protection against liability.
How do I renew my North Carolina notary commission?
North Carolina notaries public may apply for reappointment as a notary public no earlier than ten weeks before the expiration date of their current notary public commission. To qualify for reappointment as a notary public, North Carolina notaries must pass a written examination approved and administered by the Secretary of State with a score of 80% or better. Renewing notaries may submit their application for reappointment online with the Secretary of State for a fee of $52.
If a notary public does not submit his or her application for reappointment before his or her notary public commission expires, this individual:
- May apply for recommissioning within one year after the expiration of the notary’s commission.
- Must follow the same application process and procedures as the initial applicant for appointment as a notary public.
- Must fulfill the mandatory educational requirement under G.S. 10B-8(a), unless the Secretary of State waives that requirement (GS §10B-11).
The Department of Secretary of State is not bound by prior determinations of eligibility. To apply for reappointment as a notary public, go to the North Carolina Secretary of State's website.
Are there any exams or notary courses required to become a North Carolina notary public or to renew my North Carolina notary public commission?
Yes. Every new applicant seeking a commission as a North Carolina notary public must take and successfully complete a six-hour notary course of classroom instruction approved by the Secretary of State (GS §10B-8a). The content of the course of instruction and the written examinations must involve notarial laws, procedures, and ethics. Furthermore, every applicant for an initial notary public commission must submit an application within three months of successfully completing the mandatory notary course and written examination. A first-time notary applicant must have his or her instructor sign and date the notary application. These approved notary courses are offered by local community colleges.
All new applicants and notaries reapplying for a subsequent notary public commission must:
- Purchase and keep the most recent North Carolina Notary Public Manual.
- Take a written examination approved by and administered by or under the direction of the Secretary of State.
- Pass the written examination with a score of 80% or better.
Exempt from the mandatory notary course and written examination are licensed members of the North Carolina State Bar (GS §10B-8). North Carolina licensed attorneys, although exempt, are strongly encouraged by the Secretary of State to take the mandatory notary course. Attorneys are also required to possess the most current notary public manual. Also exempt from the written examination requirement are notaries public who have been continuously commissioned in North Carolina since July 10, 1991 and have never been disciplined by the Secretary State (GS §10B-11[b]). The first-time notary applicants or renewing notaries can take the written examination three times in thirty days; however, if such individuals fail to pass the examination, they must take the mandatory notary course again.
Can I perform electronic notarization in North Carolina?
Yes. In 2005, the State of North Carolina enacted “Electronic Notary Act,” Chapter 10A, Article 2, of the North Carolina General Statutes, authorizing North Carolina notaries public to obtain an electronic signature and electronic seal to notarize electronic records in the physical presence of the individual seeking the notarization. Furthermore, the North Carolina Department of the Secretary of State published administrative rules titled “Electronic Notary Standards,” effective January 1, 2007, to implement the Electronic Notary Act and the “Uniform Real Property Electronic Recording Act,” Article 1A of Chapter 47 of the General Statutes. These administrative rules provide electronic notarization provisions and establish standards, guidelines, and procedures for electronic notaries who elect to perform notarial acts with respect to electronic records.
What is the process to become a North Carolina electronic notary public?
To register as an electronic notary, the applicant must:
- Be a current, active North Carolina notary public.
- Successfully complete a three-hour Electronic Notarization Course at a local community college.
- Pass the written examination with a score of 80% or better.
- Purchase the North Carolina Electronic Notarization Manual.
- Complete the registration form online.
- Print the registration form and have it notarized.
- Submit the notarized registration form to the Department of the Secretary of State with a $50 registration fee.
- Take the oath of office at the appropriate register of deeds within 45 days of the issue date of the Electronic Notary Oath Notification Letter. (Upon approval, the Secretary of State sends out the Electronic Notary Oath Notarization Letter.)
- Secure from the register of deeds the Electronic Notary Certificate to Perform Electronic Notarizations.
- Purchase an electronic notary signature and seal from an authorized electronic notary solution provider. (A list of approved providers is available online at https://www.sosnc.gov/divisions/notary/e_notary_solution_providers.)
- The Electronic Notary Certificate will expire on the same date as the notary’s commission, and both may be renewed at the same time (GS §10B-106[b] and [c]).
All legal requirements and elements of paper-based notarizations apply to electronic notarizations. Most importantly, the state notary statute requires that a principal signer must personally appear before a notary public and/or electronic notary for the performance of a notarial act. “When an electronic notary performs an electronic notarization, the principal and the electronic notary must be in each other’s physical presence during the entire electronic notarization so that the principal and the electronic notary can see, hear, communicate with, and give identification documents as required under G.S. 10B-3(22) to each other without the use of electronic devices such as telephones, computers, video cameras, or facsimile machines” (18 NCAC 07C.0403). Access to electronic notary signatures and electronic notary seals shall be protected by the use of a password, token, biometric, or other form of authentication approved by the Secretary of State (18 NCAC 07C.0604). To initiate the application process for electronic notary, visit the North Carolina Secretary of State's website at https://www.sosnc.gov/divisions/notary/become_an_enotary
Can I perform remote (online) notarizations in North Carolina?
No. Currently, North Carolina notaries public are prohibited from performing remote online notarizations. The North Carolina notary statute dictates that a principal signer must personally appear before a notary public and be physically close enough to see, hear, communicate with, and give identification documents to the notary as required under G.S. 10B-3(22) without the use of electronic devices such as telephones, computers, video cameras, or facsimile machines during the entire performance of a paper-based notarial act or electronic notarization (GS §10B-116; 18 NCAC 07C.0403). There are no exceptions to the legal requirement that the principal signer must be in the physical presence of the notary public and/or electronic notary for each and every notarial act and electronic notarization performed. Therefore, North Carolina notaries public are prohibited from performing remote online notarizations.
How long is the term of a notary public commission in North Carolina?
The commission term of a North Carolina notary public is five years commencing with the date specified in the notary public commission (GS §10B-9). However, a notary’s commission may be rendered void:
- By resignation, death, or revocation.
- When a notary public is no longer a resident of North Carolina during the notary’s commission term.
- When a notary is no longer a citizen or permanent legal resident of the United States.
- When a notary loses his or her capability to read and write English.
- When a non-resident notary no longer has a regular place of work or business in North Carolina.
- When an attorney-notary is no longer licensed to practice law in North Carolina.
- When a notary has been convicted of a felony offense and the notary’s civil rights have not been restored, or he or she has been convicted of a lesser offense involving moral turpitude or and offense of a nature that is incompatible with the duties of a notary public.
Is a North Carolina notary bond required to become a notary in North Carolina?
No. New applicants seeking an appointment as a notary public and renewing notaries are not required by state notary statute to obtain a notary bond to be commissioned as a notary public in North Carolina. A notary public is liable to any person for damages that result from his or her negligence, errors, official malfeasance, or omissions. North Carolina notaries are encouraged to purchase a notary surety bond to insure themselves against such claims.
Do I need a North Carolina notary errors and omission insurance?
No. An errors and omissions insurance policy is optional in North Carolina. It is not mandatory to have E&O insurance when applying for appointment or reappointment as notary public. The American Association of Notaries, however, highly recommends that North Carolina notaries public obtain an errors and omissions insurance policy for their personal protection against liability. Errors and omissions insurance is designed to protect notaries public from liability against unintentional notarial mistakes or omissions that could result in financial or other type of loss to the public or a document signer and for which a notary public might be sued for recovery. An E&O policy customarily covers legal fees and damages based on the coverage a North Carolina notary public selects. To obtain 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 North Carolina?
North Carolina notaries public may perform notarial acts anywhere within the geographic borders of the state of North Carolina (GS §10B-9). A North Carolina notary public commission is only valid in North Carolina.
Who appoints North Carolina notaries public?
The North Carolina Secretary of State appoints North Carolina notaries public. The North Carolina Secretary of States receives applications for appointment and reappointment as a notary public or electronic notary, administers the commissioning process, and maintains an electronic database of active notaries. Contact information for the North Carolina Secretary of State is as follows:
NC Department of the Secretary of State
Notary Public Section
PO Box 29626
Raleigh, NC 27626-0626
Do I need to purchase a notary stamp in North Carolina?
Yes. The North Carolina notary statute requires all North Carolina notaries public to use an official seal or stamp near the notary’s official signature on the notarial certificate of a record (GS §10B-36). The official seal shall be affixed only after the notarial act is performed. Section 10B-37 provides the legal specifications regarding the layout and the information required on all official seals and stamps.
Dimensions: The notary seal may be either circular or rectangular in shape. The circular seal must not be less than 1 ½ inches or more than 2 inches in diameter. The rectangular seal must not be over 1 inch high and 2 ½ inches long. The perimeter of the seal must contain a border that is visible when impressed.
Required Elements: A notary’s official seal or stamp shall include all of the following elements:
- The notary’s name exactly as commissioned
- The words "Notary Public"
- The words "North Carolina" or the abbreviation “N.C.” or “NC”
- The county of commissioning, including the word “County” or the abbreviation “Co.”
Note: A notarial seal, as it appears on a record, may contain the permanently imprinted, handwritten, or typed date the notary’s commission expires. Alterations to any information contained within the seal as embossed or stamped on the record are prohibited. A notary public must notify the appropriate register of deeds and the Secretary of State in writing within ten days of discovering the notary’s seal has been lost or stolen. In the case of theft or vandalism, a notary public must inform the appropriate law enforcement agency. After resignation, revocation, expiration of a notary commission, or death of a notary public, the notary’s official seal must be delivered to the Secretary of State for disposal (GS §10B-36).
Is a notary journal required in North Carolina?
No. The North Carolina notary statute does not require North Carolina notaries public to record all the notarial acts they perform in a journal. While a notary journal is not required by state notary statute, the Department of the Secretary of State and the American Association of Notaries highly recommend that North Carolina notaries record their official notarial acts in a journal in the event they need to recall the specifics of a particular notarization or they are legally challenged. The American Association of Notaries also recommends that North Carolina notaries public maintain a permanent, paper-bound journal with numbered pages to create and preserve a chronological record of every notarial act as a protective measure against allegations of fraudulent notarial acts and official misconduct. North Carolina notaries public may find that maintaining a notary journal can be an essential notarial tool in the performance of their notarial duties and that it may one day be imperative for their protection against liability. For North Carolina notary supplies, visit the American Association of Notaries website at www.usnotaries.com, call 800.721.2663, or click here.
How much can a North Carolina notary charge for performing notarial acts?
North Carolina notary fees are set by state notary statute (GS §10B-31). The maximum allowable fees that a North Carolina notary public may charge for notarial acts are listed below:
- Acknowledgments - $5.00 per signature.
- Oaths or affirmations - $5.00 per signature.
- Verifications or proofs - $5.00 per signature.
- Oaths or affirmations without a signature - $5.00
- An electronic notarial act performed by an electronic notary - $10.00 per signature.
Note: “A notary shall not discriminatorily condition the fee for a notarial act on any attribute of the principal that would constitute unlawful discrimination” (GS §10B-30[b]). Notaries public may not charge a fee for mileage or travel when performing a notarial act. “A notary may not charge any fee for witnessing and affixing a notarial seal to an absentee ballot application or certificate under GS 163-231” (GS §10B-30[d]). “Notaries who charge for their notarial services shall conspicuously display in their places of business, or present to each principal outside their place of business, an English-language schedule of fees for notarial acts. No part of any notarial fee schedule shall be printed in smaller than 10-point type” (GS §10B-32).
What notarial acts can a North Carolina notary public perform?
A North Carolina notary public is authorized to perform the following notarial acts (GS §10B-20a):
- Take acknowledgments
- Administer oaths and affirmations
- Execute verifications or proofs
Very Important. No notary public commissions shall be effective prior to the administration of the oath of office. Any notarial acts performed before the administration of the oath of office, either the original commissioning or recommissioning, are invalid (GS §10-9).
How do I update my address for my North Carolina notary commission?
“Within 45 days after the change of a notary’s residence, business, mailing address, telephone number, or county, the notary shall send to the Secretary by fax, email, or certified mail, return receipt requested, a signed notice of the change, giving both the old and new addresses or telephone numbers” (GS §10B-50). A notary public who has moved to another county in North Carolina remains commissioned until the current commission expires. The notary may continue to notarize using the official seal for the previous county of commission. Upon renewal of the notary’s commission, the notary public must purchase a new seal containing the name of the new county of commission (GS §10B-52). To update your notary information online, click here: https://www.sosnc.gov/forms/by_title/_notary.
Do I have to change my name on my notary commission in North Carolina?
Within 45 days after the legal change of a notary’s name, the notary public must send to the Secretary of State by fax, email, or certified mail, return receipt requested, a signed notice of the change by including both the notary’s former name and new name (GS §10B-51). A North Carolina notary public with a new name may continue to use the former name in performing notarial acts until all of the following steps have been completed:
- The notary receives a confirmation of Notary’s Name Change from the Secretary of State.
- The notary appears before the register of deeds to which the commission was delivered within 45 days of the effective date of the change to be duly qualified by taking the oath of office under the new name and to have the notary’s record changed to reflect the new commission name.
- The notary obtains a new seal bearing the new name exactly as that name appears in the confirmation from the Secretary of State.
- The notary returns his or her old seal to the Secretary of State by certified mail, return receipt requested.
Upon completion of the above-mentioned requirements, the notary shall use the new name. A notary public who fails to follow the name change steps may be disciplined by the Secretary of State. To update your notary information online, click here: https://www.sosnc.gov/forms/by_title/_notary.
Revised: September 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.