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 as a notary, starting your own North Carolina notary business, adding a North Carolina notary title to your resume, or helping to notarize documents for people in your community? North Carolina notaries are appointed by the state to serve the public as an unbiased impartial witnesses to document signing. The process to become a notary in North Carolina a straightforward process, and as long as you meet the state notary law requirements listed below, you can apply to become a North Carolina notary. The American Association of Notaries can help you with the North Carolina notary application process from start to finish, and when your application is approved, we can manufacture your notary stamp and notary supplies and provide you with support during your North Carolina notary commission term so you can fulfill your notary duties accurately. The American Association of Notaries has been helping individuals become notaries since 1994. We can help you, too, become a notary!
This guide will help you understand:
- The process to become a North Carolina notary
- Who can become a North Carolina notary
- Basic North Carolina notary duties
What are the qualifications to become a North Carolina notary?
To become a notary in the State of North Carolina, 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 the Notary Public statute, 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 that describes the duties and authority of notaries public.
- Not have been convicted of a felony or crime involving moral turpitude.
What is the process to become a North Carolina notary?
In order 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. Such 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 course completion and have it notarized. (To download the application, click here: 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. (Noncitizens must also provide a copy of their I-551 permanent resident card with their application.)
- After receiving the oath notification letter, and within 45 days, go to the Register of Deeds in the county in which the commission is issued to take the oath of office and pay a $10 fee for the oath.
- 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.
Can a non-resident become a notary in North Carolina?
Yes, a nonresident may apply for a commission as a North Carolina notary public. The nonresident must: (1) have a regular place of work or business in North Carolina; (2) be commissioned in the county of his or her employment or business; (3) meet all of the legal requirements required of a North Carolina resident; and (4) submit a proof of employment statement from his or her employer on company letterhead.
How much does it cost to become a notary in North Carolina?
A North Carolina notary applicant’s expenses may include the cost for the following: (1) a $50 filing fee to process the application for appointment or reappointment; (2) a notary stamp; (3) a notary journal if the notary wishes to be in accord with the recommendations of the North Carolina Secretary of State; (4) a notary surety bond if the notary wishes to purchase one to protect the public or a document signer from financial damages; and (5) an E&O insurance policy if a notary wishes to maintain one for their own personal legal and financial protection.
How do I renew my North Carolina notary commission?
A commissioned notary public may apply for recommissioning no earlier than ten weeks prior to the expiration date of the notary’s commission. A notary whose commission has not expired must: (1) meet the statutory eligibility requirements; (2) pass a written examination approved by the Secretary of State with a score of 80% or better; (3) purchase and keep the most recent NC notary public manual; (4) submit a completed and notarized application to the Secretary of State with a $50 filing fee; (5) go to the Register of Deeds in the county in which the commission is issued to take the oath of office, and pay a $10 fee for the oath. The oath must be taken within 45 days of the issue date listed on the oath notification letter. A commissioned notary does not have to retake the notary education course to be recommissioned.
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. These approved notary courses are offered by the local community colleges. Furthermore, every new applicant applying for a notary public commission must submit an application within three months of successfully completing the required course and written examination (GS 10B-8a).
All new applicants and notaries reapplying for a subsequent commission must: (1) purchase and keep the most recent NC notary public manual; and (2) pass a written examination approved by the Secretary of State with a score of 80% or better. Exempt from the notary course and exam requirements are licensed members of the North Carolina State Bar (GS 10B-8). Also exempt from the written examination requirement are notaries who have been continuously commissioned in North Carolina since July 10, 1991 and have not been disciplined by the Secretary State (GS 10B-11[b]).
Can I perform electronic notarization in North Carolina?
Yes. In 2005, North Carolina enacted “Electronic Notary Act,” Chapter 10A,Article 2 of the North Carolina General Statutes. In addition, effective January 1, 2007, North Carolina adopted administrative rules titled “Electronic Notary Standards” to implement G.S. 10B, Article 2 (“Electronic Notary Act”) and GS 47, Article 1A, “Uniform Real Property Electronic Recording Act.” These administrative rules for performing electronic notarial acts were to establish standards, guidelines, and procedures for notaries public who elect to perform electronic notarial acts. These rules mandate that prior to performing electronic notarial acts, a commissioned North Carolina notary public must register his or her capability to notarize electronically with the Secretary of State.
To become an electronic notary, the applicant must: (1) hold a North Carolina notary commission; (2) successfully complete a three-hour electronic notarization course at the local community college and pass the exam with a score of 80% or better; (3) purchase the NC “Electronic Notarization Manual”; (4) complete an application and have it notarized; (5) submit the notarized application with a $50 filing fee to the Secretary of State; (6) take the oath at the appropriate register of deeds within 45 days of the issue date of the electronic notary oath notification letter; and (7) secure the Electronic Notary Certificate to Perform Electronic Notarizations from the Register of Deeds.
The Electronic Notary Certificate will expire on the same date as the notary’s commission, and both may be renewed at the same time. All legal requirements and elements of paper-based notarizations apply to electronic notarizations. Most importantly, North Carolina state laws require that a principal signer must personally appear before an electronic notary 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 the electronic notarization, just as with a paper-based notarial act (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. “Access to electronic notary signatures and electronic notary seals must be protected by the use of a password, token, biometric, or other form of authentication approved by the Department…” (18 NCAC 07C.0604).
Can I perform remote (online) notarizations in North Carolina?
No. Currently, North Carolina notaries public are prohibited from performing remote (online) notarizations. North Carolina state laws require 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 (webcam) notarizations.
How long is the term of a notary public commission in North Carolina?
The term of office of a North Carolina 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 revocation; (3) by death; (4) when the notary public ceases to reside in North Carolina; (5) when the notary is no longer a citizen or permanent legal resident of the United States; (6) when the nonresident notary public ceases to have a place of employment or business in North Carolina; or (7) when the notary is convicted of a felony.
Is a North Carolina notary bond required to become a notary in North Carolina?
No. Notary applicants for appointments and reappointments are not required to purchase a notary surety bond to meet the statutory requirements to become a North Carolina notary public.
Do I need a North Carolina notary errors and omission insurance?
A notary errors and omissions insurance policy is optional. However, the American Association of Notaries strongly recommends that North Carolina notaries public obtain errors and omissions insurance 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 damages to the public or a document signer. An E&O policy customarily covers legal fees and damages based on the coverage a North Carolina notary public selects. To purchase this insurance policy, visit our website at www.usnotaries.com or call 800.721.2663.
Where can I perform notarial acts in North Carolina?
North Carolina notaries public have statewide jurisdiction, and they must be physically within the geographic borders of the state of North Carolina.
Who appoints North Carolina notaries public?
The North Carolina Secretary of State appoints North Carolina notaries public. To contact the North Carolina Secretary of State, use the following information:
State of North Carolina
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. North Carolina notary law requires all North Carolina notaries public to use either an embosser seal or a rubber inked stamp near the notary’s signature on every paper record notarized (GS 10B-36). Section 10B-37 provides the legal specifications regarding the layout and the information required on all official seals and stamps.
Dimensions: The 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: The official seal or stamp of a North Carolina notary public must contain 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: An official seal or stamp may contain the permanently imprinted,handwritten, or typed date the notary’s commission expires. Alterations are prohibited to any information contained within the seal as embossed or stamped on the record. The notary public must notify the appropriate register of deeds and the Secretary of State in writing within ten days of discovering the theft, loss, or damage of their seal official or stamp.
Is a notary journal required in North Carolina?
No. The North Carolina notary laws do not require North Carolina notaries public to record their notarial acts in a journal. While the practice is not required by state law, the North Carolina Secretary of State recommends that every notary keep a chronological journal record of every notarial act to protect the notary, the public, and the integrity of the transaction. 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 liability. For North Carolina notary supplies, visit our website at www.usnotaries.com or call 800.721.2663.
How much can a North Carolina notary charge for performing notarial acts?
North Carolina notary fees are set by 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
- Oaths or affirmations - $5.00
- Verifications or proofs - $5.00
- Oaths or affirmations without a signature - $5.00
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
How do I update my address with the North Carolina Secretary of State?
“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 of State 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). If the county changes due to the notary’s address change, the notary should continue to use the seal or stamp for the previous county of commission until the expiration of the current commission.Upon renewal of the notary’s commission, the notary must purchase a new seal containing the name of the new county of commission. To download the change of address form, 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 change that includes both the notary’s former name and new name. After receiving an oath notification letter from the Secretary of State, the notary must appear before the register of deeds within 45 days to take the oath and have the notary public record changed to reflect the new commissioned name (GS 10B-51). The notary must purchase a new seal that contains the new name. To download the name change form, click here: https://www.sosnc.gov/divisions/notary.
North Carolina notarial certificates:
Click here to view your state's notarial certificates.
Revised: July 2019
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.
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.