How to Become a Notary in Rhode Island
To become a notary in Rhode Island, you must:
- Meet the eligibility requirements detailed in the next section.
- Review the educational resources and take the Notary Knowledge Assessment on the Rhode Island (RI) Department of State’s website.
- Complete and print the notary application form.
- Sign the oath of office section of the notary application in the presence of a notary public. The RI Department of State’s office has notaries available to notarize the oath of office if you plan to hand deliver the notary application.
- Mail or personally hand deliver the completed notary application and the non-refundable $80 filing fee to the RI Department of State.
If your application is approved, you will receive a notary commission certificate by mail a week later.
Note: Attorneys must include a copy of their most recent RI Bar Association membership card, and Certified Public Accountants (CPA) must include a copy of their most recent membership card with their notary applications.
Who can become a notary public in Rhode Island?
To become a notary in the state of Rhode Island, you must meet the following requirements:
- Be at least eighteen years of age.
- Be a citizen or permanent legal resident of the United States.
- Be a resident of or have a place of employment or practice in Rhode Island.
- Be able to read and write English.
- Not be disqualified from receiving a commission under §42-30.1-16.
- Demonstrate sufficient knowledge of the powers and duties pertaining to the office of a notary public.
Attorneys and CPAs who apply to become notaries may meet one of the requirements listed below in lieu of meeting the residency/nonresident requirement:
- Be an attorney in good standing applying as a member of the RI Bar Association
- Be a certified public accountant in good standing applying as a certified RI licensee
This Rhode Island notary guide will help you understand the following:
- Who can become a notary in Rhode Island.
- How to become a notary in Rhode Island.
- The basic duties of a notary in Rhode Island.
How do I renew my notary commission in Rhode Island?
To renew your notary commission in Rhode Island, you must:
- Review the RIGL §42-30.1 and the Standards of Conduct for changes to Rhode Island’s notary laws.
- Find your Notary ID number; you can look it up on the RI Department of State’s website at https://business.sos.ri.gov/PublicNotarySearch/Home
- Complete and print the notary renewal form.
- Have a notary public notarize the oath of office section in the notary application. The RI Department of State’s office has notaries available to complete this step.
- Mail or bring the notary renewal application with the non-refundable $80 filing fee to the RI Department of State.
Approximately two months prior to your commission expiration date, the RI Department of State will mail a courtesy renewal notice to your address on record. The RI Department of State must receive your renewal application before your commission expiration date if you wish to maintain the same expiration month and day.
A notary who submits a renewal application thirty days after their commission expiration date is considered a new notary applicant for qualification purposes and must meet all new notary filing requirements. This includes demonstrating sufficient knowledge of the powers and duties pertaining to the office by taking the Notary Knowledge Assessment.
Note: Attorneys must include a copy of their most recent RI Bar Association membership card, and Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) must include a copy of their most recent membership card with their notary renewal application.
Who appoints notaries in Rhode Island?
The governor appoints notaries in Rhode Island. The RI Department of State is responsible for processing notary applications, regulating notaries, maintaining records on notaries, and authenticating RI public officials’ signatures.
The RI Department of State can be contacted at:
Can a non-resident of Rhode Island apply for a commission as a notary public?
Yes. Non-resident applicants with a place of employment or practice in Rhode Island may apply for a Rhode Island notary public commission [R.I. Gen. Laws §42-30.1-15(b)(3)].
Also, [R.I. Gen. Laws §42-30.1-15(c)] states, “A member in good standing of the Rhode Island Bar and certified public accountants under §5-3.1-5, shall, regardless of residence, be appointed a notary public upon application and presentment of a certified copy of their certificate of admission to the bar or certificate of public accountancy.”
How long is a notary public's commission term in Rhode Island?
The term of office of a Rhode Island notary public is four years commencing with the date specified in the notary commission certificate. However, a notary's commission may be rendered void:
- By resignation, death, or revocation.
- If the notary public is no longer a resident of the state of Rhode Island.
- If the non-resident notary no longer has a place of employment or practice in Rhode Island.
- If the notary is no longer a citizen or permanent legal resident of the United States.
- If the notary is convicted of a felony.
- If an attorney notary or a certified public accountant notary is no longer in good standing.
Is notary training or an exam required to become a notary or to renew a notary commission in Rhode Island?
A new notary applicant seeking a commission as a Rhode Island notary public must demonstrate sufficient knowledge of the powers and duties of a notary public [R.I. Gen. Laws §42-30.1-15(b)(6)].
The RI Department of State’s website provides a Notary Knowledge Assessment. This multi-question tool is available to help notary applicants demonstrate sufficient knowledge for a notary public commission. Notary applicants who receive a score of less than 80 percent are strongly encouraged by the RI Department of State to review the Notary Public Manual and, if necessary, take the assessment again.
How much does it cost to become a notary public in Rhode Island?
To become a notary public in Rhode Island, you must pay the following:
- A fee to have the oath of office section of the notary application notarized.
- The $80 filing fee for processing your notary application.
Other expenses include the cost of purchasing:
- A notary stamp.
- A notary journal to record all the notarial acts you perform.
- An errors and omissions insurance policy to protect yourself if you are sued for unintentional mistakes or if a false claim is filed against you as a notary. (This policy is optional.)
Do I need a notary errors and omissions (E&O) insurance policy to become a notary in Rhode Island?
A notary errors and omissions (E&O) insurance policy is optional in Rhode Island and is not required to become a Rhode Island notary public or to renew your notary commission. However, the American Association of Notaries strongly recommends that every Rhode Island notary obtain a notary E&O insurance policy. This insurance protects you from a claim if a client sues you as a notary. An E&O policy covers unintentional notarial mistakes and pays for legal fees and damages based on the coverage a Rhode Island notary public selects.
Do I need a notary bond to become a notary in Rhode Island?
Rhode Island does not require a notary bond to become a notary public or to renew your notary public commission.
Note: A notary public is liable to any person for damages that result from their negligence, errors, official malfeasance, or omissions. Rhode Island notaries are encouraged to purchase a notary E&O insurance policy to insure themselves against such claims.
Do I need to order a notary stamp in Rhode Island?
Yes. Rhode Island general law requires you to use a notary stamp when notarizing documents. Section §42-30.1-13 of the Rhode Island general laws provides the legal specifications regarding the layout and the information required on all official stamps. 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 and must include the following:
- The notary public’s name exactly how it appears on their notary commission
- The words “notary public”
- The jurisdiction (e.g., Rhode Island or State of Rhode Island)
- Any other information required by the rules of the commissioning agency
The RI Department of State also requires the notary stamp to:
- Be in round (circular) or rectangular form.
- Have an edge border surrounding the required elements of the stamp.
Note: A notary stamp can include a notary’s identification number and commission expiration date.
To order a Rhode Island notary stamp, complete notary package, and notary supplies, please visit the American Association of Notaries website at https://www.notarypublicstamps.com/notary-stamps/rhode-island.
How much can a Rhode Island notary public charge for performing notarial acts?
The maximum Rhode Island notarial fees are set by R.I. Gen. Laws §42-30.1-20.1.
A notary public may charge a fee not to exceed $25 per document or notarization, whether performing a traditional notarization or a notarization for a remotely located individual. All fees must be disclosed to any person utilizing the services of the notary public prior to the performance of the notarial act. All fees must also be posted in a conspicuous place in the notary’s place of business or be provided upon request.
Is a notary journal required in Rhode Island?
A notary journal (also known as a record book, log book, or register book) is your first line of defense in proving your innocence if a notarial act you performed is questioned or if you are requested to testify in a court of law about a notarial act you performed in the past. A properly recorded notarial act creates a paper trail that will help investigators locate and prosecute signers who have committed forgery and fraud. Properly recorded notarial acts provide evidence that you followed your state laws and notary’s best practices.
Notary journal requirements in Rhode Island for traditional notarizations, electronic notarizations and remote online notarizations - Rhode Island notaries are not required by law to record their notarial acts in a notary journal. However, RI Notary Public Standards of Conduct strongly recommends that all notarial acts be recorded in a notary journal. A journal can be maintained either on a permanently bound book that creates and preserves a chronological record or in an electronic format.
The American Association of Notaries offers a wide variety of notary journals.
Click here to purchase a tangible notary journal.
Click here to become a member and access our electronic notary journal.
What information must Rhode Island notaries record in their notary journals?
If you decide to maintain a notary journal; the RI Notary Public Standards of Conduct strongly recommends recording the following information when performing traditional, electronic, and remote notarizations:
- The date and time of the notarial act, proceeding or transaction.
- The type of notarial act.
- The type, title or a description of the document, transaction or proceeding. If multiple documents are signed by the same principal in the course of a transaction or during a single time (i.e., real estate closings, mortgage discharges, state laboratory drug analysis certificates, etc.), a single journal entry shall be sufficient.
- The signature, printed name and address of each principal and witness.
- The fee, if any, charged for the notarial act.
- A description of the satisfactory evidence of identity of each person including:
- A statement that the person is “personally known to me;” or
- A notation of the type of identification document, the issuing agency, its serial or identification number and its date of issuance or expiration. If the identification number on the document is the person’s Social Security number, instead of including the number, write in the words “Social Security number” or the acronym “SSN;” or
- A notation if the notary public identified the individual on the oath or affirmation of a credible witness.
Other required information (if applicable):
- The name of the credible witness and the identification used to identify the individual.
- A comment of how the notary communicated with the deaf signer.
- The circumstances for not completing a notarial act.
Where can I perform notarial acts in Rhode Island?
You may perform notarial acts while you are physically anywhere within the geographic borders of the state of Rhode Island.
What notarial acts can a Rhode Island notary public perform?
A Rhode Island notary public is authorized to perform the following notarial acts [R.I. Gen. Laws §42-30.1-2(10)]:
- Take acknowledgments
- Administer oaths or affirmations
- Take verifications upon oath or affirmation
- Witness or attest signatures
- Certify or attest copies
- Note protest of negotiable instrument and transact, do, and finish all matters and things relating to protests and protesting bills of exchange and promissory notes and all other matters within their office required by law
- Take depositions as prescribed by law
- Take acknowledgments of deeds and other instruments
- Issue subpoenas to summon witnesses (R.I. Gen. Laws §9-17-3)
Can I perform electronic notarizations in Rhode Island?
Yes. Effective January 1, 2019, Rhode Island enacted the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts, allowing notaries public to obtain an electronic signature and seal to notarize electronic records in the physical presence of the individual seeking the electronic notarization. See the next section to learn how to become an electronic notary public in Rhode Island.
What is the process to become a Rhode Island electronic notary public?
To become an electronic notary in Rhode Island, you must:
- Choose a Rhode Island-approved electronic notary solution vendor. You can find a solution provider list on the RI Department of State’s website at https://docs.sos.ri.gov/documents/businessservices/Rhode-Island-Approved-Electronic-Notary-Solution-Vendors.pdf
- Print and complete the Notary Public Information Update form.
- Mail the Notary Public Information Update form with a copy of your electronic signature and official electronic stamp to the Department of State.
Once you successfully complete all registration requirements, the RI Department of State will email you an approval letter confirming that you may act as an electronic notary public.
Can I perform remote online notarizations in Rhode Island?
Yes. You can apply to perform remote online notarizations in Rhode Island if you are a current notary. Read the next section to learn how to apply.
How do I become a remote online notary in Rhode Island?
To become a remote online notary, you must:
- Hold an active notary public commission.
- Read and understand the updated Standards of Conduct.
- Purchase a subscription from an approved solution provider listed on the Rhode Island Department of State's website.
- Complete any training provided by the selected solution provider.
- Obtain a digital stamp and digital signature from your solution provider.
- Download and complete the Notary Public Information Update form.
- Mail the Notary Public Information Update form with a copy of your digital stamp and digital signature to the Rhode Island Department of State.
- Await confirmation via email of your approval from the Rhode Island Department of State.
How do I update my address on my Rhode Island notary commission?
If your business or residence address, employment information, telephone number(s), and/ or email address changes while you are a Rhode Island notary public, you must report the change to the Rhode Island Department of State, Notary Public Section within ten days of the change.
Complete and print the Notary Public Information Update form and mail it to the Department of State. There is no fee for updating your information on file.
How do I change my name on my notary commission in Rhode Island?
If your name has lawfully changed while your notary commission is active, you must notify the Rhode Island Department of State, Notary Public Section within ten days.
To update your notary name, you must:
- Complete and print the Notary Public Information Update form.
- Have the Notary Public Information Update form notarized by a Rhode Island notary public.
- Mail the completed form to the Department of State.
Note: There is no fee for updating your notary name. Once the Notary Public Identification Update form has been processed, a new commission certificate will be mailed to you.
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 this information from various 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.