How to become a Rhode Island Notary

Abbreviation: RI   |   13th State   |   Statehood: May 29, 1790 |

How to become a notary in Rhode Island:

Are you interested in becoming a Rhode Island notary? Are you interested in generating extra income as a notary, starting your own Rhode Island notary business, adding a Rhode Island notary title to your resume, or helping to notarize documents for people in your community? Rhode Island 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 Rhode Island a straightforward process, and as long as you meet the state notary law requirements listed below, you can apply to become a Rhode Island notary. The American Association of Notaries can help you with the Rhode Island 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 Rhode Island 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:

  1. The process to become a Rhode Island notary
  2. Who can become a Rhode Island notary
  3. Basic Rhode Island notary duties

In order to become a Rhode Island notary public and receive a Rhode Island notary public commission, a notary applicant must:

 

  1. Meet the eligibility requirements provided in the next section.
  2. Take the “Notary Knowledge Today” assessment.
  3. Complete and print the Notary Application Form.
  4. Take the oath of office before a notary public.
  5. Pay the $80 application filing fee, payable to the RI Department of State.
  6. Mail or bring the completed Notary Application to the RI Department of State.

Note: Every notary applicant (new and renewals) will be required to complete a qualification statement and disclose any criminal convictions involving fraud, dishonesty, or deceit. Attorneys and certified public accountants are required to present with their notary application a certified copy of their certificate of admission to the bar or certificate of public accountancy.

Who can become a notary in Rhode Island?

To become a notary in the State of Rhode Island, a notary applicant must meet the following requirements:

 

  1. Be at least eighteen (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 Rhode Island.
  4. Be able to read and write English.
  5. Not be disqualified to receive a commission under §42-30.1-16.
  6. Demonstrate sufficient knowledge of the powers and duties pursuant to the requirements of this chapter.
Other Qualifications:

 

  1. Be an attorney in good standing applying as a member of the RI Bar Association; or
  2. Be a certified public accountant in good standing applying as a certified Rhode Island licensee.
 

Can a nonresident become a notary in Rhode Island?

Yes, nonresidents who have a place of employment or practice in Rhode Island may apply for a Rhode Island notary public commission (RIGL 42-30.1-15[b][3]).Section 42-30.1-15(c) states, “A memberin 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.”
 

Is a Rhode Island notary bond required to become a notary in Rhode Island?

No. Notary applicants for appointments and reappointments are not required to purchase a notary surety bond to meet the statutory requirements to become a Rhode Island notary public.
 

Do I need Rhode Island notary errors and omissions insurance?

A Rhode Island errors and omissions insurance policy is optional. However, the American Association of Notaries strongly recommends that Rhode Island notaries public obtain errors and omissions insurance for their personal protection against liability. Errors and omission insurance is designed to protect notaries public from liability against unintentional notarial mistakes or omissions that 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 Rhode Island notary public selects.
 

How much does it cost to become a notary in Rhode Island?

A Rhode Island notary applicant’s required expenses include the cost for the following: (1) the $80 filing fee to process the application for appointment or reappointment; (2) a notary stamp; (3) a notary journal if the notary wishes to agree with the recommendations of the Governor’s Executive Order (EO Sec. 3[e]); (4) a notary surety bond if the notary wishes to purchase one to protect the public from financial damages; and (5) an E&O insurance policy if a notary wishes to acquire one for his or her own legal and financial protection.
 

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

The term of office of a Rhode Island notary public is four years commencing with the date specified in the commission. However, a notary’s commission may be rendered void: (1) by resignation; (2) by death; (3) by revocation; (4) when the notary public ceases to reside or have a place of employment or practice in Rhode Island; (5) when the notary is no longer a citizen or permanent legal resident of the United States; or (6) when the notary-attorney or notary-accountant is no longer legally certified.
 

Where can I perform notarial acts in Rhode Island?

Rhode Island notaries public have statewide jurisdiction, and they must be physically within the geographic borders of the state of Rhode Island.
 

Who appoints Rhode Island notaries public?

The Governor of Rhode Island is the “commissioning officer” (RIGL 42.30.1-2[3]). The Governor’s Executive Order “Standards of Conduct for Notary Public in the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations” will be considered by the Governor in the appointment, reappointment, and removal of notaries public from their commissions (EO Sec. 1[a]). The “commissioning agency” is the Office of the Secretary of State(RIGL 42.30.1-2[2]). The Secretary of State administers the application process, regulates, maintains records on Rhode Island Notaries, and authenticates their acts.

 

Contact Information:

 

Rhode Island Department of State
Business Services Division/Notary
148 W. River Street
Providence, RI 02904-2615
(401) 222-3040
http://sos.ri.gov/divisions/notary-public

 

Office of the Governor
82 Smith Street
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-2080
http://www.governor.ri.gov/

 

How do I renew my Rhode Island notary public commission?

A Rhode Island notary can renew his or her notary commission up to sixty days before the current commission expiration date that appears on his or her Certificate of Appointment. Pursuant to the Rhode Island General Law 42-30.1-15(g), “Every notary public appointed by the commissioning officer and not reappointed may continue to officiate for a space of thirty (30) days after the date on which his or her commission expires.” A notary who submits a renewal application thirty days past his or her commission expiration date is considered a new notary applicant for qualification purposes and must meet all new notary filing requirements. This includes repeating the “Notary Knowledge Assessment.” Once the notary returns the renewal application with the $80 application filing fee, the effective commission date will be the date the application is received by the Secretary of State. If the renewal is submitted in a timely manner, the notary public will retain his or her original notary ID number.
 

Are there any exams or notary course requirements to become a Rhode Island notary public or renew your Rhode Island notary public commission?

Yes, all new notary applicants seeking a commission as a Rhode Island notary public must demonstrate sufficient knowledge of the powers and duties of a Notary Public (RIGL 42-30.1-15.[6]). The Secretary of State’s website provides the “Notary Knowledge Assessment” that consists of a multi-question tool available to help notary applicants fulfil their legal requirement for a notary public commission. A score of 80% or higher demonstrates sufficient knowledge to satisfy the legal requirements for a Rhode Island notary public commission. Notary applicants who receive a score of less than 80% are strongly encouraged to review the Notary Public Manual and, if necessary, take the assessment again. Notarial practices in the State of Rhode Island are governed by RIGL 42-30.1 and the Standards of Conduct for Notaries Public in the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.
 

Do I need to purchase a notary stamp in Rhode Island?

Yes. Rhode Island law requires all notaries public to use an official 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 seals.

 

Dimensions: The stamp must be in round (circular) or rectangular form with an edge border surrounding the required elements of the stamp.

 

Required Elements: The Rhode Island official stamp must contain the following elements:

 

  • The notary public’s name exactly as indicated on the notary’s commission
  • The words “Notary Public”
  • Jurisdiction (e.g., Rhode Island or State of Rhode Island)
  •  

    In addition, Section 42-30.1-13 dictates that the official stamp: (1) be capable of being copied together with the record to which it is affixed or attached or with which it is logically associated; and (2) contain other information required by the rules of the commissioning agency. “The stamp may also include the notary’s identification number and commission expiration date” (EO Sec. 3[e]). “This section shall not preclude a notarial officer who is a member of the general assembly in this state from notarizing a document without the use of a stamp on the floor of the general assembly during open session”(RIGL 42-30.1-13[3]). “For notaries who have an embosser and wish to continue using it, they must render the seal with the ability to be photocopied and/or scanned” (Secretary of State’s Notary Public Manual).

     

    Is a notary journal required in Rhode Island?

    No. The Rhode Island notary laws do not mandate Rhode Island notaries public record their notarial acts in a journal. However, the Governor’s Executive Order Standards of Conduct strongly recommends that Rhode Island notaries keep a journal of notarial acts as their own “standard operating procedure” when notarizing instruments. “A notary may find the use of a “journal of notarial acts” to be a beneficial tool” (EO Sec. 3[f]). The Rhode Island Department of State and the American Association of Notaries recommend that Rhode Island notaries maintain a permanent bound journal that creates and preserves a chronological record of performed notarial acts. For Rhode Island notary supplies, visit our website at www.usnotaries.com or call 800.721.2663.
     

    How much can a Rhode Island notary public charge for performing notarial acts?

    Rhode Island notary fees are not set by notary statute. However, the Governor’s Executive Order “Standards of Conduct for Rhode Island Notaries” states, “A notary public may charge a fee not to exceed $5 per document/notarization; travel fees must be equal to or less than the then effective federal mileage rate as issued by the Internal Revenue Service. All fees must be posted in a conspicuous place in the notary's place of business or, upon request, fees must be disclosed to any person utilizing the services of the notary” (EO Sec. 3[c]).
     

    What notarial acts can a Rhode Island notary public perform?

    A Rhode Island notary public is authorized to perform the following notarial acts(RIGL 42-30.1-2[7]):

     

  • Take acknowledgments
  • Administer oaths or affirmations
  • Take verifications upon oath or affirmation
  • Witness or attest a signature
  • Certify or attest a copy
  • Take depositions
  • Protest instruments
  • Take depositions as prescribed by law
  • Issue subpoenas to summon witnesses (RIGL 9-17-3)
  • Can I perform electronic notarizations in Rhode Island?

    The State of Rhode Island has not adopted rules and/or procedures for electronic notarizations. However, the State of Rhode Island has enacted the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts effective January 1, 2019, authorizing a notary public to select one or more tamper-evident technologies to perform notarial acts with respect to electronic records (RIGL 42-30.1-14). This act dictates that before a notary public performs the notary public’s initial notarial act with respect to an electronic record, a notary public must notify the commissioning agency that the notary public will be performing notarial acts with respect to electronic records and identify the technology the notary public intends to use. This act also dictates that the technology must conform to the standards established by the commissioning agency.

     

    In addition, Rhode Island has enacted the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (RIGL 42-127.1-1 through 42.127.1-20), including the provision on notarization and acknowledgment. Section 42-127.1-11 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.” Lastly, Rhode Island has enacted the Uniform Real Property Electronic Recording Act (RIGL 34-13.2-1 through 34-13.2-6) effective July 1, 2019, regarding the notarization of electronic real property documents. “A requirement that a document or a signature associated with a document be notarized, acknowledged, verified, witnessed, or made under oath is satisfied if the electronic signature of the person authorized to perform that act, and all other information required to be included, is attached to or logically associated with the document or signature. A physical or electronic image of a stamp, impression, or seal need not accompany an electronic signature” (RIGL 34-13.2-3[c]). “All requirements and elements of paper-based notarizations apply to electronic notarizations” (EO Sec. 3[m][2]).

    Can I perform remote (online) notarizations in Rhode Island?

    No. Pursuant to Section 42-30.1-5, “If a notarial act relates to a statement made in, or a signature executed upon, a record, the individual making the statement or executing the signature shall appear personally before the notarial officer.” Pursuant to the 2019 Governor’s Executive Order, “personal appearance” means that the principal and the notary public are physically close enough to see, hear, communicate with and hand identification documents to each other” (EO Sec. 2[j]). A Rhode Island notary must require that a document signer personally appear before him or her and be physically close enough to see, hear, communicate, and exchange 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. Therefore, Rhode Island notaries public are prohibited from performing remote online notarizations.
     

    How do I change my address?

    Rhode Island notaries are required to report the change of their residence to the Rhode Island Department of State within ten days by completing and printing their Notary Public Information Update Form (EO Sec. 5). There is no fee for updating a notary public’s address information.
     

    How do I change my name on my notary commission in Rhode Island?

    Rhode Island notaries are required to notify the Rhode Island Department of State within ten days if they lawfully change their names during the term of their notary commissions (EO Sec. 5). Rhode Island notaries are required to report their name changes by completing and printing the Notary Public Information Update Form, which must be notarized by a Rhode Island notary public. There is no fee for updating a notary public’s information. A new commission will be issued and mailed to the notary public to his or her address of record once the completed form is received by the Department of State.
     

    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.
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