How to Become a Notary in Virginia
Guide to become a notary public in Virginia:
Are you interested in becoming a Virginia notary? Are you interested in generating extra income, starting your own Virginia notary business, adding a notary title to your resume, or helping people in your community? The State of Virginia appoints notaries to serve the public as unbiased impartial witnesses to document signing. Becoming a notary in Virginia is a straightforward process, and as long as you meet the eligibility requirements listed below, you can apply to become a Virginia notary. The America Association of Notaries has been helping individuals become notaries since 1994.
This Virginia notary guide will help you understand:
- Who can become a notary in Virginia
- How to become a notary in Virginia
- The basic duties of a notary in Virginia
Who can become a notary public in Virginia?
To become a notary in the State of Virginia, a notary applicant must meet the following requirements:
- Be at least 18 years of age;
- Be able to read and write the English language;
- Be a legal resident of the United States;
- Live or work in the Commonwealth of Virginia; and
- Never have been convicted of a felony, unless there is proof of a pardon for such felony or the applicant has had his or her rights restored.
How to become a notary public in Virginia?
In order to become a Virginia notary public and receive a Virginia notary public commission, a notary applicant must:
- Meet the eligibility requirements provided in the next section.
- Answer the interview questions found on the online application (Notary Application Wizard). All questions must be complete in order for application to be process.
- Print the pdf application generated at the end of the online application. (Pay by credit card at the end of the interview process. The barcode number on the printed application must match the invoice number found on the receipt to ensure proper payment on your account.)
- Have his or her signature properly notarized by a notary public on Part 3 of the printed application. This must be done prior to mailing the application to the Secretary of the Commonwealth for processing.
- Mail the completed, notarized application along with the application fee—payment receipt or check/money order payment of $45 (payable to Treasurer of Virginia) to the notary office.
- Contact the Circuit Court to take the oath and be sworn in within sixty days from the date reflected on his or her notification letter. There is a $10 fee paid to the court. At that time, the commission certificate will be issued. By law, the applicant must claim his or her commission within sixty days after it is issued, or it becomes invalid.
Note: The Secretary of the Commonwealth’s Office highly recommends creating a Notary Management Account to create the applicant’s notary application and manage his or her notary information. The Notary Management account log-in/creation link and the application link are located below the application instructions.
How do I renew my notary commission in Virginia?
Persons already commissioned as notaries public or electronic notaries who are submitting applications for recommission as notaries or electronic notaries may submit their renewing applications to the Secretary of Commonwealth in person, by first-class mail, or online, provided online applications contain electronic signatures, authorized by the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act, as confirmation that the application has been signed and sworn (COA 47.1-5.1). To be eligible to use the notary renewal application with an electronic signature:
- The notary commission expiration date cannot be more than thirty days away.
- The notary’s name must be an exact match to the name on the current commission.
- The application fee must be paid online.
- The renewing applicant must create a Notary Management account.
If the renewing applicant chose to submit a paper application without creating a Notary Management account, he or she may use this link to create their application → Application Wizard. The renewal application process and procedures are the same as those required for the initial application for appointment.
Note: Notaries whose commissions expire in the first few months of the calendar year (January, February, or March) should submit their applications after the start of the new year. Applications approved prior to January will result in the commission expiring one year earlier than anticipated.
Who appoints notaries in Virginia?
The Governor appoints Virginia notaries public, and the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s Office administers the application process, maintains all the records pertaining to these notaries, and authenticates their acts. To contact the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s Office:
Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth
Post Office Box 1795
Richmond, Virginia 23218-1795
Can a non-resident of Virginia apply for a commission as a notary public?
Yes. Nonresidents of Virginia may register and be commissioned as notaries public in Virginia if they:
- Are regularly employed in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
- Perform notary services in connection with their employment.
- Meet all of the legal eligibility requirements.
A member of the armed services of the United States shall be eligible to register and be commissioned as a notary public in Virginia not withstanding the provisions of §2.2-2800 (COV 47.1-4). A nonresident notary who ceases to be regularly employed in Virginia must surrender his or her commission.
How long is a notary public's commission term in Virginia?
The term of office of a Virginia notary public is for four years, commencing on the date specified in the commission. However, a notary’s commission may be rendered void:
- By resignation.
- By revocation.
- By death.
- When the notary public ceases to reside in Virginia.
- When the notary no longer resides in the United States.
- When the non-resident notary public ceases to be regularly employed in Virginia.
- When the notary is convicted of a felony.
Is notary training or an exam required to become a notary or to renew a notary commission in Virginia?
Virginia is a “self-certifying state” and does not require classes or testing to qualify to become a notary public in Virginia.
How much does it cost to become a notary public in Virginia?
To become a notary public in Virginia, a notary applicant’s expenses may include the cost for the following:
- A $45 filing fee to process the notary application for appointment or reappointment.
- A $10 fee for the oath.
- A notary stamp.
- A notary journal if the notary wishes to be in accord with the recommendations of the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s Office.
- A notary surety bond if the notary wishes to purchase one to protect the public or principal signer from financial damages.
- An E&O insurance policy if a notary wishes to obtain one for his or her own personal legal and financial protection.
Do I need a notary errors and omissions (E&O) insurance policy to become a notary in Virginia?
A Virginia notary errors and omissions insurance policy is optional. The Secretary of the Commonwealth’s Office and the American Association of Notaries highly recommend that Virginia notaries public consider obtaining a notary 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 result in financial damages to a party affected by the notary’s notarial actions. An E&O insurance policy customarily covers legal fees and damages based on the coverage a Virginia notary public selects. To purchase an E&O insurance policy, please visit the American Association of Notaries website, or call 713-644-2299.
Do I need a notary bond to become a notary in Virginia?
New applicants seeking appointments as notaries public and renewing notaries are not statutorily required to purchase a notary surety bond to obtain their notary public commissions in Virginia.
Do I need to order a notary stamp in Virginia?
Virginia notary law requires all Virginia notaries public to affix an official seal near the notary’s official signature on the notarial certificate of a paper document (COV 47.1-16[C]).
Dimensions: The Virginia statute does not provide the legal specifications regarding the layout and the information required on all official seals. The statute stipulates that the official seal must be sharp, legible, permanent, and photographically reproducible.
Required Elements: The official seal (embosser or inked stamp) of a Virginia notary public must contain the following elements pursuant to the Secretary’s handbook:
- The name of the notary exactly as it appears on the notary’s commission
- The words "Notary Public"
- The words "Commonwealth of Virginia"
An electronic notary seal must also include the following elements, which are generally seen in a notary’s official seal:
- The words “notary’s registration number__(number)___”;
- The words “My commission expires ___(date)___”
How much can a Virginia notary public charge for performing notarial acts?
Virginia notary fees are set by state statute (COV 47.1-19A). The maximum allowable fees that a Virginia notary public may charge for notarial acts are listed below:
- Acknowledgments - $5.00
- Oaths or affirmations - $5.00
- Certifying affidavits - $5.00
- Certifying depositions of witnesses - $5.00
- Copy certification - $5.00
Travel fees are allowed only if the notary and the signer agree beforehand on the travel fees. Electronic notaries may not charge more than $25 for an electronic notarization. “Any person appointed as a member of an electoral board or a general registrar shall be prohibited from collecting any fee as a notary during the time of such appointment” (COV 47.1-19[C]). “Any employer may require a notary in his employment to surrender to such employer a fee, if charged, or any part thereof, provided that the notarial act for which the fee is charged is performed during the course of such employee's employment” (COV 47.1-20).
Is a notary journal required in Virginia?
The Virginia notary laws do not require traditional Virginia notaries to record their notarial acts in a journal. When it comes to electronic notaries, state law does require these electronic notaries to keep, maintain, and protect a journal of all electronic notarial acts. While the practice is not required by state law, the “Secretary of Commonwealth recommends that each traditional notary maintain a journal that provides a record of all notarial acts performed so as to provide evidence for resolving future disputes over authenticity of signatures and documents” (HNP). The American Association of Notaries also recommends that Virginia notaries public maintain 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 liability. To order a Virginia notary journal, please visit the American Association of Notaries website, or call 713-644-2299.
Where can I perform notarial acts in Virginia?
Virginia notaries public have statewide jurisdiction, and they must be physically within the geographic borders of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
What notarial acts can a Virginia notary public perform?
A Virginia notary public is authorized to perform the following notarial acts (COV 47.1-12 and 55-118.1):
- Take acknowledgments
- Administer oaths or affirmations
- Perform verification of fact
- Certify affidavits or depositions
- Certify copies
- Perform such other acts as may be specifically permitted by law
Can I perform electronic notarizations in Virginia?
Yes. In Virginia, the following authoritative statutes acknowledge and authorize a notary’s electronic signature: (1) the United States Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (“E-20 SIGN”); (2) the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act; and (3) the Uniform Real Property Electronic Recording Act. To fulfill the requirements of Virginia Code §47.1-6.1, and in an effort to standardize the processes and procedures for performing electronic notarization, including the issuance of digital certificates used by Virginia electronic notaries, the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Virginia published and promulgated the “The Virginia Electronic Notary Assurance Standard” effective January 21, 2013.
In addition, the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth has provided for its Virginia electronic notaries a detailed notary manual titled A Handbook for Virginia Notaries Public that includes standards and procedures for performing electronic notarizations. To register to become commissioned as an electronic notary in Virginia, the applicant must: (1) hold a valid commission as a notary public; (2) purchase an electronic seal prior to submitting an electronic notary application; (3) submit a completed electronic notary application; (4) pay a $45 application fee; (5) provide a general description of the technology or technologies that the applicant will use to create an electronic signature in performing official acts; and (6) sign the application using the electronic signature described in the application, including any decrypting instructions, codes, keys, or software that allow the signature to be read and verified.
Upon approval of the electronic registration requirements, the Secretary of the Commonwealth shall email to the notary an approval letter that confirms the commission to act as an electronic notary public. If an electronic notary updates his or her technology or technologies during the term of the electronic commission, the electronic notary must notify the Secretary electronically within ninety days of installation. The electronic notary commission expires on the same date the notary’s regular commission expires. Both commissions can be renewed at the same time.
An electronic notary is required to keep, maintain, and protect a journal of all electronic notarization acts. “Virginia electronic notaries also have limited extraterritorial powers. An electronic notary public may perform any authorized notarial act outside of the Commonwealth for any writing intended to be used in the Commonwealth of Virginia or by the United States government” (HNP). The Secretary of the Commonwealth will not render an opinion or determination as to whether a particular electronic notarization system or technology used by an electronic notary is in compliance with the Standard or the Code of Virginia. Responsibility for compliance is solely on the electronic notary public. In performing electronic notarial acts, an electronic notary must continue to adhere to all rules governing paper-based notarial acts.Most importantly, an electronic notary must not perform an electronic notarization if the document signer does not appear before the electronic notary at the time of the notarization either in the same physical location or by means of two-way live video and audio conference.
Can I perform remote online notarizations in Virginia?
Yes. On July 1, 2012, the state of Virginia authorized “remote, online” electronic notarization through video-conference. To fulfill the requirements of Virginia Code §47.1-6.1, and in an effort to standardize the processes and procedures for performing electronic notarization, including the issuance of digital certificates used by Virginia electronic notaries, the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Virginia published and promulgated the “The Virginia Electronic Notary Assurance Standard” effective January 21, 2013. The “Standard” provides the rules for both in-person and remote online electronic notarization.
In addition, the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth has provided for its Virginia electronic notaries a detailed notary manual titled A Handbook for Virginia Notaries Public that includes standards and procedures for performing electronic notarizations. In performing electronic notarial acts, an electronic notary must continue to adhere to all rules governing paper-based notarial acts, except that notaries performing online notarial acts can allow signers to appear before the electronic notary via two-way live video and audio conference consistent with the Virginia Code §47.1-2 and §19.2-3.1 B1, B2, and B3. Most importantly, an electronic notary must not perform an electronic notarization if the document signer does not appear before the electronic notary at the time of the notarization either in the same physical location or by means of two-way live video and audio conference communication.
Electronic notaries must take reasonable steps to ensure that the use of two-way live video and audio communication is secure from interception through unlawful means. “Remote electronic notarization incorporates strict federal standards for determining the identity of the signer and requires the notary to keep a record of the video conference for each notarial act, which is not required in paper notarizations. Accordingly, protections against fraud with this method are much stronger than that afforded by the current paper process” (HNP). “Virginia electronic notaries also have limited extraterritorial powers. An electronic notary public may perform any authorized notarial act outside of the Commonwealth for any writing intended to be used in the Commonwealth of Virginia or by the United States government. Please note the remote notarial act is not extra-territorial because it is deemed to have been performed within the Commonwealth of Virginia at the place where the electronic notary is located” (HNP).
The two-way live teleconferencing capability must meet the following performance criteria for establishing personal appearance:
- The persons communicating must simultaneously see and speak to one another.
- The signal transmission must be live, real time.
- The signal transmission must be secure from interception through lawful means by anyone other than the persons communicating.
Furthermore, remote notarization requires very strict methods of identification for identity assurance. An electronic notary must establish the “satisfactory evidence of identity” of the document signer, which may be based on video and audio conference technology. An electronic notary will be required to verify the identity of the document signer by one of the following options:
- Personal knowledge.
- Relying on an antecedent in-person identity proofing process that conforms to the guidelines of the Federal Bridge Certification Authority.
- The signer has a valid digital certificate that is authenticated either by:
- A Personal Identity Verification (PIV) or PIV-I card issued in conformance with strict government standards from the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
How do I update my address on my Virginia notary commission?
Any notary public who changes his or her residence must notify the Secretary of the Commonwealth of the fact by mailing or delivering a written notice of his or her new address. A non-resident notary public must notify the Secretary of the Commonwealth of any change of his or her place of employment(COV 47.1-18).
How do I change my name on my notary commission in Virginia?
Any notary public who legally changes his or her name during the notary’s term of office must print on the notarial certificates the words: “I was commissioned a notary public as ____________,” or the equivalent. To reiterate, the notary public must indicate on all notarial acts the original name in which his or her commission was issued. However, any electronic notary public who legally changes his or her name must make an application with the Secretary of the Commonwealth for a new electronic notary commission within ninety days of such legal name change (COV47.1-17).
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.