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How to Become a Notary in Virginia


To become a notary in Virginia, you must:


  1. Meet the eligibility requirements listed in the next section.
  2. Complete an Application for Appointment as a Virginia Notary Public on the secretary of the commonwealth’s website.
  3. Print the pdf application generated at the completion of the online notary application and pay the $45 notary application fee. Note: You will have the option to mail the notary application fee with your notary application.
  4. Print a copy of your payment receipt for the notary application fee emailed to you by the Secretary of the Commonwealth Notary Division (if applicable).
  5. Sign the notary application in the presence of a Virginia notary public.
  6. Mail the completed notary application along with a copy of your payment receipt for the application fee or a $45 check or money order payable to the Treasurer of Virginia. Applications take two to three weeks to be received and processed.
  7. Claim your notary commission by taking the oath of office and paying a $10 fee at the city/county circuit court you indicated on your notary application. You can claim your notary commission after receiving a notice of your application approval from the secretary of the commonwealth. Note: If your notary commission is not claimed within sixty days from its issuance, it becomes invalid and a new notary application and application fee must be submitted.

Visit the secretary of the commonwealth’s website for more information on how to become a notary in Virginia.

Who can become a notary public in Virginia?


To become a notary in Virginia, you must meet all the following eligibility requirements:

  1. Be at least 18 years of age.
  2. Be able to read and write the English language.
  3. Be a legal resident of the United States.
  4. Be a resident of Virginia or regularly employed in Virginia and perform notary services in connection with your employment.
  5. Never have been convicted of a felony, unless you have been pardoned for the felony, had the conviction vacated by the granting of a writ of actual innocence, or had your rights restored.

This Virginia notary guide will help you understand:


  1. Who can become a notary in Virginia.
  2. How to become a notary in Virginia.
  3. How to become an electronic notary in Virginia.
  4. The basic duties of a notary in Virginia.

How do I renew my notary commission in Virginia?


To renew your Virginia notary commission, follow the same steps you took when you applied to become a notary the first time. Virginia notaries can renew their notary commissions within thirty days of their notary commission expiration date.

Note: Effective July 1, 2024, Virginia notaries who are seeking to renew their notary commissions DO NOT have to include an oath in their notary applications. 

Click here to start the notary renewal application process in Virginia.

Who appoints notaries in Virginia?


The Virginia 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.

Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth
Notary Public Division

Post Office Box 1795
Richmond, Virginia 23218-1795
Phone: (804) 692-2536
Fax: (804) 371-0017

Can a non-resident of Virginia apply for a commission as a notary public?


Yes. Non-resident applicants of Virginia may register and be commissioned as notaries public in Virginia if they:

  1. Are regularly employed in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
  2. Perform notary services in connection with their employment.
  3. Meet all of the legal eligibility requirements in Section § 47.1-4 of the Code of Virginia.

A member of the armed services of the United States shall be eligible to register and be commissioned as a notary public in Virginia notwithstanding the provisions of COV § 2.2-2800 (COV § 47.1-4).

How long is a notary public's commission term in Virginia?


The term of office of a Virginia notary public is for four years, expiring on the last day of the notary’s birth month. A notary cannot notarize documents after their notary commission expires without first renewing their notary commission.

Is notary training or an exam required to become a notary or to renew a notary commission in Virginia?


No. An applicant seeking appointment or reappointment as a Virginia notary public is not required to complete any notary training or pass a notary course or exam. The American Association of Notaries recommends that all Virginia notary applicants complete a notary course so they can clearly understand their state’s notary laws and the duties and responsibilities of a notary in Virginia.

Note: Before you submit your notary application, you will swear before a notary that you understand the official duties and responsibilities of a notary public in the Commonwealth of Virginia, as described in the statutes; and that you will perform to the best of your ability all notarial acts in accordance with the law.

How much does it cost to become a notary public in Virginia?


The cost to become a notary in Virginia includes:

  1. A $45 application fee to process an application for appointment or reappointment as a notary public.
  2. A $10 fee to the clerk to take your oath of office.

Other expenses include the cost of purchasing:

  1. A notary stamp. Click here to view our notary stamp prices.
  2. A notary journal (optional) to record all traditional notarial acts performed. Click here to view our notary journal prices.
  3. An errors and omissions (E&O) insurance policy (optional) to protect yourself if you are sued for unintentional mistakes or if a false claim is filed against you as a notary. Click here to view our notary E&O policy premiums and coverage amounts.

Do I need a notary errors and omissions (E&O) insurance policy to become a notary in Virginia?


A notary errors and omissions (E&O) insurance policy is not required to become a Virginia notary public or to renew your notary commission. However, the American Association of Notaries strongly recommends that every Virginia notary obtain a notary E&O insurance policy. A notary E&O policy covers unintentional notarial mistakes and pays for legal fees and damages based on the coverage you select as a Virginia notary public.

Virginia notary errors and omissions insurance policies are available to order online at the American Association of Notaries website: https://www.notarypublicstamps.com/notary-insurance/virginia.

Do I need a notary bond to become a notary in Virginia?


No. Virginia does not require you to provide proof of a notary bond in order to become a notary public or to renew your notary public commission.

A notary public is liable to any person for damages that result from their negligence, errors, or omissions. Virginia notaries are encouraged to purchase a notary E&O insurance policy to insure themselves against unintentional mistakes.

Do I need to order a notary stamp in Virginia?


Virginia notary law requires all Virginia notaries public to affix a sharp, legible, permanent, and photographically reproducible image of their official notary seal near their official signature on the notarial certificate of a paper document [COV 47.1-16(C)].

The Virginia statute does not provide the legal specifications regarding the layout and the information required to be engraved on an official notary seal. However, the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s handbook states an official notary seal (embosser or inked stamp) must contain the following:

  • The name of the notary exactly as it appears on the notary’s commission
  • The words “Notary Public”
  • The words “Commonwealth of Virginia”

The American Association of Notaries offers quality notary stamps and seals at savings of up to 40% compared to the cost of the same products elsewhere. Click here to order your Virginia notary stampnotary sealcomplete notary package, and other notary supplies.

What are the steps to replace a lost or stolen Virginia notary seal?


If your notary seal is lost or stolen, you must:

  1. Inform the appropriate law-enforcement agency (in the case of theft or vandalism).
  2. Notify the secretary of the commonwealth in writing or via email. The notice must be signed with the official name in which you are commissioned.
  3. Purchase a new notary seal.

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


Virginia notary fees are set by state statute (COV 47.1-19).

A notary may, for taking and certifying the acknowledgment of any writing, or administering and certifying an oath, or certifying affidavits and depositions of witnesses, or certifying that a copy of a document is a true copy thereof, charge a fee up to $5. IMPORTANT: Effective July 1, 2024, this fee will increase from $5 to $10.

A notary may, for taking and certifying the acknowledgement of any electronic document, or administering and certifying an oath or affirmation, or certifying electronic affidavits and depositions of witnesses, or certifying that a copy of an electronic document is a true copy thereof, charge a fee not to exceed $25.

Note:

  • Virginia notaries may recover, with the agreement of the person to be charged, any actual and reasonable expense of traveling to a place where a notarial act is to be performed if it is not the usual place in which the notary performs in their office.
  • “Any employer, as a condition of employment of a person who is a notary, may require the employee to perform notarial acts in the course of or in connection with such employment without charging the fee allowed by law for the performance of such acts. It shall not be lawful for any employer to require a notary in his employment to surrender to such employer a fee, if charged, or any part thereof” (COV 47.1-20).
  • “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. Any person appointed as an assistant registrar or officer of election shall be prohibited from collecting any fee as a notary for services relating to the administration of elections or the election laws” [COV 47.1-19(C)].

Is a notary journal required in Virginia?


Notary journal requirements for each type of notarization in Virginia:

  • Traditional Notarizations – A traditional notary is not required to maintain a notary journal. However, the Secretary of the Commonwealth recommends that each notary maintain a journal that provides a record of all notarial acts performed. A notary journal can be maintained on a tangible medium or in an electronic format.
  • Electronic Notarizations and Remote Notarizations – An electronic notary performing electronic notarial acts are required to keep, maintain, protect, and provide for lawful inspection an electronic notary journal.

A notary journal (also known as a record of notarial acts, 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 or fraud. Properly recorded notarial acts provide evidence that you followed your state laws and notary’s best practices.

The American Association of Notaries offers notary journals in tangible and electronic formats.

Click here to purchase a tangible notary journal.

Click here to become a member and access our electronic notary journal.

What information must Virginia notaries record in their notary journals?


For Traditional Notarizations – Notaries performing traditional notarizations are not required to maintain a notary journal. However, to protect themselves in the event a notarial act is questioned, notaries should record every notarial act they perform. The best practice is to record the following information:

  1. The date and time of the notarial act.
  2. The type of notarial act.
  3. A description of the document being notarized.
  4. The printed name and address of the signer.
  5. The method by which the signer was identified.
  6. The fee charged, if any.
  7. Any additional information that may assist the notary in recalling the notarial act performed.

For Electronic Notarizations and Remote Notarizations – Virginia requires the following information to be recorded in the notary journal:

  1. The date and time of day of the electronic notarial act.
  2. The type of notarial act.
  3. The type, title, or a description of the document or proceeding.
  4. The printed name and address of each principal.
  5. The evidence of identity of each principal in the form of one of the following: (a) a statement that the person is personally known to the notary; (b) a notation of the type of identification document, which may be a copy of the driver's license or other photographic image of the individual's face; or (c) the printed name and address of each credible witness swearing or affirming to the person's identity, and, for credible witnesses who are not personally known to the electronic notary, a description of the type of identification documents relied on by the notary.
  6. The fee, if any, charged for the electronic notarial act.

What steps should I take if my Virginia notary journal is lost or stolen?


Traditional Notarizations - Since notary journals are optional for traditional notarizations, Virginia notary laws do not address this question. We recommend you contact the appropriate law enforcement agency.

Electronic Notarizations and Remote Notarizations - Immediately upon discovering that your notary journal has been lost, stolen, or used by another person, you must:

  1. Inform the appropriate law-enforcement agency (in the case of theft or vandalism).
  2. Notify the secretary of the commonwealth in writing or via email. This notification must be signed using the official name under which you are commissioned.

How long should I retain my Virginia notary journal?


Traditional Notarizations - Virginia notary laws do not address how long to retain your notary journal for traditional notarizations. We recommend you keep the notary journal indefinitely.

Electronic Notarizations and Remote Notarizations - Your electronic notary journal shall be maintained for a period of at least five years from the date of the last transaction recorded in the notary journal.

Where can I perform notarial acts in Virginia?


Virginia notaries are authorized to perform notarial acts while physically located anywhere within the geographic borders of the state of Virginia.

Note: Virginia notaries have limited powers in performing notarial acts outside the Commonwealth of Virginia. A traditional notary public may perform any notarial act outside the commonwealth for any writing to be used in the Commonwealth of Virginia or by the United States government.

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):

  • Take acknowledgments
  • Administer oaths and affirmations
  • Certify that a copy of any document, other than a document in the custody of a court, is a true copy thereof
  • Certify affidavits or depositions of witnesses
  • Perform verification of fact
  • Perform such other acts as may be specifically permitted by law.

What kind of notarizations are allowed in Virginia?


A Virginia notary is allowed to perform the following types of notarizations:

Traditional Notarizations This type of notarization requires the signer and the notary to meet physically in the same room within face-to-face proximity of one another. Traditional notarization involves an individual signing a tangible document with an inked pen and a notary public signing and affixing a notary stamp or seal impression to the tangible notarial certificate.

Electronic Notarizations – This type of notarization requires the signer and the electronic notary (eNotary) to meet physically in the same room within face-to-face proximity of one another. However, the notarization is performed on an electronic document using electronic signatures, an electronic notary seal, and an electronic notarial certificate.

Remote Notarizations (also known as remote electronic notarizations, online electronic notarizations, and online notarizations) The signer appears remotely before an electronic notary (eNotary) via two-way live video and audio conference communication. The notarization is performed on an electronic document using electronic signatures, an electronic notary seal, and an electronic notarial certificate.

What are the steps to become an electronic notary in Virginia?


To become an electronic notary (eNotary) in Virginia, you must:

  1. Be a commissioned Virginia notary.
  2. Read pages 6-9 of the Virginia Notary Handbook and the Electronic Notarization Assurance Standard (recommended).
  3. Obtain an electronic signature and electronic seal.
  4. Contract with a software/hardware vendor that will provide you with the technology needed to perform electronic notarial acts.
  5. Complete an eNotary Application on the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s website and pay a $45 application fee.

Upon your application approval, you will receive an approval letter via email from the secretary of the commonwealth.

Note: An electronic notary in Virginia can perform electronic notarizations and remote notarizations. For more information on becoming an electronic notary in Virginia, visit Secretary of the Commonwealth’s website.

What are the steps to register to perform remote notarizations in Virginia?


A Virginia notary must become an electronic notary to perform remote notarizations. Click here to learn how to become an electronic notary.

How do I update my address on my Virginia notary commission?


If you change your contact information (i.e. address, phone number, business address, business phone number, etc.) during your commission term, you must update your contact information by logging in to your account on the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s website. Virginia notaries can also update their information by notifying the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s Office in writing or via email.

How do I change my name on my notary commission in Virginia?


Virginia notaries are only allowed to update their names when they renew their notary commissions.

A notary duly registered and commissioned in the Commonwealth of Virginia who legally changes their name during their term of office must, after such a change, when performing any notarial act, write or print on, or annex to, each notarial certificate the words: "I was commissioned notary as . . . " or the equivalent (COV 47.1-17). The name on the notary stamp/seal must match the notary’s name as commissioned.

Note: An electronic notary public who legally changes their name must file an application with the Secretary of the Commonwealth for a new electronic notary commission within ninety days of the legal name change (COV 47.1-17).

Revised:


June 2024

Legal disclaimer: The information provided on this page is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. We do not claim to be attorneys and we do not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or reliability of the information provided. You should always seek the advice of a licensed attorney for any legal matters. It is your responsibility to know the appropriate notary laws governing your state. In no event shall the American Association of Notaries, its employees, or contractors be liable to you for any claims, penalties, losses, damages, or expenses, howsoever arising, including, and without limitation, direct or indirect loss, or consequential loss, out of or in connection with the use of the information contained on any of the American Association of Notaries website pages. Notaries are advised to seek the advice of their state’s notary authorities or attorneys if they have legal questions. 

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.