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How to Become a Washington Notary


The Washington Notary Process:


Are you interested in becoming a Washington notary? Are you interested in generating extra income, starting your own Washington notary business, adding a notary title to your resume, or helping people in your community? The State of Washington appoints notaries to serve the public as unbiased impartial witnesses to document signing. Becoming a notary in Washington is a straightforward process, and as long as you meet the eligibility requirements listed below, you can apply to become a Washington notary. The America Association of Notaries has been helping individuals become notaries since 1994.

 

This guide will help you understand:

  1. Who can become a Washington notary
  2. The process to become a Washington notary
  3. Basic Washington notarial duties

What are the qualifications to become a Washington notary?


To become a Washington notary public, a notary applicant must meet the following requirements:   

  1. Be at least eighteen 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 the state of Washington.
  4. Be able to read and write English.
  5. Not be disqualified to receive a commission under RCW 42.45.210.

What is the process to become a Washington notary?


To become a Washington notary public and receive a Washington notary public commission, a notary applicant must:    

  1. Meet the eligibility requirements provided in the previous section.
  2. Complete a Notary Public Commission Application (which includes the oath of office).
  3. Purchase a $10,000 surety bond.
  4. Have the oath of office notarized.
  5. Submit to the Department of Licensing the following: (a) the completed and signed application; (b) a copy of his or her signed $10,000 surety bond; (c) his or her signed and notarized oath of office; and (d) a $30 application fee for a notary public commission, or a $45 free for a notary public commission with electronic notary endorsement, payable to the Department of Licensing.
  6. Purchase an official seal upon receipt of the commission certificate.

 

To apply Online:

  1. Log in or sign up to apply online.
  2. Prepare the following documents for upload: (a) an electronic copy of the notarized oath of office form; (b) an electronic copy of the signed $10,000 surety bond.
  3. Have a method of payment ready (Visa, MasterCard, or American Express credit or debit card or bank account information) and pay the $30 application fee for a notary public commission, or pay the $45 free for a notary public commission with electronic notary endorsement.

 

Note. If the Department of Licensing receives an incomplete or invalid notary application, the notary applicant has thirty calendar days to correct any defects. After the thirty-day period, the applicant’s application shall be canceled and any application fees forfeited (WAC 308-30-040 A). A notary public may elect not to apply for an electronic records notary public endorsement or a remote notary endorsement.

Can a non-resident become a notary in Washington?

Yes. A non-resident may apply to become a Washington notary public if the non-resident meets the following requirements (RCW 42.45.200[2][c[). A non-resident must: 

  1. Have a place of employment or practice in Washington.
  2. Satisfy the same qualifications as Washington residents, setting aside the residency requirements.
  3. Submit a Notary Public Commission Application and comply with the same notary application process and procedures as Washington residents, including purchasing a $10,000 surety bond.
  4. Continuously maintain a place of employment or practice in Washington.
  5. Relinquish his or her notary public commission if the non-resident notary is terminated from employment or ceases to have a place of employment or practice in Washington.

How much does it cost to become a notary in Washington?

A Washington notary applicant’s expenses may include the following:

  1. A $30 fee to process an application for appointment or reappointment as a notary public.
  2. A $45 fee to process an application for appointment with electronic notary endorsement.
  3. The price of a $10,000 surety bond.
  4. The cost of a notary stamp.
  5. The price of a notary journal.
  6. The fee for an E&O insurance policy if a notary wishes to purchase one for his or her personal protection against liability.

How do I renew my Washington notary commission?

A notary public shall reapply with the Department of Licensing for each commission term before performing notarial acts (WAC 308-30-030[8]). A notary public may reapply for reappointment as a notary public no earlier than 120 days before his or her current commission expires. The renewal application process is the same as for the initial application for appointment as a notary public. A Washington notary public may submit his or her Notary Public Commission Renewal Application online or by mail.

 

A notary public is required to submit to the Department of Licensing the following: (1) a completed Notary Public Commission Renewal Application; (2) his or her license number if applying online; (3) an electronic copy of his or her signed $10,000 surety bond; (4) a $30 renewal application fee for a notary public commission or a $45 renewal application fee for a notary public commission with electronic notary endorsement. If a notary public’s commission expires, the former notary cannot apply for reappointment as a notary public but will be required to apply as a new applicant for appointment as a notary public.

 

To initiate the renewal application process for a notary public commission, visit the Department of Licensing website by clicking here.

Are there any exams or notary courses required to become a Washington notary public or to renew my Washington notary public commission?

No. The Washington notary statute does not require new applicants seeking an appointment as a notary public or renewing notaries public to take a course of study or examination to be commissioned as a notary public in Washington. However, it is the recommendation of the Department of Licensing that any new applicant seeking a Washington notary public commission take and complete an educational course of study so that the notary applicant can clearly understand the state notary laws and regulations, the notarial duties and responsibilities, and the general principles and practices of being a Washington notary public. To encourage new notary applicants to learn their notarial duties and responsibilities, the Department of Licensing has provided a notary training video on its website.

Can I perform electronic notarization in Washington?

Yes. The Washington 66th Legislature (2019) passed Senate Bill 5641, which includes a provision authorizing an electronic records notary public to select one or more tamper-evident technologies to perform notarial acts with respect to electronic records that meet the standards adopted by rule (RCW 42.45.190), which became effective October 1, 2020. Moreover, Washington enacted the “Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts” allowing a notary public to obtain an electronic or digital signature and electronic seal to notarize electronic records in the physical presence of the individual seeking the notarization, which became effective July 1, 2018.

 

Furthermore, the Department of Licensing has established standards and practices for the performance of notarial acts with respect to electronic records for electronic records notaries public through adopted rules in the Washington Administrative Code, Title 308, Chapter 308-30 (Notaries Public). All the same rules, standards, practices, and regulations that apply to a traditional paper notarization also apply to an electronically signed document including, but not limited to, the personal appearance before the notary public. Prior to performing notarial acts with respect to electronic records, a person must apply to be a commissioned notary public and register as an electronic records notary public with the Department of Licensing simultaneously.

What is the process to become a Washington electronic notary public?

Before an individual performs the initial notarial act with respect to electronic records, the individual must:

 

  1. Meet the same statutory qualifications as Washington residents to become a Washington notary public (RCW 42.45.200).
  2. Be commissioned as a Washington notary public.
  3. Apply for a notary public commission and an electronic records notary public endorsement simultaneously by completing a Notary Public Electronic Notarization Endorsement Application and adding an electronic notary endorsement.
  4. Purchases a $10,000 bond if applying simultaneously for a traditional notary public commission and an endorsement for a commission as an electronic records notary public.
  5. Enclose a $45 fee for a notary public commission with electronic notary endorsement payable to the Department of Licensing.
  6. Provide the Department of Licensing with the description of the tamper-evident technology the notary public intends to use to perform electronic notarizations within thirty days after the Department of Licensing issues the endorsement.
  7. Make sure that the technology the notary public intends to use to perform electronic notarizations conforms to the standards approved by the Department of Licensing.

 

Upon an applicant’s fulfillment of the requirements for a notary public commission and/or an electronic records notary public endorsement, the Department of Licensing shall approve the application and issue the notary public commission and/or any endorsements. If the Department of Licensing receives an incomplete or invalid notary application, the Department of Licensing shall hold the notary application for thirty calendar days to allow the applicant to correct any defects. After the thirty-day period, the notary public application shall be canceled and any application fees forfeited. An electronic records notary public may elect not to apply for a remote notary endorsement. A person may not require an electronic notary to perform a notarial act with respect to an electronic record with a technology that the electronic notary public has not selected. An electronic records notary public is required to maintain a journal in which the electronic records notary public chronicles all electronic notarizations. To initiate the process to perform electronic notarizations, visit the Department of Licensing by clicking here: WA State Licensing (DOL) Official Site: How to get your notary public license.

Can I perform remote (online) notarizations in Washington?

Yes. The Washington 66th Legislature (2019) passed Senate Bill 5641 that added Section 42.45.280 to the “Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts” of the Revised Code of Washington, which became effective October 1, 2020. Senate Bill 5641 (2019) authorizes a Washington notary public, commissioned as a remote notary public, to perform notarial acts for remotely located individuals using communication technology that conforms to the adopted rules and standards promulgated by the Department Licensing. Senate Bill 5641 authorizes the Department of Licensing to adopt permanent rules for remote notarizations. The Department of Licensing has not promulgated regulations through final rulemaking to implement and conform to the statutory provisions of Senate Bill 5641 relating to remote notarizations for remotely located individuals. Section 42.45.280 authorizes the Department of Licensing to adopt rules for remote online notarizations, and such rules may: (1) prescribe the means of performing a notarial act involving a remotely located individual using communication technology; (2) establish standards for communication technology and identity proofing; (3) establish requirements or procedures to approve providers of communication technology and the process of identity proofing; and (4) establish standards and a period for the retention of an audio-visual recording created under this section. Before a notary public performs the notary’s initial remote online notarial act, a notary public must notify the Department of Licensing that the notary public intends to perform notarial acts using communications technology for remotely located individuals.

What is the process to become a Washington remote online notary public?

Before a notary public performs the initial notarial act with respect to a remotely located individual, the notary public must:

  1. Currently (a) hold an active notary public commission with an electronic records notary public endorsement; or (b) hold an active notary public commission and be applying for an electronic records notary public endorsement and a remote notary endorsement simultaneously; or (c) be applying for a notary public commission, an electronic records notary public endorsement, and a remote notary endorsement simultaneously by completing a Notary Public Electronic Notarization Endorsement Application and adding an electronic notary endorsement and a remote notary endorsement.
  2. Purchase a $10,000 bond if applying simultaneously for a traditional notary public commission and an endorsement for a commission as an electronic records notary public.
  3. Enclose a $45 fee for a notary public commission with electronic notary endorsement payable to the Department of Licensing.
  4. Provide the Department of Licensing with the description of the technology the remote notary public intends to use to perform notarial acts using communication technology for remotely located individuals within thirty days after the Department of Licensing issues the remote notary endorsement.
  5. Make sure that the technology the remote notary public intends to use to perform remote notarizations conforms to the standards approved by the Department of Licensing in compliance with Title 308, Chapter 308-30 of the Washington Administrative Code.
  6. Re-apply with the Department of Licensing for each commission term before performing notarial acts.

 

First and foremost, an applicant who wishes to meet all of the legal requirements to perform remote online notarizations must choose the vendors for both the electronic signature and remote online notary (RON) authority, and those vendors will explain how to use their software for electronic signature notarization and remote online notarization. Upon an applicant’s fulfillment of the statutory requirements for a notary public commission, an electronic records notary public endorsement, and the remote notary endorsement, the Department of Licensing shall approve the application and issue the notary public commission and any endorsements. If the Department of Licensing receives an incomplete or invalid notary application, the Department of Licensing shall hold the notary application for thirty calendar days to allow the applicant to correct any defects. After the thirty-day period, the application shall be canceled and any application fees forfeited. A remote online notary public is required to maintain a journal in which he or she chronicles all remote notarizations. To initiate the process to perform remote notarizations, visit the Department of Licensing by clicking here:

WA State Licensing (DOL) Official Site: How to get your notary public license

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

The commission term of a Washington notary public is four years commencing with the date specified on the commission certificate. However, a notary’s commission may be rendered void:

  1. By resignation, death, or revocation.
  2. When a notary public is no longer a resident of Washington during the notary’s commission term.
  3. When a notary is no longer a citizen or permanent legal resident of the United States.
  4. When a non-resident notary ceases to maintain a place of employment or practice in Washington.
  5. When a notary loses the ability to read and write English.
  6. When a notary has been disqualified to receive a notary public commission pursuant to RCW 42.45.210.

Is a Washington notary bond required to become a notary in Washington?

Yes. An assurance in the form of a surety bond in the amount of $10,000 is required for new applicants seeking appointments as notaries public and for renewing notaries public. The assurance must be issued by a surety or other entity licensed or authorized to write surety bonds in Washington. A licensed surety must execute the bond.  The assurance must be effective for a four-year term or for a term that expires on the date the notary public's commission expires. The surety or issuing entity must give at least thirty days' notice to the Department of Licensing before canceling the assurance. The surety or issuing entity must notify the Department of Licensing not later than thirty days after making a payment to a claimant under the assurance.

 

A notary public may perform notarial acts in Washington only during the period that a valid assurance is on file with the Department of Licensing (RCW 42.45.200[4]). On compliance with Section 42.45.200, the Department of Licensing shall issue a commission as a notary public to an applicant or a renewing notary public for a term of four years or for a term that expires on the date of expiration of the assurance, whichever comes first.

Do I need a Washington notary errors and omission insurance?

No. An errors and omissions insurance policy is optional in Washington. It is not mandatory to have E&O insurance when applying for appointment or reappointment as a notary public. However, the American Association of Notaries recommends that Washington notaries obtain an errors and omissions insurance policy for their personal protection against liability. Errors and omissions insurance is designed to protect notaries from liability against unintentional notarial mistakes or omissions that result in financial or other type of loss to the public or from a client who sues a notary public for recovery. An E&O policy customarily covers legal fees and damages based on the coverage a Washington notary selects.

Where can I perform notarial acts in Washington?

A Washington notary public has statewide jurisdiction and may perform notarial acts anywhere within the geographic borders of the state of Washington. Likewise, a Washington notary public may not perform notarial acts outside of Washington.

Who appoints Washington notaries public?

The Washington State Department of Licensing administers the commissioning process for new and renewing notaries public, electronic records notaries public, and remote online notaries public and maintains an electronic database of all active notaries public.

 

Department of Licensing
Notary Public Program
PO Box 3856
Seattle, WA 98124-3856
1-360-664-1550
Email: notaries@dol.wa.gov

Do I need to purchase a notary stamp in Washington?

Yes. The Washington notary statute requires all notaries public to use either a rubber stamp or an embossed seal to authenticate all official acts (RCW §42.45.150). Rule 308-30-070 of the Washington Administrative Code provides the legal specifications regarding the layout and the information required on all official stamps or embosser seals. For Washington notary supplies, visit the American Association of Notaries website at www.usnotaries.com, by calling 800.721.2663, or click here.

 

Dimensions: The official seal or stamp must conform to the following requirements: (a) be a minimum of one and five-eighths inches diameter if circular or one inch wide by one and five-eighths inches long if rectangular; (b) the face of the seal or stamp shall be permanently affixed;

(c) if the stamp is affixed to a tangible record, it shall be applied in permanent ink and be capable of being photocopied; (c) the font shall be a minimum of 8-point type; and (d) the seal or stamp shall not contain the Washington state seal.

 

Dimensions for an Embosser on Recordable Documents: When used on a recordable document, an embossing seal must meet the following criteria (RCW 65.04.045[2]): (1) all text on the document, including the seal impression, must be in 8-point type or larger; (2) the seal impression must be “legible and capable of being imaged.” In general, this means that an
embossing seal would have to be inked prior to use or its impression would have to be “smudged” after being affixed.
 

Required Elements: The official seal or stamp of a notary public must include (RCW §42.45.150):

  1. The words “Notary Public”
  2. The words “State of Washington”
  3. The notary public’s name as commissioned
  4. The notary public’s commission expiration date
  5. The notary public’s commission number (WAC 308-30-070)
  6. Any other information required by the Department of Licensing

 

Note:  The notary’s official seal or stamp is the exclusive property of the notary public, and the notary must not surrender his or her official seal to the notary’s employer upon termination of employment. When an official seal or stamp is lost or stolen, the notary public must notify the Department of Licensing in writing within ten business days of discovering the seal or stamp was lost or stolen. The notary public may not obtain a replacement official seal or stamp until the notary public has properly notified the Department of Licensing that the original was lost or stolen. A replacement official seal or stamp must contain some variance from the original seal or stamp (WAC 308-30-090). If a notary public recovers the lost or stolen official seal or stamp after a replacement has been obtained, the original seal or stamp must be destroyed.

Do I need an electronic notary stamp to notarize electronically in Washington?

Yes. Section 308-30-180 of the Washington Administrative Code states that an electronic stamp of a notary public used to authenticate an electronic notarial act shall conform to RCW 42.45.150 and WAC 308-30-070.

 

Dimensions (WAC 308-30-070): The official seal or stamp must conform to the following requirements: (a) shall be minimum one and five-eighths inches diameter if circular or one inch wide by one and five-eighths inches long if rectangular; (b) the face of the seal or stamp shall be permanently affixed; (c) if the stamp is affixed to a tangible record, it shall be applied in permanent ink and be capable of being photocopied; (c) the font shall be a minimum of 8-point type; and (d) the seal or stamp shall not contain the Washington state seal.

 

Required Elements (RCW 42.45.150): The electronic stamp of a notary public shall be a digital image that appears in the likeness or representation of a traditional physical notary public official stamp and must include:

  1. The words “Notary Public”
  2. The words “State of Washington”
  3. The notary public’s name as commissioned
  4. The notary public’s commission expiration date;
  5. The notary public’s commission number (WAC 308-30-070)
  6. Any other information required by the Department of Licensing

 

Note.  An electronic stamp may be used to authenticate an electronic notarial act if the electronic notarial certificate conforms to the statutory requirements set forth in RCW 42.45.130 and 42.45.140. The tamper-evident technology used to create a notary public’s electronic stamp shall not be used for any purpose other than performing electronic notarial acts under RCW Chapter 42.45 and administrative rules. Only the notary public to whom the tamper-evident technology is registered shall generate an official stamp.

Is a notary journal required in Washington?

Yes. The Washington notary statute requires a notary public to maintain a journal in which the notary public chronicles all notarial acts that the notary public performs (RCW 42.45.180). A notary public is required to maintain only one tangible journal at a time whether the notarial acts are performed regarding tangible or electronic records. The format of a journal maintained on a tangible medium must be a permanent, bound register with numbered pages.

 

An electronic records notary public may maintain an electronic format journal to record his or her electronic notarial acts, which can be kept concurrently with the tangible journal. The electronic journal must be in a permanent, tamper-evident electronic format complying with the rules of the Department of Licensing. A notary public who is an attorney licensed to practice law in Washington is not required to chronicle notarial acts in a journal if documentation of the notarial acts is otherwise maintained by professional practice.

 

The notary’s journal must be kept in a locked and secured area, under the direct and exclusive control of the notary public. A notary’s failure to secure his or her journal may be cause for the Department of Licensing to take administrative action against the notary’s commission (RCW 42.45.180[5]). A notary public must retain the journal for ten years after the performance of the notarial act chronicled in the journal. The journal of a notary public is to be destroyed as required by the Department of Licensing by rule upon completion of the ten-year period.  If a notary public's journal is lost or stolen, the notary public shall promptly notify the Department of Licensing on discovering that the journal is lost or stolen. For Washington notary supplies, visit the American Association of Notaries website at www.usnotaries.com, call (800) 721-2663, or click here.

How much can a Washington notary charge for performing notarial acts?

Washington notary fees are set by the Department of Licensing adopted rules (WAC 308-30-220). The maximum allowable fees that a Washington notary public may charge for notarial acts are listed below:

  1. Taking an acknowledgment - $10.00
  2. Administering an oath or affirmation - $10.00
  3. Taking a verification upon oath or affirmation - $10.00
  4. Certifying that an event has occurred or an act has been performed - $10.00
  5. Witnessing or attesting a signature - $10.00
  6. Certifying or attesting a copy - $10.00
  7. Performing a remote notarial act for a remotely located individual - $25

 

In addition, a notary may charge a travel fee when traveling to perform a notarial act if: (a) the notary and the individual requesting the notarial act agree upon the travel fee in advance of the travel; and (b) the notary explains to the individual requesting the notarial act that the travel fee is in addition to the notarial fee specified by rule and is not required by law. A notary may additionally charge the actual costs of copying any instrument or record. A notary public may not charge fees for receiving or noting a protest of a negotiable instrument or record.

What notarial acts can a Washington notary public perform?

A Washington notary public is authorized to perform the following notarial acts whether with respect to a tangible or electronic record (RCW 42.45.010[8]):

  1. Taking an acknowledgment
  2. Administering an oath or affirmation
  3. Witnessing or attesting a signature
  4. Taking a verification upon oath or affirmation
  5. Certifying or attesting a copy
  6. Noting a protest of a negotiable instrument
  7. Certifying the occurrence of an event or the performance of an act

How do I update my address for my Washington notary commission?

Each Washington notary public is required to notify the Department of License in writing within fifteen days of any change to the information submitted on his or her notary public commission application or endorsement application. To update a notary public’s information with the Department of Licensing by mail or email, a notary public must include: (1) his or her name as it appears on the notary commission certificate; (2) date of birth; (3) previous address, phone, email; and (4) new address, phone, or email.

 

There is no charge for an address change, and a new commission certificate will not be issued. To change a notary’s information online simply, log in or sign up by clicking here. To update a notary public’s information, visit the Washington Department of Licensing website by clicking here:

WA State Licensing (DOL) Official Site: How to change the name or address on your notary public certificate.

Do I have to change my name on my notary commission in Washington?

A Washington notary public whose name has legally changed during the term of his or her notary commissions is required to notify the Department of Licensing on a prescribed form by the Department of Licensing within fifteen days of such a name change. A name change notification by mail must include: (1) a completed Notary Public Name Change Application; (2) a copy of the surety bond rider from the bonding company showing the new name; and (3) a $15 filing fee in a check or money order for a new notary certificate. For a name change online, a  notary must: (1) get an electronic copy of the surety bond rider with the new name; (2) choose a method of payment for the $15 filing fee; (3) log in or sign up to change his or her name online.

 

Upon receiving the new commission certificate from the Department of Licensing, a notary public must purchase a new seal or stamp with the new name and information. The Department of Licensing will issue a duplicate notary public commission with the notary’s new name. To download the Notary Name Change Application, click here.

Washington notarial certificates:

Click here to view your state's notarial certificates.

 

 

 

Revised: November 2020

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.