How to Become a Notary in West Virginia
To become a notary in West Virginia, you must:
- Meet the eligibility requirements listed in the next section.
- Read §39-4 (Notary Public Law) of the West Virginia Code.
- Complete the application online at the West Virginia Secretary of State’s website and pay the $52 filing fee.
- Wait for your notary commission certificate and notary commission letter to be emailed to you by the Secretary of State’s Notary Division.
- Purchase a West Virginia notary stamp and provide the vendor with a copy of your commission letter.
- Review the West Virginia Notary Handbook.
Who can become a notary public in West Virginia?
To become a notary in West Virginia, you must meet the following eligibility 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 West Virginia.
- Be able to read and write English.
- Have a high school diploma or equivalent.
- Not be disqualified from receiving a commission under WV Code §39-4-21.
This West Virginia notary guide will help you understand:
- Who can become a notary in West Virginia.
- How to become a notary in West Virginia.
- How to become an electronic notary in West Virginia.
- The basic duties of a notary in West Virginia.
How do I renew my notary commission in West Virginia?
The notary renewal application process is the same as for the initial application for appointment as a notary public. No one is automatically reappointed as a notary in West Virginia. You may begin your notary commission renewal process before your notary commission expires.
To renew your West Virginia notary commission, complete a notary application on the West Virginia Secretary of State’s website at https://sos.wv.gov/business/Pages/NotaryApp.aspx.
Who appoints notaries in West Virginia?
The secretary of state appoints West Virginia notaries. The West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office receives notary applications for appointment and reappointment, processes the registrations for electronic notaries public, administers the commissioning process, and maintains a database of all active notaries public and commissioners.
Office of the Secretary of State
Building 1, Suite 157-K
1900 Kanawha Blvd., East
Charleston, WV 25305-0775
Can a non-resident of West Virginia apply for a commission as a notary public?
Yes. A non-resident applicant can apply to become a West Virginia notary public if they have a place of employment or practice in the State of West Virginia [WVC §39-4-20(b)(3)].
To initiate the application to become a notary in West Virginia, visit the secretary of state’s website at https://sos.wv.gov/business/Pages/NotaryApp.aspx
How long is a notary public's commission term in West Virginia?
The commission term of a West Virginia notary public is five years.
Is notary training or an exam required to become a notary or to renew a notary commission in West Virginia?
No. The West Virginia notary statute does not require new or renewing notary applicants to take a course of study or examination to be commissioned as notaries in West Virginia. The secretary of state only requires West Virginia notaries public to review the West Virginia Notary Handbook before they begin to notarize documents. The American Association of Notaries highly recommends that new applicants seeking appointments as West Virginia notaries seek training so that they may fully understand:
- State notary laws and regulations.
- Notarial duties and responsibilities.
- General principles and practices of being a West Virginia notary.
How much does it cost to become a notary public in West Virginia?
To become a notary public in West Virginia, you must pay a $52 filing fee to process your notary application.
Other expenses include the cost of purchasing:
- A West Virginia notary stamp to authenticate all notarial acts.
- A West Virginia notary journal to record all notarial acts performed.
- A notary errors and omissions (E&O) insurance policy to protect yourself if you are sued for unintentional mistakes or if a false claim is filed against you as a notary.
Do I need a notary errors and omissions (E&O) insurance policy to become a notary in West Virginia?
A notary errors and omissions (E&O) insurance policy is not required to become a West Virginia notary public or to renew your notary commission. However, the American Association of Notaries strongly recommends that every West Virginia notary obtain a notary E&O insurance policy. This insurance protects you from a claim if a client sues you as a notary. A notary E&O policy covers unintentional notarial mistakes and pays for legal fees and damages based on the coverage you select as a West Virginia notary public.
Do I need a notary bond to become a notary in West Virginia?
A notary bond is not required in West Virginia 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. West Virginia 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 West Virginia?
Yes. West Virginia notary law requires all notaries public to use an inked stamp to authenticate all notarial acts.
The West Virginia notary stamp must contain the following:
- The words "Official Seal."
- The words "Notary Public."
- The words "State of West Virginia.”
- The notary public’s name.
- The notary public's address (as it appears on the commission letter).
- The notary public’s commission expiration date.
- An image of the West Virginia State Seal on the left (optional).
Additionally, the notary stamp must:
- Be a rectangle no larger than 1” high by 2½” wide
- Have a border
- Be capable of being copied together with the record to which it is affixed or attached or with which it is logically associated.
The embossed seal is permitted by West Virginia statute, but it may NOT be used as a substitute for a West Virginia notary stamp. An embossed seal must include the following elements:
- The words “Notary Seal.”
- The words “Notary Public.”
- The words “State of West Virginia.”
- The notary public’s name.
To order a West Virginia notary stamp, notary seal, complete notary package, and notary supplies, please visit the American Association of Notaries website at https://www.notarypublicstamps.com/notary-stamps/west-virginia
What are the steps to replace a lost or stolen West Virginia notary seal?
West Virginia law does not address the steps to follow when a notary seal is lost or stolen. However, the American Association of Notaries recommends you report the incident to the secretary of state and to your local law enforcement agency. After notifying the secretary of state, you may click here to order a new seal.
How much can a West Virginia notary public charge for performing notarial acts?
West Virginia notary fees are set by state notary statute (WVC §39-4-30). The maximum allowable fees that a West Virginia notary may charge for notarial acts are listed below:
- For the notarization of each signature and the proper recording thereof in the journal of notarial acts: $10 for each signature notarized
- For certification of a facsimile of a document, retaining a facsimile in the notary’s file, and the proper recording thereof in the journal of notarial acts: $10 for each eight-and-one-half by eleven-inch page retained in the notary’s file
- For any other notarial act performed: $10
Is a notary journal required in West Virginia?
Notary Journal requirements for each type of notarization in West Virginia:
For traditional notarizations, electronic notarizations, remote online notarizations and remote ink notarizations - West Virginia notaries are not required to record their notarial acts in a notary journal. However, it is strongly recommend that all notarial acts be recorded in a journal. A notary public can maintain a journal in a tangible medium or electronic format.
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.
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 West Virginia notaries record in their notary journals?
If you decide to maintain a notary journal; the West Virginia Secretary of State recommends you record the following information when performing traditional, electronic, remote online, and remote ink notarizations:
- The notarization date.
- The person’s name.
- Type of document.
Where can I perform notarial acts in West Virginia?
You may perform notarial acts while you are anywhere within the geographic borders of the state of West Virginia.
What notarial acts can a West Virginia notary public perform?
A West Virginia notary is authorized to perform the following notarial acts, whether notarizing a tangible or electronic record [WVC §39-4-2(5)]:
- Take an acknowledgment.
- Administer an oath or affirmation.
- Take a verification on oath or affirmation.
- Witness or attest a signature.
- Note a protest of a negotiable instrument.
- Certify or attest a copy.
What type of notarizations are allowed in West Virginia?
West Virginia law allows four types of notarizations:
Traditional notarization – 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 an inked notary stamp impression to the tangible notarial certificate.
Electronic notarization (e-Notarization) – 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 document, the signatures, and the notary seal are all in an electronic format.
Remote online notarization – The signer appears before an electronic notary (eNotary) via communication technology. This method involves notarizing an electronic document and using an electronic signature, electronic notarial certificate, and electronic notary seal.
Remote ink notarization – The signer appears before an electronic notary (eNotary) via communication technology. This type of notarization requires the signer and the notary to send the document to each other and for the notary public to use their physical stamp to notarize the document without the aid of an electronic seal or signature.
What are the steps to become an electronic notary in West Virginia?
To become a West Virginia electronic notary public (e-Notary), you must:
- Be a current West Virginia notary public.
- Select a valid technology to electronically notarize documents. The West Virginia Secretary of State’s website has a list of vendors that have indicated they meet the requirements outlined in West Virginia 153 CSR 45.
- Complete an application for e-notarization authorization on the secretary of state’s website.
Note: An electronic notary (eNotary) in West Virginia can perform electronic notarizations, remote online notarizations, and remote ink notarizations.
How do I update my address on my West Virginia notary commission?
If your residence or business address changes and you can no longer be reached at the address listed on your West Virginia notary stamp, you must file a change of address form through the secretary of state’s Enterprise Registration & Licensing System. The address change must be submitted no later than thirty days after the change [WVC §39-4-22(b)]. There is no fee required to update your address. You must order a new notary stamp reflecting the new address.
How do I change my name on my notary commission in West Virginia?
If you change your legal name through marriage or by court action, you must notify the secretary of state within thirty days of the name change [WVC §39-4-22(b)].
You can change your notary name on the secretary of state’s Enterprise Registration & Licensing System. There is no fee to change your name.
You may perform notarial acts using your new name and write under your signature "Commissioned as (your old name)" and continue to use the stamp with your old name. Once your name change has been processed, you will be issued a commission letter and a commission certificate with your new name, for which you will need to purchase a new stamp.
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.