Home > Become a Notary > How to Become a West Virginia Notary

How to Become a West Virginia Notary


The West Virginia Notary Process:


Are you interested in becoming a West Virginia notary? Are you interested in generating extra income, starting your own West Virginia notary business, adding a notary title to your resume, or helping people in your community? The State of West Virginia appoints notaries to serve the public as unbiased impartial witnesses to document signing. Becoming a notary in West Virginia is a straightforward process, and as long as you meet the eligibility requirements listed below, you can apply to become a West Virginia 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 West Virginia notary
  2. The process to become a West Virginia notary
  3. Basic West Virginia notarial duties

What are the qualifications to become a West Virginia notary?


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

  1. Be at least 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 West Virginia.
  4. Be able to read and write English.
  5. Have a high school diploma or its equivalent.
  6. Not be disqualified to receive a commission under §39-4-21 of the West Virginia Code.

What is the process to become a West Virginia notary?


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

 

  1. Meet the eligibility requirements provided in the previous section.
  2. Read §39-4 of the West Virginia Code.
  3. Complete the application(s) online at the West Virginia Secretary of State’s website, or complete the Application for Appointment as a Notary Public (Form N-1) to apply for your initial appointment or to apply for recommission.
  4. Pay a $52 filing fee.
  5.  

Very Important: Make sure to strictly follow the instructions when completing the application and return it to Secretary of State with the filing fee for the initial registration or to apply for recommission. To download the Application for Appointment as a Notary Public (Form N-1), visit the Secretary of State’s website at WV Secretary of State. If a notary applicant and/or recommissioning notary public have not received a commission letter within three weeks after mailing an application for appointment or reappointment as a notary public, follow up with the Secretary of State Notary Division by calling (304) 558-8000 or 1-866-767-8683 (toll free).

Can a non-resident become a notary in West Virginia?

Yes. A non-resident can become a West Virginia notary public if the non-resident meets the following statutory requirements (WVC §39-4-20[b][3]). A non-resident must:

 

  1. Have a place of employment or practice in the state of West Virginia.
  2. Satisfy the same qualifications as West Virginia residents, setting aside the residency requirements.
  3. Read §39-4 of the West Virginia Code.
  4. Complete the application(s) Online, or complete the Application for Appointment as a Notary Public (Form N-1).
  5. Submit the $52 filing fee.
  6. Follow the same initial application for appointment process as West Virginia residents.
  7. Continuously maintain a place of employment or practice in West Virginia.
  8. Relinquish his or her notary public commission if the non-resident notary public is terminated from his or her place of employment or no longer has a practice in West Virginia by returning the commission certificate and notary seal to the Secretary of State.

 

To initiate the application process for a West Virginia notary public commission, visit the Secretary of State’s website at WV Secretary of State.

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

A West Virginia notary applicant’s expenses may include:

 

  1. A $52 filing fee to process an application for appointment or reappointment as a notary public.
  2. The price of an official seal/stamp to authenticate all notarial acts.

 

If a notary applicant wishes to comply with the recommendations of the Secretary of State, other expenses may include:

 

  1. The fee for a surety bond.
  2. The cost of a journal to record all notarial acts performed.
  3. The fee for an E&O insurance policy for the notary’s personal protection against liability.

How do I renew my West Virginia notary commission?

There are no statutory provisions in the West Virginia notary statute or rules promulgated by the Secretary of State to apply for reappointment as a notary public. No person is automatically reappointed as a West Virginia notary public. A notary public may begin the recommission process before his or her notary public commission expires. The renewal application process is the same as the initial application for appointment as a notary public.

 

  1. Read §39-4 of the West Virginia Code.
  2. Complete the Application for Appointment as a Notary Public (Form N-1) to apply for recommission by strictly following the instructions.
  3. Pay a $52 filing fee.
  4. Submit the completed application to the Secretary of State with the filing fee.

 

To apply for recommission as a notary public, visit the Secretary of State’s website at WV Secretary of State.

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

No. The West Virginia 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 West Virginia. The American Association of Notaries highly recommends that new applicants seeking appointments as West Virginia notaries public take and complete a notary course of study so that they may fully understand the: (1) state notary laws and state regulations; (2) notarial duties and responsibilities; and (3) general principles and practices of being a West Virginia notary public.

Can I perform electronic notarization in West Virginia?

Yes. The State of West Virginia enacted the “Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts” authorizing a notary public to select one or more tamper-evident technologies to perform notarial acts with respect to electronic records (West Virginia Code §39-4), which became effective July 1, 2014. Moreover, the West Virginia Secretary of State established standards, guidelines, and practices for electronic notarizations by publishing rules in the West Virginia Code of State Rules, Title 153, Series 45 (Standards and Guidelines for Electronic Notarization).

What is the process to become a West Virginia electronic notary public?

Before a notary public performs his or her initial notarial act with respect to an electronic record, the notary public must notify the West Virginia Secretary of State that he or she will be performing notarial acts with respect to electronic records and identify the technology he or she intends to use.

Can I perform remote (online) notarizations in West Virginia?

No. The State of West Virginia has not enacted into the state notary statute or promulgated adopted rules providing any remote notarization provisions authorizing notaries public to perform notarial acts for remotely located individuals. 

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

The commission term of a West Virginia notary public is five years commencing on the date specified on the notary public commission (WVC §39-4-20[d]). However, a notary public’s commission may be rendered void:    

  1. By resignation, death, or revocation.
  2. When a notary public is no longer a resident of West Virginia during the notary’s commission term.
  3. When a non-resident notary public ceases to have a place of employment or practice in West Virginia.
  4. When a notary is no longer a citizen or permanent legal resident of the United States.
  5. When a notary public loses the ability to read and write English.  
  6. When a notary public is disqualified to have a notary public commission under §39-4-21 of the West Virginia Code.

Is a West Virginia notary bond required to become a notary in West Virginia?

No. New applicants seeking appointments as notaries public and renewing notaries public are not required by state notary statute to obtain a notary surety bond to be commissioned as West Virginia notaries public.

Do I need a West Virginia notary errors and omission insurance?

No. An errors and omissions insurance policy is optional in West Virginia. 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 West Virginia notaries public obtain an 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  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 West Virginia notary public selects.

Where can I perform notarial acts in West Virginia?

A West Virginia notary public has statewide jurisdiction and may perform notarial acts anywhere within the geographic borders of the state of West Virginia.

Who appoints West Virginia notaries public?

The West Virginia Secretary of State receives applications for appointment and reappointment as a notary public, processes the registrations for electronic notaries public, administers the commissioning process, and maintains the database of all active notaries public and commissioners. To contact the West Virginia Secretary of State, use the following information:

 

West Virginia Secretary of State
Licensing Division
1900 Kanawha Blvd, East
Bldg. 1, Suite 157-K
Charleston, West Virginia 25305-0775
(304) 558-8000
Toll Free: 1-866-767-8683
Email: Notary@wvsos.gov

Do I need to purchase a notary stamp in West Virginia?

 Yes. The West Virginia notary statute requires all notaries public to use a rectangular rubber stamp seal to authenticate all their notarial acts (WVC §39-4-17). Section 39-4-17 and the West Virginia Secretary of State provide the legal specifications regarding the layout and the information required on all official stamp seals. For West Virginia notary supplies, visit our website at www.usnotaries.com, call (800) 721-2663, or click here.

 

Dimensions: A notary public’s rubber stamp seal must have a border and be no larger than 1 x 2 ½ inches surrounding the required words.

 

Required Elements: The official rubber stamp seal of a West Virginia notary public must contain only the outline of the seal and the following information printed within the outline of the seal:

 

  1. The words “Official Seal”
  2. The words “Notary Public”
  3. The words “State of West Virginia”
  4. The notary public’s name
  5. The notary public’s address (residence or business)
  6. The notary public’s commission expiration date
  7. An image of the West Virginia State Seal

 

The embossed seal is permitted by West Virginia statute, but it may NOT be used as a substitute for a rubber stamp seal. An embossed seal must include the following elements:

 

  1. The words “Notary Seal”
  2. The words “Notary Public”
  3. The words “State of West Virginia”
  4. The notary public’s name

 

The color of the ink is not mandated by law. However, the notary public’s official rubber stamp seal must be capable of being copied together with the record to which it is affixed or attached or with which it is logically associated. It is the notary public’s responsibility to ensure the security of his or her stamping device and not allow another individual to use the device to perform a notarial act. The notary public or his or her personal representative or guardian must report the loss or theft of the seal in writing to the Secretary of State within thirty days after such loss or theft. Upon resignation, revocation, or on the expiration of the notary public's commission, the notary public must disable the stamping device by destroying, defacing, damaging, erasing or securing it against use (WVC §39-4-18a). See Making Changes to Your Notary Public Commission for more information.

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

Yes. In notarizing an electronic document, the notary public must attach to, or logically associate with, the electronic notarial certificate a registered electronic signature and a registered electronic notary seal, or a registered single element in conformance with the rule, in such a manner that the signature and the seal, or the single element, are attributed to the notary public as named on the commission (CSR §153-45-12).

 

A registered electronic signature must be (CSR §153-45-13):  

 

  1. Unique to the electronic notary public.
  2. Capable of independent verification.
  3. Attached to or logically associated with an electronic notarial certificate in such a manner that any subsequent alteration of the certificate or underlying electronic document prominently displays evidence of the alteration.
  4. Attached or logically associated by a means under the electronic notary’s sole control.

 

A registered electronic notary seal must include (CSR §153-45-11):  

 

  1. The words “Official Seal”.
  2. The words “Electronic Notary Public”.
  3. The words “State of West Virginia”.
  4. The notary public’s name as it is spelled on the commissioning document.
  5. The notary public’s address as it is listed on the commissioning document.
  6. The commission expiration date of the electronic notary.
  7. An image of the West Virginia State Seal.
  8. The commission or registration number of the electronic notary.

 

In performing an electronic notarial act, the notary public must complete an electronic notarial certificate that includes (CSR §153-45-11):  

 

  1. Completed wording appropriate to the particular electronic notarial act, as prescribed in the rule.
  2. A registered electronic signature.
  3. A registered electronic notary seal.

 

At all times the means for producing registered electronic notary seals, or registered single elements as described in the rule, must be kept under the sole control of the electronic notary. If the means for producing registered electronic notary seals, or registered single elements as described in the rule, are accessed by a username and password, the electronic notary must maintain sole control of the access information (CSR §153-45-15). An employer of an electronic notary must not use or control the means for producing registered electronic signatures and notary seals or registered single elements combining the required features of both nor, upon termination of a notary’s employment, retain any software, coding, disk, certificate, card, token, or program that is intended exclusively to produce a registered electronic signature, notary seal, or combined single element, whether or not the employer financially supported the employee’s activities as a notary public (CSR §153-45-15).

 

A registered electronic signature may be used by the electronic notary public for lawful purposes other than performing electronic notarizations, provided that neither the title “notary” nor any other indication of status as a notarial officer is part of the signature. Neither a registered electronic notary seal nor a combined single element containing the seal may be used by the electronic notary public for any purpose other than performing lawful electronic notarizations (CSR §153-45-16).

Is a notary journal required in West Virginia?

No. The West Virginia notary statute does not require notaries public to maintain a journal of their notarial acts. However, an electronic notary public may keep, maintain, protect, and provide for lawful inspection a chronological journal of notarial acts that is either a permanently bound book with numbered pages or an electronic journal of all electronic notarial acts (CRS §153-45-17). The American Association of Notaries strongly recommends that West Virginia notaries public maintain records of all their notarial acts performed.

 

Record keeping is the best way to ensure the proper conduct of notaries public, both to help protect them and to prevent fraud. Notaries public are protected when their notarial journals are well-maintained with clear and concise documentation that proper notarial procedures were followed in the performance of their notarial duties. Accurate record keeping is especially important when a number of years have lapsed since the notarial act was performed. Furthermore, the American Association of Notaries recommends that West Virginia notaries public record their notarial acts performed in a permanent, paper-bound journal with consecutively numbered pages, designed to deter fraud as a protective measure against liability. For West Virginia notary supplies, visit our website at www.usnotaries.com, call (800) 721-2663, or click here.

How much can a West Virginia notary 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 public may charge for notarial acts are listed below:

 

  1. Take an acknowledgment--$10
  2. Administer an oath or affirmation--$10
  3. Take verification on oath or affirmation--$10
  4. Witness or attest a signature--$10
  5. Certify or attest a copy--$10
  6. Note a protest of a negotiable instrument

What notarial acts can a West Virginia notary public perform?

A West Virginia notary public is authorized to perform the following notarial acts whether with respect to a tangible or electronic record (WVC §§39-4-5 & 39-4-2):

 

  1. Taking an acknowledgment
  2. Administering an oath or affirmation
  3. Taking a verification on oath or affirmation
  4. Witnessing or attesting a signature
  5. Noting a protest of a negotiable instrument
  6. Certifying or attesting a copy

How do I update my address for my West Virginia notary commission?

If a notary public changes the address of his or her residence or business and can no longer be reached at the address listed on the notary’s rubber stamp seal, the notary public must file the change of address Form N-3 with the Secretary of State not later than thirty days after such change (WVC §39-4-22[b]). The completed “Notary Public Name and/or Address Change” form (Form N-3) must include the notary’s: (1) old address and new address and (2) commission expiration date. There is NO FEE to file the address change. Moreover, the notary public must order a new rubber stamp seal to reflect the notary’s new information. To update a notary’s commission information, see Making Changes to Your Notary Public Commission.

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

If a notary public changes his or her legal name through marriage or by court action, the notary public must file the appropriate name change form with the Secretary of State within thirty days of the name change (WVC §39-4-22[b]). The notary public must complete the “Notary Public Name and/or Address Change” form (Form N-3) for both name and address change.  While the notary public is waiting for the name change to be processed officially with the Secretary of State, the notary public may perform notarial acts using his or her new name and sign under the notarial signature "Commissioned as________ (former name)". Furthermore, the notary public may continue to use his or her old stamp until the new rubber stamp seal is approved. There is NO FEE to file the name change. Moreover, the notary public must order a new rubber stamp seal to reflect the notary’s new information. To update a notary’s commission information, see Making Changes to Your Notary Public Commission.

 

 

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.