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How to Become a Notary in West Virginia


The Application Process to Become a Notary in West Virginia:


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 West Virginia notary guide will help you understand:

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

What are the qualifications to become a notary in West Virginia?


To become a notary in West Virginia, 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 WV Code §39-4-21 or §39-4-23.

What is the process to become a notary in West Virginia?


To become a notary in West Virginia 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 (Notary Public Law) of the West Virginia Code.
  3. Complete the application 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 an initial appointment or to apply for recommission. 
  4. Receive a notary commission letter after the notary application is processed.
  5. Buy a West Virginia notary stamp.
  6. Receive a notary commission certificate and Notary Handbook.
  7.  Review the Notary Handbook.

Very Important: Make sure to strictly follow the instructions when completing the application and return it to the Secretary of State with the filing fee for the initial registration or to apply for recommission. If a notary applicant or recommissioning notary public has not received a commission letter within three weeks after mailing an application, he or she should follow up with the Secretary of State Notary Division by calling (304) 558-8000 or 1-866-767-8683 (toll free).

How do I renew my notary commission in West Virginia?

No person is automatically reappointed as a notary in West Virginia. A West Virginia notary may begin the recommission process before his or her notary commission expires. The West Virginia notary renewal application process is the same as the initial notary appointment process. A renewing West Virginia notary must:

  1. Meet the eligibility requirements provided in the previous section.
  2. Read §39-4 (Notary Public Law) of the West Virginia Code.
  3. Complete the application 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 recommission. 
  4. Pay a $52 filing fee.
  5. Receive a notary commission letter after the notary application is processed.
  6. Buy a West Virginia notary stamp.
  7. Receive the notary commission certificate and Notary Handbook.
  8. Review the Notary Handbook.

Who appoints notaries in West Virginia?

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
Notary Division

1900 Kanawha Blvd, East
Bldg. 1, Suite 157-K
Charleston, West Virginia 25305-0775
Phone: (304) 558-8000
Toll Free: 1-866-767-8683
Email:  Notary@wvsos.gov
Website: https://sos.wv.gov/business/Pages/NotaryApp.aspx

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

Yes. A non-resident can become a notary in West Virginia 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 (Notary Public Law) of the West Virginia Code.
  4. Complete the application online at the West Virginia Secretary of State’s website or complete the Application for Appointment as a Notary Public (Form N-1).
  5. Pay a $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 notary commission certificate to the Secretary of State and destroying the notary seal.

To initiate the application to become a notary in West Virginia, visit the Secretary of State’s website at WV Secretary of State.

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 WV Code §39-4-21 or §39-4-23.

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 American Association of Notaries highly recommends that new applicants seeking appointments as West Virginia notaries take and complete a notary course of study so that they may fully understand:

  1. State notary laws and regulations
  2. Notarial duties and responsibilities
  3. General principles and practices of being a West Virginia notary

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

Is a notary errors and omissions insurance policy required to become a notary in West Virginia?

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. However, the American Association of Notaries recommends that West Virginia 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 damages or other type of loss to the public or from a client who sues a notary for recovery. An E&O policy customarily covers legal fees and damages based on the coverage a West Virginia notary selects.

Is a 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 to purchase a notary stamp in West Virginia?

Yes. The West Virginia notary statute requires all notaries to use a West Virginia notary stamp to authenticate all their notarial acts (§39-4-15. Certificate of notarial act.). Section WVC §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.

Size: A West Virginia notary stamp must be a rectangle no larger than 1” by 2 ½” wide.

Border: The seal must have a border.

Contents: The West Virginia notary stamp of a West Virginia notary public must contain 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 on the left (optional)

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:

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

The ink color of the West Virginia notary stamp  is not mandated by law. However, the notary’s  West Virginia notary stamp 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’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 must report the loss or theft of the notary seal in writing to the secretary of state within thirty days after such loss or theft. Upon death of a notary, his or her personal representative or guardian must destroy the notary’s seal. Upon resignation, revocation, or on the expiration of the notary public's commission, the notary must disable the stamping device by destroying, defacing, damaging, erasing, or otherwise securing it against use (WVC §39-4-18a).

 To order a West Virginia notary stamp, notary seal, complete notary package, and notary supplies please visit the American Association of Notaries website, or call 713-644-2299.

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:

  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--$10

Is a notary journal required in West Virginia?

No. The West Virginia notary statute does not require notaries to maintain a journal of their notarial acts. However, an electronic notary 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 maintain records of all their notarial acts.

Record keeping is the best way to ensure the proper conduct of notaries, to help protect them, and to prevent fraud. Notaries 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 several years have lapsed since the notarial act was performed. Furthermore, the American Association of Notaries recommends that West Virginia notaries public record the notarial acts they perform in a permanent, paper-bound journal with consecutively numbered pages designed to deter fraud as a protective measure against liability.  

To order a West Virginia notary journal, please visit the American Association of Notaries website, or call 713-644-2299.

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.

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 §§39-4-5 & 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

Can I perform electronic notarizations 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 §39-4-19), 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).

In addition, West Virginia enacted the Uniform Electronic Transaction Act (WVC §39A-1-1 through §39A-1-17), including the provision on notarization and acknowledgment, which authorizes electronic signatures used by the notaries public in West Virginia. Section 39A-1-11 states, “If a law requires a signature or record to be notarized, acknowledged, verified or made under oath, the requirement is satisfied if the electronic signature of the person authorized to perform those acts, together with all other information required to be included by other applicable law, is attached to or logically associated with the signature or record.”

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. 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.

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

Before performing the initial notarial act with respect to an electronic record, a West Virginia notary public must:

  1. Be currently registered as an active West Virginia notary public.
  2. Before requesting authorization to perform electronic notarizations, select a valid technology to electronically notarize documents. The technology the notary chooses must meet the requirements set forth in West Virginia 153 CSR 45.
  3. Complete and sign the “E-Notarization Authorization Application” form (Form N-2) and send it to the Secretary of State (no filing fee is required).
  4. Register the capability to perform electronic notarial acts with the Secretary of State.
  5. Provide a description of each separate means that will be used to produce an electronic signature and electronic notary seal.
  6. Provide the names of any licensed authorities or companies issuing the means for producing the electronic signatures and seals.

Upon acceptance and processing of the above-referenced application, the notary will receive an E-Notarization Authorization letter of approval from the Secretary of State authorizing him or her to perform electronic notarizations.

Upon recommissioning, a notary shall again register as an electronic notary with the Secretary of State before notarizing electronically. A person may apply or reapply for a notary commission and register or reregister to perform electronic notarial acts at the same time. The term of registration of an electronic notary begins on the registration starting date set by the Secretary of State and continues as long as the notary’s commission remains in effect or until registration is terminated.

Note: Within five business days after the change of an electronic notary’s email address, the notary must electronically transmit to the Secretary of State a notice of the change. The email must include the notary public’s notary identification number issued by the Secretary of State (CSR §153-45-22).

Can I perform remote online notarizations in West Virginia?

Yes. Starting June 17, 2021, notaries located in West Virginia may perform remote online notarizations (RON) using communication technology for a remotely located individual if:

  • The notary identifies the remotely located individual through personal knowledge, a credible witness, or two forms of identity proofing.
  • The notary is reasonably able to confirm that a record before the notary is the same record in which the remotely located individual made a statement or on which the individual executed a signature.
  • The notary, or a person acting on behalf of the notary, creates an audio-visual recording of the performance of the notarial act.

However, if the remotely located individual resides outside the United States, there are a few other conditions that must be met. First, the notary must be commissioned as an out-of-state commissioner. Second, the record must be in the jurisdiction of, or substantially connected to West Virginia. Third, if West Virginia notary law prohibits a specific record outside of the West Virginia state borders, the RON cannot be completed.

How do I become a remote online notary in West Virginia?

Before a notary can request approval to provide remote notary services, the notary must:

  1. Hold an existing commission as a traditional notary public.
  2. Sign up with a RON software provider that meets state requirements.
  3. Notify the Secretary of State of his or her intent to perform RON and provide the name of the chosen RON vendor.

The notary will also need to furnish his or her equipment, such as a computer, webcam, microphone, and a secure connection to the internet. Additional required RON supplies include a digital certificate containing an electronic signature, an electronic seal, and an electronic journal.

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

No training or an exam is required to become a remote online notary in West Virginia.

How long is the term of a remote online notary in West Virginia?

The remote notary authorization will last until the day your current traditional notary commission expires. You will be required to renew your notary public commission before you can request remote authorization again.

Can I perform remote ink notarizations (RIN) in West Virginia?

Yes. West Virginia allows a notary to perform remote ink-signed notarization using communication technology if the notary identifies the signer by one of the following means:

  • Personal knowledge.
  • A government-issued, unexpired identification document or record that includes the individual’s photograph, name, and signature (common acceptable forms of identification documents include, but are not limited to, a driver’s license, government-issued identification card, or passport).
  • At least two different types of processes or services by which a third person provides a means to verify the identity of the individual through a review of public or private data sources.
  • The oath or affirmation by a credible witness who is in the physical presence of the notary or the individual or is present using communication technology in real-time at the time of notarization and who has personal knowledge of the individual or identified by the notary.

How much can a West Virginia charge for online and remote ink notarizations?

West Virginia allows notaries to charge $10 per remote notarial act.

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

Yes. In notarizing an electronic document, the notary 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 section 6 of the West Virginia Administrative rule, in such a manner that the signature and the seal, or the single element, are attributed to the notary 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 §153-45-11.2):  

  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.

At all times the means for producing registered electronic notary seals must be kept under the sole control of the electronic notary. If the means for producing registered electronic notary seals are accessed by a username and password, the electronic notary must maintain sole control of the access information (CSR §153-45-14). 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. (CSR §153-45-15).

A registered electronic signature may be used by the electronic notary 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 for any purpose other than performing lawful electronic notarizations (CSR §153-45-16).

How do I update my address with the West Virginia Secretary of State?

If a notary changes the address of his or her residence or business and can no longer be reached at the address listed on the notary’s West Virginia notary stamp, the notary must file the change of address form through the Enterprise Registration & Licensing System with the Secretary of State not later than thirty days after such a change (WVC §39-4-22[b]). Moreover, the notary public must order a new notary stamp seal to reflect the notary’s new information.

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

If a notary changes his or her legal name through marriage or by court action, the notary 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 must complete the “Notary Public Name and/or Address Change” (Enterprise Registration & Licensing System) 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 may perform notarial acts using his or her new name and sign under their signature "Commissioned as ___(old name)___". Furthermore, the notary may continue to use his or her old notary stamp until the new name is approved. There is NO FEE to file the name change. Moreover, the notary must order a new West Virginia notary stamp  to reflect the notary’s new information.

Revised:

November 2021

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 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 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.