How to Become a Notary in West Virginia
To become a notary in West Virginia, you must:
- Meet the eligibility requirements detailed 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 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 the following:
- Who can become a notary in West Virginia.
- How to become a 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.
The West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office can be contacted at:
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 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:
- By resignation, death, or revocation.
- When a notary public is no longer a resident of West Virginia during the notary’s commission term.
- When a non-resident notary public ceases to have a place of employment or practice in West Virginia.
- When a notary is no longer a citizen or permanent legal resident of the United States.
- When a notary public loses the ability to read and write English.
- When a notary public is disqualified from having 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 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 E&O insurance policy is optional in West Virginia and 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 a West Virginia notary public selects.
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
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?
No. The West Virginia notary statute does not require notaries to maintain a journal of their notarial acts.
However, a notary public who performs an electronic notarial act, remote online notarial act, or remote ink notarial act 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).
According to CRS §153-45-18, if a notary decides to record a notarial act in an electronic journal, it should:
- Allow journal entries to be made, viewed, printed out, and copied only after access is obtained by a procedure that uses a username and a password
- Not allow a journal entry to be deleted or altered in content or sequence by the notary or any other person after a record of the notarization is entered and stored
- Have a backup system to provide a duplicate record of notarial acts as a precaution in the event of loss of the original record
While West Virginia notary law does not require a notary to keep a journal, it is worth considering how you will defend yourself in a court of law if a notarization is questioned. If your answer is: "Using my notary journal," you would be correct. The journal is the only sure way you can prove that you used reasonable care in your performance as a notary, and it may also be used as irrefutable evidence that a correct notarization occurred. Without it, you're on your own.
If you decide to record your notarial acts in a notary journal, select one that is paper bound with numbered pages to create and preserve a chronological record of every notarial act performed.
To order a West Virginia notary journal, please visit the American Association of Notaries website at https://www.notarypublicstamps.com/record-book/west-virginia.
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.
Can I perform electronic notarizations in West Virginia?
Yes. The state of West Virginia enacted the “Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts,” which became effective July 1, 2014. This law authorizes 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). 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).
West Virginia also 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 West Virginia notaries public. 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 traditional paper notarizations apply to an electronically signed document, including, but not limited to, the requirement to personally appear before the notary public. Before performing an initial notarial act with respect to an electronic record, a notary public must notify the West Virginia Secretary of State that they will be performing notarial acts with respect to electronic records and identify the technology they intend to use.
What is the process to become a West Virginia electronic notary public?
To become a West Virginia electronic notary public, you must:
- Be a current West Virginia notary public.
- Select a valid technology to electronically notarize documents. The technology must meet the requirements outlined in West Virginia 153 CSR 45. 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.
Upon acceptance and processing of the above-referenced application, you will receive an e-notarization authorization letter of approval from the secretary of state to purchase an electronic notary stamp.
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 simultaneously. The term of registration of an electronic notary begins on the registration starting date set by the secretary of state and continues while the notary’s commission remains in effect or until registration is terminated under CSR §153-45-24 and CSR §153-45-26.
Note: Within five business days after an electronic notary’s email address change, the notary must electronically transmit a notice of the change to the secretary of state. The email must include the notary public’s notary identification number issued by the secretary of state (CSR §153-45-21). Any change or addition to the data listed on the authorization form must be reported to the secretary of state within ten days (CSR §153-45-22).
Can I perform remote online notarizations in West Virginia?
Yes. Current West Virginia notaries may register with the secretary of state to perform remote online notarizations (RON) using communication technology for a remotely located individual.
How do I become a remote online notary in West Virginia?
To provide remote notary services, you must:
- Hold an existing commission as a traditional notary public.
- Sign up with a RON software provider that meets state requirements.
- Notify the secretary of state of your intent to perform RON and provide the name of the chosen RON vendor by completing an N-2 form.
Can I perform remote ink notarizations (RIN) in West Virginia?
Yes, you can perform remote ink notarial acts for remotely located individuals by registering with the West Virginia Secretary of State.
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 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 various 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.