How to Become a Wisconsin Notary
The Wisconsin Notary Process:
Are you interested in becoming a Wisconsin notary? Are you interested in generating extra income as a notary, starting your own Wisconsin notary business, adding a Wisconsin notary title to your resume, or helping to notarize documents for people in your community? Wisconsin notaries are appointed by the state to serve the public as an unbiased impartial witnesses to document signing. The process to become a notary in Wisconsin a straightforward process, and as long as you meet the state notary law requirements listed below, you can apply to become a Wisconsin notary. The American Association of Notaries can help you with the Wisconsin notary application process from start to finish, and when your application is approved, we can manufacture your notary stamp and notary supplies and provide you with support during your Wisconsin notary commission term so you can fulfill your notary duties accurately. The American Association of Notaries has been helping individuals become notaries since 1994. We can help you, too, become a notary!
This guide will help you understand:
- The process to become a Wisconsin notary
- Who can become a Wisconsin notary
- Basic Wisconsin notary duties
What are the qualifications to become a Wisconsin notary?
To become a notary in the State of Wisconsin, a notary applicant must meet the following requirements:
- Be at least 18 years of age.
- Be a United States resident.
- Have at least the equivalent of an 8th-grade education.
- Be familiar with the duties and responsibilities of a notary public.
- Have demonstrated adherence to laws according to the Wisconsin Statutes with regard to arrests/citations/convictions.
- Not have been convicted in state or federal court of a felony or convicted of a misdemeanor involving a violation of the public trust, unless there is proof of a pardon relating to the convictions.
What is the process to become a Wisconsin notary?
In order to become a Wisconsin notary public and receive a Wisconsin notary public commission, a notary applicant must:
- Meet the eligibility requirements provided in the next section.
- Complete the Notary Tutorial Exam and submit the Completion Certificate.
- Pay and apply online or include a $20 payment with a paper Four-year Notary Public Application.
- The $20 fee is payable to the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions if not submitted electronically.
- File an oath of office.
- File a $500 surety bond.
- File an imprint of his or her official seal.
To apply for a Wisconsin Attorney’s Permanent Notary Public Commission:
- Obtain an original Certificate of Good Standing from the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
- Pay and apply online or include a $50 check made payable to the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions with the paper Attorney Permanent Notary Public Application.
- File an imprint of the official seal.
Can a non-resident become a notary in Wisconsin?
Yes, any nonresident of Wisconsin who is living in the United States may apply for a commission as a Wisconsin notary public, but the nonresident must also meet the legal requirements.
How much does it cost to become a notary in Wisconsin?
A Wisconsin notary applicant’s required expenses include the cost for the following: (1) a $20 filing fee to process the application for appointment or reappointment for non-attorney applicants; (2) a $50 filing fee to process the application for a permanent notary public commission for attorneys; (3) a notary stamp; (4) a $500 surety bond; (5) a journal if a notary public wishes to maintain one as recommended by their commissioning agency; and (6) an E&O insurance policy if a notary wishes to acquire one for his or her own legal and financial protection.
How do I renew my Wisconsin notary commission?
The Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions is required by law to mail notice of the commission expiration date to each notary public’s last-known address at least thirty days before the expiration of a commission. To renew a Wisconsin notary public commission, the notary public will receive a postcard from the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions that will have a renewal code that the notary can use to: (1) complete the Notary Tutorial Exam and submit the Completion Certificate; (2) Pay and apply online, or include a $29 payment with a paper Four-year Notary Public Application; (3) file a $500 surety bond; (4) file an oath of office; and (5) file an imprint of the notary’s official seal. The reappointment procedure is the same as the initial appointment for a new notary applicant.
Are there any exams or notary courses required to become a Wisconsin notary public or to renew my Wisconsin notary public commission?
Yes, Wisconsin notary law dictates that each new notary applicant seeking a commission as a Wisconsin notary public must be familiar with the duties and responsibilities of a notary public (WS 137.01[b]). To satisfy this legal requirement, all new applicants must take the free Online Notary Public Tutorial and pass the notary exam with 90% or better within one year of applying. The free Online Notary Public Tutorial/Exam is available on the Department of Financial Institutions website (www.wdfi.org/apps/NotaryTutorialExam/TableOfContents.aspx). The online notary exam may be taken an unlimited number of times until the notary applicant passes the online notary exam to obtain the completion certificate and proceed with the notary application process.
Can I perform electronic notarization in Wisconsin?
Yes. The State of Wisconsin has not enacted/adopted statutes, rules, and/or procedures for electronic notarizations, and the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions has no rule making authority to do so. However, Wisconsin has adopted the “Electronic Transactions and Records; Electronic Notarization and Acknowledgment” (WS 137.11 through 137.26, Chapter 137, Subchapter II), authorizing the electronic signatures used by Wisconsin notaries public. Section 137.19 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 administer the oath or to make the notarization, acknowledgment, or verification, together with all other information required to be included by other applicable law, is attached to or logically associated with the signature or record." In addition, Wisconsin has enacted the Uniform Real Property Electronic Recording Act (WS 706.25, Chapter 706), which states, “A requirement that a document or a signature associated with a document be notarized, acknowledged, verified, witnessed, or made under oath is satisfied if the electronic signature of the person authorized to perform that act, and all other information required to be included, is attached to or logically associated with the document or signature. A physical or electronic image of a stamp, impression, or seal need not accompany an electronic signature” (WS 706.25[c]).
Can I perform remote (online) notarizations in Wisconsin?
No. Section 706.07(2) provides that if a notarial act relates to a statement made in, or a signature executed upon, a record, the person making the statement or executing the signature must be physically present before the notary public. The State of Wisconsin requires that a document signer personally appear before a notary public and be physically close enough to see, hear, communicate, and give identification credentials to the notary without the use of electronic devices such as telephones, computers, video cameras, or video conferences during the entire performance of the notarial act. To obtain a notarial act in Wisconsin, the document signer must personally appear before the notary public for the execution of the notarial act. The Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions, the commissioning agency for Wisconsin notaries, recently posted on their website a Consumer Alert that “Online Notarization Services Are NOT legal in Wisconsin. Online webcam notarization is invalid and illegal in the State of Wisconsin.” The State of Wisconsin has not enacted/adopted statutes, rules, and/or procedures for remote (online) notarizations in Wisconsin. Therefore, notaries public in Wisconsin are strictly prohibited from performing remote online notarizations.
How long is the term of a notary public commission in Wisconsin?
The term of office of a Wisconsin notary public is four years commencing with the date specified in the notary public commission. However, a notary’s commission may be rendered void: (1) by resignation; (2) by death; (3) by revocation; or (4) when the notary public ceases to reside in the United States. A permanent notary public commission issued to Wisconsin attorneys may be rendered void: (1) by a suspended law license; (2) by a revoked law license; (3) when the notary-attorney ceases to practice law in Wisconsin; or (4) when the notary-attorney ceases to reside in the United States. The reinstatement of an attorney’s law license may qualify a Wisconsin attorney for a notary public commission for a term of four years.
Is a Wisconsin notary bond required to become a notary in Wisconsin?
Yes. A surety bond in the amount of $500 is required for new and renewing notaries public. The surety bond must be provided by an insurance/surety company licensed to write surety bonds in the State of Wisconsin. No bond is required for attorneys licensed to practice law in Wisconsin who are applying for a permanent notary public commission.
Do I need a Wisconsin notary errors and omission insurance?
A Wisconsin errors and omissions insurance policy is optional. However, the American Association of Notaries strongly recommends that Wisconsin notaries public obtain errors and omissions insurance for their personal protection against liability. Errors and omission insurance is designed to protect notaries public from liability against unintentional notarial mistakes or omissions that result in financial damages to the public or a document signer. An E&O policy covers legal fees and damages based on the coverage a Wisconsin notary public selects. The omissions policies are not filed with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions.
Where can I perform notarial acts in Wisconsin?
Wisconsin notaries public have statewide jurisdiction, and they must be physically within the geographic borders of the State of Wisconsin.
Who appoints Wisconsin notaries public?
The Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions appoints Wisconsin notaries public. To contact the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions:
Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions
Notary Records Section
P.O. Box 7847
Madison, WI 53707-7847
Do I need to purchase a notary stamp in Wisconsin?
Yes. Wisconsin law requires all notaries public, including attorneys, to affix a clear impression of their engraved official seal (embosser) or official rubber stamp every time a notarial act is performed (WS 137.01 and ).
Dimensions: The seal or stamp may be of any size or shape pursuant to the Department of Financial Institutions “Notary Public Information.”
Required Elements: The Wisconsin official stamp must contain only the following elements:
- The notary public’s name
- The words “Notary Public”
- The words “State of Wisconsin”
Note: No title such as “Dr.” or “CPA” should appear before or after notary public’s name. The official seal/stamp of a Wisconsin notary public may not include any other information. Wisconsin notaries public may use both the engraved seal (embosser) and rubber stamp provided that samples of each are on file with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions prior to use, and only if the names are exactly the same on both seal/stamp. The Department of Financial Institutions will notify a notary public when the new stamp/seal may be used.
Is a notary journal required in Wisconsin?
No. The Wisconsin notary statute does not require Wisconsin notaries public to record their notarial acts in a journal. However, the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions and the American Association of Notaries strongly recommend that Wisconsin notaries record their notarial acts in a journal as a protective measure against liability. For Wisconsin notary supplies, visit our website at www.usnotaries.com or call 800.721.2663.
How much can a Wisconsin notary charge for performing notarial acts?
Wisconsin notary fees are set by state statute (WS 137.01). The maximum allowable fees that a Wisconsin notary public can charge for notarial acts are listed below:
- Acknowledgments - $5.00
- Oaths or affirmations - $5.00
- Jurats - $5.00
- Protests - $5.00
- Certify a copy of a document- $5.00
- Witness or attest a signature - $5.00
- Verification upon oath or affirmation - $5.00
- Copy per folio - $0.12
Note: “No fee shall be charged by any officer for administering or certifying any official oath, or any oath to any person relative to the person’s right to be registered or to vote” (WS 887.02).
What notarial acts can a Wisconsin notary public perform?
A Wisconsin notary public is authorized to perform the following notarial acts(WS 137.01 and 706.07):
- Take acknowledgments
- Administer oaths or affirmations
- Take verifications on oath or affirmation
- Witness or attest signatures
- Certify or attest copies of documents or other items
- Take depositions
- Note protests of negotiable instruments
- Perform such other duties as by the law of nations, or according to commercial usage, maybe exercised and performed by notaries public
How do I update my address with the Wisconsin Secretary of State?
Wisconsin notaries are required to provide a written notice of any change of address to the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions within ten days of the change. It is important to keep a notary’s address current to ensure delivery of the commission expiration date notice. There is no fee for updating a notary public’s address information. Click here to complete the form Notary Public Address/Name/Seal Change. A notary public does not vacate his or her office as notary public by reason of the notary’s change of residence within the United States.
Do I have to change my name on my notary commission in Wisconsin?
A Wisconsin notary public with a new legal name is required to complete and submit a Notary Public Address/Name/Seal Change form to the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions prior to using his or her new legal name. It is strongly suggested that the notary purchase a new seal or rubber stamp stating their new name with the required seal elements, and file an imprint of the new seal/stamp with the Department of Financial Institutions prior to using their new name and seal for notary purposes. For the remainder of the notary’s present commission, however, it is permissible to continue to perform notarial acts using a previous name if the notary signs his or her name exactly as stated on his or her seal or rubber stamp. A new or different name may not be signed in addition to the previous name, as in parentheses or in a hyphenated manner. No other name, seal, or stamp may be used when performing notarial acts unless the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions is notified in writing prior to usage. Each commission must be applied for and issued in the notary’s current legal last name. Click here to complete the form Notary Public Address/Name/Seal Change.
Wisconsin notarial certificates:
Click here to view your state's notarial certificates.
Revised: July 2019
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.