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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, starting your own Wisconsin notary business, adding a notary title to your resume, or helping people in your community? The State of Wisconsin appoints notaries to serve the public as unbiased impartial witnesses to document signing. Becoming a notary in Wisconsin is a straightforward process, and as long as you meet the eligibility requirements listed below, you can apply to become a Wisconsin notary. The American Association of Notaries has been helping individuals become notaries since 1994.

 

This guide will help you understand:

 

  1. Who can become a Wisconsin notary
  2. The process to become a Wisconsin notary
  3. Basic Wisconsin notarial duties

What are the qualifications to become a Wisconsin notary?


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

   

  1. Be at least 18 years of age.
  2. Be a United States resident.
  3. Have the equivalent of an 8th-grade education.
  4. Be familiar with the duties and responsibilities of a notary public.
  5. Have demonstrated adherence to laws according to the Wisconsin Statutes with regard to arrests and convictions.
  6. Have no arrest or conviction record.

 

Note: “For purposes of applying Section 140.02(1)(b), “an arrest or conviction record” relevant to services as a notary public is a record that includes one or more felonies or other offense that would be admissible for purposes of impeaching the applicant’s character for truthfulness in a judicial proceeding governed by the rules of evidence of this state or the federal courts” (DFI-CCS 25.03). A person convicted of such offenses may only be commissioned as a notary public if the applicant is pardoned of the conviction.

What is the process to become a Wisconsin notary?


To become a Wisconsin notary public, a notary applicant must complete the following steps:   

 

  1. Meet the eligibility requirements provided in the previous section.
  2. Complete the Notary Tutorial Exam with a score of at least 90% and submit the Completion Certificate.
  3. Pay and Apply Online, or download the Four Year Notary Public Application and submit the required $20 filing fee.
  4. File an Oath of Office form. This will be printed along with the application forms after payment.
  5. File a $500 Surety Bond form. This will be printed along with the application form after payment.
  6. File his or her signature, post-office address, and an impression of his or her official seal or imprint of his or her official rubber stamp.
  7. Mail the completed forms to the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions to complete the application process. (The Department will notify the applicant when the commission is complete.)

 

An applicant for appointment as a notary public may initiate the application process and pay online or download the applications that are available at https://www.wdfi.org/Apostilles_Notary_Public_and_Trademarks/defaultNotary.htm.

 

Applying for a Wisconsin Attorney’s Permanent Notary Public Commission:

 

  1. Obtain an original Certificate of Good Standing from the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
  2. Pay and Apply Online, or download the Attorney Permanent Notary Public Application and submit the required $50 filing fee.
  3. File his or her signature, post-office address, and an impression of his or her official seal or imprint of his or her official rubber stamp.
  4. Mail the completed forms to the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions to complete the application process. (The Department will notify the applicant when the commission is complete.)

 

A United States resident who is an attorney licensed to practice law in Wisconsin may qualify under Section 140.02(2) for a “permanent notary commission,” for which no bond is required. A permanent notary commission is valid as long as the attorney remains a United States resident licensed to practice law in Wisconsin. Attorneys seeking a permanent notary commission should so specify when requesting a notary application. If an attorney’s license to practice law in Wisconsin has been suspended or revoked, and has been reinstated, the attorney seeking an appointment as a Wisconsin notary public may only apply for a four-year commission term.

Can a non-resident become a notary in Wisconsin?

Yes. Any non-resident of Wisconsin who is living in the United States may apply for a Wisconsin notary public commission, but the non-resident must meet all the legal requirements for appointment as a notary public.

How much does it cost to become a notary in Wisconsin?

A Wisconsin notary applicant’s expenses may include the following:  

 

  1. A $20 filing fee to process the application for appointment or reappointment as a notary public for non-attorney applicants.
  2. A $50 filing fee to process the application for a permanent notary public commission for attorneys licensed in Wisconsin.
  3. The cost of a $500 surety bond.
  4. The cost of an official stamp;
  5. The cost of a notary journal to record all notarial acts performed if the notary public wishes to maintain one as recommended by the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions.
  6. The fee for an E&O insurance policy if a notary public wishes to purchase one for his or her personal protection against liability.

How do I renew my Wisconsin notary commission?

The Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions is legally required to provide notice of the commission expiration date to each notary public at least thirty days before the commission expiration date by email or mail (WS §140.02[1][g]). The reappointment procedure is the same as the initial appointment as a notary public for new applicants. A notary public should submit his or her notary application at least two weeks before their commission expires to avoid any lapses in commission appointments. If a notary public receives the Expiration Notice postcard with the renewal code on it, the renewing notary could expedite the renewal application process by using the renewal code. To apply for reappointment as a notary using the renewal service online, go to https://www.wdfi.org/apps/notary/.

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

Yes. The Wisconsin notary statute requires all initial applicants seeking appointments as notaries public and renewing notaries public to be familiar with the duties and responsibilities of a notary public (WS §140.02[1][b]). To satisfy this legal requirement, all new applicants and renewing notaries must take the free Online Notary Public Tutorial and score at least 90% on the exam within one year of submitting an application for appointment or reappointment as a notary public.  After successfully completing the exam, the notary applicant and/or renewing notary public must print out the certificate and mail it with his or her notary application. The exam results are not stored in the system. 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. For questions regarding the Wisconsin Notary Public Education Course, please contact the State of Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions at DFINotary@dfi.wisconsin.gov.  To begin the exam, click here: Notary Public Tutorial/Exam.

Can I perform electronic notarization in Wisconsin?

Yes. Section 140.20(1) of the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts provides that a notary public may select one or more tamper-evident technologies to perform notarial acts with respect to electronic records in the physical presence of the individuals seeking the notarizations. A person may not require a notary public to perform a notarial act with respect to an electronic record with a technology that the notary public has not selected.

What is the process to become a Wisconsin electronic notary public?

Before a notary public performs the initial notarial act with respect to an electronic record, he or she must:  

 

  1. Notify the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions that he or she will be performing notarial acts with respect to electronic records.
  2. Identify the technology he or she intends to use.
  3. Select a technology that conforms to the standards adopted by the Department of Financial Institutions by rule.

 

A register of deeds may accept for recording a tangible copy of an electronic record containing a notarial certificate as satisfying any requirement that a record accepted for recording be an original if the notarial officer executing the notarial certificate certifies or attests that the tangible copy is an accurate copy of the electronic record (WS §140.20[3]). To register as an electronic notary public, visit the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions at https://www.wdfi.org/Apostilles_Notary_Public_and_Trademarks/defaultNotary.htm.

Can I perform remote (online) notarizations in Wisconsin?

Yes. The State of Wisconsin has enacted the “Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts (2018)” through Assembly Bill 293 (2020) and codified in Chapter 140, Section 140.145 of the Wisconsin Statutes, effective May 1, 2020. The new remote online notarization provisions authorize Wisconsin notaries public to perform notarial acts using communication technology for remotely located individuals.

What is the process to become a Wisconsin remote online notary public?

Before a notary public performs the initial remote online notarization, he or she must: 

 

  1. Obtain authorization from an approved communication technology provider to use its system for remote online notarizations.
  2. Become knowledgeable about that provider’s system and processes, including completion of any relevant training or instruction modules prepared by the provider.
  3. Notify the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions that he or she will be performing notarial acts using communication technology for remotely located individuals.
  4. Identify the technology he or she intends to use to perform remote online notarizations.
  5. Select a technology that conforms to the standards adopted by Department of Financial Institutions by rule.

 

A remotely located individual may comply with Section 140.06 by using communication technology to appear before a notary public, except for the administration of an oath before a witness at a deposition (WS §140.145[2]). The verification of the remotely located individual’s identity is of great importance. Therefore, a remote online notary public must make sure the video resolution is sufficient to see identity-proofing documents distinctly and that the audio clarity is satisfactory to understand everything the remotely located individual verbalizes, and other important features that the service provides. A remote online notary public may not charge more than $25 to perform a remote online notarization for a remotely located individual (WAC DFI-CCS 25.6). Communication technology providers are approved by the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions and the Remote Notary Council if they meet security, recordkeeping, and other standards to ensure the integrity of the notarial process. A list of approved providers and remote online notarization guidance are available on the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions’ website at http://www.wdfi.org/Apostilles_Notary_Public_and_Trademarks/defaultNotary.htm.

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
  4. When the notary public ceases to reside in the United States

 

A Wisconsin permanent notary public commission issued to an attorney licensed to practice law in Wisconsin 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
  4. When the notary-attorney ceases to reside in the United States

 

If an attorney’s license to practice law in Wisconsin has been reinstated after being suspended or revoked, the attorney seeking an appointment as a Wisconsin notary public may only apply for a four-year commission term.

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 issued by an insurance/surety company licensed to write surety bonds in the State of Wisconsin. A “blanket bond” issued for employment purposes does not fulfill this legal obligation. No bond is required for attorneys licensed to practice law in Wisconsin who are applying for a Wisconsin permanent notary public commission.

Do I need a Wisconsin notary errors and omission insurance?

No. Errors and omissions insurance is optional in Wisconsin. Although such a policy is not legally required, the American Association of Notaries recommends that Wisconsin notaries public obtain errors and omissions insurance 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 or other type of loss to the public or from a document signer who sues a notary public for recovery. An E&O insurance policy customarily covers legal fees and damages based on the coverage a notary public selects.

Where can I perform notarial acts in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin notaries public have statewide jurisdiction and may perform notarial acts anywhere within the geographic borders of Wisconsin. A notary public must be physically present in Wisconsin regardless of whether the notarization is in-person or remote. A Wisconsin notary public commission is only valid in and for the State of Wisconsin.

Who appoints Wisconsin notaries public?

The Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions receives applications for appointment and reappointment as a notary public, administers the commissioning process, and maintains an electronic database of active notaries. Contact information for the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions is as follows:

 

Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions
Notary Records Section
P.O. Box 7847
Madison, WI 53707-7847
608-266-8915
http://www.wdfi.org/Apostilles_Notary_Public_and_Trademarks/defaultNotary.htm

Do I need to purchase a notary stamp in Wisconsin?

Yes. The Wisconsin notary statute requires all notaries public, including notary-attorneys, to affix a clear impression of their engraved official seal (embosser) or official rubber stamp every time a notarial act is performed (WS §§140.02[3] & 140.17).

 

Dimensions: The official stamp or seal may be of any size or shape according to the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions “Notary Public Information” publication.

 

Required Elements: Section 140.02(3) prescribes that the following three elements must be included in an official stamp or seal:

 

  1. The notary public’s name
  2. The words “Notary Public”
  3. The words “State of Wisconsin”

 

Section 140.17, however, prescribes that the official stamp of a notary public must include:

 

  1. The notary public’s name
  2. Jurisdiction
  3. Commission expiration date if applicable
  4. Other information required by the department

 

The stamp must also be capable of being copied together with the record to which it is affixed or attached or with which it is logically associated.

 

Wisconsin notaries public may include their commission expiration date in their official stamp/seal after May 1, 2020. Currently, there is an inconsistency in Sections 140.02[3] and 140.17[1] in the notary seal requirements, which has not been addressed either by state notary law and/or adopted rule. Wisconsin notaries public may use both the engraved seal (embosser) and rubber stamp provided that samples of each official stamp/seal are on file with the Department of Financial Institutions prior to use, and only if the names are exactly the same on both official stamp/seal. For Wisconsin notary supplies, visit the American Association of Notaries website at www.usnotaries.com, call 800.721.2663, or click here.

Is a notary journal required in Wisconsin?

No. The Wisconsin notary statute does not require Wisconsin notaries public to record the notarial acts they perform in a notary journal. However, the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions and the American Association of Notaries strongly recommend that Wisconsin notaries public maintain a permanent, bound register with numbered pages to chronicle all notarial acts performed as a protective measure against liability. Although a notary public is not required to maintain a notary journal, recording all notarial acts in a journal may prove useful for a notary public who might need to testify in court about a particular notarization the notary public performed. For Wisconsin notary supplies, visit the American Association of Notaries website at www.usnotaries.com, call 800.721.2663, or click here.

How much can a Wisconsin notary charge for performing notarial acts?

Wisconsin notary fees are set by state notary statute (WS §140.02[9]). The maximum allowable fees that a Wisconsin notary public can charge for notarial acts are listed below:

 

  1. Acknowledgments - $5.00
  2. Oaths and affirmations - $5.00
  3. Jurats - $5.00
  4. Protests - $5.00
  5. Certify or attest a copy of a document- $5.00
  6. Witness or attest a signature - $5.00
  7. Verification upon oath or affirmation - $5.00
  8. Copy per folio - $0.12

What notarial acts can a Wisconsin notary public perform?

Wisconsin notaries public are authorized to perform the following notarial acts (WS §§140.01[7] and 140.02[5]):

 

  1. Take acknowledgments
  2. Administer oaths or affirmations
  3. Take verifications on oath or affirmation
  4. Witness or attest signatures
  5. Certify or attest copies
  6. Take depositions
  7. Note protests of negotiable instruments
  8. Perform such other duties as by the law of nations or according to commercial usage may be exercised and performed by notaries public

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

Wisconsin notaries public are required to provide a written notice of any change of address to the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions within ten days of the address change, which includes the primary email address (WS §140.02[6m]). It is very important for notaries public to maintain their current address with the Department of Financial Institutions to ensure delivery of their commission expiration date notice. There is no fee for updating a notary public’s contact information. 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 (WS §140.02[6m]). To download the form, click here: Notary Public Address/Name/Seal Change.

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

If a Wisconsin notary public wishes to change his or her commission name during the current commission term, he or she must purchase a new official stamp/seal with the new name and submit a Notary Public Address/Name/Seal Change form, signature, and file an imprint of the new official stamp/seal with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions at no additional fee.  The bond and oath will be valid through the expiration date of the notary’s current commission. When applying for reappointment after the notary’s current commission term expires, a notary public may not apply under an old or previous name. Each notary public commission must be applied for and issued in the notary’s current legal last name. No other name, official stamp/seal, or signature may be used when performing notarial acts unless the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions is notified in writing prior to usage. For a name change, download the Notary Public Address/Name/Seal Change Form.

Wisconsin notarial certificates:

Click here to view your state's notarial certificates.

 

 

Revised: August 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.