Updated: Aug 14
Americans nationwide are looking for side hustles to help them make a little extra money here and there. This money is often invested, saved for vacations, or enjoyed in some other way.
One growing side hustle is serving as a notary anytime someone in your network or area needs an official document notarized.
This article will cover how to make money as a notary.
Table of Contents
What is a notary?
A notary is a professional in society that is entrusted to ensure the validity and authenticity of important documents that may be used in various transactions and business dealings. Notaries are technically publicly commissioned officials.
To assure that any legal documents are valid, notaries will typically verify identification, place a stamp/seal on the form, and record it in their journals. Upon acceptance, new notaries need to take a oath of office in an attempt to uphold the legitimacy of the services offered.
The most common uses of notaries are for the following:
Real estate transactions and mortgage documents
Trusts and wills
Power of attorney
Articles of incorporation (starting business)
Leases and loan agreements
There are full-time notaries, and they are often employed for courts, banks, or real estate firms in roles that come across legal documents regularly.
The remainder of this article, however, will discuss ways in which you make money as a notary working part-time (as your side hustle).
Related: 24 Unique Side Hustles to Make Money
How much do notaries make?
This will likely vary by region and type of document, but it is not unusual to make $75-$200 per real estate signing, for example. Notaries presiding over loan signings are known as loan signing agents (LSAs). Start-up costs are low, and once you're established, it gets easier to make money.
You can make this or more money by specializing in one type of transaction or offering upcharges based on conveniences. Some notaries make house calls to save their clients time, for example. This is known as being a mobile notary and you can make a lot more money this way.
Some notaries even opt to add it on to services already in existence. Maybe you have a friend or family member that is a real estate agent or attorney. Partnering with you can streamline their operations, improve the client experience, and result in you making more money than you would have otherwise.
More: Join my Side Hustle Accelerator program
How much can you charge in notary fees?
To ensure that your services are competitive in your area, you'll want to get an understanding as to what the going rates are. You'll also need to stay compliant with any state laws in your area regarding what you may charge, but this information should have been provided to you when you opted to become a notary.
Typically, state rates for notary fees fall within the below ranges for the different types of documents:
Between $5-$15 for acknowledgements
Between $5-$15 for jurats
Between $5-$20 for verbal oaths or affirmations
Up to $25 for RON (remote online notarization)
There may be outliers on either side of this range, of course.
At this time, the states without notary fees established by law are Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Puerto Rico, Tennessee, and Vermont.
Fees for mobile notaries
Like we've alluded to, you likely can make more money by serving as a mobile notary in a loan signing agent capacity.
Not only will you be able to charge fees for your services, but you'll be able to be compensated for your travel and milage incurred. More on this in a minute.
How to become a notary
Becoming a loan signing agent or a notary is oftentimes a super simple process, though it varies by state. Generally, though, to get your side hustle up and running, you're going to need to get through the following process.
1. Review your state's requirements - You likely need to be at least 18 years old and meet other eligibility requirements.
2. Complete your application and pay the filing fee - This will vary by state.
3. Complete applicable training - Some states mandate that prospective notaries undergo training through specific companies, but this is far from a nationwide rule.
4. Pass your state's exam and complete other requirements (if applicable) - Some states will make you pass a written test, get fingerprinted, and pass a background check. Other states may only require bits and pieces of this process.
5. Receive your paperwork and certificate from your state - We'll leave this here.
6. Get a surety bond (if applicable) - Many notaries purchase surety bonds, which are financial guarantees that can be purchased from a surety company. It shows that you will "protect the public from financial harm resulting from any wrongdoing on your part when performing notarial duties."
7. Purchase your stamp, seal, and supplies - We'll cover this in detail in a minute.
How to make money as a notary
Your best bet to making money as a side hustle is likely to serve as a mobile notary in a loan signing agent capacity.
As a refresher, this means that you'll predominantly work on mortgage closings. Generally, loan signing agents can expect to earn between $75-$200 per signing they complete. To earn this $75-$200, you'll be expected to do the following:
Drive to and from the closing
Print/notarize the documents
Return the documents to a title company
Do keep in mind though that you may be able to write off your distance driven to and from signings according to IRS guidelines and applicable state laws where you reside.
Unfortunately, loan signing agents do face requirements in certain states that may prohibit you from working in this capacity. For instance, you may need to be an attorney or have some other type of supervision in Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Massachusetts, New York, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, and West Virginia.
Other states may require other things such as title insurance licenses, so it is a good idea to reach out to your state to understand what the guidelines are where you live.
Find notary clients through advertising
There are plenty other ways to make money as a notary too. But first you'll need to spread word about your services. You can do this through the following approaches:
Go to networking events
Word of mouth
Advertise on social media
1. Attend networking events
Starting a business is difficult, no matter what type of sector or industry you're in. But notary services are even more difficult, in large part because many people will just pick the most convenient option near them.
So for your services to truly stand out, you'll need a mixture of good connections and a little bit of luck. Starting with networking events is a great start.
2. Word of mouth referrals
Among the most popular tools for a notary trying to make a side hustle out of their services is word of mouth. You'll want to do things like print business cards, provide them to your clients, and ask for referrals.
Oftentimes, people that need things notarized are well connected with others that will also need your services.
3. Advertise on social media
Don't be afraid to post about your services on social media either. Your first clients will likely be connections that are friends on Facebook or Instagram, and that's okay. Actually, most businesses start this way.
And if you decide to start an actual business as an LLC, consider setting up accounts to promote your offerings!
Other ways to promote your services include:
Building relationships with your local Chamber of Commerce
Provide services for free for a period of time
Partner with financial professionals and hold seminars together
Notary side hustle startup costs
Starting your notary public side hustle will come with a few expenses, many of which are fees that you will pay only one time. The good news is that these fees are much lower than most other business startup costs. In no particular order, you're going to want to make sure that you're prepared to cover the following expenses at the onset of your side hustle endeavor.
1. Completing your notary public licensing
In Connecticut, where I live, you can expect to pay $120 as an application fee. Beyond that, you'll need to take your oath at town hall in the town where you reside. In Connecticut, this will cost an additional $10. Renewing your license costs another $60, but is only assessed once every five years.
2. Your notary stamp and journal
Now, depending on where live, the journal may not be required, but you can generally expect to pay up to $20 for a stamp and about half of that for the journal.
Plus, for such a relatively small expense, wouldn't it be nice to look the part too?
Your stamp will be used to stamp documents and serves to authenticate your signature and make the documents you've signed official. You can even find customizable options for your stamp on Amazon.
Your journal will be used to keep track of the transactions in which you have notarized. Generally, you'll need to record:
The date and type of notarization
The type of document
The signer's name and address
While it may sound like a formality, journals are very important in the event that any important documents go missing.
3. A National Notary Association certification
Depending on what type of work you're thinking about doing (or will be doing), some parties will want you to be licensed with the National Notary Association. As of time of writing, a one-year membership costs $69, but you also have the option to choose a four-year plan with the first year free.
4. Errors and Omissions insurance
If you plan on working for other businesses, potentially on retainer, there is a good chance that they will not work with you until you purchase Error and Omissions coverage. In the notary space, the standard base coverage is typically around $100,000.
The cost of this insurance will vary somewhat by state, but you can generally expect to pay between $100 and $150 per year.
5. A printer and paper
I felt silly including this here, but it is still important to include as an expense, especially if you are going to be working on remote online notary projects.
What to do with this extra side income
You're probably already dreaming about the fun things that you'll be able to do with all of your new side income. And while this is tempting, you should make sure that your finances are secured first.
This means things like making sure:
You have a fully funded emergency fund
You're making your student loan payments (or other debt) in full
You're saving/investing for your future retirement and financial goals, like buying a home
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