How to Become a Notary in Washington
To become a notary in Washington, you must:
- Meet the eligibility requirements listed in the next section.
- Complete a Notary Public Commission Application, which includes the oath of office.
- Purchase a $10,000 surety bond.
- Submit the following to the Department of Licensing:
- The completed and signed application
- A copy of your signed $10,000 surety bond
- A signed and notarized oath of office
- A $40 application fee for a notary public commission or a $55 fee for a notary public commission with electronic notary endorsement. Include an additional $5 fee for each copy of your notary public commission license if you prefer it to be mailed to you. Otherwise, you can print it at no additional charge from your SecureAccess Washington (SAW) online account
To apply online, please visit our website at https://www.washingtonnotary.com/how-to-become-a-washington-notary. Purchase an official stamp or seal upon receipt of the notary public commission license.
Who can become a notary public in Washington?
To become a notary in Washington, 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 the state of Washington.
- Be able to read and write English.
- Not be disqualified from receiving a commission under RCW 42.45.210.
This Washington notary guide will help you understand:
How do I renew my notary commission in Washington?
The notary renewal application process is the same as for the initial application for appointment as a notary public, except the oath of office form is not required. You can reapply for reappointment as a notary public no earlier than 120 days before your current commission expires.
Click here to renew your Washington notary public commission online or by mail. Whichever option you choose, you will be required to submit the following to the Department of Licensing:
- A completed Notary Public Commission Renewal Application (if applying online, it will be completed on the SAW’s website).
- Your notary license number. This can be found on your notary public commission license.
- A copy of a signed $10,000 surety bond. You can order the bond for your notary renewal at https://www.washingtonnotary.com/renew-notary
- A $42 renewal application fee for a notary public commission or a $57 renewal application fee for a notary public commission with electronic notary endorsement. If your notary public commission expires, you cannot apply for reappointment as a notary public; you will be required to apply as a new applicant.
Who appoints notaries in Washington?
The Washington State Department of Licensing is responsible for approving notary applications and issuing the notary public commission and/or any appropriate endorsements to notaries public.
The Department of Licensing can be contacted at:
Can a non-resident of Washington apply for a commission as a notary public?
Yes. A non-resident applicant may apply to become a notary public in Washington if they have a place of employment or practice in the State of Washington [RCW 42.45.200(2)(c)].
How long is a notary public's commission term in Washington?
The commission term of a Washington notary public is four years commencing with the date specified on the notary public commission license. However, a notary’s commission may be rendered void:
- By resignation, death, or revocation.
- When a notary public is no longer a resident of Washington.
- When a notary is no longer a citizen or permanent legal resident of the United States.
- When a non-resident notary ceases to maintain a place of employment or practice in Washington.
- When a notary loses the ability to read and write English.
- When a notary has been disqualified from receiving a notary public commission pursuant to RCW 42.45.210.
Is notary training or an exam required to become a notary or to renew a notary commission in Washington?
No. The Washington notary statute does not require new applicants seeking appointments as notaries public or renewing notaries public to take any training or examination to be commissioned as notaries public in Washington. However, the Department of Licensing recommends that any new applicant seeking a Washington notary public commission take and complete an educational course so the notary applicant can clearly understand the state notary laws and regulations, the notarial duties and responsibilities, and the general principles and practices of being a Washington notary public.
The Department of Licensing has provided a notary training video on its website to encourage new notary applicants to learn their notarial duties and responsibilities.
How much does it cost to become a notary public in Washington?
To become a notary public or renew your notary public commission in Washington, you must pay the following:
- A $40 fee for processing an appointment application or a $42 fee for reappointment as a notary public.
- A $5 fee for each notary public commission license the Washington Department of Licensing prints and mails to you. Printing your notary public commission license from your SecureAccess Washington (SAW) online account is free.
- The cost of a $10,000 surety bond.
Other expenses include the cost of purchasing:
- A notary stamp.
- A notary journal.
- An errors and omissions insurance policy to protect yourself if you are sued because of unintentional mistakes or if a false claim is filed against you as a notary. (This step is optional.)
Do I need a notary errors and omissions (E&O) insurance policy to become a notary in Washington?
A notary errors and omissions insurance policy is optional in Washington and is not required to become a Washington notary public or to renew your notary commission. However, the American Association of Notaries strongly recommends that every Washington notary obtain a notary E&O insurance policy. This insurance protects the notary from a claim if a client sues the notary. An E&O policy covers unintentional notarial mistakes and pays for legal fees and damages based on the coverage a Washington notary public selects.
Do I need a notary bond to become a notary in Washington?
Yes. A Washington notary bond for $10,000 is required for new and renewing notaries public. The notary bond protects the public from a notary's errors.
To order a Washington notary bond, please visit the American Association of Notaries website at https://www.washingtonnotary.com/washington-notary-bond.
Do I need to order a notary stamp in Washington?
Yes. Washington notary law requires all notaries public to use either an embossed seal or an inked stamp to authenticate all notarial acts.
The Washington notary seal or stamp must contain the following:
- The words “Notary Public.”
- The words “State of Washington.”
- The notary public’s name as commissioned.
- The notary public’s commission expiration date.
- The notary public’s commission number (WAC 308-30-070).
The official seal or stamp must also conform to the following requirements:
- The face of the seal or stamp shall be permanently affixed.
- The seal or stamp impressions must be capable of being copied together with the record to which it is affixed or attached or with which it is logically associated.
- The seal or stamp shall not contain the Washington state seal.
- The font size of the seal and stamp shall be a minimum of eight-point type.
- The seal or stamp must be a minimum of one and five-eighths inches in diameter if circular or one inch wide by one and five-eighths inches long if rectangular.
To order a Washington 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/washington
How much can a Washington notary public charge for performing notarial acts?
Washington notary fees are set by the Department of Licensing adopted rules (WAC 308-30-220). The maximum allowable fees that a Washington notary public may charge for notarial acts are as follows:
- Taking an acknowledgment: $10
- Administering an oath or affirmation: $10
- Taking a verification upon oath or affirmation: $10
- Certifying that an event has occurred, or an act has been performed: $10
- Witnessing or attesting a signature: $10
- Certifying or attesting a copy: $10
A notary public:
- Does not need to charge for notarial acts
- May charge for the actual costs of copying any instrument or record
- May not charge fees for receiving or noting a protest of a negotiable instrument
- May charge a maximum fee of $25 to perform a remote notarial act notwithstanding the maximum fees set forth in WAC 308-30-220(1) and the prohibition set forth in WAC 308-30-220(3)
Is a notary journal required in Washington?
A notary journal (also known as a record book, log book, or register book) is your first line of defense in proving your innocence if a notarial act you performed is questioned or if you are requested to testify in a court of law about a notarial act you performed in the past. A properly recorded notarial act creates a paper trail that will help investigators locate and prosecute signers who have committed forgery and fraud. Properly recorded notarial acts provide evidence that you followed your state laws and notary’s best practices.
Notary journal requirements in Washington:
- Traditional Notarizations - Washington notaries are required to maintain a tangible notary journal in which they chronicle all notarial acts performed. The notary journal must be a permanent, bound book with numbered pages. A notary public can maintain only one tangible journal at a time to chronicle notarial acts, whether those notarial acts are performed regarding tangible or electronic records.
- Electronic Notarizations and Remote Notarizations - A Washington notary public performing electronic notarizations and/or remote notarizations is required to maintain a tangible notary journal in which they chronicle all notarial acts performed. The notary journal must be a permanent, bound book with numbered pages. A notary public can maintain only one tangible journal at a time to chronicle notarial acts, whether those notarial acts are performed regarding tangible or electronic records. A notary performing electronic records notarizations and remote notarizations may also maintain an electronic format journal, which can be kept in addition to the tangible journal. The electronic journal must be in a permanent, tamper-evident electronic format complying with the rules of the director.
The American Association of Notaries offers a wide variety of notary journals.
Click here to purchase a tangible notary journal.
Click here to become a member and access our electronic notary journal.
What information must Washington notaries record in their notary journals?
Washington requires notaries to chronicle the following information in their notary journals:
For Traditional and Electronic Notarizations:
1. The date and time of the notarial act.
2. A description of the document or act being notarized.
3. The full name, address, and signature of each person requesting the notarization.
4. A brief description of the identification method.
For Remote Notarizations:
1. The date and time of the notarial act.
2. A description of the document or act being notarized.
3. The full name and address of each person requesting the notarization.
4. A brief description of the identification method.
5. A notation that the notarial act was performed via remote notarization.
Where can I perform notarial acts in Washington?
You may perform notarial acts while physically located anywhere within the geographic borders of the state of Washington.
What notarial acts can a Washington notary public perform?
A Washington notary public is authorized to perform the following notarial acts, whether with respect to a tangible or electronic record [RCW 42.45.010(8)]:
- Take an acknowledgment.
- Administer an oath or affirmation.
- Witness or attest a signature.
- Take a verification on oath or affirmation.
- Certify or attest a copy.
- Note a protest of a negotiable instrument if the protest was prepared under the authority of an attorney licensed to practice law in Washington or another state or was prepared under the authority of a financial institution regulated by the State of Washington, another state, or the federal government.
- Certify the occurrence of an event or the performance of an act.
What type of notarizations are allowed in Washington?
Traditional notarization – This type of notarization requires the signer and the notary to meet physically in the same room within face-to-face proximity of one another. Traditional notarization involves an individual signing a tangible document with an inked pen and a notary public signing and affixing an inked notary stamp impression to the tangible notarial certificate.
Electronic notarizations – This type of notarization requires the signer and the electronic notary to meet physically in the same room within face-to-face proximity of one another. However, the notarization is performed on an electronic document using electronic signatures, an electronic notary seal, and an electronic notarial certificate.
Remote notarizations – The signer appears remotely before an electronic notary via audio-video communication technology. The notarization is performed on an electronic document using electronic signatures, an electronic notary seal, and an electronic notarial certificate.
What are the steps to become an electronic notary in Washington?
To become an electronic notary public in Washington State, follow these steps:
- Be a current Washington notary public. If you don’t have a notary public commission, please read the “To become a notary in Washington, you must:” section to apply for a notary commission and electronic notary endorsement at the same time.
- Complete a Notary Public Electronic Notarization Endorsement Application.
- Mail the application and a $15 fee to the Department of Licensing.
- Provide the name of the software you will use to perform electronic notarizations to the Department of Licensing within thirty days of your electronic notary endorsement. This step only applies to notaries who left the “Name of electronic software” fields blank on their notary application.
To apply online for an electronic notary endorsement, you must log in or sign up for a SecureAccess Washington account and select “Add” under the requirements section of your dashboard.
What are the steps to become a remote notary in Washington?
To become a remote notary public in Washington, you must have an active notary public commission and an electronic notary endorsement and follow the steps below:
- Access your SecureAccess Washington account and follow the detailed instructions provided by the department of licensing.
- Email the Department of Licensing the name of the remote notarization software you intend to use to notarize documents remotely.
- Await approval from the Department of Licensing.
How do I update my address on my Washington notary commission?
If your address, phone number, or email address changes, you are required to notify the Department of License in writing within fifteen days. There is no charge for an address change, and a new notary public commission license will not be issued.
To update your notary public information, mail or email the following to the Department of Licensing:
- Your notary name as it appears on the notary public commission license.
- Your date of birth.
- Your previous address, phone, or email address.
- Your new address, phone, or email address.
You can also update your information online on the SecureAccess Washington’s (SAW) website.
How do I change my name on my notary commission in Washington?
If your name changes, you are required to notify the Department of Licensing within fifteen days.
To change your notary name by mail, you must:
- Complete a Notary Public Name Change Application.
- Acquire a surety bond rider with your new name from your bonding company.
- Mail the name change application and a copy of your surety bond rider to the Department of Licensing. Include a $5 fee for each notary public commission license you would like the DOL to mail. Your commission license can be printed online at no additional charge by logging into your SecureAccess Washington account.
To change your name online, you must:
- Get an electronic copy of your surety bond rider with your new name.
- Log in or sign up to your SecureAccess Washington account.
- Change your name online and upload your surety bond rider.
- Purchase a new notary seal or notary stamp once you receive or download the revised notary public commission license.
Legal disclaimer: The information provided on this page is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. We do not claim to be attorneys and we do not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or reliability of the information provided. You should always seek the advice of a licensed attorney for any legal matters. It is your responsibility to know the appropriate notary laws governing your state. In no event shall the American Association of Notaries, its employees, or contractors be liable to you for any claims, penalties, losses, damages, or expenses, howsoever arising, including, and without limitation, direct or indirect loss, or consequential loss, out of or in connection with the use of the information contained on any of the American Association of Notaries website pages. Notaries are advised to seek the advice of their state’s notary authorities or attorneys if they have legal questions.
Washington notary bonds and errors and omissions insurance policies provided by this insurance agency, the American Association of Notaries, Inc., are underwritten by Western Surety Company (established 1900). Kal Tabbara is a licensed insurance agent in Washington.