How to Renew a Notary Public License

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The requirements for obtaining and renewing a notary public license or commission are usually very similar from state to state, though the details vary. The term of a notary public commission is usually 4 years, and most states will send renewal notices to an existing notary anywhere from 3 to 6 months before it expires.

Fill out the renewal application. While the application process for a renewal is a bit simpler than a new notary commission, there is still an application form to complete and submit. Usually, all of the necessary paperwork or a notice of impending expiry will come in the mail, but it can also be downloaded directly from the Secretary of State's website in many cases.

Renew the notary bond. As any notary knows, the most expensive part of becoming one is getting bonded against negligence. The most important part of a renewal is submitting proof that the notary bond has been renewed. Often, the state will recommend an underwriter and include their paperwork with the commission renewal notice. The bond-renewal form can then be sent along with the commission renewal and a check, in a single parcel. Alternatively, a notary can be bonded by any licensed surety and send the documentation separately.

Purchase a new seal/stamp. A notary's seal (usually a stamp these days) includes the date his commission expires. Thus, being an effective notary will require purchasing a new seal or stamp. Again, this can all usually be done in a single transaction when you renew the notary bond and commission.

Use a renewal service (optional). While it is not necessary, some people might prefer to have a professional renewal service, like the National Notary Association, sell them a package containing all of the documents for notary renewal in their state. While these are generally reliable, they do increase the cost of renewal.

Tip

The notary renewal application will prompt a background check by the state. Assuming nothing has happened to change your status (such as a felony conviction), almost every renewal application is approved.

Warning

Though most states or counties will notify a notary when her commission is about to expire, relying on this entirely can result in a lapse of the commission. If no notice has arrived within 3 months of expiry, it is recommended that you download the renewal application independently.

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About the Author

Joseph Nicholson is an independent analyst whose publishing achievements include a cover feature for "Futures Magazine" and a recurring column in the monthly newsletter of a private mint. He received a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Florida and is currently attending law school in San Francisco.