There are a few ways that a notary public can make money.
First (and most basic), she can offer to notarize documents for the public or for her employer and coworkers or for clients or customers of her employer. This requires that the signer come to her and bring their identification and the document (unless the notary or her employer has a reason to provide the document). This is called general notary work and often referred to by the initials GNW. Income from doing GNW is usually limited, either due to lack of signers or due to state laws or rules that limit how much a notary may charge for GNW.
Second, she can offer to go to the signer at a location of the signer’s choice. This is called mobile notary services and many states allow the notary to charge a reasonable trip fee in addition to her notary fee. Income for mobile notary services can be spotty, as most signers prefer to avoid paying a trip fee. It can be quite profitable to do when it’s available.
In each of these first two types of work, the notary deals directly with the signer (or with her own employer) and this customer pays them for their service. Most often, this is done in cash at the time of the notarization. (For either of these types of work, I highly recommend the book Marketing Your Non-Loan Notary Services by Laura Vestanen, which is available from Amazon. It’s THE best book I have seen to understand how to create an income doing GNW and Mobile Notary Services.)
Third, she can sign up with signing services, title companies, and/or lenders and offer a specialized type of mobile notary service called notary signing agent services or NSA work. This involves serving as the independently-contracted agent of the notary’s own client (and as a notary public), with various duties required for the signing agent role.
Being an NSA means dealing with clients (not customers), so contracts and billing and all the other aspects of running a business come into play.
Fourth, once she has mastered one or more of these others, a notary may be able to make money as a paid expert, which could mean being a contributing writer, an author, a speaker, or a teacher.
But the biggest way that notaries make money is by being a “notary and…”
- and lawyer,
- and banker,
- and insurance agent,
- and small business store owner,
- and accountant,
- and real estate agent,
- and employee of one of those,
- or some combination of the above .
The National Notary Association publishes an annual census of notaries. The most recent one said there were over 4 million notaries in the USA. Based on that and comparing that to how many notaries that I’ve seen on the various directories and in Facebook groups, I would guess-timate that over 95% of all notaries make their money as a “notary and…”
What this means in terms of notary education and other matters will be the subject of another article here soon.