How Much Should a Notary Charge?
One of the questions that gets asked most often in the groups on Facebook where notaries gather is “how much should a notary charge to do this ?”
The answer to that is simple, but many notaries refuse to believe it. Here it is:
No other notary can tell you what to charge.
If they are not in your area, any figure or range of figures that they may give you would be irrelevant because their market conditions are not your market conditions.
If they are in your area, they’re your competitors and it would be price fixing for them to tell you what to charge. Price fixing is a Big Deal because it is against federal law. (For an introduction to price fixing, see this article by the Federal Trade Commission: Price Fixing.)
What to charge is something you have to figure out on your own based on your expected expenses to complete the scope of work as described in the offered assignment and your own market research.
Let’s say that someone does respond to your question about this that you posted online. If they are in another state, their answer may be somewhere between irrelevant and totally useless to you.
For instance, California permits her notaries to charge up to $15 per notarization. Other states allow much less. Some (such as my own Tennessee) say that we can charge any reasonable fee. What does your state let you charge? Are you allowed by your state to charge a trip fee for traveling to the signers? Are there other specifics about the fees that your state laws and rules cover? It is YOUR responsibility to know the laws and rules in your state, and no one in another state should be expected to research that for you or to know it on their own. (They might, but expecting them to do so is unreasonable.)
Are you in an attorney-only state? If so, you are limited in what NSA work you can do.
Are you in a state that requires a title producer’s license before you can assist with closing loans? If so, you have to invest in getting that before you even start marketing, even the passive marketing of being listed on directories.
How crowded is the market in your service area? Are you trained and certified and background checked by the firm that this client prefers or requires? Do you have as much Errors and Omissions insurance as they require? Do you have availability at times they usually offer assignments? And those are not all the issues that you need to address in your market research and your personal preparation and business planning.
Each of these can affect how much you can reasonably expect to charge without losing the assignment.
Then you get into your expenses. If you live in a rural area, your driving expenses and time will be more than someone in an urban area. On the other hand, your dollars may go further for basic expenses, so you might be able to make a profit from a fee that someone in a more expensive part of the country would turn down.
If you have to buy a new printer, a better cell phone or improved plan, or more E&O insurance, your net after expenses is going to be less, even before you pay taxes on your earnings.
Even when someone tells you what they charge, it does not answer your question of what should YOU charge. It is YOUR business. You are responsible for setting your own fees, based on your own market research.