There is no state rule or law that requires you to get services through the National Notary Association (NNA).
So, why is the NNA the one source so many signing services, title companies, and lenders require for certification and background checks?
Some history might help answer this question.
The NNA has existed since the 1950s.
Their founder Raymond C. Rothman wrote the first book on basic notary practices that someone other than lawyers could afford to buy or could understand if they read it. Over the years, they’ve published more books and articles about notary practices than the next several largest notary organizations combined.
They partnered with the American Bar Association to write the first model notary law (which has been accepted in whole or part by a majority of states as their own law).
So, they have the longevity, history, and expertise to be seen as an authority in the halls of government and industry.
They’ve used that standing to make relationships with the major lenders and title companies and these relationships go back many, many years before there were notary signing agents or the much-maligned Signing Professionals Workgroup.
Along the way, they’ve revised their model law a few times and offered all sorts of guidance and books and services to notaries and those who employ them.
Now, this means they have a trusted status by those lenders and title companies that many of us want to work with.
When those potential clients see that it’s an NNA certification and background check, they trust that they know what that means and that it’s okay.
They have been instructed by federal regulators to lower their exposure to risk brought on by using third party service vendors (that’s us). They believe that the NNA brand means their due diligence for compliance has been met.
They don’t have to know the difference between CrimChek and Sterling and other background check companies. They just have to know that the NNA backs it with their reputation that has been built over decades.
You can choose to limit yourself to only working for those firms who don’t require the NNA seal of approval on their NSAs, but it will be a limiting move. Your marketing is up to you. You may have plenty of work without those lenders and title companies. It’s your business.
Just understand that many potential clients will not see you as a professional if you’re going to balk at paying for annual proof that you know what you’re doing and are safe to be in the homes of the public. Actual professionals accept that being in business means ongoing expenses of this sort.
(None of this means I’m a fan of the NNA. I simply recognise the facts. They are the 800 pound gorilla in the industry.)