The process varies, depending on what state you are in.
In Tennessee, this process involves filling out an application, signing it before a Notary Public, and turning it in along with the fee to the County Clerk in your county of residence or business.
Your state probably has a similar procedure — check with the County Clerk in your county or with the National Notary Association for details.
If you are in Shelby County, you will want to see the Shelby County Clerk’s website about the process at http://www.shelbycountytn.gov/index.aspx?NID=566.
If you are in another county, please google the county clerk for your county – most of them are online. If that does not work, call the County courthouse in your county.
Then you will need a Notary Bond from an insurance company and a Stamp from a stamp or office supply company.
The application and a bunch of information about what it means to be a Tennessee Notary Public is in the Tennessee Notary Public Handbook, which you can find here: http://www.ctas.tennessee.edu/content/notary-public-handbook
The Tennessee Secretary of State has a good deal of information on their Notary Commission page here: https://sos.tn.gov/notary-commissions
You need a copy of the latest handbook, anyway, because one of the things you agree to do is abide by the handbook.
If you charge a fee, you are required to keep a notary journal (unless you work in the financial industry, as they have privacy rules that the latest rewrite of the notary laws took into account). It has historically been a requirement of the office, regardless of whether a law specifically mentions it and is generally considered a Best Practice in any case, so get a notary journal now.
Many types of notary journals show up for purchase on eBay or Craigslist — or you can buy them online directly from the company who offers them.
Some notaries have found journals at OfficeDepot/Max, Walmart, Amazon, and other local or online stores.
Tennessee does not require training or that you pass a test (some states do). So, once you’ve done the steps above, you’re a Notary Public. Congratulations!
Next, you will need to do some research to find out what it actually means to be a Notary Public. I am working on a series of books about being a notary public and making money as one. Please check back here on this blog for news of those books as they become available, as well as reviews and mentions of other books that you may find useful as you go about your Notary Public duties. Meanwhile, please read my For Notaries and category of articles and the Notary Tips page for helpful information and my opinions about what the facts mean (grin).
Updated April 11, 2018