As a notary public, you have a responsibility to educate yourself on the duties of the office.
While a few of the larger states have some classes and required exams, most states seem to leave the matter of notary education squarely on the shoulders of the notary. The laws require that you know what you’re allowed to do, how you’re expected to do it, and what you must not do. Judges tend to take a dim view of those who claim ignorance of the law as an excuse, so, protect yourself while you serve the public properly by studying the following books and other resources.
First, you will need the notary handbook for your state, if it has one. To find it, google “notary handbook” +(the name of your state).
Second, you will want to visit the Secretary of State’s website and the Attorney General’s website for your state to gather any information you can find there about rules, regulations, or Official Opinions on notary matters. You may need to visit your local library to get access to a legal search engine so that you can read the AG’s opinions, as they may not all be easily found online.
Third, while you’re at the library, visit the business section and see if they have the books listed below. If they do, check them out if they will allow it (or read them while there if not) and make notes in your own notebook about what they say.
- Notary Public Practices and Glossary by Raymond C. Rothman — available from the National Notary Association (nationalnotary.org)
- Notary Best Practices by Michael Closen — also available from the NNA
- Notary Law, Procedures & Ethics — by Peter J Van Alstyne — published by the Notary Law Institute — look for it from online sellers
- Notary Public Encyclopedia by Peter J Van Alstyne — also published by the Notary Law Institute.
Fourth, as soon as you can, buy your own copies of these books so you have them at home or in your office to refer back to when questions arise.
You may find these books cheaper on ebay, Amazon, abebooks, or other sites, but be aware that those may not be the most recent editions which are more likely to contain up-to-date information.
If you get those books and read them cover to cover, you will have a good grounding in what it means to be a notary public.
Fifth, after you’ve done the above steps, you will be ready to read articles on the websites of the American Association of Notaries, GoGetNotary, 123notary, NotaryRotary’s forum, the American Society of Notaries, the National Notary Association, NotaryCafe, and other sites and evaluate them for usefulness and trustworthiness. You can get a great deal of information from the free parts of those sites, and the paid parts are generally worth several times what you would pay to access them.
Sixth, read my articles listed on my Notary Tips page. These were written for the American Association of Notaries and appear on their site. Most of them cover basic notary questions and will help you with answers on how to do things.
I trust that you are already reading the articles posted on this site such as the one on Where Do You Get Notary Public Training? and my ongoing series on Notary Signing Agent Training , as well as others in the For Notaries category.
You can also find video and other online notary training available on youtube and many other sites, but I highly recommend that you read these books before you take any such training, as you need to know what to filter out from them (such as elements that may not be true in your state or may not be stated clearly).
Seventh, for marketing and growing your business, I recommend you start with this ebook: Notary Marketing 2019 by Laura Vestanen (available for the Kindle on Amazon for less than $10).
There you have it — a seven-step general notary education program laid out for you. Follow these steps and you will be well-prepared to offer your notary public services to customers and clients.
If you’re planning to be a Notary Signing Agent (which is a specialty that some notaries may choose to pursue), you can get my ebook from the Books page here to help you get started on that. It collects 18 of my articles into one handy e-booklet, which is available in pdf or epub or mobi formats.
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This page was updated on July 25, 2020.