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 Frequently Asked Questions About Notary Public Applications

Q.  How long does it take to process a notary application?

If the application is correct and complete, approximately two (2) weeks.

Q.  How soon may I start notarizing?

Your commission is not effective until you receive your commission certificate and have had your notary stamp made.

Q.  May a federal employee apply as a government notary?

Government notaries are employees of state and local governing bodies only. Federal employees may apply as regular notaries and have the federal agency pay the fee.

Q.  May an employee of a public corporation, such as a Park Commission, apply as a government

Yes. As long as the entity is established by state law, it is considered a governing body.​

Q.  What fee can I charge to notarize documents?

          The maximum fee for notarization of each signature per West Virginia Code §39-4-30 is $5.

Q.  Is a notary public required to secure and maintain a surety or professional insurance bond?

          Yes. A $1,000 surety bond or its equivalent in professional insurance is required to be maintained during a notary's commission. A notary cannot perform a notarial act at any time when there is no surety or assurance of coverage in place (expiration of bond or insurance). If you are submitting surety in the form of a bond, only a bond form issued by the Secretary of State is permitted to be used. Click here to access the Secretary of State Notary Public Surety Bond (Form N-SB1) application. You will need to print a hard copy of the application, complete it and forward it along with your Application for Appointment as a Notary Public (Form N-1) to the Office of Secretary of State. NOTE: Most insurance policies do not cover acts in violation of the law. Any bond or insurance must cover acts in violation of the law. Any insurance policy that does not will not be accepted and you will not receive a commission until you provide adequate assurance. If, for example, a policy has exclusions from criminal, dishonest, malicious, negligent, or fraudulent acts, then it would not be acceptable and would be denied by the Secretary of State's Office.

Q.  May a notary public notarize electronic documents?

          Yes. Pursuant to West Virginia Code §39-4-19(a), a notary public may select one or more tamper-evident technologies to perform notarial acts with respect to electronic records. A person may not require a notary public to perform a notarial act with respect to an electronic record with a technology that the notary public has not selected.

          Before a notary public performs her/his initial notarial act with respect to an electronic record, a notary public shall notify the Secretary of State that she/he will be performing notarial acts with respect to electronic records and identify the technology she/he intends to use [see West Virginia Code §39-4-19(b)]. The notary must complete and submit the E-Notarization Authorization application (Form N-2) made available by the Secretary of State as proper notification of her/his intent to perform electronic notarial acts. There is no fee to file the e-notarization application.

Q. Does the Secretary of State notify notaries when the commission is expiring?

        Yes. The application form will be sent to the address on record with the Secretary of State. However, if you don't receive the form, it is your responsibility to get the form and submit the completed application if you want to renew your commission.

Q.  If my employer pays for my notary commission, what happens if I leave that job?

        You are the person who holds the commission, not the employer, and the employer may not have the commission canceled. However, it is your duty to file a change of address and get a new seal immediately if your employer's address is on your seal. If you are a government notary, your commission expires when you terminate employment with (or are terminated by) the agency.