Notary System FAQ
The following frequently asked questions are categorized by topic:
- Tutorial, education and the test
- Applying for a commission
- Getting the oath
- The Certificate of Authorization
- Law and rule changes
Tutorial, Education and the Test
Do I have to take the online tutorial?
No. The only applicants who must take an approved notary education course are those who don't hold a commission at the time of application. If you are a notary now, you may but you don’t have to take a course. The Secretary of State course is free and available seven days a week, but there are other options. Check the notary public education providers list for other providers and our free in-person seminars.
Why do I have to take the test before I can apply?
Under the old notary system, the biggest reason for rejection was failure to pass the test. This led to increased expense and delays for the applicant, as well as confusion and a pressure to pass the test. Under the new system, an applicant can take the test as many times as they want and take as much time as they need. The new system decreases rejections, saving applicants time and money.
Do I have to take the tutorial AND the test?
No. Only the test is mandatory. A notary course from an approved vendor is required only for those who don't have a current commission at the time of application. The tutorial is just one of the places to get an approved education.
Where do I get a Notary Education Number?
This is the number that is on your certificate of education, which you receive when you have finished a course. It will be a six-digit number preceded by a three-letter prefix, such as SOS, SOT, NNA, ASN, etc.
How do I get a certificate to print out for my employer?
Click on the link that appears on the right side of the page that includes your curricula and instructions. It will bring up a PDF of the education certificate. Save or print that out. For the commission certificate, you'll receive that as a PDF attached to an email. You can similarly print out that certificate as proof of your commission. Note that the commission also will be verifiable online through our notary database.
I finished the tutorial and received the certificate, but how do I get out of the tutorial to apply?
On the left side of the screen, where it shows that the final test has been taken and passed, the unit for the application will appear. Click on it, then click on the link in the slide. Alternatively, you can quit the tutorial, go to the notary page on the Secretary of State website, and follow the links to the application.
Will my email address be given to the public or published online?
No. The only address available online is the public records address you identified, which the public can access to contact you if they have a question about a notarization you’ve performed.
Applying for a Commission
I forgot my online notary education username. How can I log in?
The email address you usually use will probably work if you have the test number too. If not, call our office at 503-986-2200 and we'll help you find it.
I took the class from a vendor. How do I apply?
Go to our Web page and take the test. Once you have the test number, you can click on the link where you took your test, or go back to the notary education Web page and click on the application link. You'll need your login email from the test program and the test number you received when you passed.
Why can't I have my old commission name?
The law says your commission name is your full legal name, as verified by a notary public. If your old commission name doesn't match your legal name, then you must use a different one that does match your identification. Keep in mind that the signature need not completely mirror your name. It simply needs to be the signature you used on your ID, as your legal signature.
What if my full name doesn't match my signature?
There's no need for a signature to precisely mirror the legal name of an individual. According to the law, a signature means "a tangible symbol ... that evidences the signing of a record.” So, a signature may be a mark, printed name, part of a name or anything that shows a “present intent to authenticate or adopt a record.”
What's the "public records address"?
This is the only address that the Secretary of State will associate with your name to the public upon request. It may be your street address, a mailing address, your employer’s address, whatever address can be associated with you where you can reliably be contacted for legal purposes.
I want to keep my address secret. What do you mean it's online?
If you have a nondisclosure agreement with the Secretary of State from a commission that existed before Sept. 1, 2013, that address is still exempt from disclosure. It won’t be published online. However, just as before, you still need to provide an address we can use to contact you that will be available to the public. There is no such thing as a “secret” notary public. Many people who must be a notary as part of their job use their employer’s address as their public record address.
What about my address and information from the old system?
See above. The addresses from the previous system were not made available online, because notaries at that time did not agree to a specific “public record address.” The online database will show a blank address. The old addresses, however, are still part of the internal notary database.
Why can't I pay online? Where do I pay?
Unlike the previous system, we don't ask for payment at the time of application. Instead, we wait for your notarized oath of office. Only after we have verification of your identity and your sworn statement we can commission you. Because you have to mail or bring in the oath, you'll need to provide payment by check or credit card number and expiration date.
When can I start notarizing?
As soon as you have a notary stamp and journal.
I got an email response to my application that says "more research needed." What does that mean?
It means a question has come up about information that you provided on your application. Our office will contact you soon to try and clear up any issues.
Getting the Oath
I got an email saying my application was accepted. Now what?
Attached to the email was a PDF document that has an oath of office for you to fill out and take before a notary. Print that out, have a notary administer the oath of office, and send the notarized oath to us with payment of the $40 nonrefundable processing fee.
I'm a notary. Can't I just notarize my oath using my old stamp?
It's against the law to notarize your own signature or any document you are party to. That also means it's illegal to notarize your own oath. Independent verification of your name, signature and adherence to the oath is essential to prevent the theft of your notarial identity and to ensure your agreement to the terms of your commission.
The Certificate of Authorization
How do I get a stamp?
When you receive a confirmation email from the Secretary of State (after you’ve sent in the oath), print out the Certificate of Authorization and take it to a stamp vendor. If you use an online vendor, you can forward the certificate to them in the manner they specify.
I got my stamp. Do I now send in the Certificate of Authorization?
No. We’ve changed our system and no longer need the impression of your stamp on file, since we can verify your signature and commission information independently. You may want to keep the certificate stored someplace safe, in case you ever need to get another stamp made. So long as you don’t change your name or signature (or don’t lose your stamp or Certificate of Authorization), you can reuse the PDF certificate we sent. However, you want to keep it secure to prevent someone from impersonating you and doing fraudulent notarizations in your name.
Law and Rule Changes
The new law and rules changed many things, from enabling electronic notarization and journals, to new requirements for credible witnesses and ID documents. We encourage you to read the new guide closely and take the free tutorial. For your convenience, we’ve posted a document that outlines the most important changes (PDF).