A notary public is an individual who is licensed by a state to authenticate or verify identification and signatures for certain types of documentation. For example, if you’re signing a loan application, a mortgage agreement or a legal document, a notary can verify your identification and your signature by stamping and signing the documents in question. There may be a charge for some type of notary services, depending on the circumstances.
How it Works
If you need a document notarized, you take it, unsigned, to a public notary. The notary will take a copy of your driver’s license or other identifying information such as a passport, write down your ID number in a notary ledger, and ask for your signature. The notary then will witness you signing the document in question and stamp and sign the documents to indicate you are the person you say you are. In this way, a notary helps protect against fraud.
Individual states govern the activities of notaries operating in their jurisdiction. This includes establishing a maximum cap on how much a public notary can charge for services. Costs may range from a few cents to a few dollars. You can learn about your state’s maximum fees by contacting your Secretary of State's office. This office can also verify the licensure of a notary, should you have any concern about her legitimacy.
How Notaries Charge
Some notaries charge per document, while others charge per signature. For example, if you’re refinancing a loan and your loan documents requires that you sign in five different places, the notary is required to authenticate all five signatures -- and may charge you accordingly. The notary is responsible for witnessing each signature and individually verifying it with her seal or stamp, date, and identifying notary identification number.
Some states allow notaries to charge fees for mileage if they must travel to perform notary services. For example, the state of Montana allows for mileage reimbursement and lets notaries charge $5 for the first signature authenticated and $1 for each additional signature in a document. In Idaho, the cap is $2 per notarial act.
Other Notary Services
Banks, mortgage companies and financial institutions often have public notaries on staff who provide services to customers for little or no fee. Many large corporations, accounting departments and tax-preparation agencies also have notaries on staff who are qualified to provide these services.
Lisa McQuerrey has been an award-winning writer and author for more than 25 years. She specializes in business, finance, workplace/career and education. Publications she’s written for include Southwest Exchange and InBusiness Las Vegas.