How to Become a Notary Public in the District of Columbia

How to Become a Notary Public in the District of Columbia

Before applying, make sure you meet the following criteria:

  • Visit The Office of the Secretary’s website and carefully complete the Notary Public application form.
  • Upload a letter from your employer (if applicable) explaining why you need a Notary commission.
  • Pay the $75 application fee.
  • Within three weeks, you’ll be contacted to schedule a mandatory orientation session.
  • After orientation, you’ll receive a letter confirming your commission date and instructions for obtaining a surety bond.
  • Secure your Notary seal embosser and journal.
  • Within 60 days of receiving your commission date, visit the Office of Notary Commissions and Authentications (441 4th Street NW, Suite 810 South) to take your oath of office. This step is crucial to activate your commission.
  • Consider getting Errors and Omissions (E&O) insurance for added financial protection, although it’s not mandatory.

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What are the Requirements to Become a Notary in the District of Columbia?

Becoming a Notary Public in Washington, D.C., allows you to witness the signing of important documents and verify the identities of the signers. But before you embark on this path, there are some essential eligibility requirements to meet:

  • You must be at least 18 years old.
  • You need to be a U.S. citizen or a permanent legal resident.
  • Be a resident of the District of Columbia.
  • Have a primary place of employment or practice located within the District.

Meeting these criteria is the first step towards becoming a Notary Public in Washington, D.C. If you qualify and are interested in pursuing this path, you can find information on the application process, different commission types, and further steps on the website of The Office of the Secretary.

What are the types of Notary commissions in Washington, D.C.?

Washington, D.C., offers various Notary Public commissions:

  • Residential: Serve your community (optional fee).
  • Business: Serve clients (optional fee), requires business location in D.C.
  • Government: Serve D.C. or federal agencies (no fee); some require supervisor approval.

Dual Commissions: Combine two (e.g., Residential & Business) for broader service (fees allowed for residential acts).

Choose based on residency, who you serve (community, clients, government), and fee preference.

How Much Does it Cost to Become a Notary Public in the District of Columbia?

The fees to become a D.C. Notary Public include a mandatory $75 application fee and variable cost for a notary supply package. New Notaries can also consider optional training from reputable providers like the BlueNotary Academy to supplement their knowledge.

What is a letter of request?

The letter of request explains why you need a Notary commission and how it benefits D.C. (serving the community, assisting business clients, etc.). It also highlights your qualifications (residential, business, etc.) and availability (if applicable).


  • Formal letter format on letterhead (matching application address)
  • D.C. phone number (especially for business commissions)
  • Your name
  • Reason for needing the commission and its positive impact

How Long Does it Take to Become a Notary in the District of Columbia?

The wait time to become a D.C. Notary Public is typically 45 to 60 days. This timeframe encompasses the processing of your application, document verification, mandatory orientation, and finalization of your commission.

What Supplies Do District of Columbia Notaries Need?

To function effectively as a D.C. Notary Public, you’ll need a few key supplies:

  • Notary Seal: This inked embosser (circular, under 1.75″) leaves a clear impression on documents. Choose high-quality to avoid ink bleeding and rejection. A backup seal is recommended.
  • Embossment Inker: Ensures clear impressions from your Notary seal.
  • Jurat Stamp: Pre-printed wording for jurat notarizations.
  • Notary Public Sign (Optional): Required for non-government Notaries.
  • Notary Journal: Permanent, bound book with numbered pages to record all notarizations. Opt for tamper-proof binding for security.

Finally, vendor packages might offer some or all of these supplies. Thus, quality and content can vary. Choose a package that best suits your experience level (new vs. renewal).

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How long does a Notary commission last in the District of Columbia?

A Washington D.C. Notary commission is valid for a period of five years. After this time, you’ll need to renew your commission to continue serving as a Notary Public in the District of Columbia.

What About Bonds or Insurance for the District of Columbia Notaries?

Absolutely. A surety bond is mandatory for D.C. Notaries. It typically costs around $2,000 and is valid for five years. This bond protects the public from financial harm if you, as a Notary, make a mistake or omission while performing your duties.

Furthermore, while not required, many Notaries in D.C. also choose to get errors and omissions (E&O) insurance. This type of insurance provides additional protection by covering your legal expenses if someone sues you due to a notary error.

The District of Columbia Notary Public FAQs

Who Oversees Notaries in the District of Columbia?

In Washington D.C., which operates under a different structure than most states, the Mayor’s Office of Notary Commissions and Authentications handles all matters related to Notary Public commissions. This office is located in Washington, D.C. itself.

Do I need Training to Become a Notary in the District of Columbia?

A simple web search brings up Notary Public training providers. But be cautious – the Office of Notary Commissions and Authentications (ONCA) doesn’t endorse them. Carefully research any company before enrolling. Look for reputable organizations like the BlueNotary Academy with strong Notary education backgrounds, ensuring their training covers D.C.-specific laws and best practices. Furthermore, choose a course that fits your budget and learning style (online or in-person) to enhance your D.C. Notary experience.

Where will I be able to notarize?

Your commission allows you to perform notarizations anywhere within the District of Columbia. This means that, as long as you’re within the District of Columbia boundaries, you can legally perform notarizations. This allows you to serve a wider client base or community within the D.C. area.

Who can I notarize for?

In D.C., you can notarize for anyone except yourself, your spouse, or anyone you (or your spouse) would directly benefit from (e.g., documents you’re named in).  While D.C. law doesn’t explicitly restrict notarizing relatives, it’s highly discouraged to avoid conflicts. Employer limitations may also apply during work hours.

How much can I charge for my notary services?

D.C. Notaries can charge up to $5 per notarization. Extra travel fees are okay, but only with the signer’s agreement and if the cost is reasonable (covers actual travel expenses).

Is Online Notary Legal in the District of Columbia?

Yes, Remote Online Notarization (RON) is legal in Washington, D.C. The Remote Online Notarization Amendment Act of 2020 officially authorized RON in October 2020. This offers increased convenience and accessibility for residents seeking notary services.

What happens if I move or change my name after becoming a Notary?

Moving? Keep your commission active by notifying the Office of Notary Commissions and Authentications (ONCA) right away. Download and email the “Change of Address During Commission” form, along with proof that you informed your surety bond company.

Name Change? Update your commission with ONCA. Fill out the “Change of Name on Notary Commission” form and submit it with legal documentation of your name change and proof of notification to your surety bond company. You’ll also need to obtain a new Notary seal and jurat stamp reflecting your new name. Finally, visit ONCA to complete an updated oath page with your new embossed seal impressions.

What’s the legal risk that comes with becoming a Notary in the District of Columbia?

As a Notary Public, even unintentional mistakes (like improper ID verification) can lead to legal issues. Signers who suffer financial losses due to your errors might sue you, and legal fees can be expensive even if you win the case.  The $2,000 surety bond protects the public in such cases, but the company may seek reimbursement from you if you’re found liable.

How do I renew my District of Columbia Notary Public Commission?

Renewing your D.C. Notary commission is similar to applying for a new one, except you don’t have to attend orientation again (unless your commission has expired for more than a year). It’s important to begin the renewal process at least six weeks before your current commission expires. The steps and fees are the same as those for the initial application. You might also consider getting a new seal reflecting your updated expiration date and potentially a new record book if your old one is full.

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