How Much Can You Charge for Your John Hancock: Guide for Notary Publics

the church of notary public

Did you know that notaries in Maine can solemnize marriage? Or that notary publics in Washington DC can become government notaries and sign documents in any state?  Or that Louisiana notaries must carry errors and omissions (E&O) insurance?

While these are all lesser-known facts about notaries, even the simple questions like “How much can a notary charge?” are often unknown.  A recent discussion on the City Clerk Cafe LinkedIn Group for Government Clerks found that the answers, though regulated by individual states under the Notary Act, are vastly different.  That’s because while the state government often outlines common fee maximums, there is ambiguity when it comes to charging for things like “mobile” or travel fees, and wait times.  Also, while state maximums control the maximum amount a notary is allowed to charge, it is left up to the notary whether they want to charge less, or nothing at all.  The notary also has the power to determine if they want to charge a flat rate, or a per-document rate.

So just how much is a notary’s John Hancock worth?  We pulled together some common questions and answers about Notary Public Fees.

What are common services a notary charges for?

Acknowledgements – An acknowledgement is a document that requires a notary to check the signer’s identification (usually a government-issued photo identification document with a physical description, a signature, expiration date, and a serial number). Most states allow a notary to identify a signer by using one or two credible identifying witnesses who know the signer by name as well. An acknowledgement can come in the form of a notarial certificate that is affixed to a notarized document, a notary act in which the signer acknowledges to the notary that they signed a specific document in the past, or in the form of an act of admitting or recognizing the existence of an agreement by signing as evidence of a person’s intention that the agreement shall be binding and in full force and effect.

Jurats – A jurat requires the signer to swear under oath that the statement in the notarized document is true and correct. The signer must additionally sign the document in the presence of the notary public, and may include a jurat certificate which is signed and sealed by a notary and affixed below the sworn or affirmed statement and signature of the affiant (laws for jurats can differ from state to state).

Oaths and Affirmations – Oaths and affirmations are solemn statement of truth to a public official (notary publics are considered public officials and it is against the law to lie to one under oath).  Affirmations are oaths without religious affiliation or reference to a Supreme Being.  While the wording for oaths and affirmations is determined by the notary, common oaths and affirmations include: “Do you solemnly affirm that the contents of this document are true and correct to the best of your knowledge?”, and require a verbal, coherent, and definitive response such as, “Yes, I do”.

Certified Copies – A certified copy is an exact duplicate of an original document that has been inspected, certified, and notarized by a notary public.

Proof of Execution – A proof of execution is the act of subscribing that a witness appeared before a notary and swore that another third party signed a document. This is the only notary act where someone can be notarized without appearing before a notary public.

Depositions – A deposition is a sworn testimony of a witness taken before trial and held out of court with no judge there. The witness must take an oath preceding the deposition.

Affidavits – An affidavit is a document that contains a statement, made under oath or affirmation, signed by the affiant, and includes a jurat certificate signed and sealed by a notary.

What other fees and services can a notary charge for?

Travel and Waiting Fees – The notary may determine whether or not to charge for travel, and with the exception of a few states, that fee is left to be determined by the notary. This is also the case for waiting time fees.  Unless defined by state notary acts, the notary may determine, within reason, what to charge for waiting fees.

How much can a notary charge for fees and services?

A notary can charge anything they want for their services, provided it does not exceed the state maximum charge for notary publics.  In Montana, a notary public can charge the following:

Fee Type Montana State Maximum
Acknowledgments $5.00
Jurats $5.00
Oaths & Affirmations $5.00
Certified Copies No Official Price
Proofs $5.00 for initial signature, $1.00 for each additional signature
Depositions $3.50 per page
Affidavits $3.50 per page
Travel *Any sum that the notary deems appropriate.

Whether a notary decides to charge a flat fee, no fee, or a fee per page is up to the notary.  The notary may also determine whether or not to charge for travel and wait time.  Whenever a state has not determined a maximum for a service or fee, the charge is then determined by the notary.

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