Becoming an Online Notary in Virginia

Virginia has plenty of opportunities for notaries and future notaries. It’s the 12th most populous state in the USA. It’s also close to the U.S. capital, Washington D.C.. As recently as 2019,  a CNBC poll named Virginia the number 1 state in the U.S. for businesses. The large population, business environment, and closeness to D.C. combine to form a significant need for notarization services. 

One other contributing factor to the growing opportunity for notaries in Virginia. COVID-19 has led many states to establish laws allowing notaries to perform online notarizations. In 2011, Virginia became the first state to allow remote online notarizations. Because of this, more people are used to using online notarization platforms for their personal and business needs. 

If you’re considering becoming a notary public in Virginia, expanding your practice to online notarizations can provide additional income and flexibility. In this article, we’ll discuss:

  1. How to become a traditional notary public in Virginia
  2. The process for getting online certified
  3. Why you should consider moving your notary practice online 

The Basics

The basic requirements to become a notary in Virginia are that the applicant must be:

  • 18 years old
  • Able to read and write in English
  • A legal citizen of the United States
  • Living or working in Virginia
  • Not convicted of a felony

If you meet all of these requirements, are ready to apply!

Fee’s, Exams, and Requirements

One of the benefits to becoming a notary in Virginia is that there are relatively few expenses to start. The application fee is $45, you have to purchase a notary seal (the prices vary), and you have to pay $10 to the Circuit Court to take your oath of office.

However, Virginia is a “self-certifying” state. “Self-certifying” means no course or exam is needed to apply as a notary. 

Virginia also does not require the purchase of a surety bond or errors and omissions insurance. For more on surety bonds and E & O insurance, check out this article on our blog. The quick rundown is that bonds and insurance protect the public and the notary from the financial consequences of notarization errors. So, even though they aren’t required, you may still want to consider purchasing a bond and an insurance policy.

The Process

Now that you know the requirements for entry, you’re ready to apply.

First, you’ll have to create a login account on the Virginia Secretary of the Commonwealth’s website.  Next, you’ll use the  Notary Application Wizard to enter your information and pay your $45 application fee. 

Section 3 of the application (the “Agreements” section) requires a notarized signature. Once you’ve done this, mail the completed, notarized pages, along with your application fee receipt, to the Office of the Virginia Secretary of the Commonwealth.

Once yourapplication is approved, the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office will inform you and the Circuit Court. You’ll have 60 days to report to the Circuit Court to take your oath of office.

After you’ve taken your oath of office, you have to buy your notary seal. At a minimum, your seal must show your name (as it appears on your commission) and the words “Notary Public” and “Commonwealth of Virginia.”

Once you have your seal, that’s it! You are now a notary public in the State of Virginia!

Getting Your Online Commission

Once you’ve received your commission to be a traditional notary public, you’re ready to get your commission as a remote online notary! 

The first step of this process is to make sure you have the necessary technology at home or at your place of employment to perform online notarization. You’ll need a computer with a microphone, webcam, and secure internet connection.

Second, you’ll need to select a remote online notary service provider.  Many services, including LiveNotary, meet the requirements for online notarization in Virginia. The main conditions are that the service allows you to:

  • Establish real-time audiovisual communication
  • Verify an individual’s identity and credentials
  • View and apply electronic stamps and signatures to documents.

Your remote online notarization provider will also allow you to purchase an electronic signature and seal. It’s require that you have your seal and signature before you can apply for your online commission.  

Once you’ve selected your service provider and received your electronic seal and signature, you can complete the Virginia eNotary application. You’ll use your electronic seal and signature to sign the application and pay the $45 online notary application fee. It may take up to two weeks to receive your commission via email. 

Once you’ve gotten your online commission, you can start notarizing online right away! 

Why Become an Online Notary?

Becoming a notary public can provide you many personal and professional opportunities. Notaries can work in many different capacities and fill many different roles. Notaries can also be their own boss, performing notarizations independently of an employer.

Online notaries have all the advantages discussed above, plus the ability to make more money in a safe, flexible, convenient way. 

Low Overhead

As an online notary, you don’t have to deal with some of the burdens associated with in-person notary businesses. If you work from home or in a remote setting, you don’t have to pay for the rent or upkeep of a brick-and-mortar business. Because online notarizations utilize electronic document storage, online notaries don’t have to deal with the space requirements or physical organization of storing paper documents.

Increased Flexibility and Income

If you’re an online notary, you can make your hours, often outside of regular 9 to 5 traditional business hours. The Handbook for Virginia Notaries Public specifies that online notarizations are not limited to signers located only in Virginia. Therefore, Virginia online notaries can perform notarizations for people all over the country, as long as the notary is in Virginia. This allows the notary to make money during hours where businesses might be closed in their home state. 

Improved Safety

The ability to notarize outside of regular business hours for individuals outside their traditional jurisdiction allows for increased income opportunities. If you are a conventional notary, you’ve probably seen a decrease in your in-person business since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Increased regulation and public safety concerns have decreased walk-in customers for all companies. Remote online notarization provides an opportunity for signers to have their needs met safely.

Hopefully, this discussion has provided the information you need to pursue your goal of becoming a notary. If you have other questions about online notarization, check out our LiveNotary Blog. If you’re a traditional notary and ready to step into the online space, contact LiveNotary to see how we can meet your needs! 

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