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How to Start a Notary Business

Written by:

Carolyn Young is a business writer who focuses on entrepreneurial concepts and the business formation. She has over 25 years of experience in business roles, and has authored several entrepreneurship textbooks.

Edited by:

David has been writing and learning about business, finance and globalization for a quarter-century, starting with a small New York consulting firm in the 1990s.

How to Start a Notary Business

Fast Facts

Investment range

$1,850 - $6,700

Revenue potential

$78,000 - $120,000 p.a.

Time to build

1 – 3 months

Profit potential

$70,000 - $100,000 p.a.

Industry trend

Growing

Commitment

Flexible

Demand for notary services in the US hit an all-time high in 2020 as many people refinanced their home mortgages. A notary functions as a certified, legal witness, verifying the identity of a person signing a document, then signing the document to certify that they witnessed the signature. You can start your own notary business, even a mobile notary service, and make a healthy profit.

Starting any business requires diligence, time, and most importantly, knowledge. This step-by-step guide has all the information and insight that you need to get you started on your way to launching a successful notary business.

Step 1: Decide if the Business Is Right for You

Pros and cons

A notary business has pros and cons that you should carefully weigh before deciding if the business is right for you.

Pros

  • Simplicity – It’s not difficult to become a notary and the business model is simple
  • High Profit Margin – As a mobile notary, you keep most of what you bring in
  • Low Startup Costs – Becoming licensed as a notary is inexpensive

Cons

  • Restrictions on Fees – Some states have a maximum fee that notaries can charge
  • Liability – Mistakes can result in lawsuits

Notary industry trends

Online notary company Notarize reports that Americans have 1.25 billion documents notarized per year.((https://www.notarize.com/knowledge-center/what-does-it-mean-to-have-a-document-notarized-with-a-notary-public)) Demand for notaries, particularly mobile notaries, hit an all-time high in 2020, according to the National Notary Association, with searches for mobile notaries increasing an incredible 1,750% from the previous year.

Notarize, an online-only notary service, has grown to be a $760 million company. Mobile notary services and online notary services both present great opportunities for entrepreneurs venturing into the notary business.

Industry size and growth

notary industry size and growth

Trends and challenges

Trends in the notary industry are:

  • Mobile and online notary services are growing in popularity. These services conduct the process through a face-to-face online meeting and notarize the document electronically.
  • Strong demand for notary services as more people do estate planning because of the pandemic.

Challenges faced by the notary industry include:

  • High level of competition
  • Compliance with personal appearance requirement
notary industry Trends and Challenges

What kind of people work as notary public?

notary industry demographics

How much does it cost to start a notary business?

Startup costs for a notary business range from around $1,800 to $6,500. The high-end includes renting an office space for your business, so if you just start a mobile or online service, your costs are much lower.

Startup CostsBallpark RangeAverage
Setting up a business name and corporation$150 - $200$175
Licenses and permits$100 - $300$200
Insurance $100 - $300$200
Business cards and brochures$200 - $300$250
Website setup$1,000 - $3,000$2,000
Notary training and licensing $100 - $250$175
Notary bond$100 - $150$125
Signing agent training$100 - $200$150
Office security deposit$0 - $2,000$1,000
Total$1,850 - $6,700$4,275

How much can you earn from a notary business?

Prices for notarizing single documents are between $5 – $10. The average price for an online notarization is $25. If you are trained as a signing agent to sign loan or other financial documents, your prices can range from $75 to $200 per signing. As a mobile service, your profit margin will be about 90%.

In your first year or two, you could work from home as a mobile service and do 10 loan signings per week at $150 per loan signing, bringing in $78,000 in annual revenue. This would mean over $70,000 in profit, assuming that 90% margin. As your brand gains recognition, sales could climb to 15 signings per week. With expected annual revenue of nearly $120,000, you would make over $100,000.

Notary business earnings forecast

What barriers to entry are there?

There are a few barriers to entry for a notary business. Your biggest challenges will be:

  • Finding companies such as mortgage brokers to partner with for loan signings
  • You will face competition from other notary services and online services

Related Business Ideas

If you’re still not sure whether this business idea is the right choice for you, here are some related business opportunities to help you on your path to entrepreneurial success.
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Step 2: Hone Your Idea

develop a business idea

Now that you know what’s involved in starting a notary business, it’s a good idea to hone your concept in preparation to enter a competitive market. 

Market research will give you the upper hand, even if you’re already positive that you have a perfect product or service. Conducting market research is important, because it can help you understand your customers better, who your competitors are, and your business landscape.

Why? Identify an opportunity

Research other notary businesses in your area to examine their services, price points, and customer reviews. You’re looking for a market gap to fill. For instance, maybe the local market is missing an extended hours mobile notary service.

You might consider targeting a niche market by specializing in a certain aspect of your industry such as legal documents.

This could jumpstart your word-of-mouth marketing and attract clients right away. 

What? Determine your products or services

You can specialize in certain types of notarizations or offer a variety of services, from single documents to loan signings. You can also offer additional services such as:

  • Providing copies of documents
  • Document delivery

How much should you charge for notary services?

You will need to check with your state to find out if there is a maximum fee you can charge to notarize a document. Typical single document fees range from $5 to $10. Online notary services are about $25. Loan signing fees range from $75 to $200. 

Once you know your costs, you can use this Step By Step profit margin calculator to determine your mark-up and final price points. Remember, the prices you use at launch should be subject to change if warranted by the market.

Who? Identify your target market

Your target market will depend on what types of notary services you decide to do. If you specialize in mortgage loan signings, your target market will be mortgage brokers. If you specialize in legal documents, your target market will be attorneys. You can find both on business-related sites like LinkedIn. 

Where? Choose your business premises

In the early stages, you may want to run your business from home to keep costs low. But as your business grows, you’ll likely need to hire workers for various roles and may need to rent out an office. You can find commercial space to rent in your area on Craigslist, Crexi, and Commercial Cafe.

When choosing a commercial space, you may want to follow these rules of thumb:

  • Central location accessible via public transport
  • Ventilated and spacious, with good natural light
  • Flexible lease that can be extended as your business grows
  • Ready-to-use space with no major renovations or repairs needed
notary business idea rating

Step 3: Brainstorm a Notary Business Name

Your business name is your business identity, so choose one that encapsulates your objectives, services, and mission in just a few words. You probably want a name that’s short and easy to remember, since much of your business, and your initial business in particular, will come from word-of-mouth referrals.

Here are some ideas for brainstorming your business name:

  • Short, unique, and catchy names tend to stand out
  • Names that are easy to say and spell tend to do better 
  • The name should be relevant to your product or service offerings
  • Ask around — family, friends, colleagues, social media — for suggestions
  • Including keywords, such as “notary” or “mobile notary”, boosts SEO
  • Choose a name that allows for expansion: “ProSign Notary” over “Real Estate Notary”
  • Avoid location-based names that might hinder future expansion
  • Use online tools like the Step by Step business name generator. Just type in a few keywords and hit “generate” and you’ll have dozens of suggestions at your fingertips.

Once you’ve got a list of potential names, visit the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office to make sure they are available for registration and check the availability of related domain names using our Domain Name Search tool. Using “.com” or “.org” sharply increases credibility, so it’s best to focus on these. 

Finally, make your choice among the names that pass this screening and go ahead with domain registration and social media account creation. Your business name is one of the key differentiators that set your business apart. Once you pick your company name, and start with the branding, it is hard to change the business name. Therefore, it’s important to carefully consider your choice before you start a business entity.

Step 4: Create a Notary Business Plan

Every business needs a plan. This will function as a guidebook to take your startup through the launch process and maintain focus on your key goals. A business plan also enables potential partners and investors to better understand your company and its vision:

  • Executive Summary: A brief summary of the business plan, highlighting key points.
  • Business Overview: An introduction to the notary business, including its purpose and goals.
  • Product and Services: Description of the notary services offered, such as document notarization.
  • Market Analysis: Examination of the market for notary services, including demand and potential customers.
  • Competitive Analysis: Assessment of competitors in the notary industry and their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Sales and Marketing: Strategies for attracting clients and promoting the notary services.
  • Management Team: Information about the key individuals involved in running the business.
  • Operations Plan: Details on how the notary business will be operated and managed day-to-day.
  • Financial Plan: Projections for the business’s financial performance, including income, expenses, and profitability.
  • Appendix: Additional documents or information that support the business plan, such as resumes or legal documents.
what to include in a business plan

If you’ve never created a business plan, it can be an intimidating task. You might consider hiring a business plan specialist to create a top-notch business plan for you.

Step 5: Register Your Business

Registering your business is an absolutely crucial step — it’s the prerequisite to paying taxes, raising capital, opening a bank account, and other guideposts on the road to getting a business up and running.

Plus, registration is exciting because it makes the entire process official. Once it’s complete, you’ll have your own business! 

Choose where to register your company

Your business location is important because it can affect taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. Most people will register their business in the state where they live, but if you are planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to notary businesses. 

If you’re willing to move, you could really maximize your business! Keep in mind, it’s relatively easy to transfer your business to another state. 

Choose your business structure

Business entities come in several varieties, each with its pros and cons. The legal structure you choose for your notary business will shape your taxes, personal liability, and business registration requirements, so choose wisely. 

Here are the main options:

  • Sole Proprietorship – The most common structure for small businesses makes no legal distinction between company and owner. All income goes to the owner, who’s also liable for any debts, losses, or liabilities incurred by the business. The owner pays taxes on business income on his or her personal tax return.
  • Partnership – Similar to a sole proprietorship, but for two or more people. Again, owners keep the profits and are liable for losses. The partners pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC) – Combines the characteristics of corporations with those of sole proprietorships or partnerships. Again, the owners are not personally liable for debts.
  • C Corp – Under this structure, the business is a distinct legal entity and the owner or owners are not personally liable for its debts. Owners take profits through shareholder dividends, rather than directly. The corporation pays taxes, and owners pay taxes on their dividends which is sometimes referred to as double taxation.
  • S Corp – An S-Corporation refers to the tax classification of the business but is not a business entity. An S-Corp can be either a corporation or an LLC, which just need to elect to be an S-Corp for tax status. In an S-Corp, income is passed through directly to shareholders, who pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
types of business structures

We recommend that new business owners choose LLC as it offers liability protection and pass-through taxation while being simpler to form than a corporation. You can form an LLC in as little as five minutes using an online LLC formation service. They will check that your business name is available before filing, submit your articles of organization, and answer any questions you might have.

Form Your LLC

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Step 6: Register for Taxes

The final step before you’re able to pay taxes is getting an Employer Identification Number, or EIN. You can file for your EIN online or by mail or fax: visit the IRS website to learn more. Keep in mind, if you’ve chosen to be a sole proprietorship you can simply use your social security number as your EIN. 

Once you have your EIN, you’ll need to choose your tax year. Financially speaking, your business will operate in a calendar year (January–December) or a fiscal year, a 12-month period that can start in any month. This will determine your tax cycle, while your business structure will determine which taxes you’ll pay.

The IRS website also offers a tax-payers checklist, and taxes can be filed online.

It is important to consult an accountant or other professional to help you with your taxes to ensure you are completing them correctly.

Step 7: Fund your Business

Securing financing is your next step and there are plenty of ways to raise capital:

  • Bank loans: This is the most common method but getting approved requires a rock-solid business plan and strong credit history.
  • SBA-guaranteed loans: The Small Business Administration can act as guarantor, helping gain that elusive bank approval via an SBA-guaranteed loan.      
  • Government grants: A handful of financial assistance programs help fund entrepreneurs. Visit Grants.gov to learn which might work for you.
  • Friends and Family: Friends and family can help fund your company either for a stake in the company or as a loan. It’s a good idea to have legal advice when doing so because SEC regulations apply.      
  • Crowdfunding: Websites like Kickstarter offer an increasingly popular low-risk option, in which donors fund an entrepreneur’s vision. Other crowdfunding sites like Fundable and WeFunder allow you to invite multiple investors to fund your business for a stake in the company.   
  • Personal: Self-fund your business via your savings, or the sale of property or other assets.

Bank and SBA loans are probably the best options, other than friends and family, for funding a notary business.

types of business financing

Step 8: Apply for Notary Business Licenses and Permits

Business Licenses and Permits

Starting a notary business requires obtaining a number of licenses and permits from local, state, and federal governments. 

You need to complete training and take a test to be licensed as a notary in your state. You will also need to obtain a notary bond from your state. You should also complete signing agent training so that you can do loan signings to make more revenue.

Federal regulations, licenses, and permits associated with starting your business include doing business as (DBA), health licenses and permits from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific licenses and permits. 

You may also need state-level and local county or city-based licenses and permits. The license requirements and how to obtain them vary, so check the websites of your state, city, and county governments or contact the appropriate person to learn more. 

You could also check this SBA guide for your state’s requirements, but we recommend using MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance Package. They will research the exact forms you need for your business and state and provide them to ensure you’re fully compliant.

This is not a step to be taken lightly, as failing to comply with legal requirements can result in hefty penalties.

If you feel overwhelmed by this step or don’t know how to begin, it might be a good idea to hire a professional to help you check all the legal boxes.

Step 9: Open a Business Bank Account

Before you start making money you’ll need a place to keep it, and that requires opening a bank account. Keeping your business finances separate from your personal account makes it easy to file taxes and track your company’s income, so it’s worth doing even if you’re running your notary business as a sole proprietorship. 

Opening a business bank account is quite simple, and similar to opening a personal one. Most major banks offer accounts tailored for businesses — just inquire at your preferred bank to learn about their rates and features.

Banks vary in terms of offerings, so it’s a good idea to examine your options and select the best plan for you. Once you choose your bank, bring in your EIN (or Social Security Number if you decide on a sole proprietorship), articles of incorporation, and other legal documents and open your new account. 

Step 10: Get Business Insurance

Business insurance is an area that often gets overlooked yet it can be vital to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance protects you from unexpected events that can have a devastating impact on your business.

Here are some types of insurance to consider:

  • General liability: The most comprehensive type of insurance, acting as a catch-all for many business elements that require coverage. If you get just one kind of insurance, this is it. It even protects against bodily injury and property damage.
  • Business Property: Provides coverage for your equipment and supplies.
  • Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Covers the cost of replacing or repairing equipment that has broken due to mechanical issues.
  • Worker’s compensation: Provides compensation to employees injured on the job.
  • Property: Covers your physical space, whether it is a cart, storefront, or office.
  • Commercial auto: Protection for your company-owned vehicle.
  • Professional liability: Protects against claims from a client who says they suffered a loss due to an error or omission in your work.
  • Business owner’s policy (BOP): This is an insurance plan that acts as an all-in-one insurance policy, a combination of any of the above insurance types.
types of business insurance

Step 11: Prepare to Launch

Launching a Business

As opening day nears, prepare for launch by reviewing and improving some key elements of your business. 

Essential software and tools

Being an entrepreneur often means wearing many hats, from marketing to sales to accounting, which can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many websites and digital tools are available to help simplify many business tasks.  

You can use industry-specific software, such as NotaryGadget, NotaryAssist, or NotaryEarth, to manage your scheduling and billing. 

Accounting

  • Popular web-based accounting programs for smaller businesses include Quickbooks, Freshbooks, and Xero
  • If you’re unfamiliar with basic accounting, you may want to hire a professional, especially as you begin. The consequences for filing incorrect tax documents can be harsh, so accuracy is crucial.

Develop your website

Website development is crucial because your site is your online presence and needs to convince prospective clients of your expertise and professionalism.

You can create your own website using services like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace. This route is very affordable, but figuring out how to build a website can be time-consuming. If you lack tech-savvy, you can hire a web designer or developer to create a custom website for your business.

They are unlikely to find your website, however, unless you follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. These are steps that help pages rank higher in the results of top search engines like Google. 

Marketing

Starting a notary business is a promising venture, and effective marketing strategies can help you stand out in a competitive market. Beyond creating a website and networking, here are practical tips to boost your notary business:

  1. Local Partnerships: Collaborate with local businesses like real estate agencies, law offices, or financial institutions to establish partnerships, enabling you to tap into their client base and offer seamless notary services.
  2. Community Events Presence: Attend local community events, fairs, or farmers’ markets to reach potential clients directly, and distribute informative materials showcasing the importance and convenience of your notary services.
  3. Educational Workshops: Host workshops or webinars on notarization processes, legal documentation, and other relevant topics to position yourself as an expert, build trust, and attract clients seeking guidance.
  4. Mobile Notary Services: Highlight the convenience of your mobile notary services, emphasizing that you can travel to clients’ locations, whether it’s their homes, offices, or any other preferred meeting place.
  5. Referral Programs: Implement a referral program offering discounts or incentives to clients who refer others to your notary services, encouraging word-of-mouth marketing within your community.
  6. Social Media Engagement: Leverage social media platforms to share educational content, engage with your audience, and showcase positive client experiences, establishing an online presence that reflects reliability and professionalism.
  7. Targeted Advertising: Invest in targeted online advertising through platforms like Google Ads or social media, ensuring your ads reach individuals actively seeking notary services in your local area.
  8. Testimonials and Reviews: Encourage satisfied clients to leave positive testimonials and reviews on online platforms, as this social proof can significantly influence potential clients’ decisions.
  9. Offer Package Deals: Create bundled services or package deals for common notary needs, such as real estate transactions or estate planning, to provide added value and attract clients looking for comprehensive solutions.
  10. Local Publication Features: Reach out to local newspapers, magazines, or community newsletters to get featured in articles or interviews, showcasing your expertise and increasing your visibility within the community.

Focus on USPs

Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the characteristics of a product or service that set it apart from the competition. Customers today are inundated with buying options, so you’ll have a real advantage if they are able to quickly grasp how your notary business meets their needs or wishes. It’s wise to do all you can to ensure your USPs stand out on your website and in your marketing and promotional materials, stimulating buyer desire. 

Global pizza chain Domino’s is renowned for its USP: “Hot pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Signature USPs for your notary business could be: 

  • Mobile notary services on your time
  • On-demand notary services for your law firm
  • Don’t leave home! Get your documents notarized online
unique selling proposition

Networking

You may not like to network or use personal connections for business gain. But your personal and professional networks likely offer considerable untapped business potential. Maybe that Facebook friend you met in college is now running a notary business, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working in notary services for years and can offer invaluable insight and industry connections. 

The possibilities are endless, so it’s a good idea to review your personal and professional networks and reach out to those with possible links to or interest in notary services. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership. Online businesses might also consider affiliate marketing as a way to build relationships with potential partners and boost business.

Step 12: Build Your Team

Building a Team for a New Business

If you’re starting out small from a home office, you may not need any employees. But as your business grows, you will likely need workers to fill various roles. Potential positions for a notary business would include:

  • Notaries – provide notary services
  • General Manager – scheduling, billing
  • Marketing Lead – SEO strategies, social media, other marketing

At some point, you may need to hire all of these positions or simply a few, depending on the size and needs of your business. You might also hire multiple workers for a single role or a single worker for multiple roles, again depending on need. 

Free-of-charge methods to recruit employees include posting ads on popular platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Jobs.com. You might also consider a premium recruitment option, such as advertising on Indeed, Glassdoor, or ZipRecruiter. Further, if you have the resources, you could consider hiring a recruitment agency to help you find talent. 

Step 13: Run a Notary Business – Start Making Money!

Running a Business

If you meet the educational requirements, a notary business is easy and inexpensive to start and run. Once your business is up and running, your services will always be in demand, particularly if you are a mobile or online notary. You can partner with mortgage brokers or attorneys to maintain a steady stream of business. You could even grow to be a large online notary company serving the entire country! 

Now that you have all the relevant information that you need, you’re ready to begin your entrepreneurial journey and launch a successful and profitable notary business. 

Notary Business FAQs

How do I become a notary?

You need to complete the training that is required by your state and take the notary exam to become licensed. Check your secretary of state’s website to find out about the process in your state.

How much can I charge for notary services?

Many states have maximum prices that you can charge for notary services. Typically, you can charge between $5 and $10 for a single document. Loan signings range from $75 to $200.

What type of notary makes the most money?

The income of notaries can vary depending on factors such as location, experience, and the demand for notarial services. Generally, mobile notaries who offer their services on a freelance basis and cater to high-demand areas or specialized sectors (such as real estate or legal) tend to have the potential to earn higher incomes.

What businesses use notaries the most?

Businesses such as real estate agencies, law firms, financial institutions (banks, mortgage companies), insurance companies, and healthcare facilities often require the services of notaries for various legal and administrative purposes.

What is the hardest state to become a notary?

The requirements and difficulty in becoming a notary can vary by state, but some states known for having more stringent requirements or complex processes include California, New York, and Pennsylvania.

Which state pays notaries the most?

Notary fees and compensation rates can differ by state, and factors such as population density, cost of living, and demand for notarial services can influence the payment. States like California, New York, and Texas are known for having higher notary fees, but the overall income can also depend on individual notaries’ business volume and clientele.

Can a non US citizen become a notary public?

In the United States, the majority of states require notary public candidates to be U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents. However, a few states may allow non-U.S. citizens to become notaries as long as they meet other eligibility requirements, such as being a legal resident of the state or having a work visa. 

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How to Start a Notary Business