If you've been considering starting your own mobile notary business, your timing could not be better. The demand for notary services reached an all-time high in 2020 and indications are that the need for mobile notary services will continue to rise throughout 2021 and beyond.
Whether you are thinking of becoming a mobile notary as a full-time occupation or as a way to add to your income as a part-time side hustle, you will need to:
- Meet your state's notary laws to receive a notary commission
- Make a business plan for your mobile notary business
- Legally form and procure insurance for your own notary business
- Run the day-to-day accounting activities required to manage and grow your small business
How to Become a Notary Public
A notary public - sometimes called a public notary or simply a notary - is a person licensed by a state to perform certain duties (e.g., administering oaths, witnessing signed documents, and verifying or certifying documents).
Each state has its own laws governing the requirements for becoming a notary, so it's important to check with the secretary of state's office or county administrator's office where you plan to become a notary to find out your own state's requirements. In general, however, states require a person to meet most of the following criteria to become a notary public:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Be a U.S. citizen or a resident alien
- Be able to read and write in English
- Have a clean criminal record or a limited criminal record (e.g., no felony convictions or convictions of a crime involving fraud)
- Live in the state or county where you obtain your notary credentials
- Register to vote in the county where you obtain your license
- Take a state-sanctioned notary class and/or pass a state exam
- Submit to a fingerprint and criminal background check
Making a Plan for Your Mobile Notary Business
The first step in starting your own mobile notary business is creating a business plan. You will need to think about:
- The type of notary services you want to provide
- How you will go about finding clients
- What you will charge and what your startup costs will be
Types of Notary Public Services
Each state determines the types of services that notaries can perform. The following, however, outlines the typical types of signing agent business services a notary performs. These services fall into four categories:
- Loan signing work: Loan signing agents - also known as notary signing agents - conduct signings for mortgage and real estate transactions. Often, lenders and title companies will require their notary signing agents to receive additional training and certifications specific to the mortgage industry. You may also need to undergo additional background screening for loan signing work.
- General notary work: Any notary work not done in connection with a mortgage loan or a real estate transaction is considered general notary work. This work often includes notarizing powers of attorney, health care surrogate designations, trust documents, and transfers of vehicle titles, to name just a few. Many states allow notaries to officiate at weddings, so that is another potential income stream for mobile notaries.
- Remote online notary services: Several states have adopted remote online notarization (RON) legislation that allows notaries to perform specific notary duties over the internet without having to be in the same room - or, in some instances, even in the same state - as the signers. Like in-person notaries, RON providers help signers complete loan documents and provide other signing services.
- Other non-notary tasks: There are several tasks that people running their own notary services typically engage in beyond notarizing documents to bring in additional income. These include fingerprinting services, courier services, and performing field inspections, where you might be asked to take photographs of a particular site. You can tack on any type of extra service to your mobile notary business as long as you comply with your state's laws.
Finding Clients for Your Mobile Notary Business
Depending on the work you'll be doing, you can find clients in a variety of ways. For example, you can:
- Create a Google My Business account. This helps potential clients find your mobile notary business in your community.
- Print business cards. Create business cards and hand them out to friends and family and ask them to distribute them to their social and business contacts. Word-of-mouth advertising is one of the best ways to get a new business off of the ground.
- Promote your business on social media. You can create business pages on social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. Ask customers to provide reviews and share your pages with their networks.
- Create a website. It's easy to create a small business website with free website builder tools like Wix and WordPress. Be sure to link to your social media pages.
- Put signs on your work vehicle. Since your business is a mobile one, you can use your work vehicle as a traveling billboard. Think about stenciling or painting your business name and phone number on your car. You can also have magnetic signs made for the sides of your vehicle at a relatively low cost. This is a great way to show off your mobile business as you drive around town and when you are parked and working at a client's residence or office.
- Reach out directly to mortgage companies, title companies, and attorneys. Sometimes, just picking up the phone and calling title companies and others who hire notaries can bring in business. You can also join online groups and attend industry meetings to network with potential clients.
Fees and Startup Costs
The majority of states determine what you can charge for notarizing certain types of documents. Fees range from as low as $0.50 (Vermont) to as much as $15 (California). As a mobile notary service provider, however, you can add on travel fees to these state-restricted amounts for the notarial services.
Some states, however, have specific requirements regarding travel fees. For example, you may only be able to charge the state's allowed mileage rate up to a certain cap or you might be able to charge any travel fee you want with the client's agreement upfront. Check the laws in your state for specific information on what you can charge.
As far as startup costs, state application fees to become a notary range anywhere from $20 to $120, an amount you must pay in addition to the cost of any certification courses required by your state. You must also purchase notary supplies, such as your notary stamp and seal.
Also, depending on your state, you might be required to post a notary surety bond for somewhere between $500 and $25,000. In Florida, for example, notaries are required to maintain a surety bond in the amount of $7,500 for four years. If you apply to provide remote online notary services, your state - if it allows RON services - may require an additional bond or a higher amount.
Of course, as a mobile notary public service, you'll need a reliable vehicle and will incur the cost of gas and maintenance. If you provide RON services, you'll need a reliable computer with a microphone and webcam, as well as high-speed internet
Establishing and Running Your Mobile Notary Business
You will need to establish a legal framework for your small business, make sure you have all the insurance necessary, and create a system for running your day-to-day operations.
Establishing the Right Legal Framework for Your Mobile Notary Business
Generally speaking, there are four types of legal structures you can use for your business:
- Sole proprietorship
- Limited liability company (LLC)
Choosing the right business for your purposes will depend on a number of factors, including how much personal liability exposure you could be subjected to, the tax consequences of your choice, and the expense of keeping necessary documents properly filed with your state.
When you operate as a sole proprietor, you are taxed at your individual rate. However, you don't have any protection against personal liability. As a corporation, you enjoy a high degree of protection from personal liability, but you will also pay more in taxes. An LLC is a comfortable middle ground for many small business owners, as it affords some protection from personal liability while keeping taxes at your personal rate.
Business Licenses and Insurance
You'll need to check on your state requirements for obtaining a business license for your mobile notary business, as well as the requirements for obtaining a federal tax ID or employer identification number (EIN) for your business. Even if you aren't required to have an EIN, there are reasons to obtain one for your small business. Having an EIN allows you to open a business bank account. Delineating your business account from your personal account can be advantageous from both a bookkeeping standpoint and a potential liability standpoint.
You'll also need to consider the types of insurance you need to protect your personal and business assets.
- E&O insurance: Errors and omissions insurance (E&O insurance) helps protect you and your business from any inadvertent mistakes or errors you make in the course of providing your services. It's inexpensive and can provide peace of mind.
- Business liability insurance: Also called commercial or general liability insurance, this type of insurance protects you if you accidentally cause harm to someone or their property while working on a job. The cost for this insurance will depend on your location, how much coverage you sign up for and for how long, and if your business employs others.
- Auto liability insurance: If you use your personal vehicle for work, you will most likely be covered under your personal auto liability policy if you have an accident. However, you may want to look into commercial auto liability insurance if you expand your mobile business and you or your employees operate company-owned vehicles.
Maintaining a Successful Business
Of course, there is another side to running a successful mobile notary business. You will need to develop a system to keep track of all of your business-related paperwork so that you can bill for your services and collect payments. You'll have to decide how you will take payments - whether you will accept credit cards, for example - and how you will account for your vehicle maintenance, mileage, and all the other trackable expenses for your business. As your own boss, you will also be responsible for your tax reporting and payment.
Fortunately, routine tasks like issuing invoices and receipts are a breeze when you use Skynova's business templates. In addition, you can easily track all of your expenses and income with Skynova's accounting software, which is designed for small business owners like you.
Create Business Success With Skynova
After taking great care to meet all of the state laws and other requirements that go into becoming a new notary and then starting and operating your own business, the last thing you should have to worry about is keeping up with bookkeeping and other routine small business tasks.
This is where Skynova comes in. Our online software options and business templates give you the freedom to focus on notarizing documents and providing other services that make money, confident that you are also running your business efficiently. Check out Skynova today and see how simple managing your business can be.