Mobile Notary Guide: How to Get Started
Have you ever thought about how many business documents get signed every single day in the United States? Making money as as mobile notary is one way to leverage all that paperwork as a legitimate side hustle.
Let me be clear, though: this is not an overnight or make $200 in a weekend type gig. Being a mobile agent takes preparation, drive, and knowledge about what you are getting into. In this ultimate guide for making money as a mobile notary, I'll give you all the info on what you need to know to get started and how to make the most out of this business.
Psst… yes, I'm adding this to my ultimate side hustle guide!
Mobile Notary vs. Mobile Signing Agent
Before we get in to how much money you can make as a mobile notary, you need to understand the terms mobile notary and mobile signing agent. These terms are often used interchangeably, but there are significant differences.
In short, a notary verifies identifications for people signing documents. A notary can only perform “notarial acts”. The most common is witnessing someone's signature and signing off when someone swears the facts in a document are true. Some states will have limits on the fees notaries can charge for specific documents. As a mobile notary you would be able to charge this fee plus any associated travel costs. Generally speaking, this is not where the money is.
You will make more money as a mobile signing agent. Notary signing agents have more certifications, higher limits on insurance, and can branch out to other services. Most signing agents make their money with real estate documents such as loan signings or mortgage closings; they also perform commercial and automotive signing services.
For the purpose of this guide, I will use these terms interchangeably, but please keep in mind you have the greatest income potential as a notary signing agent. The additional certification will more than pay for itself.
How Much Money Does a Mobile Signing Agent Make?
Mobile signing agents can make anywhere from $75 to $200 per signing. Signings generally take less than an hour. There may be travel time and document prep that has to be done ahead of time. Taking that prep time into accounts, you should still be making $25-$50 an hour.
Who Can Be a Mobile Notary?
At a minimum, to be a mobile notary you must:
- be 18 years or older
- be a resident in the state where you will work
- be a U.S. citizen
- have a clean background check (no felony convictions)
If you have all of those boxes checked, take your personality into consideration as well.
Are you detail-oriented? Do you have the motivation and drive to find new clients?
Can you follow up with previous clients and provide excellent customer service?
Being punctual, professional, and a stickler for details will help you get and keep clients.
What are the Steps to Getting a Notary Commission
There are significant differences state-to-state for getting your notary commission. You can usually find the exact requirements on your Secretary of State website.
Every state will require that you meet the above, plus pay a fee with your application. You will also need to:
- pass an exam (depends on your state)
- complete a training course
- purchase a surety bond
- have a notary stamp, seal, and journal
Where to take notary exams
If your state requires a training course and exam, you will find them listed on the Secretary of State website. Most of the time these courses and exams are free. If the Secretary of State does not offer a course or exam, they will have a list of approved vendors. Make sure you choose from that list, otherwise your state will not accept your application.
What is a Surety Bond?
Most states require notaries to have a surety bond. A surety bond protects the public from financial harm in case the notary makes a negligent mistake. The most common surety bond is $5,00 but some states require more and others don't require one at all.
E & O Insurance
Errors and Omissions Insurance is different from a surety bond and is not required in every state. However, if you are a mobile signing agent, you will definitely want to cover yourself. The E&O Insurance protects you if someone files a claim against you personally.
Where to Get Notary Seal and Journal
Notary supplies such as the stamp, seal and journal can be purchased through Notary organizations or even Amazon. Make sure you follow your state's requirements for your stamp, seal, and what you need to document in the notary journal.
What are the Startup Costs to be a notary?
To become a notary, your startup costs should be less than $1,000 – unless you live in a state where setting up an LLC costs a fortune to set up.
You will need to budget for:
- application fee (usually less than $100)
- training courses
- stamp, seal, journal (less than $100)
- surety bond ($100 or more depending on coverage needs)
- printer that can scan and print legal-size documents ($400)
- briefcase or bag
- setting up an LLC (this can be expensive in states like California!)
- website hosting
- business software
How to Market Your Mobile Notary Business
Developing a strategic marketing plan is essential to success as a mobile notary or signing agent. Here are a few tips to help you get started. You will easily be able to use word of mouth as long as you do your job well, plus networking opportunities, social media, and a website.
Most people will simply google “notary near (location)”. If you don't have an online presence, no one will ever find your services, and you will chalk this up to a failed side hustle. Put the work in and set yourself up for success.
Network, network, network
Open your mouth and tell people about your services. You never know who might need you. Join notary groups or forums to learn about pricing and competition in your area. You can get referrals if someone else is too busy for the job so don't count out networking with other notaries.
Put a sign on your car with your contact information. If you have a business park in your city, take a day and go introduce yourself to all the businesses in that one location. Join the Chamber of Commerce in your town, and be a helpful resource in local groups. In my local groups back in AZ, tons of people would tag one or two notaries – both were active in the group so people trusted them and they had more business than they could handle!
Build an online presence
People are going to Google looking for a mobile notary. It is essential that you have active social media pages and a website. You can hire out the website creation if it's not your cup of tea, and you can schedule social media posts in batches. I don't do social media pages, but in my passive income group, I schedule posts out weeks in advance. This helps me manage my time better so I'm not online all the time.
Make sure you are listed as a business on Google. Keep this online presence professional at all times. As a mobile notary, you might be traveling to others' homes and they will want someone who looks and acts professionally.
You can also send out emails and post value tips on social media. This will keep your name at the forefront and people will know exactly who to call when they need your services. Don't let them forget about you!
Join a Signing Service
A notary signing service is a little bit like Uber or Door Dash. You create a profile on the signing website or app such as SnapDocs, NotaryRotary, or Signing Order. There are several – do your research to find the best one for you.
Clients will use the website to find a mobile notary near them. You can decide if you are available or not. The signing service will take a percentage of your fee and you get to keep the rest. Obviously, you will make more money on your own, but if you are just starting out, a signing service like this can help you make connections.
Answer your phone
Today we are used to texting or emailing for everything, but people are going to call you as a mobile notary. If you throw your phone across the room in fright every time it rings, the client will just move on to the next notary in his search results. Answer the phone so you aren't losing out on opportunities.
Diversify your work
Another way to find work as a mobile notary is to diversify your work. Take those smaller, less profitable signings. Get experience with a variety of businesses and industries as this will get your foot in the door for several signings. Once you have experience and a solid clientele, you can be more selective in what you do. In the beginning, however, get all the experience you can.
If you think a mobile notary sounds great, what about being a remote notary? You wouldn't even have to leave your house! But, you do need an extra certification to be a remote notary. When creating your business and marketing plan, make it a part of your strategy to get extra certifications. This will help you diversify your workload.
But Can't People Just Go to Their Bank for Free?
Some banks do offer free notary services to their customers. But, this free service is only available to bank members. Banks also only have certain documents they will notarize.
There are also plenty of customers who need items notarized outside of bank hours. Customers with mobility or health issues might not be able to leave their homes – or maybe they just don't want to – it's finally socially acceptable to hide at home, like I've been doing for years LOL.
Who Needs a Notary Signing Agent?
Although we usually think about real estate transactions, there are many industries who need mobile notaries. This list will get you started. Go ahead and call or physically introduce yourself to these companies in your area. You want them to know you are available.
- Tow truck companies and salvage yards
- Bail bonds companies
- Assisted living facilities
- Title and escrow companies
- Car dealerships
- Insurance companies
- Real estate agents
How do I Know What to Charge for My Services?
Remember up above when I explained the difference between a general mobile notary public and a mobile signing agent? These terms are often used together, but they are different and you will make more money if you put the effort in to becoming a notary signing agent.
General notarial acts will often have set fees (again, depending on your state). Some states will allow you to charge a small fee for your travel costs, but others don't.
If you are a signing agent, you can set your own fees. Some people choose to make this complicated and change their fees based on time of day, distance of travel, etc. However, it is better to keep this fee structure simple. When a client calls you, they don't want to feel nickel-and-dimed. They want to know if you are available and what it will cost them.
If you are working with real estate closings, in particular, charge a simple pricing fee. Once the signing fee has been disclosed to the borrower, it cannot be changed – by law. So if you tell them one fee but then decide to tack on a $20 surcharge because it's the weekend, they will be forced to move to the next agent.
The simpler you keep your fees, the busier you will be. Some transactions might be more inconvenient or take longer but then some will be quick and easy. It will all balance out in the end.
How to Get More Business
Diversifying your workload and certifications is the best way to get more business. If you are a signing agent, learn to package loan documents. This will take you 10 minutes of time, but the escrow officers will love you for it – and they will be calling you back for future transactions.
Other services you can offer to get more business as a mobile notary include:
- Immigration Forms Specialist
- Loan signing agent
- Wedding officiant
- I-9 services (employment verifications)
Does a Mobile Notary Work Evenings and Weekends?
As an independent contractor, you can set your own schedule. You can set official business hours for yourself or you can take any signing you have time for. This might include evenings, weekends, holidays, or even middle-of-the-night calls. When you are starting out, you will probably want to take the signings even if they are at an inconvenient time. As you get more and more repeat clients, you can narrow your business hours.
Can I Have a Notary Commission in More than One State?
There are some states that allow you to perform notary services outside of your state. Many folks live in one state and work in another; this is one situation where someone may be a notary in multiple states.
Benefits of Being a Mobile Notary
Being a mobile notary has many potential benefits.
Income. You can expect to make a decent income being a mobile notary, earning $75- $200 per signing. There is prep work involved, but you can make this into a decent side hustle or even a full-time business.
Flexibility. If you have another job, a family, or other responsibilities, flexibility is a must. You get to decide what hours and days you will be available, and you are not committed to a set schedule.
Business Skills. As a mobile notary or signing agent you will also be learning business skills that can be added to your resume. You will make connections in your state and learn how to market yourself. These lessons can be invaluable in your career – or even in life, especially if you are self-employed and never want a boss again (like meee!).
Things to Know Before Becoming a Notary
Being a mobile notary will not be for everyone, but with a little forethought and preparation these “cons” will not be a big deal.
Startup and Upkeep. There are startup costs in both time and money to become a mobile notary. The costs are not prohibitive, but if you need to make some extra cash to pay for it, check out my list of ideas here. Budget for all the supplies listed above including certifications, a website, seal, stamp and journal and marketing materials.
Risk of Litigation. As a notary, you are verifying identities to prevent fraud. If the deal goes wrong, and mistakes were made in the documents, you might be sued. To defend against this, make sure you have adequate Errors & Omissions Insurance (E&O).
Unsteady Income. Being a mobile notary can be lucrative, but there will also be variations in your income depending on the local economy and your own seasonal availability.
Is Being a Mobile Notary Worth It?
If you are just looking for a quick and easy $100 on the weekends, then being a mobile notary might be more effort than you are looking for. You will need to build a client base to really get the most out of this side hustle.
If you are looking for a good side gig and are willing to put the initial work in – I think the answer is a resounding yes. This yes becomes even more emphatic if you take the extra training and certification to be an official signing agent rather than a general notary public. You will need to build a business plan and marketing strategy but being a mobile signing agent is 100% a legit opportunity.