What Are the Qualifications to Become a Notary Public?
Notaries are licensed by the NYS Department of State (DOS) for 4-year terms.
To qualify, you must be:
- At least 18 years of age;
- A U.S. citizen;
- A resident of New York State (or work for a business located in New York State); and
- Have no felony convictions.
How Do I Apply?
You must first take and pass the State’s Notary Exam, which is offered in the Binghamton State Office Building a few times per month.
- The Test Fee is $15.00, payable by check or money order to the NYS Department of State.
- The Exam Schedule is available online at www.dos.ny.gov/notary-public.
- Reference the "Written Exam" section.
What’s Covered on the Exam?
The multiple choice exam covers topics related to the duties and functions of a Notary Public, as outlined in the Notary Public License Law booklet.
- Applicants are given 1 hour to complete the exam.
- If you wish to take the exam in Spanish, Haitian-Creole, Italian, Korean, Russian or Chinese, please notify the exam proctor when you report to the exam center.
How Will I Know if I Passed?
You will be notified by mail as soon as your exam results are available.
- All exam results are reported as either passed or failed.
- You will not get a numerical score.
- Exam results are valid for 2 years.
- If you passed, you must complete the Notary Public Application and send it to DOS’s Division of Licensing Services along with a $60 check made payable to the NYS Department of State.
- Notary Public Application
- To qualify for appointment, you must take an Oath of Office in the presence of a commissioned Notary.
- The Broome County Clerk’s Office offers free Notary services.
- No appointments necessary.
- We’re located at: 60 Hawley Street, 3rd Floor / Binghamton, NY 13901
- The Broome County Clerk’s Office offers free Notary services.
- Upon review of your application, DOS will issue your Notary Public Identification Card, which is valid for 4 years.
What if I Fail?
If you fail the written exam, you’ll receive notice in the mail.
- You can retake the test as many times as you like.
- Each time you take the test, you must pay the $15.00 fee.
When Can I Begin Notarizing Documents?
Once you receive the "Notary Public Identification Card" from the NYS Department of State, you can order your notary stamp from a stationary store and begin notarizing documents.
At this time, DOS will send your "Oath Card" to the Broome County Clerk's Office, where it will be kept on file for authentication purposes.
§137 of the NYS Executive Law, at a minimum, your stamp must include:
- Your name as it appears on your Notary Public Identification Card;
- The words “Notary Public State of New York”;
- The name of the county in which you’re qualified; and
- The date your commission expires.
- For example:
If you don’t purchase a stamp, this information must be typed or legibly printed in black ink near your signature on every document you notarize.
NOTE: Most notarizes identify their registration number on their notary stamp although it’s not required under State law.
How Do I Renew My Notary?
*Effective 6/30/2023 Notary renewals expiring after August 31st, 2023, must be processed through the Department of States online portal.
Please use the following steps to renew your notary public license.
1. Visit the following website: www.dos.ny.gov/notary-public
2. See Important Update: Online Application Portal and click New York Business Express –Notary Public Commission (DOS0033)_(ny.gov)
3. Halfway down the page you will find: HOW TO APPLY
a. Apply Online for Traditional Notary Public
b. Apply Online for Electronic Notary Public
c. Apply Online to Renew Traditional Notary Public *This is the option to pick if you are simply renewing your traditional notary license*
4. You will be required to either use your current NY.GOV ID or Create one
5. You will then need to answer the 5 Qualification tabs on the application & hit submit.
The County Clerk’s office can assist you if you are unsure of your Commission # however you will need to request this either in person or via a notarized letter and a photocopy of your id.
All questions regarding the online portal should be directed to the Department of State: New York State Business Information Center
Monday - Friday 8:30 am - 4:30 pm with the exception of state observed holidays +1 (518)-485-5000.
What if My Commission Expires Before I Renew?
Renewals received by the Broome County Clerk’s Office more than 30 days after the expiration date must be given a new effective date. We will write the new effective date and expiration date on your Oath of Office and Renewal Form.
If your expiration date is more than 6 months old, we can NOT process your renewal.
- You must be retested prior to getting a new commission.
Attorneys whose commissions have expired more than 6 months do not have to be retested but they must complete a Notary Public Application and they will be assigned a new registration number.
What if I Need to Vacate My Office as a Notary Public?
Please send us a letter explaining why you need to surrender your notary, along with your Notary Public Identification Card.
We will send the information along to the Department of State.
What if My Name or Address Changes?
If your name or address changes in the middle of your term, you can file a Change Notice with DOS’s Division of Licensing Services for a $10 fee.
Notaries must sign the name under which they’re commissioned and no other.
If you’re submitting a name change, you must provide acceptable forms of proof, such as:
- A court order changing your name;
- Marriage certificate or divorce decree;
- Driver's license or a non-driver's ID card;
- Valid passport; or
- Immigration documents.
If your name changes due to marriage, the $10 fee is not required.
Alternatively, you can also change your name upon renewal of your Notary License (aforementioned proof required).
NOTE: Even if you submit a Change Notice to DOS, a new ID card will not be issued with your new name. You must continue notarizing under your former name for the remainder of your term. Continue using your existing seal/stamp with your old name. If you elect to use your married name, you can add it in parentheses after your signature.
- Ex. Jane Doe (Jane Doe-McDonald)
Upon renewing your Notary, however, you must select one or the other name and use that name exclusively in performing notarizations moving forward.
If your county of residence changes mid-term, an Oath of Office will not be sent to the new county until you renew your Commission with the new County Clerk.
If your business and residential addresses are no longer in New York State, your New York State Commission is no longer valid.
Please contact the Division of Licensing Services at (518) 474-4429 if you have any unanswered questions.
What if I Want to Be Commissioned to Notarize in Another County?
As a Notary Public commissioned in New York State, you may act as Notary Public anywhere in the state. However, only the clerk of the county in which you’re qualified, or in which you’ve filed a Certificate of Official Character, will have your signature on file. Therefore, if your signature needs to be authenticated, only a County Clerk with your signature on file can authenticate it.
To register your Notary Public commission in another county in New York State, you must purchase a Certificate of Official Character from the County Clerk in the county in which you’re qualified. Then you should file that Certificate with the County Clerk where you’d like to register your commission.
- The fee to issue a Certificate of Official Character is $5.
- The fee to file a Certificate of Official Character in another county is $10.
What if Someone Needs to Authenticate My Signature?
They should bring the document to the Broome County Clerk's Office for authentication.
- If your commission is valid and your signature is genuine, we’ll authenticate the document for a $3 fee.
- See www.gobroomecounty.com/clerk/apostilleFAQs for more information about authentications.
What Are the Rules for Out-Of-State Residents?
Attorneys residing outside of the State of New York who are admitted to practice in the State of New York and who maintain a law office within the State are deemed residents of the county where their office is maintained.
Nonresidents other than attorneys who have offices or places of business in the State of New York may also become notaries. The oath of office and signature of the notary must be filed with the County Clerk in the county in which the office or place of business is located.
How Can I Get in Touch With the Department of State’s Division of Licensing Services:
NYS Department of State
Division of Licensing Services
P.O. Box 22065
Albany, NY 12201-2065
Phone: (518) 474-4429