As a notary public, you play a vital role in legal transactions by verifying signatures, administering oaths, and attesting to the authenticity of legal documents. However, with this power comes great responsibility. That’s why many states require notaries to have notary bonds.
Throughout this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about notary bonds, including who needs them, how much they cost, and how to get one in your state.
What is a notary bond?
A notary bond is a type of surety bond that provides financial protection to the public if a notary fails to perform their duties ethically or accurately. If a notary commits fraud, makes errors or omissions, or violates their state’s notary laws, a claim can be filed against their bond.
A notary bond is a contract between three parties:
- A notary public (the principal)
- A surety company (the financial company that issues and backs the bond)
- The state or county (the obligee)
The obligee requires the principal to be bonded to protect the public from negligence. The obligee (governing agency) will act on behalf of the public to file a claim on the bond if necessary. The surety company agrees to pay damages up to the bond limit if the notary is liable for losses caused by their negligence or misconduct.
What states require notary bonds?
Most states require notaries to have a notary bond. Specific requirements vary by state. Some states require all notaries to be bonded, while others only require notaries who perform certain types of transactions, such as real estate closings. Check with your state’s notary public regulating agency to determine if you need a notary bond.
Who needs a notary bond and why?
If you want to be a notary public, you likely will need a notary bond. States and counties can hold notaries accountable to the law by requiring them to post surety bonds.
A notary bond protects the public from financial harm resulting from errors or intentional misconduct. Notaries who perform certain transactions, such as real estate closings, must be bonded (typically). This is because these transactions involve large sums of money, and protecting the public from dishonest notaries is vital.
What are my bonding requirements as a notary?
Each state sets its own bonding requirements for notaries, including coverage and bond amounts. Notaries must purchase a bond from a surety company licensed to operate in their state.
Generally, the bond amount is based on the type of transactions the notary will be performing. Bonds typically range from $5,000 to $25,000. For example, a Texas notary must obtain a $10,000 notary bond during their four-year commission term.
Renewing Your Bond
Notary bonds are typically valid for four years (this can vary by state), after which they must be renewed. Notaries should contact their surety company several months before their bond expires to ensure they have enough time to renew.
Obtaining a Rider
If you need to increase or decrease the coverage of your notary bond, you can obtain a rider from your surety provider. A rider is an amendment to your existing bond that modifies the terms of the original bond. For example, if you plan on starting a business as a notary, you may want to obtain a rider that covers your business activities.
If someone believes they have suffered financial harm due to a notary’s actions, they can file a claim against the notary’s bond. The surety company will pay the claim up to the bond’s limit if the claim is valid.
How much does a notary bond cost?
The cost of a notary bond varies by state and the coverage and amount of the bond. The premium for a notary bond can range from $50 to $200 for a multi-year period. The premium may be tax-deductible, so be sure to check with your tax professional.
Common Reasons for Claims on Notary Bonds
There are several reasons why a notary bond claim might be filed. Some of the most common include errors and omissions and violations of state notary laws such as:
- Negligence: The notary failed to perform their duties properly.
- Misconduct: The notary committed fraud or other criminal activity.
- Forgery: The notary forged a signature on a legal document.
Notaries should take their duties seriously and ensure they are following their state’s notary laws and regulations to avoid bond claims.
Notary Bonds vs. Errors and Omissions Insurance: What’s the Difference?
Notary bonds and errors and omissions (E&O) insurance are often confused. While both provide financial protection, they serve two different purposes. Here are the main differences between the two:
- Notary bonds are typically required by states, while errors and omissions insurance is not.
- Notary bonds typically cover a more comprehensive range of activities than E&O insurance.
- Errors and omissions insurance is typically more expensive than notary bonds.
- Notary bonds protect the public from notary misconduct. E&O insurance is a type of liability insurance that covers the notary from claims of errors, omissions, or negligence in their professional services.
- E&O insurance may cover legal expenses and damages for the notary if a claim is made against them for making a mistake or failing to perform their duties properly.
How to Get a Notary Bond in Your State
Here are the general steps to getting a notary bond in your state:
- Research your state’s bonding requirements: Before applying, research your state’s specific rules, regulations, and bond coverage limits.
- Choose a bonding company: Once you know the requirements, find a reputable bonding company authorized to issue notary bonds in your state (like ZipBonds).
- Apply for a notary bond: The bond provider will provide you with the necessary forms to apply for the bond. You will need to provide personal information and details about your notary commission.
- Pay a small premium: Notary bond premiums are typically paid annually or every four or ten years. The bond cost will vary based on your state’s requirements and the coverage needed. It typically ranges from $50 to $100.
- Wait for approval: The bonding company will review your application and may request additional information or documentation. Once approved, they will issue the bond and send it to you. ZipBonds issues these bonds instantly.
- File the bond with your state: To complete the process, you must file the notary bond with your state. Some states require the bond to be filed with the Secretary of State’s office or another government agency. We will file your bond for you once your application is approved.
It’s important to note that the notary bond application process can vary by state. Some states may require additional steps, such as taking a notary education course or passing an exam. Be sure to check with your state’s notary commission for specific instructions.
And of course, if you have any questions throughout the process, don’t hesitate to call us at (888) 435-4191. We’d be happy to help you get the information you need!
Apply for Your Notary Bond Today
Obtaining a notary bond is a crucial step in becoming a notary public. It protects both the notary and the public by ensuring that the notary performs their duties ethically and responsibly. At ZipBonds, we make it fast and easy to get bonded. Apply online or call us at (888) 435-4191. We’ll help you get bonded in a zip!