Notary Public Fees: How Much You Should Pay
Here's how much you can expect to pay in notary fees
If need to get a document notarized by a notary public, you may need to pay a modest fee to the notary service provider. Knowing ahead of time what you can expect to pay in notary public fees can help you budget for the expense and avoid a delay in processing your documents.
When Notary Public Fees Apply
Important documents, including property deeds, loan papers, or copy certifications that attest that a copy of an original document is valid, often require signatures in the presence of a notary public, or a notary for short.
A notary is a person who is authorized by the state to verify the signatures of everyone who signs a document. Notaries ensure that all signers are who they say they are, are aware of the contents of the document being signed, and are not signing against their will.
Notary service is often a supplemental service provided by institutions ranging from banks to shipping stores. When you use a notary service, you typically pay a fee.
Standard Notary Public Fees
Notary fees often depend on where you get the document notarized—states set maximum allowable charges, and notaries can charge any amount up to that maximum. Standard notary costs range from $0.25 to $20 and are billed on a per-signature or per-person basis depending on the state. But in certain states, such as Iowa, notaries can set their own fees. Mortgage closings are also typically more expensive than standard notarizations.
Mobile notaries are allowed to charge travel fees that are separate from the notary public fee for making the trip to your location. But some states limit the maximum travel fee. In many cases, those limits are low, but in all cases, the cost must be “reasonable.” In general, the notary public and the signer should agree on travel fees before a notarization takes place. If you're unaware of travel fees, inquire with the notary service before requesting a visit from a mobile notary to avoid costly surprises.
Home Loan Signing Notary Fees
For home loans, like purchase loans, refinancing, and reverse mortgages, the signing fees you see in disclosure documents are often much higher than your state’s maximum notary public fees. For example, it's not uncommon to see a signing fee of $100 or more. In most cases, those notaries aren't breaking the law.
For one, notary signing agents, who are notaries who help people close on mortgage loans, generally negotiate their own fees. Closing a mortgage loan can take a considerable amount of the notary’s time, and the notary might have to print and prepare documents and pay other business expenses. Sometimes, the notary does not even receive the full notary fee you pay because they have to share it with the company where they work.
In addition, loan signing services also do more than just verify your signature—they also ensure that you complete, sign, and return loan documents on time. The signing fee might reflect the array of services they provide. What’s more, the notary might be able to charge per signature, so the cost might reflect the multiple signatures required for the loan documents.
If you have any questions about the fees related to your loan, ask your mortgage broker or closing agent. You may be able to save money by using a different notary.
Ways to Save on Notary Public Fees
In many cases, such as closing a mortgage, you don’t have any control over how much you pay for notary services. Those situations are generally rare occurrences—unless you buy and sell homes often. This means that over your lifetime, you won't see meaningful savings from slashing notary costs. However, if you frequently need documents notarized, it’s wise to minimize costs.
Instead of getting documents notarized at the usual places (such as banks and credit unions), you might pay less (if anything) if you go with a notary you already know. You might even be able to get documents notarized outside of regular business hours by someone who moonlights as a notary.
- Notaries in your own network. Ask around, and you may find that friends and co-workers are authorized to notarize documents for you. They might even be willing to waive the cost altogether.
- Banks and credit unions: These institutions often notarize documents for customers at no charge. If it’s convenient to make a trip to your branch, you might save a few bucks. Keep in mind that banks typically charge non-customers for notary services.
- Government offices: You might also find a notary at local law enforcement offices, such as the local sheriff’s department or city and county offices.
- In-house notary: If you frequently need notary services, it might be worth having your own notary or becoming one yourself. You’re not allowed to notarize your own signature, but you can pay for someone else’s notary training. For example, you could cover the costs for an employee to become a notary public.
Remedies for Overcharging
Most notaries are well aware of maximum fees, and they charge what is allowed. However, it’s not unheard of for a notary to overcharge—which is unwise, given that the consequences for notary misconduct can range from fines to criminal penalties depending on the state.
If that happens to you, ask the notary what the maximum allowable notary costs are in your state, get an itemized receipt, and ensure that you’re paying a fair price. If you suspect misconduct, contact your state’s agency, which is usually in charge of notaries. Start with the Secretary of State’s office if you don’t know who to contact.
Notary Public Fees Exemptions
Before you take your documents to a notary public, keep in mind that a notary is not a lawyer—in fact, they can face penalties for acting like one. A notary public doesn't need to read the fine print of contracts. Nor does a notary public make judgments as to whether a document is legal—or even a fair deal for all parties. For those services, consult with a local attorney.
Remember: The primary purpose of a notary public is to verify the identity and free agency of anybody signing a document. With the certification of a notary public, you can be confident that each person truly wants to enter into the agreement.