How Long Will It Take Me To Become a Notary Public?

TF - Time to Become a Notary


The decision to apply to the office of Notary Public is a great one. But now that you’ve made it, you may be wondering how long it will actually take for you to get commissioned?


To start, you must complete an education course.


Troy Fain Insurance offers a cheap and flexible course that is approved by the state. Once you have completed the education requirement, you must mail, fax, or scan and email us your signed education certificate.


Once we receive your education certificate and all other pertinent application documents/information, we can submit your application to the Secretary of State’s Office for approval.


What’s the best part about submitting your application through Troy Fain Insurance? We HAND DELIVER your application to the state the day it is completed!


After the state receives your completed application, it generally takes 2-3 days for a decision on your application to be made.


Once approved, your order is immediately sent to our production team that gets your notary products in the mail within 2 days.


All in all, once we receive your completed application and signed education certificate, you can expect your notary products within 7-10 business days*. That’s all it takes!


*If the state deems your application incomplete or requires further information/documentation, the process may take longer to accommodate reapplications.



Information Regarding Renewals:


Renewals can only apply for re-commissioning within 4 months of their expiration date. How can Troy Fain help make sure you are re-commissioned as soon as possible?


Send us your completed renewal paperwork in advance and we will send your application to the state immediately upon eligibility!

Florida Notary Education Course

TF Education



Fulfilling Your Notary Education in Florida:


One of the requirements to be commissioned as a notary public, in the state of Florida, is to complete a notary education course.


Unless necessary and pertinent to their employment, most people are not aware of the spectrum of duties that a notary public in Florida is authorized to perform. Additionally, the risks and responsibilities that go along with every notarization, are often overlooked.


As a result, the state of Florida requires all new notaries public to complete an approved education course that provides essential notary information. This information is meant to help notaries avoid negligent mistakes that can lead to serious legal repercussions. In addition, the requirement of an education course is used to promote ethical notarial practices among notaries in the state of Florida.


Troy Fain’s Florida Notary Education Course also offers flexibility. You can work on the course at your own pace, in your own time. You can stop the course and come back to it as needed. In addition, you have access to the information for your entire four year term and can reference it whenever necessary.


Upon completion of the course, you will be presented with a certificate. This certificate needs to be printed and signed. The signed certificate, then, must be sent to our office in one of the following ways:



Mail:                            P.O. Box 5077, Tallahassee, FL 32314


Scan and Email:


Fax:                              866-409-0244



Once we receive your bond, completed application and signed certificate, we are able to send all necessary documents to the Secretary of State’s office for review.


How to Handle Notarizing Wills as a Notary Public

Wills TF


Wills are very legal documents. As such, it is important that you, as a notary public, know your role in the notarization of a will, as well as what you can and cannot legally do in these situations.


To begin with, the preparing and drawing up of the will should be done by an attorney. As a notary, you are not authorized to give legal advice, so you should never be the person drafting the will.


Once the will is drafted, the signer will request you to notarize their signature. Here is where a lot of people get confused: Your notarization of a signature on a will is no different from a notarization performed on any other document. The only thing being validated is the signature, not the will. The will’s validity is based completely on legal circumstances and, thus, is best left to the attention of an attorney.


Important things to remember: As always, upholding your ethical integrity is of utmost importance. It is illegal to notarize a document that you stand to benefit from or have financial interest in. Similarly, if you are named anywhere in the will, you are prohibited from notarizing it. Finally, regardless of whether or not you have anything to gain from it, you cannot notarize a will for your spouse, parents, or children.


Notary Public Requirement: Read, Write, and Understand English




The qualifications to become a Florida notary are:

  • You must be at least 18 years old
  • You must be a permanent resident of the state
  • If you have ever been convicted of a felony, you must have your civil rights restored
  • You must be able to read, write, and understand the English language


This last qualification can sometimes be overlooked, especially when the diversity of the state of Florida is taken into consideration. It is, however, a REQUIREMENT. This does not mean you cannot perform notarial acts on documents in foreign languages though. It simply means that at a minimum, you must be able to read, write, and understand English. As such, notary materials are only available in the English language.

Due to the diverse nature of our state, bilingual notaries are essential in Florida. That being said, there are restrictions to how you can advertise your services in other languages.

In many Spanish speaking countries, a “Notario Publico” is an attorney or high level public official who is also a notary public. In the past, some notaries have used this knowledge to falsely advertise their services, implying that they have legal authority. Because of this, direct translations of “notary public” are not allowed in advertisements, in any language.

In fact, to avoid future legal issues, Florida law requires notaries to include the following message in both English and the language of the advertisement:

“I am not an attorney licensed to practice law in the state of Florida, and I may not give legal advice or accept fees for legal advice.”

This message must be distinctly and clearly visible on the advertisement. Failure to do so can lead to a suspended license and possible criminal charges.



Rejected Application vs Denied Application



If your application to become a notary public is not accepted, it will be given one of two statuses: Rejected or Denied. While they may sound like the same thing, they are not and the process to re-apply is different for each.



If your application is rejected, the Governor’s office provides a reason for the rejection (usually something small, such as missing documentation). There is no waiting period for reapplying, and you can do so as soon as the information requested by the Governor is provided.


When your application is complete, with no missing documentation, the Governor’s office can choose to deny or accept your request to become a notary public. If the Governor’s office denies your application, no reason for their denial is given. Reapplying, in this instance, can only occur 1 year after the date listed on your denied signed application. It is recommended that you provide more information when reapplying, though it is not required that you do so.

Notaries: Pay Close Attention to Document Details

Document Details

When performing the notarization of a document, most notaries public focus on the signer:

  • Is the signer present?
  • Is the signer who they say they are?
  • Is the signer related to the notary public performing the notarization?

The document itself, however, is just as important.

There are a lot of details that can easily be overlooked. To reduce your risk of an improper notarization, make sure you pay stringent attention to the following:

  • Is the document written in a language that the signer understands?
    • YES = Continue with the notarization.
    • NO = Decline Notarization: the understanding of the document by the signer cannot be verified; therefore, the document should be rewritten in a language that the signer understands.
  • Is the document blank or incomplete?
    • YES = Decline Notarization: you are responsible for everything you notarize; notarizing a blank or incomplete document opens you up to significant liability should the information that is later filled in turn out to be fraudulent.
    • NO = Continue with the notarization.
  • Are you named in the document?
    • YES = Decline Notarization: you can no longer be considered an unbiased third party. It is illegal to complete a notarization that you stand to benefit from.
    • NO = Continue with the notarization.
  • Is the date of the document earlier or the same as the date of the notarization?
    • YES = Continue with the notarization.
    • NO = Decline Notarization: you may legally notarize the document beginning on the document’s stated date.
  • Is the date of the signature the same as the date of the notarization?
    • YES = Continue with the notarization.
    • NO = If the signer signed the document on an earlier date, then the document will require an acknowledgment.


Remember, it’s all in the details!

Fundamentals of Customer Service



In honor of customer service week, we thought we would share with you what we consider to be a few of the fundamentals of good customer service.


Customer service should focus on the customer

This may seem obvious, but not all businesses effectively put this focus into practice.

As a notary public, or someone working in customer service, it is important to remember that you are in the business of people. How you conduct yourself and interact with your clients can have an astronomical impact on the success of your business.

So how should you conduct yourself?


Be Patient

If you’re a notary, it is important to remember that not everyone has as much experience with notarial acts as you do. If your client is confused or doesn’t know what act should be performed, do your best to explain to them the different options they have.

REMEMBER: While you can explain the different notarial acts and their purposes to them, you cannot suggest they use one notarial act over another. If they are still unsure after your explanation, encourage them to speak with their lawyer or the party that drafted the document.


Exhibit Clear Communication

If you work in customer service you are probably aware that by the time a customer contacts you, they are already frustrated and/or confused. The best way to alleviate those feelings is with direct communication. Before ending a conversation, always confirm that all the client’s questions and concerns have been addressed.

As a notary public, this is extremely important. Your job as a notary public is predominantly to prevent fraud. Understandably, then, most occasions that require a notary public to perform an authorized duty are significant to the client soliciting your services. If it is important to your client, then it should be important to you. This is an essential component of good customer service.


Be Adaptive

Working with people is a continuous learning process. Not only do the needs of people change over time, but people themselves change as they adapt to the various situations life throws at them.

In the long term, it is vital that you retain the ability to adapt to changing times, needs, and people.

In the short term, however, your adaptability is imperative to handling unforeseen problems. Let’s face it, you can’t predict every issue that will arise. You can, however, learn to efficiently reach resolutions to predicaments you may not have dealt with before.




Know of any other good customer service practices? We would love to hear your thoughts on it!

Authorized Duties of a Notary Public in Florida


Authorized Duties

The duties that a notary public is authorized to perform varies from state to state. As a notary public in Florida, you are permitted to execute 6 different notarial acts under your commission. To avoid future issues with liability, it is imperative to know exactly what each of these acts entail.


Administering an oath involves a person pledging that the contents of a document or a statement are truthful. Oaths are also utilized in oral depositions.

Some important things to remember when administering an oath:

  • Always require the physical presence of the person affirming the truthfulness of the document. Make no exceptions.
  • Be sure to witness the signing of the document.


Acknowledgments are simpler than oaths. The notary public’s job in this instance is to merely witness the document being signed and to make certain that the document is being signed voluntarily. In this instance, content is not as important. The notary public needs only to ensure that the signer is knowledgeable about what signing the document entails.

Some important things to remember when taking acknowledgements:

  • Scan the document for completeness. Never notarize a document that could potentially be altered post-notarization.
  • It is imperative you confirm that the signer is aware of the document’s contents and that they are signing of their own free will.

Attested Photocopies

When making an attested photocopy, your job as a notary public is to ensure and certify that the photocopy is a true copy of the original document.

Some important things to remember when making attested photocopies:

  • Check that the document being photocopied is an original. Never notarize a photocopy of a photocopy.
  • Make certain that the document can legally be made into an attested photocopy. Birth certificates, death certificates, and marriage and divorce records are a few examples of documents that it is illegal to make an attested copy of.
  • Make the copy yourself or witness the copy being made.


One of the most unique aspects of being a notary public in the state of Florida is the ability to solemnize marriages. Florida is one of only four states in the U.S. that allow notary publics to perform marriage ceremonies.

Some important things to remember when solemnizing a marriage:

  • It is best to obtain the marriage license from the bride and groom before performing the ceremony.
  • As a notary public, it is important that you determine consent between the two parties. This requires the physical presence of both the bride and the groom at the time of the marriage ceremony.
  • DO NOT FORGET to return the marriage license and record to the County Clerk’s office within 10 days of the ceremony. This is your responsibility.

Verifying Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN)

This involves a physical inspection of the vehicle to verify the VIN on the form matches the VIN plate.

Some important things to remember when verifying vehicle identification numbers:

  • This notarial act is often performed by someone working at a car dealership. If you are unfamiliar with the process and are asked to perform it, it is probably best to direct the client to a notary public in this line of work.

Certifying Contents of Safety Deposit Boxes

When a safety deposit box is opened, it is your job as the notary public to witness the opening. In addition, you are responsible for a certificate listing, in entirety, the contents of the box.

Some important things to remember when certifying contents of safety deposit boxes:

  • Make certain that you personally remove the contents of the box. Do not leave this task to someone else.


Finally, here are some important things to remember when performing any of your authorized duties as a notary public:

  • You are responsible for what you notarize. This responsibility does not disappear if your commission expires. The best way to avoid future liability is to meticulously record the details of every notarization in a record book. Though this is not required by the state of Florida, it is highly recommended.
  • With the exception of solemnizing marriages, never perform notarial acts for family members or for situations in which you have some form of invested interest. If you have something to gain from the notarization, no matter how small, it compromises your ability to remain unbiased.
  • Remember that you can always decline a notarization if you feel pressured or uncomfortable in performing the act. If something feels wrong to you about the situation, remove yourself from it.


Proper Use of Credible Witness for Florida Notary


Image courtesy of hyena reality at

What should a Florida notary do when a person is recently married and asking for documents to be notarized?

When you get married, there is a million things to do. Changing your name on all of your various forms, identifications, and accounts can be tedious and time consuming. There is usually an awkward period of changing your name in various areas.

But what’s a notary to do if they encounter a newlywed during this period? It would be difficult to notarize a document for someone with their new, married name when their ID still had their maiden name, or vice versa.

During this situation, you could identify the witness by personal knowledge or you could utilize credible witnesses to verify their identity.

There are two options:

  1. One credible witness who personally knows the notary and the signer.


  1.  Two credible witnesses unknown to the notary but who personally know the signer.

In either case, the credible witness(es) will have to make a sworn statement verifying the identity of the signer. For a full list of what their testimony must include, look in your Florida Notary Handbook.

For more information on credible witnesses, you can refer to your Florida Notary Handbook or call us at 800.385.7019.


Can I Notarize Handwritten Documents?


how to notarize handwritten documents


Yes, as a notary public you can notarize handwritten documents, in certain circumstances. As always, you have to be careful, trust your gut and follow protocol.


School permission forms or giving someone medical permission for your child are valid handwritten documents. Someone claiming they are the Prince of Persia may not be as legitimate.


The same steps should be followed when completing a notarial act with a handwritten document as for any other document. Ensure the person is physically present, proper ID is presented, they understand what they are signing and appear willing, and there are no blanks.


After you have determined the right protocol is followed, complete the notarial act. As with any other document, you cannot suggest which kind of notarial act should be completed. You can present them with their various options and explain each, if they cannot choose, you cannot pick for them. You can direct them to the person receiving the document, whoever issued it or a lawyer.


The notarial wording should be attached to the document, if you cannot, then attached a loose certificate. You can handwrite the notarial wording when there is limited space, but for most handwritten documents there will be plenty of room to attach a typed certificate.


For questions about specific documents or about the process, please call our customer service.