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Notary Publics first became prominent during the 1500’s, at the height of the Roman Empire.  They were chosen either by the Pope, or the Archbishop of Canterbury to whom the Pope delegated authority.  During those years notaries were well versed in foreign languages, as well as the principles and practices of law.  

On the other hand, becoming a notary public in the U.S., thereby serving as witness to the signing of documents and an administrator of oaths, does not require special training or experience.  It is a relatively easy position to secure, in most cases only requiring the candidate to pass a short test and undergo a background check.  With this in mind, the rights and privileges accorded to a notary public do not extend beyond the basic duties of an impartial witness.  More specifically, they are not permitted to give any form of legal counsel, prepare legal documents or otherwise practice law.  

For those interested in becoming a licensed notary, there are three basic steps to follow:

First, fill out an application, providing your name, address and other contact info.  You will also answer questions regarding age, residency and any previous notary commissions held.  (Application procedures vary from state to state.  For more information regarding the application process, you can visit the National Notary Association website,   Second, applicants are next required to pay a fee to the commissioning authority.  Finally, applicants must take an oath of office, which may be incorporated into the application or filed with a county clerk.

There are other possible steps that may include taking an educational course, passing a test or obtaining a notary bond.  These requirements vary from state to state, therefore applicants are encouraged to consult their local official or contact the National Notary Association for more info.

Many states offer notary public classes to help aspiring notaries gain their commission.  Pat Meyer, an instructor at a Northern California Notary instruction course has helped thousands of notaries or future notaries obtain or renew their notary commission.  The course offers same day classes and exams.  For more information about this service, log onto

For those residing in the state of New York, log onto, where one can purchase a New York Notary Application Kit, which includes sample notary test questions, as well as the official New York Notary Laws and Procedures handbook.

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