Notary Public Etiquette

<p>I have not needed a Notary in forever. Next week we will have a real-estate transaction (being done long-distance) for which we have to sign and have some documents notarized. Is it customary to tip/offer them something for their service? Or should I just ask her (it is someone who works in my husband's office)?</p>

<p>Our school district requires things to be notarized constantly. I've never thought of giving a tip. I just take in my ID and the documents and make pleasant small talk.</p>

<p>We've used notarys at our bank. Never thought to offer anything for the service.</p>

<p>You should confirm with the title company that you can have any notary do this. We just closed on the sale of a property in another state on Friday, and the title company asked us to use a notary at an attorney's office or another title company. This was not historically the case, but it has been a couple of years since our last property sale, and the title company had tightened down their rules. We had to get a business card from the person so we could 'prove' they worked at one of those types of companies. Which was kind of silly, as the receptionist at my attorney's office is a notary, so she did it. She had no more clue about the contents of the documents than any other notary would.</p>

<p>So, assuming it doesn't matter where you get it done, here are options that are "free" and maybe not as uncomfortable as having someone at work do it:</p>

<ul>
<li><p>Pretty much every bank branch in the country has at least one notary in their office. If you are a client of the bank (have any accounts there), they generally provide notary services for free. We always used the bank notaries prior to this new (silly) rule our title company just imposed. Banks expect their customers to use this service, so it is a very comfortable transaction in my opinion.</p></li>
<li><p>If you have an attorney, ask if someone at their office can do it. As I said above, my attorney's secretary did it (no charge because I am a client).</p></li>
<li><p>I have asked people at work to do it a couple of times in the past. People I didn't really know, but someone told me they were a notary. I thanked them, of course, but did not offer to pay them. It is pretty much a 5 minute transaction, so I didn't feel obligated to pay. But I only did it once or twice. It did feel a little uncomfortable... but maybe because I didn't really know them.</p></li>
</ul>

<p>Be sure you take identification with you to the notary. And if you have some kind of legal standing (Power of Attorney, Testementary Letter, or something like that) that allows you to carry out the transaction you are signing the document for, you need to take that along as well.</p>

<p>If you can, take an extra copy of the documents you need to have notarized. Last week the notary accidentally signed in my signature space on the document. I had to drive home and print another one.</p>

<p>One other thing to watch is where the notary puts their stamp. For documents that are recorded for a property sale (the deed!), the stamp needs to be not too close to the margin of the paper. I forget the exact measurement, but I have had documents rejected for recording when the stamp was too close to the edge. Not all notaries know this (the secretary at the law firm last week was not aware). I would have them stay within the margins of the printed text to the right and left, and leave as much space as possible if they stamp at the bottom of the page. Some docs are just for the title companies internal records, and it doesn't matter for those.</p>

<p>It is generally not customary to tip a notary and I have rarely seen a notary expect a fee for that service. In many states notaries are free to charge a fee that is subject to a statutory maximum. By tipping or offering a tip, you may be putting the notary in a bad spot.</p>

<p>In California there are commercial NPs that charge $10/signature. It is customary to pay that amount.</p>

<p>I'm a notary in New York. State law here limits notaries to getting paid $2 per document. Personally I waive that fee. (Mostly I'm using it within our own business, although I occasionally notarize something for an acquaintance.) IIRC, we are not allowed to accept more than the $2 fee.</p>

<p>Your state may vary.</p>

<p>AZ is another state where notaries can -- and do -- charge $2 per document. They are providing a service and expect to be paid for it. I have never heard of anyone "tipping" a notary, though.</p>

<p>WA state here - I have never tipped or heard of anyone tipping a Notary Public. We just pay for their service.</p>

<p>I use a notary quite often for work. I usually use the same lady each time. She doesn't charge but once in a while I'll take her a bag of candy or cookies. It's worth it because she always seems glad to see me.</p>

<p>I used a notary at my credit union. No fee charged, and it didn't occur to me to offer a tip.</p>

<p>I'm a notary in NY, too. The fee is $2 per signature, but I have never charged anyone. However, when I have things notarized, I go to a professional notary whom I don't know personally. The service is rendered and the fee is charged and paid. Often, the notary is paid for his/her time by the bank, so no tip would be required or considered. When I notarize for co-workers (every, single day) for their personal matters, rather than firm business, they always offer to pay the fee set by the state. I always decline and tell them I'm just glad that I got an opportunity to catch up with them that day.</p>

<p>Thanks for the help/responses everyone!</p>

<p>Mine is done at my credit union. :D</p>

<p>I either pay the fee per page or if it's a friend doing it who won't let me pay, I send a thank you note with a $5 Starbucks gift card.</p>

<p>I never heard of tipping a notary. I've always used the notaries at my bank.</p>