Some time ago, when I worked in the corporate world, I needed to find a notary. As it turned out, one of my co-workers was a notary public, so getting the signature pages notarized was fast and free.
Later on, when I decided to pursue my second online business idea, again I needed to get some paperwork notarized. But this time it wasn’t as straight-forward. Finding an inexpensive notary quickly was a little more difficult.
A notary public is an officer appointed by the state to serve as witness and certify the signing of official records. Many signed documents such as a deed, power-of-attorney or unclaimed property form need to be notarized. This is done to minimize fraud in legal documents.
So locating a notary in your area is essential whenever you’re dealing with any type of legal documentation. Keep in mind, though, notaries cannot provide legal advice or counseling regarding documents.
Where to find a notary public
Here are some helpful tips for finding a notary that won’t cost you a bundle. Places to consider include the following:
At your bank branch
Many banks and credit unions have a notary public on staff. Calling your bank and asking if they offer a free notary service for existing customers may save you time.
Your visit will be more productive if you also inquire about the notary’s availability: The notary’s business hours may differ from those of the branch, so it’s a good idea to check ahead.
Your local pharmacy
I once found a notary public at a local mom-and-pop pharmacy in my neighborhood. It’s a bit surprising, but many independent pharmacies have notaries on staff to increase their foot traffic and drive their business.
In addition, larger pharmacy chains such as CVS, Walgreens or RiteAid may have some locations offering notary services, but it’s a bit of a hit-or-miss. Call your local pharmacy to check on availability, hours and fees.
At public libraries
Your local public library is a surprising trove of mostly free resources, which may include notary services. Many libraries can notarize documents for free. And even if they charge a fee, it’s usually small.
In most cases, you’ll need a valid photo ID with a signature–such as a current driver’s license or passport, and the person whose signature is being notarized must be present.
Some public libraries may limit their notary services and exclude notarizing some documents such as mortgages, living trusts and others. You can easily check if your library offers a notary by visiting their website or calling their help desk.
The UPS store
The UPS Store center offers notary services as well. Depending on the state where you live, their notary public may or may not be allowed to act simultaneously as a signature witness; consequently, not all UPS locations may suit your notarial needs.
Call ahead to check your requirements, availability and to schedule an appointment at your nearest store. The service isn’t free, but it won’t break the bank. I called my nearest location and the representative said their fee is $2 per document.
With the Automobile Association of America (AAA)
Many AAA offices have a free notary service available for members. And they’re able to notarize most documents requiring a notary public certification.
Office hours vary by location, and you can find your nearest one using their online office locator.
At your workplace
If you’re working for a company and need to find a notary, you may not need to look far. Chances are that a colleague at your workplace may be able to notarize documents.
Check with office assistants, paralegals and your usual coworkers. You might be surprised to find a notary in your own floor.
Your county clerk’s office
You can find qualified notaries in your state’s county clerk’s office. Their service is generally available to the public for free.
For example, the Monroe County Clerk’s Office in New York provides a notary public free of charge. Contact your local office to check availability.
Find a notary on campus
Your college website will guide you on available services, hours and where to call to set up an appointment with a notary.
Check notary directories
Another option to find notarial services is to look them up in a directory. Here are several you can try:
Online portals like Notarize connect you with an online notary public around the clock so you can sign and notarize documents from your device at your convenience.
The process is simple: you’ll need to upload a paper document through their app, confirm your identity, connect with a notary via video call and download your notarized documents.Their pricing is on the higher end, but you can get unlimited pages and esignatures so it might work well for some. By the way, the ESIGN Act in 2000 made electronic signatures legal in every state.