Learn about notary best practices and remote notarization. Find a notary education course in Washington State and find out how to get an Apostille or Certificate of Authority.
Information for new notaries
When performing a notarial act, there are 3 important things that a notary public must follow:
- Personal appearance
- Proper identification
- Notarial certificate
All signers must sign the documents to be notarized in the notary public's presence. This is called "personal appearance." You can't notarize the signature of someone who only contacts you online, by mail, or by phone.
Before a notary may notarize a document, they must first confirm the identity of each party signing the document. There are 3 ways to properly identify a signer:
1. Acceptable ID documents
The documents must:
- Be current or expired for less than 3 years
- Be issued by a federal or state government
- Contain the individual's photograph, signature, and physical description
2. Personal knowledge
This doesn't mean someone you were just introduced to. Ask yourself if you'd be able to describe your "personal knowledge" of the signer adequately when under oath in a court of law.
3. On the oath or affirmation of a credible witness
- You must know the credible witness.
- The credible witness must know the signer.
- The credible witness must identify the signer to you.
As part of the notarial act, you are responsible for completing the notarial certificate, which is a section of the document that describes the act being performed. The certificate should include:
- A statement of particulars, which is the statement you complete and sign. It tells you what notarial act to perform, and describes for everyone else exactly what you did. See RCW 42.45.140 for examples.
- The date the notary act was performed.
- Your signature.
- Your title. ("Notary Public")
- An impression of your seal or stamp (not required when certifying an oath for court).
- The expiration date of your notary appointment.
Remote notarization for licensed notaries
A licensed notary with an electronic records notary endorsement is eligible to get a remote notary endorsement. You must apply for the remote endorsement separately. You must have both endorsements before practicing remote notarial acts.
Once you have the remote endorsement, you're authorized to perform remote notarial acts. You can also conduct notarization for clients who aren't located in Washington.
Add a remote notary endorsement
Notaries with an electronic endorsement can apply to add the remote endorsement to their existing license. Get step-by-step instructions on how to add the remote notary endorsement.
Temporary remote notary licenses expired on August 31, 2021. If you have a temporary remote notary license and want to continue these services, you must log into SecureAccess Washington (SAW) and add it to your existing active license. You must have an electronic notary endorsement to apply for a remote notary license. You can apply for both at the same time.
Standards and processes
See the current rules for remote notarization on our laws and rules page. The rules include standards for:
- Communication technology
- Identity proofing
- Software requirements
- Recordkeeping requirements
- Notarial certificates
- And more
Performing remote notarization
You’ll need specialized software to perform remote notarial acts. The software must be able to meet certain standards. Check with the software maker to find out if their product is capable of meeting these standards. Get step-by-step instructions on how to add a software provider to your endorsement.
The software will use a virtual room for the notary and the signers to interact and see and hear each other. This allows you to verify their identity and perform the notarization. Clients use a multifactor authentication process to be able to interact with you.
You will record the transaction physically in your notary journal. You must reference that you performed the notarial act remotely.
Electronic records notarization vs. remote notarization
- An electronic records notarization is the process of notarizing where electronic signatures get applied to electronic documents. This happens in the physical present of the notary and the signer (i.e. signing on a digital signature pad). It will include the attachment of the licensee’s electronic notarial stamp or seal.
- A remote notarization is the act of notarizing without being in the physical presence of a customer.
Although you aren't required to complete an education course to become a notary in Washington, we recommend it because you'll learn how to perform notarial acts correctly.
The following companies offer education that's suitable for Washington notaries. Contact the company for further information and the cost of each course.
American Society of Notaries
Attorney & Notary Supply of Washington, Inc.
LMI Notary Educational Service
National Notary Association
Notary Learning Center, Inc.
Note: This list is intended as information only, and isn't an endorsement by the Department of Licensing of the services or views offered by these organizations. The list may not include all possible education sources.
Apostilles and Certificates of Authority
We don't currently provide Apostilles and Certificates of Authority.
How to get an Apostille or Certificate of Authority
The Office of the Secretary of State provides Apostilles and Certificates of Authority.