Washington DC Notary Public Bond: A Comprehensive Guide
October 21, 2022
This guide provides information for insurance agents to help their customers obtain a Washington DC Notary Public bond.
At a Glance:
- Average Cost: $50 for a four-year term
- Bond Amount: $2,000
- Who Needs it: All notaries public operating in Washington DC
- Purpose: To ensure the public receives compensation for financial harm if the notary fails to properly perform their duties
- Who Regulates Notaries Public in Washington DC: The Washington DC Office of Notary Commissions and Authentications (ONCA)
Code of the District of Columbia §1-1231.19 requires all notaries operating in the district to obtain a commission from the ONCA before performing notarial acts. The DC city council enacted this requirement to ensure that notaries engage in ethical business practices. To provide financial security for the enforcement of the commission requirement, notaries public must purchase and maintain a $2,000 surety bond to be eligible for a commission.
What is the Purpose of the Washington DC Notary Public Bond?
Washington DC requires notaries public to purchase a surety bond as a prerequisite to obtaining a notary commission. The bond protects the public from financial harm if the notary fails to comply with the regulations outlined in the Code of the District of Columbia §1-1231.19. Specifically, the bond protects the public if the notary does not actually witness the signatures on documents being notarized or engages in any act of negligence or misconduct. In short, the bond is a type of insurance that protects the public if the notary violates the terms of their commission.
How Can an Insurance Agent Obtain a Washington DC Notary Public Surety Bond?
BondExchange makes obtaining a Washington DC Notary Public bond easy. Simply log in to your account and use our keyword search to find the “Notary” bond in our database. Don’t have a login? Enroll now and let us help you satisfy your customers’ needs. Our friendly underwriting staff is available by phone at (800) 438-1162, email, or chat from 7:30 AM to 7:00 PM EST to assist you.
At BondExchange, our 40 years of experience, leading technology, and access to markets ensures that we have the knowledge and resources to provide your clients with fast and friendly service whether obtaining quotes or issuing bonds.
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Is a Credit Check Required for the Washington DC Notary Public Bond?
No, a credit check is not required for the Washington DC Notary Public bond. Because the bond is considered relatively low risk, the same low rate is offered to all notaries in the district regardless of their credit history.
How Much Does the Washington DC Notary Public Bond Cost?
The Washington DC Notary Public bond costs just $50 for a five-year term.
Who is Required to Purchase the Washington DC Notary Bond?
Washington DC requires notaries public to purchase a surety bond as a prerequisite to obtaining a notary commission. To paraphrase the Notary Public Handbook, a notary public is a public official authorized to perform the following duties:
- Notarize documents
- Administer oaths and attestations
- Serve as an impartial witness to the signing of documents
DC government notaries are not required to purchase a surety bond (more on this later).
How Do Notaries Apply for a Commission in Washington DC?
Notaries public in Washington DC must navigate several steps to obtain a commission. Below are the general guidelines, but applicants should refer to the ONCA’s website and the Notary Public Handbook for details on the process.
Commission Term: All Washington DC Notary Public Commissions are valid for five years from the date of issuance and must be renewed before the expiration date.
Step 1 – Meet the Qualifications
To be eligible to apply for a notary public commission, applicants must meet all of the following criteria:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Be a citizen or permanent legal resident of the U.S.
- Live and/or work in DC (both if applying for a dual commission)
Step 2 – Determine the Type of Commission
DC requires notaries to obtain a specific commission type based on who they provide notarial services to, as outlined below:
- Business Notary – Serves on behalf of their place of employment
- Residential Notary – Serves on behalf of their community
- DC Government Notary* – Serves on behalf of an agency of the District
- Federal Government Notary – Serves on behalf of a federal agency
- Dual-Business Notary – Can serve as a residential and business notary
- Dual Gov/DC Notary – Can serve as a residential and DC government notary
- Dual Gov/Federal Notary – Can serve as a residential and federal government notary
*Bond not required
Step 3 – Complete the Application
Notaries public must submit their completed applications online here. Additionally, notaries must upload a letter of request with their application, which explains why the applicant is applying to be a notary.
After receiving the application, the ONCA will send an email with instructions on how to pay the $75 application fee. Applicants for a DC government commission or federal government commission do not have to pay the application fee.
Step 4 – Attend an Orientation Session
After their application is approved, notaries public are required to attend a mandatory orientation session covering the laws, rules, and regulations of notaries within the District. Applicants will be automatically notified of the next two available sessions and, if they’re unavailable during those dates, can contact the ONCA to receive information on future sessions.
Step 5 – Purchase Notary Supplies
After the orientation, notaries public will receive an appointment notice approximately two weeks before the start of their commission. The appointment notice describes all the items needed to take an oath of office and authorizes notaries to begin purchasing their surety bond and supplies.
Step 6 – Purchase a Surety Bond
Notaries public will receive a pre-filled bond form with their appointment notice which they must email to the surety company (BondExchange). Notaries must ensure that they have the receipt of payment after purchasing their $2,000 surety bond.
Step 7 – Take an Oath of Office
After obtaining their notary supplies, surety bond, and receipt of bond payment, notaries public must take an oath of office at the ONCA office located at the following address:
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20004
The oath of office validates the notary’s commission and allows them to perform notarial acts. After taking the oath, notaries will receive a certificate of appointment which will serve as an official record of their commission.
How do Washington DC Notaries Renew Their Commissions?
To renew their commissions, notaries public must submit an application, a new letter of request, a $75 application fee, and take an oath of office. Notaries are encouraged to renew their commissions at least 60 days before the expiration date to avoid a lapse in commissions. All Washington DC Notary Public Commissions are valid for five years from the date of issuance and must be renewed before the expiration date.
What are the Insurance Requirements for Notaries in Washington DC?
Washington DC does not require notaries to purchase any form of liability insurance as a prerequisite to obtaining a notary commission. Notaries Public must purchase and maintain a $2,000 surety bond.
How Do Washington DC Notaries File Their Bonds?
Notaries public should submit their completed bond forms, including the power of attorney, when they take their oath of office at the ONCA located at the following address:
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20004
The bond requires signatures from both the surety company that issues the bond and the applicant. Notaries must submit the original bond form with the original signature and seal of the surety company.
What Can Washington DC Notaries Do to Avoid Claims Against Their Bonds?
To avoid claims on their bonds, notaries public in Washington DC must follow all district regulations, including some of the most important issues below that tend to cause claims:
- Do not leave any notary supplies (seal and journal) in a place where they can be easily stolen
- Do not perform notary services for entities/individuals who are engaged in acts of fraud
- Ensure that the signers of documents are who they say they are and are not misrepresenting themselves
- Witness the signatures of all documents being notarized
- Record all transactions in a notary journal
What Other Insurance Products Can Agents Offer Notaries in California?
Washington DC does not require notaries to obtain any form of liability insurance. However, many notaries will consider obtaining errors and omission (E&O) insurance. Bonds are our only business at BondExchange, so we do not issue liability insurance, but our agents often utilize brokers for this specific line of business. A list of brokers in this space can be found here.
How Can Insurance Agents Prospect for California Notary Customers?
Washington DC conveniently provides a public database of commissioned notaries operating in the district. Also, the name of all applicants for new or renewal commissions will be published in the DC Register, the legal publication for the District of Columbia. Contact BondExchange for additional marketing resources. Agents can also leverage our print-mail relationships for discounted mailing services.