Washington Notary Public Bond: A Comprehensive Guide

January 17, 2023

Washington Notary Public Bond

This guide provides information for insurance agents to help their customers obtain a Washington Notary Public bond.

At a Glance:

  • Average Cost: $50 for a four-year term
  • Bond Amount: $10,000
  • Who Needs it: All notaries public operating in Washington
  • 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: The Washington State Department of Licensing

Background

Washington Revised Code 42.45.200 requires all notaries operating in the state to obtain a commission from the Department of Licensing before providing notarial services. The Washington legislature enacted this requirement to ensure that notaries engage in ethical business practices. To provide financial security for the enforcement of the commission requirement, notaries must purchase and maintain a $10,000 surety bond to be eligible for a commission.

What is the Purpose of the Washington Notary Public Bond?

Washington requires notaries 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 Washington Revised Code 42.45.200. Specifically, the bond protects the public if the notary signs any documents for persons committing fraud or does not actually witness the signatures on documents being notarized. In short, the bond is a type of insurance that protects the public if the notary violates the terms of their commission.

Washington Notary Public Bond Form
Washington Notary Public Bond Form

How Can an Insurance Agent Obtain a Washington Notary Public Surety Bond?

BondExchange makes obtaining a Washington 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 Notary Public Bond?

No, a credit check is not required for the Washington Notary Public bond. Because the bond is considered relatively low risk, the same low rate is offered to all notaries in the state regardless of their credit history.

How Much Does the Washington Notary Public Bond Cost?

The Washington Notary Public bond costs just $50 for a four-year term.

Who is Required to Purchase the Washington Notary Bond?

Washington requires notaries to purchase a surety bond as a prerequisite to obtaining a notary commission. To paraphrase Washington Revised Code 42.45.010, a notary public is a public official authorized to provide the following services:

  • Take acknowledgments
  • Administer oaths and affirmations
  • Take verifications on oath or affirmation
  • Witness or attest to a signature
  • Certify or attest a copy
  • Certify the occurrence of an event
  • Note a protest of a negotiable instrument

Notaries who wish to apply for an electronic notary endorsement and/or a remote notary endorsement do not need to purchase an additional surety bond. An electronic notary is a notary public that provides notarial services on electronic documents using electronic signatures. Likewise, a remote notary is a notary public that provides notarial services where the signer appears before the notary using audio-visual communication technology.

How Do Notaries Apply for a Commission in Washington?

Notaries public in Washington must navigate several steps to obtain a commission. Below are the general guidelines, but applicants should refer to the Department of Licensing’s website for details on the process.

Commission Term: All Washington Notary Public Commissions are valid for four years from the date of issuance.

Notaries Public

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
    • Live or work in Washington
    • Be a citizen or permanent legal resident of the United States
    • Be able to read and write English

Step 2 – Purchase a Surety Bond

Notaries public are required to purchase and maintain a $10,000 surety bond.

Step 3 – Submit an Application

Notaries public must submit an application to the Department of Licensing’s office online here or by mail at the following address:

Notary Public Program
Department of Licensing
PO Box 3777
Seattle WA 98124-3777

Applicants who apply online will need to create an account with the Department of Licensing’s online platform. Notaries must complete the application in its entirety and submit the following items with it:

    • Surety bond
    • Notarized oath of office form
    • One of the following:
      • $40 application fee for notary public commission only
      • $55 application fee for notary public commission with electronic notary endorsement

Notaries who wish to apply for an electronic notary endorsement can do so at this time. Applications typically take around 30 days to process. Once the application is approved, the Department of Licensing will issue a commission certificate to the notary. The notary public should use this certificate to purchase a notary seal and journal, and the notary may not provide any notarial services until they have obtained both.

Electronic Notaries

Step 4 – Submit an Application

Notaries can apply for an electronic notary endorsement when submitting their initial commission application. Additionally, notaries can also apply for an electronic notary endorsement at anytime during their commission by submitting an additional application online here or by mail at the following address:

Notary Public Program
Department of Licensing
PO Box 3777
Seattle WA 98124-3777

Notaries must indicate the electronic software they intend to use and include a $15 application fee. Once the application is approved, notaries may begin providing electronic notarial services.

Remote Notaries

Step 5 – Register Online

Commissioned notaries with an electronic records notary endorsement are eligible to register for a remote notary endorsement. Notaries can add a remote notary endorsement by upload their software provider information to their account online here. The Department of Licensing provides step-by-step instructions on how to do so, and there is no fee to add a remote notary endorsement.

How Do Washington Notaries Public Renew Their Commissions?

Notaries public can renew their commission certificates by submitting an application online here or by mail at the following address:

Notary Public Program
Department of Licensing
PO Box 3777
Seattle WA 98124-3777

Notaries are encouraged to apply for their new commissions up to 120 days before their existing ones expire to avoid a lapse in commissions. All Washington Notary Public Commissions are valid for four years from the date of issuance and must be renewed before the expiration date.

What are the Insurance Requirements for Notaries Public in Washington?

Washington does not require notaries to purchase any form of liability insurance as a prerequisite to obtaining a commission. Notaries public must purchase and maintain a $10,000 surety bond.

How Do Washington Notaries File Their Bonds?

Notaries public should file their completed and notarized bond forms, including the power of attorney, with the Department of Licensing at the following address:

Notary Public Program
Department of Licensing
PO Box 3777
Seattle WA 98124-3777

The bond requires signatures from both the surety company that issues the bond and the notary. The surety company should include the following information on the bond form:

  • Legal name, address, county, and date of birth of the entity/individual(s) buying the bond
  • Surety company’s name, phone number, and state of incorporation
  • Commission expiration date
  • Date the bond is signed

What Can Washington Notaries Do to Avoid Claims Against Their Bonds?

To avoid claims on their bonds, notaries public in Washington must adhere to all state 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 Washington?

Washington does not require notaries public 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 Washington Notary Customers?

Washington conveniently provides a public database of commissioned notaries operating in the state. Contact BondExchange for additional marketing resources. Agents can also leverage our print-mail relationships for discounted mailing services.

What Other States Require Notary Bonds?

29 states and the District of Columbia require notaries to purchase a surety bond as a prerequisite to obtaining a commission. Insurance agents should utilize our Main Notary Bond Page for a detailed analysis of the Notary Bond requirements nationwide.