Chapter 3: Notary Fees

Every call I receive for a notary the same question comes up in the first few seconds.  “How much do you charge to notarize a document?”  The answer is actually the law in California. Government Code section 8211 specifies the maximum fees that a notary public can charge.  So without further adieu here’s the Fee Schedule:

  • For taking an acknowledgement or proof of a deed, or other instrument, to include the seal and the writing of the certificate, the sum of fifteen dollars ($15) for each signature taken.
  • For administering an oath or affirmation to one person and executing the jurat, including the seal, the sum of fifteen dollars ($15).
  • For services rendered in connection with the taking of any deposition, the sum of twenty dollars ($20), and in addition thereto, the sum of five dollars ($5) for administering the oath to the witness and the sum of five dollars ($5) for the certificate to the deposition.
  • NO FEE may be charged to notarize signatures on vote by mail ballot identification envelopes or other voting materials.
  • For certifying a copy of a power of attorney under Section 4307 of the Probate Code the sum of fifteen dollars ($15).
  • In accordance with Section 6107, no fee may be charged to a United States military veteran for notarization of an application or a claim for a pension, allotment, allowance, compensation, insurance, or any other veteran’s benefit.

In addition to the fee charged for the notarization of the document a notary may charge a reasonable travel fee when the notary must travel to the document signer. A Notary has the discretion to charge more for their “travel expense” if the notary is after business hours, weekends or holidays.  However, the charge for the actual notarization of the document is not discretionary. If a notary quotes a fee in excess of $15 per signature make sure the additional fee is for the travel and not the actual notary. What happens if you believe you were overcharged for a notarization of a document?   You have recourse.   The Secretary of State provides all commissioned notaries in the State of California with a handbook which has all the laws we must follow including the fee schedule.  If a notary breaks the law by charging more than $15 per signature a complaint can be filed with the Secretary of State.  Disciplinary action will be taken against a notary that breaks the law by overcharging for a notary fee.

What will happen to the Notary Public for overcharging for notary fees?  The fine is $750 and the commission can be Suspended or Revoked depending on the outcome of the investigation by the Secretary of State.

What about loan documents for the sale or purchase of a home?  During the mortgage boom a specialized notary title was created called a Notary Signing Agent.  I completed the class where we were taught about all the documents we would encounter during a loan document signing.   In addition to Notary Signing Agent I completed a course to become an Independent Loan Closer.  When it comes to how much is charged for a set of loan documents a flat rate system was created to avoid excessively high fees for the signing and notarization as well as the amount of time involved, 1-3 hours when signing loan documents.  Many Signing Agents charge a flat rate in the range of $125 to $300 which includes the travel fee. When you need a set of loan documents notarized I recommend finding a Notary Signing Agent that’s willing to meet you somewhere you can sit in a quiet environment.  Taking your set of loan documents to a local postal store can turn into a headache.  The environment in most cases isn’t private and not very quiet.  You’ll need to be sitting down since there’s so many documents that need to be signed, initialed and notarized.  All it takes is ONE error and the sale of a home or refinance of your mortgage could be in jeopardy.  The notarized documents cannot be recorded if there’s any mistakes.   If you need a set of loan documents notarized take the extra time and find a Notary Signing Agent.  You won’t be sorry.  Speak to the actual notary you’ll be working with rather than calling a 3rd party service that calls any notary with or without the proper training.   Ask the notary how many loan signings they’ve completed.  If you asked me that question I’d tell you over 1,000 since 2003.  The next time you have a document that needs to be notarized ask the notary what they charge and make sure the fee for the signatures does not exceed the law in California.

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