I'm a Notary Public...now what?
September 19, 2022 5:18 PM   Subscribe

How does one go from being a Notary Public at the UPS store to being self employed?

A friend of mine is a notary at my local UPS store where she works crazy hours and only gets paid the same rate as the other regular employees. She's fluent in Spanish, Italian and English. How does she get started if she decides to work on her own in a major city?

I know every time I do any major financing a notary is sent to my house to notarize my docs. How do you get into a gig like that and maybe do some translating too? Have a website? Is there an agency for that?

Many thanks in advance!
posted by snsranch to Work & Money (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm a notary but I definitely don't do it for a job. I think this varies by state a little. My take is that most of the money is in mobile notarizing. There are some agencies who will take on notaries as a sort of temp worker gig. Honestly, if she's got those language skills, the money is in translation a lot of the time. The big question is where people will be looking for notaries. Yelp has a lot of notary reviews and she might want to see what they look like for her metro area, see how other people are representing themselves. Does she have a stamp (not all notaries have them)? I do not suggest she join the National Notary Association but they do have a lot of free blog posts, some of which address questions like this which might be worth a read.
posted by jessamyn at 5:23 PM on September 19 [3 favorites]

I have a friend who is a mobile notary with a specialization in home sales and other real estate transactions. It took her a while, but she worked every possible connection she could with all the local title companies and similar real estate entities and is now doing pretty well. Her case is a little different -- she's also a lawyer, but trained for a different legal system and not able to practice law in the US, and so she is able to use her legal training to help make sure that the folks who are signing things fully understand what each document is and what it does. But the principle of specialization is similar to the case you describe. I would think working connections in order to make the translation element differentiate her from the rest of the pack might be part of a larger strategy for laying the groundwork in order to eventually go solo/freelance.
posted by pleasant_confusion at 6:10 PM on September 19 [6 favorites]

In an urban area, mobile "we-come-to-you" notaries are where it's at. The one I know of works closely with local real estate agents (so logical!) who both use her services for their clients and recommend her to others, and she also advertises on neighborhood email list groups and Facebook groups.

I've tried to use her services, but she was unavailable when I needed her, so I ended up going to the UPS store. I imagine that happens a lot - it's super urgent to the people who need things notarized and then... it isn't. So I imagine the work is sporadic but it could be a nice side gig if you've already got the credentials.
posted by nkknkk at 6:15 PM on September 19 [5 favorites]

Where I am (central Indiana) notaries do not charge fees. It’s kind of the whole point, I suppose. I think they can accept tips. It’s definitely not a job or career thing.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:24 PM on September 19 [3 favorites]

I don't really know much of anything about the topic, other than my office has notaries and ours are SPECIFICALLY restricted to only being allowed to notarize a very few specific documents from our office. (I note that seems to be considered to be a good thing by them because they aren't interested in having a side business, and they don't want to be forced to notarize anything/everything people want them to.) If your friend works at a UPS store, I don't know if UPS has any potential blocks on their permissions to notarize, but she should probably check that just to make sure.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:32 PM on September 19

I'm a notary but I rarely notarize anything but lien waivers at my construction office. In Illinois, it is illegal to charge more than $1.00 (page 25) to notarize something, so you probably won't find anyone who is a notary as a career. I'd agree that translation related services might be a good direction, especially in a major city.
posted by Glinn at 6:51 PM on September 19 [5 favorites]

People have already said super helpful things but I want to reiterate: in some countries, being a notary public is a career and often comes with additional specialized training. For example, in Germany, a Notar*in is actually a lawyer. Translation can be lucrative but also can require certifications. It sounds like maybe she could pursue a career as a paralegal? She already has the language skills, is a notary, and could start working for a lawyer right away in some capacity.

This situation reminds me of how well-intentioned people from foreign and/or less academic backgrounds sometimes mix things up in a way that's understandable but unfortunately totally wrong. For example, as an adult taking a community college Spanish 101 class, I had a classmate who was also an adult. She knew you needed a Bachelor's or even a Master's to teach school but thought you could become a community college professor simply with an Associate's degree. I gently explained to her that actually you need a Master's or even a doctorate. To me this was all so obvious but for her, someone very smart and hardworking from a modest background, it was new.
posted by smorgasbord at 8:25 PM on September 19 [3 favorites]

In my state the maximum charge is $5.00 and my friend who works as a mobile notary does it just for fun, his 'real' job is in insurance. The word is the same but it's not the same thing as in other countries.
posted by epanalepsis at 2:46 AM on September 20

Where I live, notary fees are set by state law to something low, around $10 or $11. So the way to make money at it is either as an added service that brings people in to your store (like what the UPS store does), or to become a mobile notary where you can charge for your travel and time. No one is making a living off of $10 notarizations alone.

Also, the company I work for always has someone with a notary stamp in each main office (because it is needed often enough that having it in house is most efficient), and I think that is typical for a lot of companies. Usually that means tasking one of the existing admin staff to get the certification, but if they were hiring for a new admin position, an applicant who already had that stamp would be a plus. So that would be a potential other direction for your friend to look into.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:58 AM on September 20

Response by poster: Thanks everybody! I really appreciate it.
posted by snsranch at 12:25 PM on September 20

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