How to Become a Notary in Rhode Island? (study resources| test| income)


How to Become a Notary Signing Agent in Rhode Island

(**) Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning our website, RealEstateCareerHQ.com, will get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through the links, but at no additional cost to you.

To become a notary in Rhode Island, you must:

  1. Meet the eligibility requirement;
  2. Study the Rhode Island notary laws;
  3. Complete the Notary Knowledge Assessment;
  4. Submit an application and $80 fee to the Rhode Island Secretary of State;
  5. Review the notary certificate of commission;
  6. Purchase a notary seal;
  7. Maintain a business journal;
  8. Keep up with notarial best practice

Although you could work on different types of documents (i.e., POA, marriage certificate, living will), the loan signing business in the real estate market seems to be a lucrative niche.

So what does a loan signing agent do? When people are getting a mortgage to purchase a house, or they need to refinance their property, there will be loan documents involved. Your role as a notary loan signing agent is to walk through the set of loan documents with the borrower and witness them in signing the paperwork. 

You would also need to verify the identity of the signers, place the notary stamp on the signed documents, then send them back to the signing services company or closing attorney. 

But keep in mind that you should NOT be providing legal advice, and you cannot explain the terms of the loan documents to the borrower.  

In this guide, you’ll find out the steps to become a notary in Rhode Island, income updates, and FAQ about this profession. 

But before we start, I want to give a brief disclaimer. This post is not intended as legal advice or state/federal notary public training. It is for general information only. Please check with your state to be sure that loan signing agents are utilized in the closing process. Always follow your state’s notary laws and best practices.

Would you like to learn how to make $75 to $200 per signing appointment? Check out this loan signing training program from Mark Wills. (**) He is one of the highest producing notary loan signing agents in the country.

A Table Summary to Become a Notary in Rhode Island

AgeNotary CourseExamSurety BondTerm of OfficeApplication Fee
At least 18YesYesNo4 years$80

8 Steps to Become a Notary in Rhode Island

Steps to Become a Notary in Rhode Island

Step 1: Meet the eligibility requirement

  • Be at least age 18;
  • Be a U.S citizen or permanent legal resident;
  • Be a resident or have a place of employment/practice in Rhode Island;
  • Be able to read and write English;
  • Not be disqualified under §42-30.1-16;

Step 2: Study the Rhode Island notary laws

The financial well-being of many people depends on the accuracy and completeness of your notary work. You must equip yourself with the necessary notary knowledge.

Here are some resources that could help in studying the RI notary rules.

Resource #1: RI Notary Public Training

This is a 2 hours training provided by the RI Department of State. It covers the notarial law and proper notarial practice. 

It is an online training, using either this Zoom or the Webex platform. This way, you can take it at home or wherever that is convenient for you. 

But you need to register first. You can check the training schedule here

Resource #2: Rhode Island Notary Public Manual

Rhode Island Notary Public Manual

Source: This is a screenshot of the Rhode Island Notary Public Manual

This handbook is prepared by the Rhode Island Secretary of State. It is a 62-pages comprehensive guide that covers the following topics:

  • Notary Public in RI
  • Application for Notary Public Commission
  • Notary Public Commission
  • Sample Military and American Consular Notary Public Stamps
  • Notary Fees
  • Notary Tools
  • Notary Public Duties and Responsibilities
  • Notarial Acts
  • Notarizing in Special Circumstances
  • Conflicts of Interest
  • Acceptable Forms of Identification
  • Complaints and Notary Misconduct
  • Authentications: Apostilles and Certifications
  • Definitions
  • Notary Forms
  • Notary Knowledge Assessment
  • Appendix

I also refer to this handbook from time to time as I’m writing this post.

Resource #3: Notary Tutorials page

Rhode Island Notary Tutorial

Source: This is a screenshot of the Secretary of State website- Notary Tutorials

This is a very helpful page on the Secretary of State’s website. It consists of 3 videos. 

  • How to become a notary?
  • Steps to a proper notarization?
  • How to do a copy certification?

On there, you can also find: 

  • Notary Public Manual
  • Notary Public Toolkit
  • Notary Public Supplies

Resource #4: Uniform Law on Notarial Acts

The Chapter 42-30.1 has 24 sections. They pretty much cover mostly everything you need to know about being a notary. The Rhode Island Statutes indeed is a good reference if you want to know more in-depth about each notary topic.

However, its wording is more technical and formal. So I would go through the above resources first, and read the Notarial Acts only if I need further clarification.

Anyway, I’ll leave the links of these study resources in the reference section.

Step 3: Pass the Rhode Island Notary Knowledge Assessment

Pass the Rhode Island Notary Knowledge Assessment

This test is to see how well you know about the Rhode Island notary laws, procedures, and ethics. 

It consists of 20 questions in either True/False or multiple-choices format. The required passing rate is 80% or higher.

You may click here to view the test.

Step 4: Submit the application to the Rhode Island Secretary of State

Complete the notary application to the Rhode Island Department of State

The Rhode Island Secretary of State is responsible for appointing and commissioning notaries. You need to fill out the Notary Public Commission Application.

Most of the questions in the application are pretty strict forward—for example, your name, business address, background info. It’s better to check that the name on the application will be the same as when you are notarizing documents.

Keep in mind that you must sign the application and take an oath in the presence of a Rhode Island notary public. The oath is an affirmation that you agree to assume the notary public’s duties and comply with the Rhode Island notary laws.

The notary also needs to sign and affix a stamp on the form. This service is available at the Secretary of State’s Office.

There is a $80 application fee. You can make a check payable to: RI Department of State. Then you can mail the required document to:

Division of Business Services/Notary
148 W. River Street, Providence, Rhode Island 02904-2615
Phone: (401) 222-3040
Website: www.sos.ri.gov

Step 5: Review the notary commission

Reviewing the Rhode Island Notary Commission Certificate

Once your application is approved, the Rhode Island Secretary of State will send you a commission certificate. Typically speaking, you will receive it 3-5 business days after they receive the application.

Then you should review and make sure all the details on the certificate are correct. (e.g., your name, county of residence, term of commission).

Step 6: Get a notary stamp

Rhode Island Notary Stamp

To start a notary signing business in Rhode Island, you must use an notary stamp. It is a helpful business tool that ensures you won’t leave out any required details. It indicates the signing agent as an impartial witness and helps to prevent fraudulent acts.

You may purchase the notary stamp from office supplies store. Its design must comply with the regulatory rules. For example, it must contains the following:

  • The words “Notary public,” “Rhode Island”
  • Your name exactly as it appears on the commission

The notary stamp can be either in a circular or rectangular form, but it needs to have an edge border surrounding the required elements.

Furthermore, the stamp’s image must be sharp and legible printed so that it can be reproduced under photographic methods.

Here’s a sample of the Notary Stamp:

Rhode Island Notary Stamp Sample

Source: This is a screenshot of the Rhode Island Notary Public Manual

Step 7: Maintain a notary journal

Rhode Island notary business journal

Although it is not required to keep a notary journal in Rhode Island, maintaining a good record of your notary acts is an essential part of good business practice. It could serve as proof that you have taken reasonable steps to identify the signer of a document.

If your journal is maintained in a physical format, you should have one bounded with numbered pages. You may find it at stationery, office supply stores, or through notary associations.

Whereas for a journal in an electronic format, it needs to be a permanent, tamper-evident. Make sure that it is complying with the rules of the Rhode Island Secretary of State.

In the notary journal, you may consider recording the following items in each entry:

1. The date and time of the notarial act, proceeding or transaction;

2. The type of notarial act;

3. The type, title or a description of the document, transaction or proceeding. If multiple documents are signed by the same principal in the course of a transaction or during a single time (i.e.) real estate closings, mortgage discharges, state laboratory drug analysis certificates, etc.), a single journal entry shall be sufficient;

4. The signature, printed name and address of each principal and witness;

5. Description of the satisfactory evidence of identity of each person including:

i. A statement that the person is “personally known to me;” or
ii. A notation of the type of identification document, the issuing agency, its serial or identification number and its date of issuance or expiration;

If the identification number on the document is the person’s Social Security number, instead of including the number, write in the words “Social Security number” or the acronym “SSN;” or


iii. A notation if the notary public identified the individual on the oath or affirmation of a credible witness or based on the notary’s personal knowledge of the individual;

6. The fee, if any, charged for the notarial act; and

A notary public should record in the journal the
circumstances for not completing a notarial act.

Quote from Rhode Island Notary Public Manual

As a good business practice, you should keep the journal for at least seven years from the last date of notarization.

Step 8: Keep up with notarial best practice

Continuing education is critical to being a notary signing agent. Rules and regulations would change over time. Also, there will be new technology to advance your business practice. A good way is to take high-quality courses from a trusted provider.

Learn to earn as a Loan Signing Agent

Without sufficient income, you are just doing it as a hobby and not a real business. The first step you should take is to learn how to build a “PROFITABLE” notarial practice.

But this could take years of trial and error in coming up with a feasible strategy. Rather than reinventing the wheel, a MUCH better way is to learn from someone who has done it before successfully.

Mark Wills is a top-notch coach for notary signing agents. He developed the Loan Signing System (LSS) training program, where many of his students have achieved massive success. Some can earn great money as a side-gig, where some are earning over six-figures every year.

You may click here to check out his training program. (**)

Advance your credential by becoming an NNA Certified Notary Signing Agent

The National Notary Association (NNA) is one of the largest associations and most recognizable for notaries. They provide regular updates, training and networking events to the members.

Getting the NNA Certified status can show to title and escrow companies that you are maintaining a high standard as a signing agent. Thus, strengthen their trust and confidence in your signing services.

What is a Certified Notary Signing Agent?- An Exclusive Interview with Melina Fuenmayor

Here is a review I wrote about the NNA Certified Notary Signing Agent Program.

In there, you can find an exclusive interview I had with Melina Fuenmayor. She will share with you her thoughts in obtaining the certified credential. 

Does Rhode Island allow electronic notarization?

I like states that have the option for notaries to work digitally. Doing so could bring you great convenience to streamline your notary practice.

Electronic Notarization, also known as “e-notarization” is where the signings and document transmission can be done electronically. But you’ll still need to meet the signer in-person to verify their identity.

Electronic notarization is allowed in Rhode Island. But the meeting must be conducted within the state.

An electronic notarization would involve:

  • Electronic document
  • Digital notary seal
  • Digital signatures of the notary and signer

Here’s the way to become an e-notary in Rhode Island

Become an e-notary in Rhode Island

You must fill out the “Notary Information Update Form.” In the form, you need to specify a technology vendor. As I’m reviewing the Secretary of State’s website, Corporation Service Corporation (CSC), DocVerify and Pavaso are all in the list of approved vendors. 

(Note that CSC does not offer a stand-alone electronic notary solution.)

Once you complete the application, you may send the application to the Division of Business Services Notary Public Section.

Does Rhode Island allow remote online notarization (RON)?

Remote online notarization (RON) gives you the convenience not to be physically present with the signer. Instead, you would verify their the signer’s identity through video and audio conference.

At the time I’m writing the post, there are emergency rules imposed which allows remote notarization in Rhode Island.

However, this could be a temporary measure. Whether they would revert to in-person notarization afterward is unknown yet. Therefore, you should check with the Office of the Secretary of State.

To become an remote online notary in Rhode Island, you must:

Does Rhode Island allow remote online notarization (RON)?

1) Read the Guidance on Temporary Remote Online Notarization

This is a 4-pages guide that provides you with the Standards of Conduct to perform RON during the emergency period.

2) Choose a technology provider

As a notary signing agent, you would be handling documents with confidential details. Therefore, it is critical to choose a technology platform with a high level of security. 

Below is a list of approved technology providers I found on the Rhode Island Secretary of State website. 

When you click on the links above, they will direct you to their technology platform’s demo videos. Also, for the vendor, OnlineNotary.us, you need to let them know that you are subscribing to their services, and not becoming their RON notary.

Currently, Zoom or FaceTime are not on the approved list.

3) Complete RON training

To ensure you are familiar with the platform for digital notarization, you are required to complete a training from the technology provider. It should cover topics such as the RON standards, identity-proofing, credential verification, recording and retention, security features to ensure
the integrity of the notarial process.

Once you complete the training, you will receive a completion certificate.

4) Register at the Rhode Island Secretary of State

Similar to the e-notary registration, you must complete the Notary Information Update Form. In there, you will provide the name of the RON technology software and the training completion certificate. 

Then you may submit them to Department of State.

How to become a mobile notary in Rhode Island?

How to become a mobile notary in Rhode Island?

Some signers cannot travel to your office in signing the documents, and they do not have the technology to perform the remote notarization. In such a situation, there would be a demand for a mobile notary. In short, a mobile notary is merely a notary that travels around in meeting signers. 

To become a mobile notary in Rhode Island, you must:

  • Register with the Rhode Island Secretary of State as a notary. This is basically the same notary commission certificate, as discussed earlier. You don’t need to get a new one. 
  • Have ease of transportation. It is better to have your own car so that you could conveniently drive between appointments. 
  • Setup essential equipment: A mobile printer and an approved electronic notarization platform allow you to work on the documents whenever and wherever. You may check out our resource page for amazingly helpful tools that could streamline your business. 

How much can you make as a notary signing agent in Rhode Island?

How much can you make as a notary signing agent in Rhode Island?

The average Notary Signing Agent salary in Rhode Island is $39,737. It typically falls between the range $38,819 and $50,545. (+)

As mentioned earlier, you could work on different documents, but the loan signing in the real estate market could be a lucrative niche.

Can you make over $10,000/month as a notary loan signing agent? Be sure to check out our notary earning guide. You’ll find a case study where a loan signing agent has built her business to such a successful figure.

(+) Source: Salary.com – Aug 27, 2020

Is there demand for notary loan signing agent in Rhode Island?

As long as people are obtaining mortgages or refinancing their homes, there would be a demand for notary loan signing agents.

All originated mortgages in Rhode Island

YEARRECORDS
201724,598
201627,005
201523,923
201418,005
201329,485
201233,911
201124,337
201028,439
200933,549
200823,931
200736,923

Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) (Sept 27, 2020)

Since not all active notaries can perform remote online notarization, whenever possible, you should consider incorporating RON in your practice to maintain a competitive edge.

If you want to succeed in the loan signing industry, you must check out this loan system training program. If you review the testimonials of his students, you’ll be amazed at how the notary career changes their life after they learned from Mark Wills. (**)

How much does it cost to become a notary in Rhode Island?

How much does it cost to become a notary in Rhode Island?

It would cost approximately $115 to become a notary in Rhode Island.

Here’s a breakdown of the costs to start a notary signing business

Notary application fee$80
Notary seal$20
Journal $15

There could be other expenses involved, travel expenses, car maintenance, auto insurance, E&O coverage, remote notary technology, laptop and other business supplies.

Can a felon be a notary in Rhode Island?

Can a felon be a notary in Rhode Island?

Having a conviction for a felony may impact the application to become a notary in Rhode Island. The Rhode Island Secretary of State needs to make sure that you are a person with credibility, truthfulness, and integrity to fulfill the responsibilities of the position.

On the notary public application, there is a question:

Have you ever been convicted of a crime (excluding expungements and traffic violations)?

Quote from Application for Appointment to Office of Notary Public

If you answer “Yes,” you must provide details about the conviction.

However, having a felony does not necessarily mean your application will automatically be declined. It depends on the severity and nature of the conviction. The Rhode Island Secretary of State would review it on a case-by-case basis.

(a) The commissioning officer may deny, refuse to renew, revoke, suspend, or impose a condition on a commission as notary public for any act or omission that demonstrates the individual lacks the honesty, integrity, competence, or reliability to act as a notary public, including without limitation:

(3) A conviction of the applicant or notary public of any crime that involves fraud, dishonesty, or deceit; provided that in determining whether to deny, refuse to renew, revoke, suspend, or condition the commission, the commissioning officer shall consider such factors as the seriousness of the crime; whether the crime relates directly to the training and skills needed for the commission of a notary public; how much time has elapsed since the crime was committed; and the applicant’s actions and conduct since the crime was committed;

Quote from CHAPTER 42-30.1- Uniform Law on Notarial Acts

How long does it take to become a notary in Rhode Island?

It takes 3 to 5 business days to become a notary in Rhode Island. Upon approval of your application, the Secretary of State will send you the notary commission.

Once everything is in good order, you can purchase the notary stamp and journal.

How to renew notary commission in Rhode Island?

How to renew notary commission in Rhode Island?

The notary commission is not renewed automatically in Rhode Island. But the RI Department of State will send you a courtesy renewal notice approximately two months before the expiration date.

You must reapply the notary commission every four year. The steps are the same as you were applying for the initial application. 

  • Take an oath of office
  • Submit a renewal application to the Rhode Island Secretary of State
  • Pay the $80 fee

To avoid a business interruption, you should start the renewal process before the expiration of your current commission.

Can a notary refuse to notarize a document in Rhode Island?

You may refuse to notarize a document in Rhode Island if:

• The signer is not physically present;

• The signer cannot be adequately identified;

• The signer is unwilling to swear or affirm to the contents of the document presented for notarizations that require an oath or affirmation;

• The principal has a demeanor that causes the notary public to have a compelling doubt about whether the principal knows the consequences of the transaction or document requiring the notarial act;

• If in the notary’s judgment, the principal is not acting of their own free will;

• If the notary public knows that the document contains information known or believed by the notary to be false;

• If the notary knows there is intent to deceive or defraud;

• If the notary knows the notarial act or associated transaction is unlawful;

• If the act is prohibited by other applicable law;

• If the number of notarial acts requested practicably precludes completion of all acts at once, in which case the notary public shall arrange for later completion of the remaining acts.

Quote from Rhode Island Notary Public Manual

And you should record in the journal with a detailed description why you refused to perform or complete a notarial act.

Furthermore, you must never refuse performing a notarial act based on the signer’s race, age, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, health or disability.

Can I notarize for a family member in Rhode Island?

Can I notarize for a family member in Rhode Island?

You must not notarize any documents where you have any financial or beneficial interest in the transaction. Therefore, notarizing a document for any family member could call into question, and such practice should be avoided.

I have more questions about being a notary public in Rhode Island, where could I obtain more details?

You may contact the Rhode Island Department of State:

Their office is open between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

A real life story of a successful notary public and loan signing agent

Luisa Cook Notary Public and Loan Signing Agent

What’s a better way to learn about the business than learning from someone actually working in it! Here is an exclusive interview I conducted with Luisa Cook. She is a successful Certified Notary Public and Loan Signing Agent.

In there, she shared her journey and business strategy in running a notary and signing business. I’m sure this could help you to understand more about the notary career.

Disclaimer: The information in this post is for general information only, and not intend to provide any advice. They are subjected to change without any notice, and not guaranteed to be error-free. Some of the posts on RealEstateCareerHQ.com may contain views and opinions from the interviewees. They do not reflect our view or position.

(**) Affiliate Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you. Our website, RealEstateCareerHQ.com, will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking on the link. Please understand that we include them based on our experience or the research on these companies or products, and we recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions we make if you decide to buy something through the links. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.

Reference:

  • First American Title- Your Guide to Real Estate Customs by State (source
  • Rhode Island Secretary of State – Notary Public (source)
    • Rhode Island Notary Public Manual (source)
    • Remote Online Notarization (source)
    • Notary Tutorials (source)
    • Rhode Island Approved Electronic Notary Solution Vendors (source)
  • Notary State Law – CHAPTER 42-30.1 Uniform Law on Notarial Acts (source)
  • Salary.com – Notary Signing Agent Salary in Rhode Island (source)
  • Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) (source)

Jacob Coleman

Jacob is a content writer and a real estate investor. He has experience working with different real estate professionals throughout the years. (i.e., appraisers, real estate agents, property managers, home inspectors.) In order to build a career you love, Jacob believes not only you need a thorough understanding about the profession, but you also have to find out what type of jobs could match your personality, lifestyle and expectation.

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