How to Become a Notary in Wisconsin? (Beginner’s Guide)


How to Become a Notary Signing Agent in Wisconsin

(**) 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 Wisconsin, you must:

  1. Meet the eligibility requirement;
  2. Complete the Notary Public Tutorial;
  3. Pass the WDFI notary exam;
  4. Obtain a $500 surety bond;
  5. Submit the Four-Year Notary Public Commission Application, Oath of Office form and $20 fee to the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions;
  6. Review the notary certificate of commission;
  7. Purchase a notary seal;
  8. Maintain a business journal;
  9. Familiarize with the Wisconsin Notarial Acts;
  10. Keep up with notarial best practice

Although you could work on different types of documents, 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 Wisconsin, 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 Wisconsin

AgeNotary CourseExamSurety BondTerm of OfficeApplication Fee
At least 18No30 questions; required passing rate 90%$5004 years$20

10 Steps to Become a Notary in Wisconsin

Steps to Become a Notary in Wisconsin

Step 1: Meet the eligibility requirement

  • At least age 18 of age
  • U.S. resident
  • Have at least the equivalent of an 8th grade education
  • Have not convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor involving a violation of the public trust unless you have been pardoned of the conviction

Step 2: Complete the Notary Public Tutorial

This is an online tutorial provided by the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions. The purpose is to equip you with the necessary knowledge to become a notary public. 

It consists of seven chapters:

  1. General information
  2. Powers & Liabilities
  3. Notarial Acts
  4. Notarial Ceremonies
  5. Maintenance
  6. Authentications and Apostilles
  7. Statutory References

At the end of each chapter, there are 2 to 3 quiz questions. They are either in multiple-choice or True/False format and are pretty straightforward.

I just read through the tutorial. The content is short and easy-to-understand. One should be able to finish it within 30 to 60 minutes.

Step 3: Pass the WDFI notary exam

Pass the WDFI notary exam

This is an online exam to see how well you know the contents in the notarial tutorial. Before you start, you need to type your name on the page. Make sure to input it EXACTLY as it appears on your notary seal/stamp. 

There are 30 questions in multiple-choice or True/False format. The required passing rate is 90% or higher. Your result will appear once you finish writing it.

Although this is an online test, keep in mind that the system does not have a “Save” feature. In other words, you must complete the test in one take and print out the certificate immediately. You should print out two copies of the certificate, one of your own record keeping, and the other to be submitted with the application. 

Step 4: Obtain a surety bond

Wisconsin notary surety bond

The Department of Financial Institutions requires you to purchase a $500 surety bond with a 4 years term. You may get it from a licensed surety such as a notary bonding company, an insurance company, or a notary organization. You could search for them online.

Note that the surety bond is to protect those for whom the notary public performs a notarization, but not you as a notary public. If you need coverage for your practice, you should consider getting an Error & Omission insurance (E&O).

I just checked with a surety bond issuer. Below is their premium structure.

CoveragePremium
$500 bond with without E&O coverage$20
$500 bond with $10,000 E&O coverage$60
$500 bond with $20,000 E&O coverage$80
$500 bond with $30,000 E&O coverage$100

Source: Suretybonds.com (Sept 19, 2020)

Step 5: Get a notary seal

Purchase a Wisconsin notary seal

To start a signing services business in Wisconsin, you must use a notary seal. 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 seal from office supplies store. Its design must comply with the regulatory rules. Although the seal can be any size or shape, it must contains the words “Notary Public,” and “State of Wisconsin.”

Here is a sample of a Wisconsin notary seal:

Wisconsin notary seal sample

Step 6: Submit the application to the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions

Applicant filling out Wisconsin notary public application

The Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions is responsible for appointing and commissioning notaries. You need to fill out the Notary Public Commission Application, or the online 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.

Complete the Oath of Office and Notary Public Bond Form

In the application file, there is also the “Oath of Office” form. Make sure you take the oath and sign it in the presence of a Wisconsin notary public. The oath is an affirmation that you agree to assume a notary public’s duties and comply with the Wisconsin notary acts. The notary officer must sign and place a seal on the form.

On the last page, you need to fill out the information of your Notary Public Bond. You must get authorized personnel to affix a stamp on it.

Submit the documents electronically

There is a $20 filing fee payable to the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions. You may submit it through the online application.

Once all the documents are in good order, you may scan and email them to [email protected]

Since the impression of the seal sample must be clear in the application, the Department suggests shading it before scanning.

If you don’t have a scanner, you may try the app “Genius Scan.” This is what I use for scanning documents with my phone. Here’s a resource page with some amazing tools that could be helpful to your business.

Step 7: Review the notary commission certificate

Reviewing Wisconsin notary commission certificate

Once your application is approved, you will receive the Notary Commission Certificate from the WI Department of Financial Institutions.

It is a good idea to review and make sure all the details on the commission are correct. (e.g., your name, city of residence, tern of commission).

Step 8: Maintain a good record of business with a notary journal

Wisconsin notary journal

As a notary signing agent in Wisconsin, it is good to maintain a journal of all the notarial acts. Keeping 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 pre-printed 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 Department of Financial Institutions.

In the notary journal, you should record the following items in each entry:

  • Date and type of notarial act
  • Names and signatures of persons involved
  • Info of identification cards and driver’s licenses presented

Step 9: Familiarize with the Wisconsin Notarial Acts

As a notary signing agent, it is important to understand the Wisconsin notary laws and regulations. After all, you must know what you can do and cannot do. A great way in getting to know the notary laws is by reading is the “Wisconsin Notary Public Information.”

Wisconsin Notary Public Information Publication

This is a 17-pages comprehensive guide that consists of six sections:

  1. General Information
  2. Powers & Liabilities
  3. Notarial Acts
  4. Notarial Ceremonies
  5. Maintenance
  6. Statutory References

Two other excellent resources are the Wisconsin Statutes Chapters 140 and Wisconsin Administrative Code Chapter DFI-CCS 25. They list out every detail about being a notary. However, its wording is more technical and formal than the ones in the Information Publication.

But they indeed are a good reference if you want to know more in-depth about a specific topic.

I’ll leave the links of those resources the reference section.

Step 10: 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 Wisconsin allow electronic notarization?

Does Wisconsin 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.

You can perform “electronic notarization” in Wisconsin. But the meeting must be conducted within the state of Wisconsin.

An electronic notarization would involve:

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

Does Wisconsin allow remote online notarization (RON)?

Does Wisconsin allow remote online notarization?

Remote online notarization (RON) allows you 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 Wisconsin. 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 WI Department of Financial Institutions.

To become a remote online notary in Wisconsin, you must:

1) 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 Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions website. 

2) Complete training

To ensure you are familiar with the platform for digital notarization, you are required to complete a training from the technology provider. Then they will receive a training completion certificate.

If you decide to use another technology platform, you will need to take the training again from that specific new provider.

3) Register at the Department of Financial Institutions

You need to complete the Online Notary Public Registration form. Once again, you must sign it in front of another notary public.

Within 14 days of training completion, your name should appear on the Wisconsin online remote notaries list. You can find it on the WI Notary Public Search. 

If not, you need to email the Department at [email protected] 

How to become a mobile notary in Wisconsin?

How to become a mobile notary in Wisconsin?

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 Wisconsin, you must:

  • Register with the Department of Financial Institutions 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 Wisconsin?

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

The average Notary Signing Agent salary in Wisconsin is $37,136. It typically falls between the range $36,278 and $47,236. (+)

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 Wisconsin?

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 Wisconsin

YEARRECORDS
2017146,251
2016168,678
2015153,515
2014124,916
2013188,524
2012253,728
2011188,288
2010228,537
2009270,190
2008187,234
2007211,916

Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) (Sept 20, 2020)

Since not all active notaries can perform electronic notarization or remote online notarization, you definitely should consider incorporating e-notary and RON in your practice to maintain a competitive edge.

Some states are “Attorney States,” which means only attorneys can coordinate the closing paperwork of a real estate. Whereas, others are “Escrow States” where escrow companies would handle the mortgage closing.

According to the First American Title, Wisconsin is not an “Attorney State.”

Here is a post covering the differences between escrow states and attorney states and its impact on the loan signing business. You will also find a case study where a signing agent went from barely making end needs to earning over $10,000/month even in an attorney state.

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 Wisconsin?

How much does it cost to become a notary in Wisconsin?

It would cost approximately $152 to become a notary in Wisconsin.

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

Notary application fee$20
Surety bond with E&O$100
Notary seal$17
Journal $15

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

Can a felon be a notary in Wisconsin?

Can a felon be a notary in Wisconsin?

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

In the notary application, it will ask the following questions:

Have you ever been convicted of (a) a felony; or (b) a
misdemeanor involving a violation of the public trust?

Quote from Four-Year Notary Public Commission Application

If you answer “Yes,” you must submit documentation of the conviction and provide current status of 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 Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions would review it on a case-by-case basis.

A criminal record showing felonies and crimes involving fraud, dishonesty, or violations of public trust may be admissible evidence for purposes of impeaching a witness’s character for truthfulness in a court proceeding. Because a notary public must be a credible witness, an applicant’s criminal record must be free from offenses that could used to impeach the notary public’s character for truthfulness. A person convicted of such offenses may only be commissioned as a notary public if the applicant is pardoned of the conviction.

Quote from WI Notary Public Information

How long does it take to become a notary in Wisconsin?

It takes two weeks to become a notary in Wisconsin. After you pass the notary tutorial and exam, you would obtain the surety bond and seal, submit the application and all required documents to the Department of Financial Institutions.

Once everything is in good order, the Department of Financial Institutions will send you the notary certificate.

How to renew notary commission in Wisconsin?

How to renew notary commission in Wisconsin?

You must renew the notary commission every four year. The renewal steps are similar as you were applying for the initial application. 

  • Pass the notary exam
  • Take an oath of office
  • File a new surety bond
  • Submit a renewal application to the Department of Financial Institutions
  • Pay the $20 renewal fee

To avoid an interrupted business period, don’t wait until your current notary commission is expired.

Can a notary refuse to notarize a document in Wisconsin?

According to the Notarial Acts 140.08, you may refuse to notarize a document in Wisconsin if:

  • the signer executing the record is incompetent or does not has the capacity to execute the record.
  • the signature is not knowingly and not voluntarily made.

Can I notarize for a family member in Wisconsin?

Can I notarize for a family member in Wisconsin?

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 Wisconsin, where could I obtain more details?

You may contact the Notary Section, Department of Financial Institutions office at: 

Here’s a Snippet of What Stephanie Espinal Think about Being a Notary Signing Agent!

Stephanie Espinal Notary Signing Agent

“My advice is that don’t be afraid to start the loan signing career on a part-time basis”– Stephanie Espinal, Notary Loan Signing Agent

Here is an exclusive interview with Stephanie. She will share with you what it takes to be a notary signing agent as a side gig, her valuable journey, and secret sauce to success.

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
  • Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (source)
    • Notary Public Information Publication (source)
    • Wisconsin Statutes Chapters 140 (source)
    • Wisconsin Administrative Code Chapter DFI-CCS 25 (source)
    • Emergency Guidance on Remote Notarization (source)
    • Remote Online Notarization – List of Approved Communication Technology Providers (source)
    • Remote Online Notarization: Guidance of Notaries Seeking to Perform Remote Online Notarial Acts (source)
    • Remote Online Notarization: Guidance for Individuals and Businesses Seeking Remote Online Notarial Services (source)
  • Salary.com – Notary Signing Agent Salary in Wisconsin (source)
  • SuretyBonds.com – Wisconsin Notary Bond (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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