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Frequently Asked Questions -- Office of Notary and Authentications

Question: Does ONCA notarize documents?

Answer: No.

 

Question: How do I submit my application to become a notary or renew my commission?

Answer: Notary Applications must be submitted online. Applicants will then be notified by email they have been received. Once they have been reviewed and deemed sufficient, applicants will receive emails to sign via DocuSign and then (except for those commissioned only on behalf of the DC or federal government) pay by credit card. After all these requirements are completed applications will be notified the application has been approved. For details and other options, please see the application instructions and the Notary Public Handbook on our website. We will no longer accept the PDF version of the notary application; it you submit this through the mail, it will be returned to you.

 

Question: How may I pay for Notary applications?

Answer: Notary Applications submitted online may be paid for by American Express, Discover, MasterCard or Visa. If you choose to mail the application or bring it to the ONCA Office you may also pay by check or money order but this may delay the process. These options are explained in the Application instructions and the Notary Public Handbook.

 

Question: If I am applying to renew my commission, will I be notified when it is time to renew?

Answer: No. ONCA does not notify existing notaries when they must send in applications in order to not have a lapse in their commission. There is a link to a timeline on our website, www.os.dc.gov, Notary & Authentications, Notary Commissions as to when your sufficient application must be in to avoid a lapse in your commission. In general, the application must be approved at least 45 days before the expiration date of your current commission in order to not have a lapse in your commission.

 

Question: Can I submit a handwritten notary application?

Answer: No. Only typed applications will be accepted.

 

Question: How long does it take to become a notary?

Answer: It takes about 45 - 60 days if the information on the application is accurate, for the completion of all requirements to become a notary, including application review, approval of documentation, orientation and other necessary requirements.

 

Question: Is there a cost involved with becoming a Notary?

Answer: Yes. There is a $75 non-refundable fee for new or renewal applications. The only exceptions are those who are applying as DC or Federal government employees.

 

Question: Are there other costs involved to become a notary?

Answer: Yes. A notary must purchase supplies, and except for those being commissioned only on behalf of the District of Columbia government, a surety bond. The notary supplies cost about $65-$70 and the cost of the surety bond is about $50. ONCA cannot recommend supply or surety bond companies.

 

Question: What fee can a notary charge?

Answer: Notaries may charge up to $5 per notarial act. Government commissioned notaries are prohibited by law from charging for their notarial services.

 

Question: What is a notary’s jurisdiction?

Answer: District of Columbia commissions can only be used in the District of Columbia. You may not notarize documents anywhere outside of the District of Columbia. You may only notarize within the geographical borders of the District of Columbia.

 

Question: Are there other restrictions on the role of the notary?

Answer: District of Columbia notaries public do not have the authority to notarize birth, death, marriage or divorce certificates, and federal documents such as FBI fingerprints, original passports, I-9 forms as well as well as determinations of 501(c) (3) forms. More information may be found in the Notary Public Handbook.

 

Question: Where can I find a list of notaries near me?

Answer: You can search the Notary Public Map. Use the search for a notary by address.

 

Question: What if I leave my employment, my business moves out of DC or I move out of DC?

Answer: If your primary place of employment is no longer physically in the District of Columbia or if you are commissioned as a residential notary and you no longer live in the District of Columbia, you must resign your commission, and by law you must send both your journal and sealer to the ONCA office.

Please see the link on our website to the PDF form to resign your commission.

 

Question: What if I am commissioned through my company and change employment?

Answer: If you have a business commission and leave your employment, it is up to you and your employer if you may take your commission with you. If you may, then you must get a new letter of request from your new employer. The letter must be on letterhead with a DC address and phone number, must include your name as it appears on your commission, the expiration date of your commission and a brief statement as to why the new company needs you to be a notary. If you are transferring from business to residential, you must write your own letter with the same information. You must also notify your surety bond company. If your company will not allow you to keep your commission, you must resign, send us your logbook and sealer and then re-apply. Please see the link on our website to the form you use to request the change and to upload the letter of request and proof you have notified your surety bond company of the change.

Please see the link on our website for change of employment; or

Please see the link on our website to the PDF form to resign your commission.

If you have been commissioned as a government notary only and leave your job, you must resign your commission.

 

Question: What if I change my name during my commission?

Answer: If you change your name during your commission, you are required to send us a copy of the legal document showing the name change and proof you have notified your surety bond company of the name change. You will also be required to purchase a new sealer and come into our office to provide us with the impression. Please see the link on our website to the form you use to request the change and to upload copy of the document showing the change of name and proof you have notified your surety bond company of the change.

 

Question: What if my seal is lost or stolen?

Answer: You must notify the ONCA office and file a police report. You must also order a new seal with a distinctive mark (ex: *) to prevent against fraudulent use of the old seal and then come to our office to provide us an impression of the new seal. Please see the link on our website to the form you use to notify us the seal has been lost or stolen and to provide any other information you may have.

 

Question: What does an authentication mean?

Answer: When ONCA authenticates – puts an Apostille or Foreign Certificate on a document, it is only validating that the notary public or department head is in fact a legitimate notary or department head or representative of the Superior Court in the District of Columbia. We are not authenticating, confirming or validating the document itself. For example, we do not determine the status or legitimacy of a school, college, university, financial institution or any other record; the country to which the document is presented retains the right to accept or deny the actual information.

 

Question: What type of documents will ONCA authenticate?

Answer: ONCA authenticates documents notarized by a District of Columbia notary or those certified by a Department Head (Birth certificates, DC Public School Diplomas, MPD [DC] FL-20 clearances). Department Head Certificates must be from the District of Columbia. ONCA may authenticate copies of some foreign documents such as birth or marriage certificates if they have been notarized by a DC notary. We cannot authenticate a Birth Abroad certificate; if a US individual was born in another country.

 

Question: How is a document authenticated?

Answer: ONCA puts the Seal of the District of Columbia on both Apostilles (for countries that are part of the Hague Convention) and Foreign Certificates (all other countries) and staples the entire documents.

 

Question: Are there any documents that may not be notarized or that ONCA cannot authenticate?

Answer: Yes. ONCA cannot authenticate federal documents (examples, FBI fingerprints, original passports, I-9 forms or any that have not been notarized by a DC notary public). ONCA cannot authenticate birth, death or marriage certificates and divorce decrees from other jurisdictions; these must be authenticated in the jurisdiction from which they were issued. For more information please see our Notary Public Handbook.

 

Question: Do I have to be present to have a document authenticated?

Answer: No. ONCA is only authenticating that the notary public is valid. The office is not authenticating the actual document so anyone may bring the document to the office or the document may be mailed to the office along with the proper amount of money and a pre-paid self-addressed return envelope.

 

Question: What is the cost?

Answer: The cost is $15 per document. You may pay by check, money order or credit card if you come in person to the ONCA office, but you may only pay by check or money order from a US Financial Institution in US Dollars if you send us the request by mail.