Back in 2010, I bought my first home.
I was able to purchase my townhome through a teacher housing program made available the first year I was teaching. Fast forward a year, and I needed to fill out this affidavit that required a notary.
My grandma, who had the ability to notarize my documents wasn't in a driving distance and I was in a pinch.
So what did I do? I logged online and searched, “How to find a public notary near me?”
Just 20 minutes later I was sitting a nearby bank paying $5 for a notary. However, today I am going to show you how to find a free public notary ASAP.
Quick list to find a public notary:
- Go to your bank! They may charge if you're not a member, but it is usually $5 or less
- Ask work
- UPS store
- Post office
- Some pharmacies (check ahead of time)
- AAA locations
- Law firms & offices
- Tax prep stores
- Real estate firms
- Photocopy & shipping stores
- DMV locations
Best Notary Option: Your Bank
When you’re looking for a free public notary, chances are you’ll start your search by heading over to Google (or your preferred search engine), punching in ‘free notary near me, and hitting the enter key.
But did you know that there are many places in your local area where you can find a free notary, some of which you may not even have considered?
One of the best (yet often overlooked) establishments to get documents notarized is your bank. That’s right! Banks and other financial institutions often offer notary services to add extra value to their customers. Many have their own in-house notaries, so providing such a perk for customers doesn’t incur any additional costs for the bank.
However, don’t expect to stroll into any bank and get some papers notarized for free. Most will only provide free notary services for existing customers only. That doesn’t mean to say you can’t take advantage of notary services in a bank that’s not your own, you might just need to pay for the privilege.
If your local bank branch does not provide free notary services, the staff there should be able to advise you of the nearest branch that does.
Runner-up: Your Job
If you work for a reasonably large company that has an admin function, it’s possible that administrative assistants and some other staff can notarize documents for you. The advantage of getting someone at your place of work to notarize something for you is that they will often do it for free.
Plus, you likely already have a relationship with them, so the whole process will be a lot less daunting than if you went to a public notary near you.
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Not Free: UPS Stores
Many large printing stores and shipping firms usually keep notaries on staff, and you can avail of their services for a small fee. Just don’t head to FedEx as it has reportedly stopped providing notarial services. However, competitors, such as UPS, Postal Annex, and others, do still provide notary services at their locations (mainly on weekdays).
The great thing about getting papers notarized at a shipping company like UPS is that you can then immediately send the documents wherever they need to go. This saves you time, hassle, and reduces the risk of you losing the notarized papers on your travels.
6 Other Places to Find a Public Notary:
1. Your local Post Office
Contrary to popular belief, your local post office will almost certainly NOT offer notary services. That’s because post offices are federal agencies, whereas notary publics are a state service.
However, there are some Contract Postal Units (CPUs) that are operated by private businesses which may provide free notary services. The bottom line is that you should check beforehand if your local post office provides notary services prior to you making a trip down there with your important papers.
2. A local pharmacy (sometimes)
Believe it or not, some local pharmacies and doctor’s offices can provide notary services, especially if the papers that need notarizing are of a medical nature. Again, don’t just assume your local pharmacy will offer such a service. Find out by asking the next time you are in there. The staff may be able to point you in the right direction if nothing else.
3. Your local AAA office
If you are an AAA member, you can often take advantage of free notary services at your local AAA office. In fact, even non-members can use AAA notaries for a nominal fee.
If you’re not sure where your local AAA office is, head over to https://www.aaa.com/ and enter your ZIP/postal code to find out.
4. Your local library
Sometimes, local libraries have notary publics and it might even be free for you to use their services. Just be sure to check at your public library first to find out whether it provides notary services and whether these are restricted to just certain days of the week.
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5. Your personal network
Maybe you are friends with a notary public and you don’t even know it. After all, do you know what each and every person in your social network friends list does for work? Probably not, which is why it’s always worth putting a post up saying you are looking for a notary public near you. Even if you’re not friends with a notary public, someone in your network might be able to provide you with an introduction to one.
6. Online notary services
In some states, you can actually get papers notarized using your smartphone, laptop, or tablet. That’s because websites such as Notarize, NotaryCam, Safedocs, and others actually provide remote notary services.
They help connect you with a notary public that can witness signatures over video links and provide electronic notarizations.
If you’re not sure whether remote notary services are allowed in your area, head over to NationalNotary and check out its Remote Online Notary Knowledge Center for more information.
Final Take on Public Notary:
The world, like you and I, is always in need of public notary services.
In writing this article, I actually did a little research and found how that becoming a notary in your state isn't that hard. You can actually become a notary online right here and you can even make a little money on the side (good money-making idea).
That being said, as things continue to progress online especially with how the Coronavirus Pandemic has changed how all things operate, online notarization is a trend of the future.
However, there is still the need to sometimes visit your local bank branch to get something notarized. Professional notary services aren't something we use regularly, however it is important to have a few in your back pocket so to speak in case you need to find one in a pinch!