By Melissa Haley—A Notary Signing Agent has but one function, witnessing the signatures of borrowers on loan documents in accordance with the notary laws of the state in which the notary is commissioned. Knowing your role is critical in performing the function for which you are hired. So, how do you become a notary signing agent? How do you learn what your role is and become a successful signing agent?

First and foremost, you must understand what you have been hired to do. You have been hired to notarize the documents that require notarization. You have been hired to ensure documents are signed and/or initialed correctly, per lender’s instructions. You have been hired to receive, via overnight carrier or email/website, all the documents and return them as instructed in a timely manner.

The first and arguably most important task you have been hired to perform is the notarizations. If you do not know how to properly notarize, do not attempt to perform a witness loan signing. You need to know how to perform this basic task first. You must know your state’s notary laws in depth. Ignorance of the law is not a defense.

To properly notarize a signature on a document, you must be able to identify the signer who is appearing in front of you at the time of notarization. Your state has laws to describe and detail how this is accomplished. Rules and laws vary from state to state, so it is critical that you know the laws of your state and follow them. What is law in one state does not constitute the law in another state.

Knowing the laws of your state will help you avoid situations that can put your commission at risk. Every state has laws against backdating, or dating your notarial certificate on any date other than when the notarization actually took place. The recording of a certificate regarding the particular notary act that was performed is a critical piece of a loan package. If recorded improperly, it could result in financial consequences to the lender, borrower and notary.

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Ensuring the documents are signed or initialed properly is fairly straightforward. The lender or title company will typically include specific instructions on how the borrower is to sign all documents. It is important to double-check your notarizations and the borrowers signatures at the table. A quick thumb-through is all it takes to catch missing initials, dates and signatures. It is an added precaution to prevent missing information that would require a second trip to the borrower(s) and cause a delay of funding.

Printing documents can be stressful at times, due to late documents or printing problems, but ensuring correctly printed pages takes only a few minutes. Having a dual-tray printer is a huge time-saver, but documents can also be printed on all legal size in a pinch. The last thing you want is to have documents cut-off because they were printed on paper too small for the page.

Always have shipping labels on hand for the two major carriers: FedEx and UPS. Although many title and escrow companies are using letter-size paper, legal size carrier-specific envelopes may also be required for proper shipping of some documents. You should know where drop boxes or staffed locations are for the different shippers, as well as pickup times for both weekday and Saturday shipments.

Performing the job you were hired to do is critical in maintaining clients and being a successful Notary Signing Agent.