By Joan Bergstrom—What does a Notary/Loan Signing Agent Really need to conduct business? You will need to set up your office and get the right equipment to provide professional service to your clients.

Social Security Card or EIN number
You will need a social security card or employer identification number (EIN). If you are uncomfortable faxing over your Social Security number to a signing company or any other potential client, you can apply for an EIN and use it in place of your Social Security Number. An employer identification number (EIN), also known as a tax id number, is a nine-digit number that the IRS assigns to business entities. The IRS uses this number to identify taxpayers that are required to file various business tax returns. Employers, sole proprietors, corporations, partnerships, non-profit organizations, trusts and estates, government agencies, certain individuals and other business entities use EINS. Forms are available on IRS.gov.

Business License
Of course, as this is your own business, you will need to abide by all your state and city regulations governing your business including obtaining a business license if required by your city.

Essential Notary Tools
Notary bond, errors and omissions policy, notary seal, journal, and a fingerprinting kit are essential to your loan signing and notary business.

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Loose Acknowledgment Forms
Make sure you always have an adequate supply available in your briefcase.

(California Notaries: Remember you can always download the latest California Acknowledgment and Jurat loose certificates free of charge on www.notaryclasses.com. Just scroll the homepage.)

Rescission Calendar
You can find links to several rescission calendars at GoGetNotary.com’s Rescission Calendars page.

Signing Pens
Always have a good supply of black and blue ink pens. Black is the default color for signing loan documents. (Check with your lender.) Buy the pens in bulk from Costco or Sam’s Club.

Briefcase
For transporting borrower’s documents and notary tools, purchase an inexpensive briefcase.

Shipping Supplies
Let’s briefly talk about shipping supplies and shipping protocol. Always keep one FedEx and UPS envelope with an address label and the label pouch in your briefcase. You want to be ready to drop off a loan package immediately or when the borrower needs to send the lender a check for refinancing and does not have it ready for you to send back with the loan document package you are returning to the lender. Remember you are responsible for returning the signed loan docs; not the borrower. You must have Legal size FedEx/UPS paper envelopes to return the loan documents back to the lender/title/etc. Most loan documents are returned “priority overnight” and you will be instructed when they are not to be delivered “priority overnight.”

Paper
A case of plain paper, both letter (8.5×11) and legal (8.5×14) is recommended for this business. Costco/Sam’s Club has the best price we’ve found.

Office Supplies
Black medium binder clips are an absolute must to return documents to the lender/title company. Never send loan documents back loose without the documents clipped together.

Large Flashlight/Spotlight
There will be times when you’ll be out in the middle of nowhere, in a heavy downpour, with no street lights.

High-Speed Internet
This is your absolute requirement! You will need to receive emailed documents for 100 plus pages in some cases. Look for an inexpensive, but reliable high-speed internet account before you even contact your first client. A dial-up internet system can be used to download edocs but it will take approximately 30 minutes to print the first set and then you must print a borrower’s copy.

Cell Phone
Your cell phone is the single most important piece of equipment you will use as a notary loan signing agent…Do not change your cell phone number as long as you are a notary loan signing agent if at all possible! The most important thing to remember is the signing company and title company will move on to the next name on their list if you do not answer your phone. They will rarely leave you a voice mail. Also, you can forward your cell calls to your home office telephone number when you are not in the field, or if you have bad cell reception at any location. Check with your phone carrier for prices.

Another available option is to set your email account to text message you on your cell phone when a fax or email has been received. Having this option will relieve you of babysitting your computer when expecting edocs and faxes. The charge of this service will come from your cell phone provider and is well worth the minimal fee considering the freedom it gives you.

Another alternative if you cannot answer your cell phone instantly is to put a new message on your cell phone every morning that “you are available for a loan signing assignments and that you will contact the signing/title company at your next opportunity.” Always change the date to keep your message current at the beginning of every message.

Computer
Your computer should be loaded with a recent Windows platform. If you have a Mac, you may want to invest in a Windows emulator like Parallels for Mach since most clients will be using Windows programs. It is essential that you are computer literate and that you are familiar with accessing and using the internet. If not, take a few hours and become computer literate before accepting your first assignment. You do not want to be responsible for holding up a loan simply because you did not know how to download a document or could not find the document you downloaded.

Laser Printer
While they are not cheap, prices have certainly dropped and not having one will put you out of business on your first day. To be in the loan signing business, you will need to invest in a laser printer.

The printer must have a PCL6 driver or you may not be able to print some documents.

Fax Machine
You must have a fax machine whether a standalone model or one within your multi-function machine. This allows you to fax documents back to your clients. For example, some companies require you fax the status of your signing, and/or their invoice, the overnight shipper tracking number, perhaps the HUD Settlement Statement, and signed pages of notarized docs. Additionally, many signing companies that you are register with may require you fax them important documents for their records such as proof of E&O, your W9, notary commission, surety bond, etc. Of course, you may also receive faxes on this machine as well.