A notary fee is a charge paid to a notary public in return for his or her services. Notary fees may vary based on the type of service required and the region. Many regions have a specific schedule regarding the amount of notary fee per service, so it may be wise to find out these maximum charges before having documents notarized or partaking of other services under a notary's jurisdiction.
A notary is an official authorized to witness and administer certain legal functions, such as the signing of wills and agreements and the administration of certain oaths. The training process to become a notary varies extensively; in most of the United States, trainees take only a few classes, whereas in other parts of the world acquiring a position as a notary may take years of training and require a government appointment to the post. In most cases, notaries make their salary based only on commission by charging a notary fee.
Some documents are not legally allowable without notarization, meaning that a notary's services are often considered a public necessity. For this reason, notary fees are generally quite low, but may vary based on applicable minimums. In some areas, a notary may choose to waive fees, but in other regions, it is required that some fee be paid for every legal notarization service. Notaries may sometimes charge less than the designated maximum for a service, usually at their discretion. If the service is performed by a legal notary that is employed in another position, such as by a lawyer who also performs notarization for a legal firm, it is important to be sure whether the fee is paid to the employer or directly to the law firm.
A list of notary fee maximums is generally available on regional legislation websites. These websites may also contain links to local resources where notaries may be found. Depending on local laws, a public notary may have a private office, share space with other documentation-related businesses, or even work from home. Government agencies and private companies may also hire notaries on a long-term basis if their services are consistently needed.
If a notary fee is over the maximum allowed by law, it is important to report to law enforcement and any regulating bodies that have jurisdiction. Overcharging is an illegal practice, and a means of defrauding the public by charging beyond allowable limits for what is often a necessary and requisite service. A notary found guilty of overcharging may have to return excess payments and face disciplinary measures, and be barred from continuing practice.