Looking For Fee-Free Notary Services? Visit Your Bank – Forbes

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Updated: Jul 29, 2021, 7:00am
Getting a document notarized is a universally accepted method for ensuring its authenticity. The process of notarization requires you to sign the document in the presence of a notary public, a public official appointed by the state government to be an impartial witness.
A notary public can charge any fee up to the maximum allowed by their state. However, many banks offer the perk of fee-free notarization to account holders. If you need notary services, here’s what you should know about notarizing a document at your local bank branch.
The notary public’s job is to make sure that you are who you say you are, not signing under duress and aware of what you are signing. Here’s how the process works:
While nearly any kind of document can be notarized, you are most likely to need the services of a notary with the following types of documents:
There are several different services a notary public may perform, depending on the type of legal document you are getting notarized:
A common perk of banking with a brick-and-mortar institution is access to a notary public at your local branch. Many banks routinely keep a notary public on staff at most branch locations and offer notarization services fee-free to account holders. Non-customers may also get documents notarized, but they can expect to pay a fee for the service.
However, just because most banks offer this service doesn’t mean you can just walk in and expect to get your documents notarized at will. That’s because banks don’t necessarily have a notary public on staff at every branch. Even if there’s a notary who works at the branch you visit, they may not be on duty at the time you walk in.
If you need notary services from your bank, it’s a good idea to call ahead to find out which branches offer that service and when you can expect the notary to be available to help you. Calling ahead may also help you determine what information and documents you need to bring with you for the type of notarization you need, so you don’t end up having to make two trips.
Your bank may also be able to provide something known as a “Medallion Signature Guarantee,” which can often be mistaken for a notarization. The main difference between these types of document certification is that notarization is generally used for legal documents, while the Medallion Signature Guarantee is used for the transfer or sales of financial securities. A notary public can’t provide a Medallion Signature Guarantee, as they can only be handled by specially authorized bank personnel—although a bank employee could be both a notary public and a Medallion Signature guarantor.
In addition to checking your local bank, there are a number of other places you can find a notary. Generally, businesses that offer financial services, shipping services or title transfers will keep a notary public on staff. Although, just as with banks, you can expect to pay a fee for getting a document notarized if you are not already a customer. Some types of businesses where you may find a notary include:
In addition, both AAA and UPS stores generally offer notary services for a fee.
Finally, it’s also possible to have a notary come to you. Mobile independent notaries are willing to come to your home or office to provide their services, although you can generally expect to pay a higher fee for this convenience. You can find such a mobile notary public by searching national or state notary public databases or via an internet search for notaries near you.
If you need a document notarized, a good first place to check for notary services is your bank. Not only will accessing this perk through your bank be convenient, but also it will generally be fee-free for account holders. Just make sure you know exactly what you need before seeking out your bank’s notary public, and double check that they will be on site when you plan to stop by. This will help ensure that your document notarization goes smoothly and quickly.
Emily Guy Birken is a former educator, lifelong money nerd, and a Plutus Award-winning freelance writer who specializes in the scientific research behind irrational money behaviors. Her background in education allows her to make complex financial topics relatable and easily understood by the layperson. She is the author of four books, including End Financial Stress Now and The Five Years Before You Retire.
Mitch Strohm is the Assistant Assigning Editor for Banking and Personal Finance. He has more than a decade of experience as personal finance editor, writer and content strategist. Before joining Forbes Advisor, Mitch worked for several sites, including Bankrate, Investopedia, Interest, PrimeRates and FlexJobs.