Becoming a notary can be a great way to earn extra cash as well as something that looks good on a resume, but it requires a notary background check, which can make some people feel nervous.
Fortunately, there’s no need to be worried. Since most states lay out the specifics of the background check (including any disqualifying offenses), anyone seeking a notary public licenses or signing agent certification can know exactly what will scuttle their application, and by simply running a background check on yourself first and seeing what shows up on a background check, can take steps to learn how to remove criminal record from background check reports.
By simply learning the basics of the process and being aware of a few key steps that individuals can take beforehand, passing a notary background check is fairly easy.
This guide explains everything you need to know.
How To Pass Step #1: Run A Background Check On Yourself (Notary Public Background Check)
Although a notary background check is slightly more intensive than a typical pre-employment background check (since the person becomes a member of the judicial branch/court), it is still far from the most intensive background check out there. Opposed to most pre-employment background checks that will include reference checks and professional license verification searches and past jobs, the notary background check will focus almost exclusively on the individual’s criminal history.
The exact checks that are performed as part of a notary background check will vary by state, however, there are also federal regulations that each state’s unique screening process must meet at a minimum.
In general, individuals who are hoping to become a notary will be subject to the following background checks, with the possibility of additional checks being performed based on the state regulations.
- Identity Verification
- Residence Verification
- Federal criminal record database search
- Residence county criminal record search
- State motor vehicles record search
- Office of Foreign Assets Control Search (Terrorist watchlist search)
The above list may seem intimidating, but most of these checks are fairly standard. Besides the checks that are mandated for all notary background checks it is also important to review those required for the state the application will be made in. Certain states may have additional requirements or steps to complete the background check.
Keep in mind that although somewhat common in many industries, there is no credit or financial check of any kind required to become a notary. The notary check focuses primarily on criminal history.
|Types Of Incidents That Go On Your Criminal History Record||Will It Impact a Notary Background Check?|
|Does A Restraining Order Go On Your Record||Sometimes–When accompanied by an arrest, yes.|
|How Long Does A Misdemeanor Stay On Your Record||Yes. It stays on the record from 1-7 years, depending on state law.|
|Does A Dismissed Case Stay On Your Record||Sometimes. Every state has different laws regarding dismissed charges.|
|How Long Does A Felony Stay On Your Record||Yes, a felony stays on your record. But some states offer expungement for some crimes.|
|Does A Harassment Order Go On Your Record||Sometimes, depending on the situation and court case process.|
|Does A 72 Hour Hold Go On Your Record||Sometimes. When accompanied by an arrest, it will.|
|Do Warnings Go On Your Record||Typically, no, but this depends on the type of warning.|
|Does Getting Fired Go On Your Record||No, being fired does not go on the record, but employers may disclose it.|
|Does Going To A Mental Hospital Stay On Your Record||This goes on the health record, but not the criminal one unless accompanied by an arrest.|
|Does A Wellness Check Go On Your Record||Sometimes, it depends on the type of check and any incidents related to it.|
|Does Being Detained Go On Your Record||Sometimes, when related to a criminal charge.|
|Does A Citation Go On Your Record||A citation can appear on the driving record, depending on severity.|
|Do Parking Tickets Go On Your Record||No, non-moving violations don’t show up unless they lead to criminal action.|
|Does Contempt Of Court Go On Your Record||Sometimes, depending on whether the charge is civil or criminal.|
|Does Job Abandonment Go On Your Record||Sometimes, but usually only an employer can disclose it.|
|Does An Eviction Go On Your Record||Yes, but only if the case proceeds through court.|
Once all the background check requirements have been reviewed the best thing to do is to run a background check on yourself. Even for individuals who believe they have nothing on their criminal history at all, it’s still important to check as mistakes are still somewhat common.
Performing a criminal history check on yourself is extremely easy these days and is by far the best way to fix any potential problems that could arise and cause an individual to fail a background check. The easiest way to perform a criminal history check on yourself is using either the DIY method, which involves manually checking various databases for criminal records. Another great option is to hire a background check service to run a criminal history check for you.
Many background check companies will give individuals the option of what databases that they want checked, so this can be a great way to perform the check in the exact same way as the official check will eventually be performed.
For the DIY method, individuals should perform a county criminal history check through the local county court clerk. The county court clerk will have access to all criminal history information in the county, simply contact the local county clerk to learn the best way to request criminal history information.
Related Reading: How to do a background check on yourself: All 50 states
Individuals should do the same through their local DMV in order to obtain a driving record, this is especially important as many individuals may not remember every traffic ticket or the details of the ticket. Remember, there are different penalties assigned during the background check based on how far past the speed limit the individual was driving. A speeding ticket for going 10 over the speed limit carries a lesser penalty than going 30 mph over the speed limit, so knowing the exact details is essential.
Finally, individuals can go through various agencies such as the FBI identity history summary check1 to obtain a federal criminal history check.
Regardless of the method chosen, running a background check on yourself beforehand is the easiest thing to do to ensure that the background check will be passed. If there are any mistakes on the background check they can be corrected early in order to prevent lengthy delays while individuals fix their background check.
How To Pass Step #2: Background Check For Notary Disqualifiers (What Disqualifies You From Being A Notary)
Another important step individuals can take as they prepare for a notary background check is to learn the list of disqualifying offenses and how the pass/fail system works for the background check. A typical background check will generally have a list of disqualifying offenses. If any of these offenses are found during the criminal history check, such as a conviction for a violent felony, the individual is automatically disqualified from consideration. The notary background check works in a similar way, but rather than just having a list of disqualifying offenses, there is also a point system.
Basically, anything that is found during the background check is assigned a point value, based on the severity of the offense. This includes not just the federal criminal history and county criminal history check but also the driving check. All the information found across all these databases is added up at the end to decide whether the individual passed or failed the background check.
The number that individuals want to avoid is 25. Individuals with 25 or more points after their background check will be disqualified from consideration. This is one of the reasons that performing a background check on yourself is so important as even things like speeding tickets will contribute to this final score.
The exact specifications of the background check are enforced by the Signing Professionals Workgroup. The SPW have developed a helpful document2 outlying all of the offenses that carry a point value on their website.
As mentioned, virtually anything that shows up on a background check will carry a penalty of at least a few points. There are also numerous crimes whose point value carry the maximum penalty of 25, meaning having certain crimes on your record will be an automatic disqualification, even if there is nothing else on the record. These are mostly reserved for more serious crimes such as arson, fraud, crimes against children, and a number of crimes relating to counterfeiting and lying under oath.
As with any job, the notary background check is unique to the circumstances of the position, so any crimes that involve some kind of dishonesty are taken very seriously.
State Laws For Background Check For Notary Signing Agent (Notary Signing Agent Background Check)
As mentioned there are various state laws that can slightly alter the exact details of a notary background check.
Be sure to check the details of a notary background check in your state, as well as any background check laws in your state that may be applicable.
How Far Back Does A Notary Background Check Go
Notary background checks can go back indefinitely in many states, however, it is rare that they will go back more than 10 years. Due to the fact that the background check is performed at the state level, the length of the check will be dictated by state laws.
This means that in states that follow the seven-year rule, the notary background check will only go back 7 years instead of the standard 10.
How Often Does A Notary Signing Agent Need A Background Check (Notary Renewal Background Check)
Individuals will need to renew their notary license and thus undergo a notary background check every 12 months. Given that many of the offenses that can cause an individual to be disqualified involve things like speeding tickets, it is important to at least be aware of your criminal record throughout the year to ensure that the too many points are not accumulated which would cause individuals not be able to renew their notary license.
Of course, if the initial background check was passed and there are no new offenses on your record, the renewal background check should be nothing to worry about.
Related Reading: How far back does a criminal background check go?
What’s The National Notary Association Background Check?
The national notary association background check is the standard background check that all individuals who wish to become notaries must pass. The check, like all background checks, is intended to protect the integrity of the positions and ensure that no one who has a history of fraudulent activity can become a notary and commit even more serious fraud.
How Long Is NNA Background Check Good For?
A NNA background check has a particularly short renewal period compared to many jobs. While jobs like child care only require employees to undergo a full background check every 5 years, notaries will be required to undergo the same background check every 12 months. This is to ensure that the individual has not committed any crimes in the last year that would cause the NNA to question their integrity and make them appear to be at a risk of fraudulent or other illegal activity involving their notary privileges.
Becoming a notary can be a great help to the community, while making some extra cash to supplement a day job. Although the notary background check may be more intensive than many individuals expected, taking a few basic steps to know what shows up and what to expect can make it extremely easy to pass.