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5 Tips For Notaries Charging Travel Fees

Mobile Notaries often ask if they can charge additional fees for travel when they must drive to a notarization assignment. Before you charge any travel fees, here are five important tips:

1. Travel fees are separate from notarization fees.

Fees for notarizations are regulated by state law. But travel fees are separate from the notarization fee, and you need to treat them as such. If the maximum fee your state allows for an acknowledgment is $5 and a signer asks you to drive to their town, you could charge a maximum of $5 for the notarial act, but the amount for driving to the signer's location would have to remain separate and shouldn't be lumped together with the notarization fee.

If your state law specifies how much you may charge for a travel fee, you should follow those guidelines. For example, Maryland allows Notaries to charge up to the approved federal mileage rate (62.5 cents per mile for July-December 2022), plus a flat fee of $5 for travel.

Nevada permits Notaries to charge a separate travel fee if agreed upon in advance with the signer prior to the notarization. Nevada permits a maximum travel fee rate of $15 per hour ($10 per hour for an electronic notarization) for travel between the hours of 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. or $30 per hour ($25 per hour for an electronic notarization) for travel between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. The Nevada Notary may charge a minimum of two hours for such travel and must charge on a pro rata basis after the first two hours. Also, Nevada law states that once a Notary and signer agree on a travel fee, the Notary is entitled to the fee even if the signer cancels the notarization while the Notary is in transit to the appointment or if the Notary cannot complete the notarization due to the signer’s actions.

2. Agree on the travel fee in advance.

Whether your state sets the amount Notaries may charge for travel or does not regulate travel fees (such as Texas), it's always a good practice to agree upon the amount with the signer before the notarization takes place. Some state officials provide guidelines for notifying customers about travel fees. In California, the Secretary of State's office has published guidelines in its newsletter that Notaries may charge travel fees or other services, but the customer must be informed about these fees before the notarization takes place. Other states set rules for charging travel fees in their laws:

  • South Carolina does not set specific travel fees but does require the Notary and signer to agree on the fee in advance. The Notary must also explain to the signer the travel fee is separate from the notarization fee and the travel fee is not set or required by law.

  • Montana requires the Notary to explain to the signer that the travel fee is in addition to the Notary fee and that the travel fee is not set by law. The travel fee charged must be equal or less than the federal mileage rate set by the IRS (see Maryland information above).

Even if your state does not require it, agreeing on the amount of the travel fee up front helps eliminate confusion about the payment. You can do this when the signer contacts you to set up the appointment, or later when confirming the time and meeting place. As mentioned above, make it clear to the signer that the travel fee is separate from the fee you charge for the notarial act.

If your state requires you to post or present your fee in writing, make sure to include the travel fee in your fee schedule.

3. Explain your policy if the notarization is not completed.

You should also let the signer know in advance your policy regarding charging travel fees if the notarization can’t be completed. For example, do you still charge your travel fee if you arrive at the appointment but the notarization has to be rescheduled or canceled? Or, what if the signer lacks proper ID, preventing you from completing the notarization? Again, follow any laws in your state that address this issue and be sure to let the signer know the terms of your travel fees beforehand. Clear communication is the best way to avoid any disputes with your signers.

4. Request payment in advance (optional).

One possible way to help avoid fee disputes is to request payment of the travel fee in advance. That way, you are sure to receive payment for your driving time and fuel expenses even if the notarization cannot be completed. Before doing so, check to see if your state has any rules regarding asking for payment in advance.

5. Record the travel fee.

If required by your state's law (such as in Nevada), be sure to record the travel fee in your Notary journal. If your state does not require you to record the travel fee in your journal entry, it is your choice whether to do so or not. It's also a good practice to record the travel fee on any invoice or receipt you provide to the signer. Make sure that the fee amount is clearly identified as “travel” and is listed separately from the notarization fee.

David Thun is an Associate Editor at the National Notary Association.

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