Notary Signing Agent vs Notary Services: What’s the difference?


You are potentially acquainted with terms like overseas notary public services, notary international and document services, notary public etc. In many situations, these terms are used interchangeably though each of them has distinct roles and apply to specific situations.  In the same vein, notary signing agents are not the same as notary services. Depending on varying circumstances, you can choose one of these services, but it is important that you choose the right service. You can consult notary service Melbourne or a legal professional to understand whether you need a notary signing agent or a notary public. However, some of the general information covering these roles is outlined below.

Notaries are impartial persons acting as witnesses during the process of signing important documents like closing documents for a mortgage. To put it differently, they are legally authorized persons to sign (known as ‘notarize’) official statements and documents.  Notaries are appointed by respective state governments and are required to be present when you are signing important documents for validating the document and confirm that there is no undue pressure on you to sign along dotted lines.

Level of certification

Notary services are invested with the responsibility of verifying the identity of individuals signing one or more documents legally required to be executed. Reviewing the content of such documents or determining their legality is outside the purview of notary services. When notary services affix their seal to a document, it simply signifies verification of the identity of the individual/s who has signed the document.

On the other hand, the role of a notary signing agent is more involved, particularly with regard to real estate related documents. The notary signing agent will study the loan package in detail with the borrowers obtaining the mortgage and ensure that the respective signature appears at the right places and are notarized as per legal provisions. A notary public authorized by the state can progress to a notary signing agent after getting additional qualification which can vary from one state to the other.

Mortgage transactions and notary signing agent

Distinct from notary services in Melbourne, a notary signing agent will explain the contents of a document to those signing the document, apart from verifying the identity of individuals signing the paperwork. Therefore, a notary signing agent must have more education and training so that he/she has adequate knowledge to provide assistance to the borrowers. More importantly, notary signing agents must have complete knowledge of how the whole process of mortgage works, going well beyond the role expected of a notary public. Depending on the jurisdiction where the mortgage documents are executed, a notary signing agent would also need to demonstrate his/her knowledge of the process of home loans in order to earn his/her commission.

The selection process for notaries

Notaries authorized under notary international and document services, overseas notary public services etc, are required to be impartial without a connection or bias towards your transaction or you and are chosen at random for every assignment. In most jurisdiction, you can easily find a network of notaries/notary signing agents and select individuals who have demonstrated a high level of satisfaction. When necessary, you may also be able to conduct background checks for the selected notary/notary signing agent.

Notary signing agent’s fees

The relevant state stipulates certain fee for notary signing agent/notaries and in the case of loan documentation, the amount of fee you may see in the closure documents can be significantly higher than the stipulated fee. However, this does not mean that the individual is breaking the law. Since the notary signing agent takes a significant amount of time verifying your loan/mortgage documents and may even travel to the place where the document is executed, his/her fee is generally negotiated between the parties involved. A notary signing agent may also be required to share his/her fee with a company that they work for. The fee you pay may also be related to the number of signatures needed.

Individuals or organizations having regular dealings in real estate/mortgage tend to have their chosen notary signing agents to minimize cost incidences. However, if you have a one-off transaction, scouting around for cheaper services may not be of significant advantage.

Choosing the right professional

As with all other legal work, it is important that you find the right professional to work with. Following are some of the important considerations that will influence your decision:-

  • Location: Find a notary signing agent closest to where the documents are required to be executed.
  • Credentials: Check out the credentials of the chosen notary signing agent and ensure that he conforms to the stipulations laid out under the relevant jurisdiction. As mentioned earlier, notary signing agents are required to have additional training and complete knowledge of the loan/mortgage process.
  • Fees: Discuss the fees upfront and include all costs. At times, each signature, sign and seal may be charged separately. Have adequate clarity on this.

Seal of the Notary/Notary signing agent

A notary/notary signing agent is required to have a distinct seal. Most of these seals are metal seals with the name of the notary inscribed in it along with the place where he/she is appointed.  This seal is applied to your document, often combined with a red adhesive paper to make the impression from the seal very legible. All notarized documents must invariably carry this seal to be a valid tender.


When you are seeking services of overseas notary public services or international notary services, notary signing agents, you should present all the documents to the chosen individual. Identification and supporting documents may also be called for depending on circumstances. Complying with the directions given by the notary will make the process quick and easy for you.

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