If you want to achieve the CNSA (Certified Notary Signing Agent) designation, certified by the National Notary Association, you will have to pass an exam and pass a background screening. The exam is designed to test your knowledge of mortgage loan closing procedures, general notary laws, and your state's notary laws and procedures. It's a 3-part exam. It consists of true or false and multiple choice questions. You have to score at least 80% on each of the three parts in order to pass the exam.
For the first two parts, it helps if you have the book Notary Signing Agent Certification Course, since the test is based on the material in that book. The book is divided into three parts. Here is a brief outline:
Part I: Notary Public Principles and Practice
- The Notary's Role
- Screening the Signer
- The Notary Journal
- Performing Notarial Acts
- Notary Liability
Part II: Notary Signing Agent Principles and Practice
- The Notary Signing Agent's Role
- Preparing for Loan Signings
- Presenting Loan Documents
- Processing the Signing Papers
Part III: Appendices
- Notary Public Code of Professional Responsibility
- Practice Certification Examination
- Questions for Further Learning
This outline is based on the edition that I have (2nd Edition). There is a more current edition with an additional chapter. You can download the chapter from the NNA website if you don't have it.
For the section on your state's notary laws, it helps if you have the Notary Law Primer for your state.
You can also find the notary laws for your particular state on the National Notary Association website. Go to the Notary Signing Agent Section. Click on 'State Law Summaries'.
From there you will be taken to a page that has a map of the United States.
Click on a state to get a PDF file of the notary laws for that state.
While you are in the NNA Notary Signing Agent Section, there is a lot that you can learn by reading the articles in the 'Signing Agent News' section. Just click on 'Signing Agent News'. You may also want to spend some time reading the 'NSA Now eNewsletter.' There are currently 81 issues online. That's a lot of information about the notary signing agent profession that will help you to learn and become a more professional notary signing agent. Also browse through the 'FAQs'. One of the questions is, 'What is the difference between a closing agent and a Notary Signing Agent', the answer to which is very important:
"Closing agents prepare documents, disburse funds, and coordinate the consummation of a real estate transaction. Notary Signing Agents work for closing agents; they are involved only with the signing and delivery of loan documents. Signing Agents do not draw up documents, disburse funds or provide abstraction of titles. They act mainly as couriers and impartial witnesses for signings."
Read the rest of the questions. The answers to them may also be beneficial to you in passing the CNSA exam, such as: "Which days are considered "business days" for the purpose of calculating the three-day right to rescission date on the "Notice of Right to Cancel" document?"
After you pass the exam you will receive a certificate in the mail, and you will be entitled to use the CNSA designation. You will also be eligible to order the CNSA lapel pin, business cards with the CNSA logo, and other items.
My personal thoughts on certification: get experience first.
It is possible to pass the exam without ever having done a loan closing, and without ever having seen a loan document. There are Certified Notary Signing Agents who can attest to that. They took a seminar to become a Notary Signing Agent, and then took the exam to become certified. They have a theoretical knowledge of loan signings, but no hands-on knowledge. My advice is to first get experience doing loan closings. Then take the exam. How much experience? That's hard to say. It depends on the types of closing assignments, the closing situations you have been in, and more.
You will find that the questions on the exam are more relevant to you if you have experience. And you will have a greater sense of pride and satisfaction when you achieve the Certified Notary Signing Agent (CNSA) designation, if you have experience.
So now that you know what it entails, I hope that you pass the exam.