Mar 15, 2023

Mar 15, 2023

Mar 15, 2023

Notary Public vs. Signing Agent: What's the Difference?

Notary Public vs. Signing Agent: What's the Difference?

Notary Public vs. Signing Agent: What's the Difference?

If you've ever bought or sold a home, you've probably heard the terms "notary public" and "signing agent" thrown around. But what do these terms mean, and how do they differ from each other?

A notary public and a signing agent are two important roles in the world of legal documentation, but they are often confused or used interchangeably. It’s important to understand the difference between the two, as they have different responsibilities, functions, and qualifications.

In this article, we will discuss the key differences between a notary public and a signing agent.

A notary is an official who certifies legal documents, while a signing agent is a professional who facilitates real estate transactions by verifying identity and witnessing document signing.

Notary Public

A notary public is a public officer appointed by the state government to serve as an impartial witness in the signing of important documents. 

In other words, a notary's job is to verify the identity of the person signing a document and to ensure that the signing is done willingly and voluntarily.

A notary checks that people signing a document are who they say they are and makes sure it's real, which is important to stop fraud and protect legal rights.

Notary publics play a crucial role in preventing fraud and protecting the integrity of important documents. They are commonly used in real estate transactions, mortgage and loan documents, legal proceedings, and immigration matters. 

Some of the common documents that require the services of a notary public include:

  • Power of attorney

  • Wills

  • Deeds

  • Affidavits

  • Oaths

Notary publics must be appointed by the state and must pass an exam, complete a training course and undergo background checks. They must also purchase liability insurance and renew their appointment every four years.

Signing agent

On the other hand, a signing agent is a notary public who has been specifically trained and certified to handle real estate transactions. Signing agents are responsible for facilitating the signing of documents related to real estate sales, loans, and refinances.

Signing agents are hired by title companies, lending institutions, and other organizations that process loans. They typically work with borrowers, lenders, escrow officers, and real estate agents to coordinate the loan signing process. 

A signing agent helps people sign legal documents by making sure everything is done right.

Signing agents are responsible for verifying the identity of the borrower, explaining the contents of the loan document, and ensuring that the borrower fully understands the terms of the loan agreement. 

The signing agent also certifies that the borrower has signed the loan documents voluntarily and that all signatures are genuine.

Like notary publics, signing agents must also pass an exam, complete training and undergo background checks. However, they also need to be trained in loan document procedures, understand the intricacies of loan transactions, and possess strong customer service skills.

While the roles of a notary public and a signing agent may overlap, there are some key differences between the two.

Signing Agents are not authorized by the state

Unlike Notaries, Signing Agents are not authorized by the state, and they are not considered public officials.

Instead, they are hired by private companies or individuals who need to have important legal documents signed in a timely and efficient manner.

Signing agents are not employed by the state, but are typically independent contractors or work for title or escrow companies.


One of the main differences between a notary public and a signing agent is the scope of their duties. Notary publics also have a broader range of responsibilities than signing agents. 

Notaries are typically responsible for witnessing the signing of a wide range of documents, such as wills, deeds, contracts, and affidavits. 

In contrast, signing agents are only responsible for facilitating the signing of documents related to real estate transactions.

Level of training and expertise

Another difference is the level of training and expertise required. In order to become a notary public, an individual must be at least 18 years old, pass a background check, and complete a state-approved training course. 

Notaries are trained by the state to perform their duties, and they are subject to ongoing training and continuing education requirements. 

A signing agent must pass the NNA Certified Notary Signing Agent exam and the ASN Notary Signing Agent exam.

Becoming a signing agent, on the other hand, requires more specialized knowledge and training. Signing agents receive their training from private companies or organizations, and they are not subject to the same ongoing training requirements as notaries. 

Signing agents must have a thorough understanding of the documents and procedures involved in real estate transactions, and must also be able to effectively communicate with all parties involved in the transaction.


One of the main advantages of using a signing agent instead of a notary public for real estate transactions is the level of service and convenience they can offer. 

Because signing agents are specifically trained to handle real estate transactions, they are able to provide a more streamlined and efficient signing experience. 

This can be particularly helpful for busy clients who may not have the time or flexibility to schedule a meeting with a notary public.

Additionally, signing agents are often able to offer mobile services, which means they can come to the client's home or office to facilitate the signing of documents. This can be a huge benefit for clients who are unable to travel to a notary's office, or who prefer the convenience and privacy of a home signing.

Signing agents specialize in real estate transactions and offer more convenience and efficiency than a notary public.

Overall, the main difference between a notary public and a signing agent is the scope of their duties and the level of specialized training and expertise they possess. 

While notaries are responsible for witnessing the signing of a wide range of documents, signing agents are specifically trained to handle real estate transactions. 

Whether you're buying or selling a home, it's important to understand the differences between these two important professionals in order to ensure that your real estate transactions are handled smoothly and efficiently.