Notary Signing Agents: The Importance of Considering Fees Before Accepting Assignments

To esteemed Notary Signing Agents (NSAs) everywhere,

Your role as an NSA extends far beyond the traditional realm of notaries. While the fundamental principles remain rooted in verifying the identity of signatories, your specialized trade encompasses additional responsibilities. As mobile notaries, you venture out, bridging the gap between convenience and necessity, equipped with more than just a stamp. Printing, traveling, and other business-related expenses, including equipment and supplies, are intrinsic to your role. Given these added complexities and overheads, the considerations surrounding your remuneration take on added layers.

Here’s why it’s vital to consider the fee before accepting an assignment:

  1. Recognize Your Worth

Your expertise as an NSA is nuanced, encompassing knowledge, time, travel, and resources. It’s not just about affixing a stamp; it’s about delivering a comprehensive service, often on-the-go. The fees you charge should encapsulate the gamut of expenses, from printing costs to travel time, ensuring that your comprehensive services are aptly rewarded.

  1. Professional Standards

Having a clear and consistent fee structure underlines your professional standards. While undercutting might seem tempting in competitive scenarios, it might unintentionally convey compromise on service quality. On the flip side, exorbitant fees need solid justification.

  1. Sustainability of Practice

Your role as an NSA demands constant adaptation and upgrades, be it in technology, certifications, or protocols. A well-considered fee structure ensures you’re equipped for future advancements, keeping your practice relevant and sustainable.

  1. Meeting Client Expectations

Transparent communication about fees, including breakdowns for mobile services, printing, and other additional costs, fosters clarity and trust. It minimizes the chances of last-minute disputes, reinforcing the trust-based nature of your profession.

  1. Avoiding Potential Conflicts

Transparency is the cornerstone of any business relationship. Having a well-defined fee structure in place, and considering it diligently before accepting an assignment, fortifies your reputation and minimizes potential conflicts.

  1. Market Awareness

The world of NSAs is dynamic. Regularly gauging the market rates and adjusting your fees accordingly ensures that you remain competitive, without compromising on the quality and scope of your services.

  1. Valuation of Complexity

Every assignment carries its unique demands. Some might need extensive travel; others could require intricate paperwork. Recognizing these variables and pricing them aptly is imperative.

Closing Thoughts:

The cornerstone of the notarial act is its unwavering integrity. However, for NSAs, balancing this with the business intricacies of a mobile service is essential. By ensuring that you charge a just fee, you affirm your commitment to providing exceptional service, both ethically and sustainably. In an ever-evolving profession, rooted in trust and transparency, the fee you consider before each assignment is emblematic of your dedication to excellence.


When I hear the common phrase “Know your worth” or “Recognize Your Worth”, I ask how does one calculate this worth. I hear this among those starting out in their career as it relates to quiet quitting. I’ve also this statement statement among NSAs. The reality check is this; your worth is determined in large part by the free market, how much someone wants to pay for your services or skills. If one has an inflated sense of worth, beyond what the market is willing to pay, you’ll soon be out of business, or unemployed.

Thank you for sharing your perspective on the phrase “Know your worth.” I wholeheartedly agree that the free market plays a significant role in determining the value of any service, including the services of NSAs. However, I’d like to provide clarity on what “Recognize Your Worth” encompasses in the context of our initial discussion.

“Recognize Your Worth” is not an encouragement for professionals to inflate their fees beyond market standards. Instead, it’s a call for them to comprehensively consider all the factors that play into their service provision — from education, training, and experience, to the overheads associated with their specialized role. It’s about ensuring that they aren’t undervaluing themselves by overlooking some of these integral aspects, which might lead them to undercharge for their services.

I concur that an inflated sense of worth can be detrimental. However, the opposite — undervaluing oneself — can also lead to burnout, a decrease in service quality, or even business closure due to unsustainable operations. As such, striking a balance by understanding one’s genuine value in the market is crucial.

Moreover, the market is dynamic. By continuously assessing and understanding one’s value, professionals can adapt and evolve, ensuring that they remain both competitive and sustainable.

In essence, the mantra of recognizing one’s worth is about being informed, staying updated, and making conscious decisions based on a blend of self-assessment and market realities.

Best regards


@tulsanotary excellent information…thank you. Am going to disagree on one small point. You said "While the fundamental principles remain rooted in affirming the authenticity of documents " … no, this is not our concern as notaries nor as signing agents … this goes beyond our realm of responsibility and may, in some cases, cross the line into UPL.


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It would be in the best interest of each Professional Signing Agent’s [PSA] to jot down (if they haven’t already) all of the expenses associated with performing the services you provide within your service region to determine a baseline operating cost. Then, at that point, you can calculate the fees that will generate a net profit to determine if you’ll have a Profit or sustain a Loss at that rate.

There are many items to consider within your Overhead calculations. Here are a few to get you started:
• telephone expenses including cell phone equipment and monthly service fees
• office equipment and furniture; i.e., work chair, work desk, reliable dual-tray printer, trustworthy scanner, etc.
• Notarial stamps for Jurats, Acknowledgements, Notarial Name, Commission Expiration, etc.
• rent and utilities
• paper
• toner
• binder clips
• pens (inexpensive for one-time use)
• stationery and supplies including stamps & envelopes
• travel costs to & from signer locations (i.e., create a generic by county list)
• travel costs to & from FedEx/UPS/USPS, etc. (i.e., choose your favorite location OR the closest that will provide you with a receipt)
• business insurance
• business-related meals and entertainment
• professional association memberships
• annual background checks
• annual certification expenses
• legal and accounting fees
• tax preparation fees
• advertising and marketing costs; i.e., Google ads, yellow pages ad, website, business cards, or brochure
• Protection equipment; i.e., COVID-19 masks, hand sanitizer, wipes, etc.

AND many more!

Your individual overhead would also include the cost of fringe benefits; i.e., medical insurance, disability insurance, retirement benefits. Also, remember to include quarterly income tax payment to federal & state (as appropriate) and self-employment taxes.

If calculating all this accurately seems to be a bit overwhelming, reach out to your tax advisor and ask for guidance in this regard. :sparkles::yellow_heart:

Also, there is an excellent specific cost breakdown by one business owner for services within her [ @anon78047977 ] region & for her overhead:

"Ok for a seasoned already in business Signing Agent (meaning no start up costs to factor in, just on going costs)

Average Refinance

  • 150 pages (300 when having to print 2 copies)
  • 35 miles average miles to signing/from signing/to FedEx drop
  • Print cost average .15 per page (Laser printer, standard paper. Note this is also the cost at Staples, FedEx Office in the area BUT I have actually calculated my real costs by dividing the number of pages I get from a toner kit, my drum kit, cost of paper etc. but I use this average of .15 because there are Notaries around who actually use outside printing)
  • IRS mileage .56 per mile (you can use actual costs of gas, insurance, plus maintenance costs. I will use the IRS rate because it’s a good average and I also have Tolls I have to pay which I will not add in this example. Also later I kind of use this amount as a “catch all” for other expenses. Again, I have determined my “actual” costs and the averages I use are pretty spot on.)
  • 2.25 hours an average total time spent which includes, confirming appt & reviewing instructions, printing/prepping docs, travel time to/from/to FedEx, signing/notarizing docs, scan back
  • Costs that people usually do not take into consideration because it’s part of their household BUT they are costs of running a business (home office expenses - internet, electric, computer, phone, supplies, etc.) Remember every business has similar expenses

So here we go…let’s look at average total for this signing:
$45 print costs
$19.60 mileage rate (So this number is based on IRS mileage rate. I use this number as a catch all to give me an estimate of my actual costs (gas, toll, %of annual maintenance, %of insurance and a % of home office costs, %of supplies, etc. Since I know my % for every business expenses, I already know this number is pretty close to my actual costs. For example my actual costs for this signing would be around $21)

It will cost me $64.60 for a 150 page refinance order. With no issues, no traffic, no reprints, no problems

If I took a $75 signing fee I would net $10.40
I would net roughly $4.62 per hour for a signing that took up 2.25 hours of my time.

$95 I would net $30.40 or $13.51 per hour
$125 I would net $60.40 or $26.84 per hour
$150 I would net $85.40 or $37.96 per hour

So when I advocate for SAs and fees I am not just coming up with number off the top of my head. I have done the math for myself personally."

SOURCE: Signing Agent Fee is Just Not a Notary Fee - #38 by anon78047977


NOTE TO ALL NOTARY CAFE MEMBERS: The current IRS Mileage Rate is 65.5 cents per mile.

The post I quoted above cites the IRS Mileage Rate from the date of her calculations (1832 hours on 21AUG21). So, her beautifully informative post reflects the rate from that juncture in time.


The current rate can always be checked directly on the IRS website at the following direct url link:



Thank you. I corrected that. Have a great day.

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I think your numbers are right on. For me, my starting fee for any type of mobile notary service is $80 as the simplest assignment will take an hour. My time is for my recurring clients who pay a reasonable fee and going after the ASAP assignments that come up every day as they pay better. For the young guns who think they will become rich by taking the low paying assignments, bless you as you will need it and make sure you get my order right when I come through the fast food drive thru after the notary business doesn’t work out for you.


Many notaries are unaware of their true cost of doing business. If you only charge enough to break even, you are wasting your time.


Many Notaries are employees in disguise. By that, I mean they have been employees receiving a paycheck at some point in life.

The employer paid 1/2 of the employment taxes, some of the health insurance premium, part of the retirement contribution, etc. The employer paid all the expenses for supplies, equipment, mortgage/rent, etc and the employee netted $X on the paycheck.

For discussion lets say $15, $18, $25 an hour.

With little and probably no business wisdom, when they get a job for $50, they likely think that is 2 or 3 times what the job pays them.


After all, they may have gas in the car SO it didn’t “cost” them anything to do the notary job. After all, they have tires on the car SO it didn’t “cost” them anything…


Yes, Concur :100: percent @notary !

From a previous note I posted:

A simple comparison: There is a very large difference between being an employee and becoming a business owner.

As a business owner, from the onset, you’re going to be pretty much flying solo; that is, unless you have a family member that is within this business sector. There are no Manuals of Desk Instructions [MDIs] as one may find as an employee nor any more experienced fellow employees there to train you.

The standards of practice are to be found by being curious and seeking training & certifications on your own as a professional business owner who strives to provide professional services to your clients.

I strongly recommend a comprehensive training program that also has an option of mentorship with a proven track record of success. I’ve successfully completed a myriad of training courses/programs through about ten different training organizations. The one that has served me the best over the years has been the Notary2Pro Training & Mentorship. I’ve successfully completed all Carol’s certifications. If you’re seeking guidance & insights that are broad-sweeping and that will steer your course appropriately covering all the topics for a successful business, it’s Carol Ray at Notary2Pro hands down.

DISCLAIMER: I’ve paid the full fee for all the training I’ve successfully completed with Carol. I receive no compensation or remuneration of any kind for sharing my experience utilizing what she taught me.

NOTE: Unfortunately, Carol recently passed [February of 2022] from our earthly plane. I hope she Rests In Peace. I’m grateful to have made her acquaintance and studied under her tutelage.


Launching a business as a Signing Agent isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon!


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I completely agree that ‘employee in disguise’ is an apt description of way too many notaries. 100% of newbs and probably over 90% of the rest as most seem to come from ‘no previous business OWNERSHIP experience’ background.
On that 65.5 IRS mileage deduction…that is so far from the true cost of vehicle ownership and I think a lot of notaries think they are making out like bandits when they use that figure to calculate ‘auto expense’ and are happy because my gas cost for that trip wasn’t that much as that’s all they think about–and that is so far from reality it’s not funny.
Please Google ‘true cost of car ownership calculator’ and be prepared to have your mind blown. Note that using this will mean you have to input a LOT of basic info that you never thought about and probably don’t know off the top of your head, so you’re going to have to dig thru MANY records that you ought to have but probably don’t…and therein lies the problem of “employee vs business owner mentality”.
Once you understand just how ‘off’ of true cost you are…and then realize that car expense is but ONE factor of ‘cost of doing business’, and then apply same thinking to ALL the things required to do this job that you simply ignore because ‘you already have (car, cell, computer, internet, home-office w/utilities, taxes, insurance, mortgage, and items already mentioned by previous poster’), maybe you’ll finally ‘get’ that you probably are working for free or less at current offered fees–and STOP allowing them to do this to you! You’ll be far better off when you cease being a sheople and start being a business owner.


@Arichter The idiom . . . truer words were never spoken . . . is quite fitting here. :white_check_mark: Although, some may be hesitant to put pencil to paper & do the math. Why?

Because the cold, hard reality of operating a business in the red (at a loss) means that a hard decision will be needed at that juncture to figure out how to bring in revenue & not operate at a loss . . .


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Excellent blog post Thank you