Safety deposit box opening - am i getting robbed?

A signing service future dated me for a couple of safe deposit openings in NYC. I’m willing to do it for the experience, however I cant help but wonder if the amount they are offering me is ridiculous. 1 job is to witness 56 openings for $200 the other is 25 for $100. Does this seem fair? Kindly give me your input.

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I’m in WA state, but it has been my experience that this is a job that usually pays by the hour, plus travel (portal to portal) and paid parking. Unless they are offering $200 per opening, I would say you are being exploited.


@carmela.p.notary Excellent question. :sparkles::crown:

Keep in mind when circling back with your client to “confirm” pricing is per box . . . normally an inventory listing of the contents of the box is normally a component of the “witnessing” of the safe deposit box opening. Whether you will be creating the listing and/or photographic evidence (or if a bank officer is doing it) this will take an inordinate amount of time per box contingent upon the quantity/value/volume of the contents.

It’s truly impossible to know how long it will take per box.

For 56 box openings, that process could span over the course of a few days . . . unless they definitively know that all the boxes are empty, which they usually aren’t empty.

Therefore, as Tisino has noted above, this type of subcontracted work pays by the hour plus travel, turnpike fees, parking, etc.

Remember to know your worth & price your professional services accordingly.



I would only do it by the hour. These kind of jobs could take 5 minutes a box or take several hours. With 56 boxes to open, you’re gonna be there a while even if they’re all empty (they won’t all be). Even longer if there are guns or prescription drugs in the box and they have to get the police to come in to take possession of a controlled item. I did a few for a place that paid me hourly but with a minimum of 2 hours guaranteed per day, plus travel by the mile. Unfortunately they took forever to pay unless I hounded and hounded them. They finally ponied up a check when I threatened to show up at their office (it was a legit threat as I just so happened to have an event taking place in the town where they were based)

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@carmela.p.notary From what I’ve found you are only authorized to notarize the signature of the bank official who opens the box - you are not authorized to do the actual inventory. So, if this is true, there’s a boatload of sitting and watching. I would definitely charge by the hour, minimum however many hours you want plus mileage to and from.

You say you’re doing it for the experience, which leads me to believe you’re new? If so, I’d check with your state regulatory office for guidance on what you are and are not allowed to do in this situation.

Best of luck


I did one of these several years ago. It worked fine. You only have to notarize documents if they find something in a box. They opened 500 some boxes at a branch that was closing down, and if memory serves, I notarized 15 or so documents. The pay was excellent and I was there two days.

Ok so what was the pay?

If I recall correctly, $250/day. And it was a 5.5 hour day. Bankers Hours!

I’d do it in a heartbeat. 90% of the time you sit and watch them drill holes in boxes to punch the lock out. And if there’s anything I’m a box, after they inventory it, you notarize a document saying yes there was some stuff in it.
I worked on paperwork, stayed up with email, and sat on my ass.


@Mynotary19 that shows you how states vary. In FL, the notary is responsible for conducting the entire inventory … Empty or itemize every item then provide stamped certification of contents, seal container and attach cert. It’s all on the notary


I’m curious why opening so many boxes in one day? I’m in WA State and have heard that many local banks are going to no longer maintain safety deposit boxes. Gradual process to close them out.

Branches closing perhaps? Happens all the time here. They come and they go…

Thanks Linda…that’s a big difference!

How does one get that kind of work?

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Once in a while, this is not an everyday happening…

How do you get that kind of work? I don’t have any idea. A signing company just sent me an offer and I took it. I’ve only done it once, and I’ve been a notary for over 20 years.

Ok. Thanks for the response.

Visit your local banks with a handful of business cards. First check your state regulations about these - some states allow bank notaries to do them, some states they can’t be a bank employee. (like FL)

I was paid $250 a day for this 4-day assignment.

Here are the instructions I received.

Notaries will witness

· That two bank associates are consistently present in dual control during the full drilling, inventory, and content packaging process, to include:

• Witnessing the forcible opening (drilling) of the safe deposit box

• Witnessing that the contents (if any) were removed from the safe deposit box

• Witnessing that the contents are carefully examined, inventoried, and recorded on the certificate of inventory (SBDOMS coversheet, inventory form, Securities Inquiry Log, and Foreign Currency Log as applicable)

• Witnessing that the contents are carefully packaged, and placed in a bank-approved sealed bag containing, at a minimum, the renter’s name, address, safe deposit box account number, and date of the drill

Notaries will attest to performing above referenced actions by signing the certificate of inventory (SBDOMS coversheet and inventory form as applicable) and placing their seal.

Dress Code: Will be Business Casual

I didn’t like sitting for hours in a bank vault waiting for the guys to find a box that contained items to inventory. They did buy me lunch, though. (note) I questioned, placing my seal, which I did not do. I only signed as a witness.


I have done this assignment a few times. The pay in my area is $250 for a day. It typically starts around 9:30 or 10 because the bank officers have to prepare a list of safety deposit boxes that will be drilled. Depending on how old the bank is, the boxes may take some time to drill, others are open in less than 5 minutes. The vast majority do not have any content in them. The time passes quickly enough when they do have content as a certificate is required for each bank officer for the empty boxes and again if there is content. There is a break for lunch and then you return either to the same bank or a different branch. In the past, the $250 fee was low compared to the amount of work I could do in the same time frame. I invested in this type of job for times when there isn’t any work. Sometimes there is a place to sit and sometimes you will play musical chairs with the bank employees. I use the down time to go through my journal or check on emails. Sometimes there is so much work in one branch we cannot go to all the scheduled branches and they are picked up another time.