A notary public (pl., notaries public) is a public official who is given the authority to acknowledge signatures, take depositions, affirm affidavits, certify copies of documents, administer oaths, and issue subpoenas.
Notaries public receive an appointment, called a "commission," from a state; duties vary from state to state and notaries usually are not permitted to work outside their state. In most cases, an individual can become a notary by filling out an application and submitting a fee, although some states require an examination. Some states bar someone from becoming a notary because of certain types of criminal convictions, and notaries usually must meet age requirements. Some states require the notary to include the county of their commission in the documents they notarize. In most states, a notary commission must be renewed periodically.
Some states permit notaries to perform civil marriage ceremonies.
For more information on becoming a notary, contact the National Notary Association.