Should Notaries Issue Receipts?Jan 16, 2024
Does anyone ever think, what do people actually do with a receipt?
Obviously, the main reason for issuing a receipt is that if someone spends money in a place of business, they are entitled to a receipt for their money.
Another important reason for giving a client a receipt is that many times, it is helpful to them. In an estate situation, they often need a receipt for their records. When I do I-9 Verifications, I always suggest that they find out if they can be reimbursed. Businessmen and businesswomen often can be reimbursed if they submit a receipt.
But for me, the most important reason for emailing that receipt is that the receipt has all of my contact information on it. I cannot tell you how many times I get an email from a former customer asking about another job and if I scroll down, it is a thread from my receipt. I give everyone who walks out my door a business card, but I am betting that most of them get lost or thrown out and when someone is looking for me, they search the word “notary” in their email and there I am.
You may ask, what if they use a credit card? Isn’t that a record? It is, but it is not the same. Not as easy for the customer to search. Many people have several credit cards and they would have to remember which one they used and then go through the statements … with a simple email, it is easy to search.
In the state of Pennsylvania and California, we do not have to give a client a receipt unless he or she requests one. We suggest you check your state guidelines to see what your state requires.
In Pennsylvania, the Professional Code of Responsibility falls back on its general position that Notaries are public servants and should deal with all members of the public similarly. That said, to me that means if a person spends money on services and requests a receipt, one should be tendered.
So, what is the downside of giving a receipt.
As I said, I am a meticulous recordkeeper … if I earn $20.00 that $20.00 is recorded and deposited on that date exactly the same as if I earn $300.00 or $3,000. So giving a receipt is not a problem … EXCEPT …
What about a situation where Customer A comes in at 2:00 PM on a Wednesday afternoon with a Deed. I charge $20.00 and issue a receipt. Customer B comes to my home office at midnight on a Saturday night with a Deed. He just realized he must have it signed because he is flying out in the morning and it needs to be filed in his absence. I charge him $40.00 because it is 11:00 PM on a Saturday night. I don’t know that Customer A and Customer B work together and later they get to talking about the notary service and Customer A says, “it was a great service and I thought $20.00 was very reasonable.” Customer B says, “how come I paid $40.00” and you can guess the rest, an irate phone call from Customer B and maybe even a review saying that we were dishonest. If it sounds mythical, it is not.
In summary, there are many more reasons to give a receipt than not to. If you are not in Pennsylvania or California, you will need to check your state guidelines as to what they require including what you need to have on the receipt i.e., some states require you to show your state fee and your service fee or administrative fee. If you can put the time on the receipt, that might be helpful to you in the future if, like me, you are signing or mobiling late at night or on weekends and holidays.
You can reach Judith at [email protected].
Judith Lawrence is the founder and CEO of Center City Notary and Apostille Co. In 2019 she founded The Lawrence Institute for Notaries which is an online educational company.
She has co-authored a book entitled “The Apostille Agents’ Survival Guide, a Not-So-Secret Reference Handbook to International Document Services which is available for purchase on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Apostille-Agentss-Survival-Guide-Not-So-Secret/dp/B09KN4J1ZW.
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