"If You Want to Make Money, You Have to Advertise"
A 20-year veteran of the New York City Police Department, Augustine Papay Jr. saw a need for service among Hungarian
immigrants looking for persons who could notarize documents written in their native language.
originally from Hungary and speak the language," says the 50-year-old Papay, who today lives in the town of Chester,
New York. "Way back in 1973 there was a need in New York's Hungarian community for Notaries who could notarize documents
going to the Hungarian consulate. I saw an opportunity for business using my Notary commission. It was a side job I could
do easily at home, and I felt it was a way to supplement my income."
Papay registered a
business certificate with the local county clerk's office, and he and his wife, Elizabeth, advertised their services to
immigrants in various Hungarian newspapers. Elizabeth worked as a translator on documents, and Papay notarized signatures
on divorce decrees, affidavits, and other items.
After retiring, Papay went to work as a private
detective but continued to work as a traveling Notary. In addition to notarizing documents in Hungarian, he expanded his services
to include real estate and loan documents, as well as mobile Notary work. While he says he would not wish to work solely as
a Notary, Papay says it is a useful and flexible source of supplemental income. "Any important document, whether it is
for the courts, civil service, or real estate, needs the service of a Notary Public," he says. "When you notarize
[documents], you are not only earning money, you are providing a public service."
says the most important factor in keeping his Notary business going has been publicizing his services.
"If you want to make money, you have to advertise. I would recommend the Yellow Pages and the Internet. There
are fewer and fewer Notaries available-that's why it's a good business to be a traveling Notary," he says. "Years
ago, every drugstore in New York had a Notary. Today you have to start out at nine in the morning to find someone who's
available. I've had contacts from New York City offer me $100 to come and notarize a contract because they can't locate
any Notaries within 50 square blocks."
Papay advises Notaries going into business for themselves
to keep flexible hours in the evenings and on weekends and to be prepared to travel at the signer's convenience. "You're
limited in how much you can charge for the notarization itself. It's below minimum wage. The only way to make money aside
from executing your duties as a Notary is when they pay you for traveling and handling documents. I can do it because I'm
retired and have another business," he says. "I recently had a job where the signers had about 25 papers they needed
notarized to adopt a child in Russia. We met at a Burger King. It was a service the signers couldn't have gotten going
to a bank. Usually a Notary at a bank is too busy to notarize 25 different pieces of paper."
has found serving as a Notary to be a challenging and rewarding profession for 26 years. His only complaint, he says, is trying
to find a Notary when he needs his own signature acknowledged. "I can't notarize my own signature, and a lot of times,
I have to go to two or three banks before I find a Notary for myself." he says.