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Essential Facts about Notary Certificates

by American Association of Notaries
A notary certificate is a statement completed by the notary specifying the details of the notarization. It must contain the date of the notarization and refer to where the notarial act took place. The most commonly used notarial certificates are jurats and acknowledgments. (There is a third form in those states that allow notaries to certify copies. Please see the articles about certifying copies for information on that form.)

A jurat is normally used when the signer is making an oath or affirmation as to the truthfulness of the facts stated in the document or as to his intent to perform the acts required by the document. The standard form of a jurat states that the signer appeared before the notary and swore (or affirmed) that the facts in the document were true and that the signer signed the document in the presence of the notary. It implies that the notary verified the identity of the signer and that the signer executed the document freely and willingly.

In an acknowledgment the signer is acknowledging before a notary that he or she signed the document freely and willingly. An acknowledgment does not specify that the signer took an oath.

There is also a notarial certificate which combines elements of the jurat and the acknowledgment. That type of certificate will be the subject of a future article.

As the notary certificate is a statement completed, signed, and sealed by the notary, it is the responsibility of the notary to be sure that it accurately states the details of the notarization. If anything in it is incorrect or missing, the notary has full authority to correct it and is required to do so using the usual method for corrections (one line through the incorrect information, print the correct information, and initial). Not correcting missing or inaccurate items in the notary certificate is a notary error that could have very serious consequences for the notary, the signer, or other members of the public. A notary commits negligence in his official duty if he signs and seals a document without verifying the details in the notary certificate.

The American Association of Notaries supplies rubber stamps containing the standard jurat forms and acknowledgment certificates.

This article is part of the series that began with What Does a Notary Public Do?

-- Tim Gatewood is a Contributing Writer with the American Association of Notaries
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Legal disclaimer: The American Association of Notaries seeks to provide timely articles for notaries to assist them with information and ideas for managing their notary businesses, enhancing their notary educations, and securing their notary supplies but makes no claims, promises, or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained . Information in this article is not intended as legal advice. We are not attorneys. We do not pretend to be attorneys. Though we will sometimes provide information regarding federal laws and statutes and the laws and statutes of each state, we have gathered the information from a variety of sources. We do not warrant the information gathered from those sources. It is your responsibility to know the appropriate laws governing your state. Notaries are advised to seek the advice of an attorney in their state if they have legal questions about how to notarize.
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