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Space too Small for your Notary Stamp?

by American Association of Notaries
Most of us have been in this predicament--a client hands over a document and it is filled to its edges with text. You visually scan the document and see it includes a pre-printed notarial certificate that is barely the size of a business card. Even worse, you note that the area intended for your notary seal would be the perfect size, but only if you were a Notary Ken or Notary Barbie doll!

When faced with a notarial certificate that provides only a dime-sized space to place your official notary seal, what can you do? You need a solid fallback plan because you certainly can't stamp over any of the text.

The solution:

  • Be prepared for this situation; always have a supply of loose notarial certificates handy, both jurat and acknowledgment certificates.
  • Describe the problem to your client and tell him or her that you plan to attach an appropriate notarial certificate to the document, one that matches the original certificate's language.
  • After receiving the client's approval, mark one line through the tiny certificate, neatly print, See attached statutory notarial certificate, and, initial your changes.
  • Complete the attached certificate, writing on it the title of the document you have attached it to and its number of pages; note in your notary journal that you attached the loose certificate and why you did so.

If the client says you may not replace the certificate, you must decline to notarize the document. Explain that covering document text with a notary seal will almost certainly invalidate an important document, especially one that will be recorded.

In less extreme cases, there may be room on the certificate for a smaller notarial seal. Many of our members have said great things about the Trodat pocket notary stamp that has a baby's footprint of 9/16 x 2 1/8 - it's sold on our website. It could be a great tool for you if your state allows it.

Loose notarial certificates or the Trodat pocket notary stamp are available on our website.
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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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