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What Does the "SS" Stand for on a Notary Certificate?

by American Association of Notaries
Every document that a notary will ever notarize must contain a notary certificate. The notary certificate is the portion of the document to be notarized that contains the notary language or notary verbiage. It is this wording that indicates to the notary the type of notarization which he or she must perform - most often, this will be either an acknowledgment or a jurat.

While every notarized document must contain a notary certificate, likewise every notary certificate usually contains certain elements; the notary will come to identify and understand the type of data or information that should be inserted on that portion of the document.

A very common element that a notary may see on the notary certificate are the letters "ss," which usually appear in the upper-left-hand corner of the document or notary certificate. This is the area of the certificate that will contain the venue. The venue is the portion of the notarized document that indicates the place - physical location - where the notarization occurs: the location where the signer and notary are physically standing at the time of notarization.

What do these letters mean? Because social security numbers are a common identifier in our society many constituents and, perhaps, notaries may believe that the letters are requesting the client's social security number. This is incorrect. The letters "ss" at the location of the venue section of the notary certificate actually stand for the Latin word scilicet which means in particular, to wit, or namely. The idea has to do with the granting of permission or legal license; its meaning in relation to the venue and notary certificate is actually currently deemed archaic and obscure. While the letters "ss" may appear on the notary certificate, they are by no means required and may be omitted on some notary certificates that a notary may encounter.

A notary must be conscientious about inserting the state and county for the venue whenever they are requested but it is not necessary to add the letters "ss" to the notary certificate if they have been left out. The notarization is still valid without them.
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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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