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Notary Tips


Notary’s Best Practices in Record Keeping


Keeping a consistent notary record book is the single best thing a notary can do to protect himself against allegations of misconduct. A good notary journal will include the date and time of the notarization, the type of notarial act, the name, address, signature and type of identification of the signer, and any other important notes. Even in states where a notary record book isn't required, its use is universally recommended.

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Notarizing Absentee (or Vote-by-Mail) Ballots


An absentee or vote-by-mail ballot is a ballot cast in a United States election by mail, rather than at an official polling station. There are various reasons why a voter may choose to vote by mail rather than in person. Some states require that the voter have a good reason for requesting an absentee ballot, such as being stationed overseas in the military, or being homebound due to a disability. Other states allow any voter to use an absentee ballot. Each state also has different requirements on whether such a ballot requires notarization

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Remote Online Notarization Technology Requirements


Performing online notarizations is a straightforward process. However, acquiring the technology to conduct them securely and in compliance with your state notary laws is often difficult. Additionally, developing and maintaining a compliant platform that meets the RON standards of your state is also expensive, especially for an individual notary.

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Requirements to Become a Florida Notary


Becoming a Florida notary is a great way to get involved in public service. In Florida, a notary commission comes with the power to perform wedding ceremonies, and many Florida notaries make extra income on the side by specializing in weddings or notary loan signings. The process to apply for a Florida notary commission is simple.

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How to Become a Notary Public


If you are interested in becoming a notary for the first time, the amount of information you find online may be overwhelming. This article will explain step-by-step how to become a notary, and you will find that obtaining a notary commission is actually quite easy.

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Free Notary E-journal for AAN Members


For a long time, notaries have relied on paper journals to keep track of their records. While this method is tried-and-true, compared to electronic record keeping, it does have its downsides. ... Continue Reading

Advertise Your Notary Business with the American Association of Notaries' Notary Locator Listing


In today's age, the Internet drives the global economy. What does that mean for the notary industry? It means that more and more people are going online to find a notary near them. This is why the American Association of Notaries offers a free notary locator listing. It's easy to create a profile with us. Once you do, your visibility to potential customers will increase significantly and your business will grow. ... Continue Reading

Remote Online Notarization: How Is it Different from Traditional and Electronic Notarization?


Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing guidelines have prevented or strictly limited the opportunities people can be together. This has had a tremendous impact on the notary industry, which traditionally has relied on face-to-face interactions. Fortunately, notaries have been able to adapt by conducting remote online notarizations (RONs). ... Continue Reading

Texas Governor Abbott Temporarily Allows For Appearance Before Notary Public Via Videoconference For Real-Estate Instruments


Texas Governor Greg Abbott has suspended a statute concerning appearance before a notary public to acknowledge real-estate instruments such as mortgages. ... Continue Reading

Texas Governor Abbott Temporarily Suspends Certain Statutes to Allow For Appearance Before Notary Public Via Videoconference


Texas Governor Greg Abbott today suspended certain statutes concerning appearance before a notary public to execute a self-proved will, a durable power of attorney, a medical power of attorney, a directive to physician, or an oath of an executor, administrator, or guardian. ... Continue Reading

We are Here to Support Notaries During the COVID-19 Pandemic


The American Association of Notaries is making it a top priority to keep the employees, members, and notaries we serve safe during the COVID-19 crisis. We are being as proactive as possible by enforcing the health and safety guidelines prescribed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to stop the spread of the coronavirus. ... Continue Reading

Can I notarize a document dated in the future?


Typically, when a customer requests a notary public to notarize a document, the document has not yet been signed. Thus, when a notarization occurs, the signer executes the document in the notary's presence, and the notary completes a notarial certificate. Almost always, the date of the signature is the same as the date of the notarization. ... Continue Reading

Depositions and Affidavits - The Basics


While notaries are familiar with taking acknowledgments and administering oaths, they often lack the necessary skills to handle depositions or affidavits. ... Continue Reading

Assessing Notarial Fees


Most notaries have a good understanding of what they can charge for performing a notarial act, but calculating fees becomes confusing when dealing with multiple notarial certificates or signatures. Because overcharging for a notarization may be grounds for suspension or violate the state's code of ethics for public officers, notaries must exercise caution and discretion when determining their fees. ... Continue Reading

Handling Incompetent Signers


Unfortunately, many families wait until tragedy strikes to get their state of affairs in order. Depending on the severity of the tragedy, it could be too late to use the services of a notary public. ... Continue Reading

Handling I-9 Forms


Notaries are frequently requested to notarize I-9 forms and are often confused by the lack of a notarial certificate on the form that would allow them to perform the notarial act and affix their seal. This article will clarify the proper way to handle I-9 forms. ... Continue Reading

Notarizing for Signers who Cover their Faces


As a public officer, a notary cannot discriminate on the basis of sex, race, or religion. However, unintentional discrimination may arise when a woman who covers her face for religious reasons requests your notarial services. When this circumstance occurs, a notary must always act with the utmost caution to ensure that he or she does not discriminate but also follows the law. For this reason, notaries should always consult their own state's laws on matters concerning identification of persons with covered faces. ... Continue Reading

Handling an Attorney-in-Fact Notarization


A power of attorney is a legally binding document that grants a specified person, called an attorney-in-fact, power over someone else's assets, legal-decision making, real estate transactions, and medical decisions in the event the individual is incapacitated or otherwise unavailable. A valid power of attorney requires two parties: the principal, who is the person signing and granting the power of attorney to another person, and the agent (sometimes called attorney-in-fact), who is the person given the power to act on behalf of the principal. ... Continue Reading

Notaries and the Unauthorized Practice of Law


Unless a notary is also a licensed attorney, he or she may not give legal advice or accept fees for legal advice. In civil-law jurisdictions, and in most common-law jurisdictions outside the United States, notaries are essentially lawyers who have extensive training in the drafting of documents. However, American common-law notaries do not have any legal authority unless they happen to also be a licensed attorney. As a result, it would be considered unauthorized practice of law for a non-attorney notary to give legal advice. ... Continue Reading

Can a Notary Use a Signature Stamp to Notarize Documents?


Most notaries are accustomed to using a stamp to affix their official statement of authority as a notary public. This leads notaries to wonder if they can also utilize a rubber stamp, which is easier to use, in affixing their signature to notarial certificates. If you are a notary who notarizes multiple documents a day, using a signature stamp can be a tempting way to avoid hand cramping and carpal tunnel. However, laws that regulate the acts of notaries are often very strict. This includes using a facsimile signature stamp in lieu of a handwritten or wet signature. ... Continue Reading

Blind, Illiterate, and Disabled Signers


While it may be inconvenient to notarize documents for signers who are blind or illiterate, it is discriminatory to refuse to do so based solely on the disability of a signer. Notaries might not encounter these situations frequently, but it is important to know how to handle them. As state law often dictates specific procedures for interacting with illiterate or blind signers, you should consult your own state's laws to ensure compliance. This article will provide a general overview of how to handle these and other situations. ... Continue Reading

What is a Commissioner of Deeds?


A commissioner of deeds, like a notary public, is a public officer who can take acknowledgments and administer oaths. However, unlike notaries, commissioners of deeds can exercise their duties outside the state in which they are appointed, and their power is typically limited to authenticating documents intended to be used or recorded in the state of appointment. ... Continue Reading

A Notary Official Signature


The most critical element on a notarized document is the notary signature. The lack of a notary signature is fatal to the notarization. It is essential that the notary sign every notarial certificate that he or she notarizes. ... Continue Reading

How Much to Charge for Mobile Notary Services?


This is a somewhat sticky question for most mobile notaries. Why? Because how much you charge depends on a number of factors. ... Continue Reading

Why Notaries Cannot Notarize Their Own Documents


It seems so simple. You're about to purchase some real property, and a number of the documents require notarization. You're a notary (and you obviously know who you are), so why not notarize your own document? There are two primary reasons why notaries public should never notarize their own document: ... Continue Reading

Frequently Asked Questions About Notary Stamps/Seals


Notary stamps and seals is an important but confusing topic even for the most seasoned notary. So don't be embarrassed if you find yourself looking up this article. The rules can be tricky, and it's important to learn how to best protect yourself from liability or any appearance of impropriety. Below are some common questions we receive. ... Continue Reading

Your Notary Stamp Is Your Responsibility


Two of the most important things in a notary's possession are the notary stamp and journal. It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to keep these belongings safe and secure. You might think that your notary stamp was merely a simple purchase, but it's worth a lot more than that. Below are some reasons why and the best practices for keeping your notary stamp safe. ... Continue Reading

Notarizing a Power of Attorney


Most notaries take great care not to engage in the unauthorized practice of law, but some understandably grow concerned when presented with a power of attorney or other legal document. It's helpful to familiarize yourself with the various documents you might be called upon to acknowledge and to consider how you should answer if asked to draft or edit one. ... Continue Reading

Notarizing During Business Hours


Since most employed notaries become commissioned at the request of their employers, they occasionally inquire as to what types of restrictions their employers can place on them when it comes to performing their notarial duties. The answer to this question differs from state to state, so be sure to consult with you state's notary laws. If state law does not address it, be sure to speak with your employer to come up with a plan that is reasonable. ... Continue Reading

Employer Liability for Notary's Negligence


Is a notary's employer liable for the notary's mistakes? The answer is usually yes. Many state's laws do not provide any limit to the liability of a notary, and when a notary is acting in the course of his or her employment, that liability often extends to the notary's employer. ... Continue Reading

Can a Notary Notarize a Handwritten Document?


Many notaries ask whether it is acceptable to notarize a document that is handwritten by the client. In general, it is not up to the notary to decide whether a document presented for notarization is valid. Notarization does not make an illegal document legal and does not make an invalid document valid. ... Continue Reading

How to Become a Notary in the State of Michigan


Here's our step-by-step guide on becoming a Michigan notary. ... Continue Reading

How to Become a Notary in the State of Washington


By following our step-by-step guide below, you'll be on your way to becoming a Washington notary. ... Continue Reading

Can I notarize a document that is already signed?


Many notaries are presented with a document that is already signed and aren't sure whether or not they can proceed. This question can be answered by reviewing the two basic notarial acts: acknowledgments and oaths. ... Continue Reading

How to Become a Notary in the State of Georgia


Follow our step-by-step guide below to learn how to become a Georgia notary. ... Continue Reading

How to Become a Notary in the State of Kentucky


Here's our step-by-step guide on how to become a Kentucky Notary Public State at Large. ... Continue Reading

How to Become a Notary in the State of Virginia


Follow our step-by-step guide to become a Virginia notary. ... Continue Reading

How to Become a Notary in the State of Maryland


Would you like the title of notary public in the state of Maryland? The information below will guide you step-by-step through the process of becoming a Maryland notary. ... Continue Reading

How to Become a Notary in the State of Colorado


Do you want to become a notary in the State of Colorado? The information listed below will guide you step-by-step to become a Colorado notary. ... Continue Reading

How to Become a Notary in the State of Texas


Our easy-to-follow guide will show you step-by-step how to become a notary in the state of Texas. ... Continue Reading

How to Become a Notary in the State of Oklahoma


Please follow our step-by-step guide to learn how to become an Oklahoma notary. ... Continue Reading

How to Become a Notary in the State of Florida


Our information listed below will guide you step-by-step to become a Florida notary. ... Continue Reading

How to Become a Notary in the State of Indiana


If you're interested in becoming an Indiana notary public the information listed below will guide you step-by-step. ... Continue Reading

How to Become a Notary in the State of Kansas


To help you become a Kansas notary in the state of Kansas, we have listed below the steps that will guide you through the application process. ... Continue Reading

How to Become a Notary in the State of Missouri


Our easy guide below will show you how to become a Missouri notary step-by-step. ... Continue Reading

Top Five Notary Signing Agent Mistakes


Humans make mistakes. We just can't be right 100% of the time. With repetition and sound practices, however, most mistakes made can be eliminated. Here are the top mistakes notary signing agents make so you can be on the lookout. ... Continue Reading

How do I become a notary in the State of Arkansas


Compared to other states, Arkansas State has few eligibility requirements to become an Arkansas notary. Any Arkansas resident 18 years of age or older with no felony convictions is eligible to apply to become a Arkansas notary public. The information listed below will guide you step-by-step on how to become an Arkansas notary. ... Continue Reading

How do I become a notary in the State of Arizona


Compared to other states, Arizona State has few eligibility requirements to become an Arizona notary. Any Arizona resident 18 years of age or older with no felony convictions is eligible to apply to become an Arizona notary. The information listed below will guide you step-by-step on how to become an Arizona notary. ... Continue Reading

How to Become an Illinois Notary


Compared to other states, Illinois State has few eligibility requirements to become an Illinois notary. Any Illinois resident 18 years of age or older with no felony convictions is eligible to apply to become an Illinois notary. The information listed below will guide you step-by-step on how to become an Illinois notary. ... Continue Reading

Is it a good idea to place a signer thumbprint impression in a notary journal?


Most notary journals contain a space for placing an impression of the signer's thumbprint, but is taking a thumbprint a good idea? ... Continue Reading

Tips for Getting General Notary Work


You have your commission, insurance, and notary supplies, and you are raring to go. But where do you go, and how do you get general notary work? Here are a few tips to get you started. ... Continue Reading

Why Are Notary Journal Entries Important?


All states should require notary journals, but they don't. Texas requires them, but New Mexico doesn't, though they encourage their notaries to use them. I couldn't imagine not keeping a record of the notarial transactions I performed. Not only does recordkeeping deter fraud, but it also serves as a memory jogger and a means to cover your tracks while providing a paper trail. ... Continue Reading

How to Become a Notary Public In Florida


To become notary public in Florida, a Florida notary applicant must be 18 years of age or older, a legal resident of Florida, and able to read, write, and understand the English language. He or she cannot have been convicted of a felony. ... Continue Reading

Securing Your Notary Stamp May Save You a Trip to the Courthouse


Notaries are responsible for safeguarding their notary supplies and protecting them from fraudulent use. If your notary stamp is lost, you may have to appear before a court of law to prove that it was used fraudulently. When they are not in use, it is a good idea to keep your notary stamp and notary supplies in a locked drawer or cabinet, especially if you are an employee notary and conduct notary transactions at your place of business ... Continue Reading

11 Tips for Organizing Your Notary Website's Pages and Content


With more and more people conducting business online, building a notary website with the user in mind is important if you want to get more visitors and turn your notary website into a sales generator. ... Continue Reading

Using an Employer ID Number to do Notary Business


Let me preface this article by stating that I am not an accountant, nor do I specialize in any form of business taxes. I just did some research and decided that, instead of using my Social Security Number (SSN), I should use an Employer Identification Number (EIN), also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number, to do notary business. ... Continue Reading

Handling Missing Notarial Certificates


Most experienced notaries know that they should always keep a stack of acknowledgement and jurat notarial certificates on hand in case a client presents them with a document that does not include a notarial certificate. Unfortunately, not all notaries are experienced. There are a good number of notaries who have been working for a while and yet are not aware that a document cannot be notarized without a notarial certificate printed on or attached to the document. ... Continue Reading

Why Notary Training Is Crucial


There are a number of states that don't require any type of formal training to become a Notary Public. Texas is one of those states, and so is New Mexico. I have been asked during appointments, What does it take to become a Texas notary public? I have gotten to the point where I am almost embarrassed to answer this question. As notaries, we play such a vital role in the communities that we serve, it's hard to believe that there are no training requirements for some states. ... Continue Reading

The Notary Public and the Nonpaying Clients


If you have been a signing agent for any length of time, you have probably come across some nonpaying signing companies. Unfortunately, there are more than a few out there. Nonpaying signing companies happen to be a popular topic on many notary forums. As the signing agent industry continues to evolve, the list of non-paying signing companies continues to grow. ... Continue Reading

New Year's "To-Do's" for Notary Professionals


As business owners, we are either winding down the current year or gearing up for the new year. As we do so, let's take some time out to make sure our businesses are ready for a productive 2017. Here's a list of items to review: ... Continue Reading

Grow Your Notary Business This Holiday Season


The holiday season is upon us, and there is no better time to promote your business than now. Here are four ways to use your business during the holidays! ... Continue Reading

Simple Steps to Dispose of Your Notary Stamp


Have you retired? Chosen another line of work? Decided not to renew your commission? Whatever the reasons are, you are now in the possession of a notary stamp that is no longer necessary. To protect yourself from liability and to ensure your notary stamp doesn't fall into the wrong hands, you will need to render it useless. ... Continue Reading

What is a Notario Publico?


In its simplest form, the term notario publico translates to notary public. On a deeper level, however, the difference between a notario publico and a U.S. notary public is vast, and therefore it can be problematic for notaries to use this particular terminology in the United States. While a notary public in the United States is authorized to perform specific notarial acts and practice limited discretion, a notario publico in many Latin American countries is an individual who has received the equivalent of a law license and who is authorized to represent others before the government. ... Continue Reading

Notarizing Documents in Foreign Languages


I've had this question come up twice in the past couple of weeks, so I thought it would probably make for an interesting article. As notaries, we are approached to notarize documents for a number of different reasons. ... Continue Reading

Everything a Notary Must Know about an Apostille


According to the Hague Conference on Private International Law, An apostille is a certificate that authenticates the origin of a public document. In order for the apostille to be used, both the issuing and receiving countries must be party to the Apostille Convention. Additional information about the Apostille Convention can be found in the publication ABCs of Apostilles. In addition, the following link provides a list of countries belonging to the Apostille Convention. ... Continue Reading

Summer is Split-signing Time for Notary Signing Agents!


Vacation time is here, school is out, and families have started traveling. Notaries will see a few more split-signing appointments than usual. ... Continue Reading

Can a Notary Sign for a Disabled Person


I've had several appointments during which the signer was unable to physically sign his name to a document. I can see the family members are really worried about this when it happens. Many want to know if they can sign for the signer. I have to explain that unless they've been given a power of attorney by the signer, I am unable to notarize a document signed by them for the signer. ... Continue Reading

Resources to Help with Your Notary Business


I receive numerous phone calls and emails from notaries and other people who are interested in starting their own notary public businesses. These inquires come from all over the United States. They all want to know how to get their businesses started. ... Continue Reading

Can you notarize this photograph?


A notary should be prepared to explain to a client that notary law does not allow notaries merely to place their official notary seal and official notary signature on a document or photo in order to make it acceptable by the receiving party. A notary is almost always required to administer an oath or take an acknowledgment and complete a notarial certificate pertaining to the notarial act he or she performed. ... Continue Reading

What is in Your Notary Bag?


As notaries, we cannot do our jobs without the proper notary supplies. One of the most important tools in our arsenal of notary supplies is the notary stamp. While every state has different requirements for notaries, the notary stamps, seals, notary journals and other notary supplies are pretty standard. ... Continue Reading

Marketing to Title Companies


Like most notary signing agents, I went through the drill of contacting all of the four- and five-star signing companies listed on one of the well known signing agent directories. After I got a couple of years of experience under my belt, I decided to narrow my marketing efforts to local title companies. ... Continue Reading

How Much Do You Charge for Notary Services?


This is a somewhat sticky question for mobile notaries. Why? Well, how much you charge depends on a number of factors. ... Continue Reading

Professional Notary Website Appearance - Why You Need A Website


Personally, I believe that first impressions are lasting impressions. As signing agents, many of our first impressions are made on the internet. ... Continue Reading

Legal by Notarization


I honestly cannot count the number of times I've been asked the question, Once you notarize my document, will it be legal? If I were to guess, I'd say I'm asked at least once a week (during a slow week). It seems people feel that a notary public can do the same thing an attorney does, but at a cheaper price. ... Continue Reading

New! Online Notary Courses for AZ, CO, and TX - ONLY $25.00


Notaries in Arizona, Colorado, and Texas now have the option to get the notary education they need from the comfort of their own homes or offices 24/7. These courses will provide you with the skills and knowledge necessary to perform your notarial duties according to your state's notary laws and the established standards of sound notary practices. ... Continue Reading

Unauthorized Practice of Law -- Why ONLY Attorneys May Give Legal Advice


If you spend any time reading about notary duties, you will see many statements that a notary must avoid giving legal advice. What is legal advice? ... Continue Reading

Hospital Notary Work


When a notary public is asked to travel to a hospital, nursing home, or rehabilitation facility, this is referred to as hospital notary work. It is a type of mobile notary work that can be very rewarding or very frustrating, depending on the circumstances. ... Continue Reading

Notarizing for Family Members and the Family Businesses


Our readers have undoubtedly heard the legendary story about President Calvin Coolidge being sworn into the office of President of the United States of America by his father in 1923. ... Continue Reading

Six Critical Steps to Follow if a Notary Stamp is Lost


If you lose your notary seal, will you react like the notary public in today's example? Of course, you won't! Everything that this notary does is wrong. Today, learn from his mistakes and make note of the six critical steps that you must follow when a notarial seal is lost. ... Continue Reading

Space too Small for your Notary Stamp?


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! ... Continue Reading

Understanding Affidavits


An affidavit is a sworn or affirmed statement made before a notary public or any public official who has the authority to administer oaths. It is made under penalty of perjury, and the official must administer an oath or affirmation to the signer(s), witness the signing of the document and certify it by placing his official signature and seal and completing the notarial certificate called a jurat. ... Continue Reading

Protect Yourself: Report Stolen Notary Seals!


Have you recently left a job and had your seal or journal held back by your employer? Have you noticed that one or more of your seals is missing? If so, take immediate action to protect yourself. ... Continue Reading

What to Do When There Is No Pre-Printed Notary Certificate


If you provide notary services long enough, you will encounter people who have letters or statements or other documents that lack a pre-printed notary certificate. These are often the result of someone being told that they need a notarized statement or release or authorization in order to accomplish some purpose they have chosen. ... Continue Reading

Notary Journals Raise Issues about Public Records versus Privacy


Notaries public have access to many items of personal information in order to do a proper job of notarizing. We have to see the entire document to make sure the signer is able to freely and willingly sign. We have to briefly review the document to gather some specifics to record in our notary journals. We have to examine the satisfactory evidence presented that establishes the identity of the signer and record details of that evidence in our journals. Other specific information about the circumstances of the notarization (as covered in other articles in this series) has to be written into the journal as well. ... Continue Reading

How to Handle Documents with Pre-Printed Notarial Certificates


If a document has a pre-printed notarial certificate, that certificate serves two purposes: ... Continue Reading

The Contents of a Notary Journal


There are three primary types of notary journals. One has minimal space per entry; one has more generous space per entry but fewer entries per page; and one is designed for notary signing agents and has frequently-seen real estate documents pre-listed in it. Each of these three types can be found in paperback or hardback. Which type you choose is your decision. It is important to see a sample page of the journal before you buy it, as you will be using it for some time. ... Continue Reading

Why a Notary Journal Is Required


Almost no one likes to do paperwork, especially if they don't have to do it. So, if you tell them that paperwork is not required, most people will be happy to believe you and skip it. When it comes to the notary journal, skipping the paperwork is not an option. Keeping a notary journal is required for the following reasons: ... Continue Reading

Notary Public Seals or Stamps


The need for a trusted and impartial witness who can write down commercial and other agreements has been recognized since the time of the ancient Romans, who created the office of notarius or scribii to fulfill this need. If the parties to the agreement could not write, they used a metal or clay disk with a distinctive design or coat of arms (a private seal) pressed into melted wax in place of a signature. In the following centuries, as paper making became more widespread and written agreements became longer, the pages of a document were bound together by making holes in the margins, tying the pages together with a ribbon, and pouring wax over the ribbon's knot. If the document were to be notarized, the notary would press his official seal into the wax, thereby sealing the pages of the document together. ... Continue Reading

A Notary Signature is Essential on All Notarized Documents


The most critical of the five notary-specific elements on a notarized document is the notary signature. The lack of a notary signature is fatal to the notarization. It is essential that the notary always signs every notarial certificate that he or she notarizes. By signing the notary certificate, a notary is verifying that the venue, notary commission expiration date, and the notary certificate are true and correct. ... Continue Reading

The Importance of Including Your Notary's Commission Expiration Date on Notarized Documents


A notarial certificate indicates what actions the document's preparer wants the notary to perform. The venue states that the notarization took place in a particular location that lies within the jurisdiction of the notary public. The presence of a notary commission expiration date shows that the document was notarized at a time when the notary held authority to notarize. ... Continue Reading

Essential Facts about Notary Certificates


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.) ... Continue Reading

The Importance of the Venue on a Notarized Document


With a few exceptions, notarized documents contain five notary-specific elements: venue, the notary certificate, commission expiration date, notary signature, and notary seal. This article covers the venue. ... Continue Reading

A Notary Should Know How to Handle Acknowledged Statements


As stated in a previous article, sworn statements and acknowledged statements are the two most common types of notarized documents. The primary difference between the two types is that a sworn statement is made under penalty of perjury and requires an oath or affirmation while an acknowledged statement lacks these elements. If a document does not contain language about being duly sworn or upon oath, and if it has a notary certificate that does not mention an oath or affirmation or being sworn, then you are dealing with an acknowledged statement. ... Continue Reading

Notaries Should Know How to Handle Sworn Statements


Once you have confirmed the identity of the person seeking your notary services and verified that they are prepared to sign freely and willingly, the next duty of a notary public is to determine what type of document they have presented to you. The two most common types of notarized documents are sworn statements and acknowledged statements. Sworn statements are often (but not always) called affidavits. ... Continue Reading

What it Means to Sign a Document Freely and Willingly


A notary public is an official witness to someone signing a document freely and willingly. "Freely and willingly" is one of those phrases that people use without really considering the meaning. This expression has been in use for so long that everyone thinks they know what it covers, but most people do not actually know. ... Continue Reading

Verifying the Identity of the Signer


The most important duty of a notary public is to verify the identity of the person signing the document. How this is done will depend upon the law in the notary's jurisdiction, so please check the following general principles against your state's laws and rules. ... Continue Reading

Personal Appearance of the Signer Before a Notary Is Required


It should go without saying that the signer has to personally appear before the notary public. Unfortunately, people will test this bedrock principle, either out of ignorance or arrogance. ... Continue Reading

Notary Serves as an Official Witness to Transactions


A notary public is an official witness. To serve as an official witness, you must follow several important steps. ... Continue Reading

What Does A Notary Public Do?


If you tell someone that you are a notary public, you can often expect that he or she will nod knowingly, as if fully aware of what that means. However, most people know only that a notary is "someone who stamps documents." Why those documents are stamped and what is involved in the process is not as well-known by the general public. Some people will admit that they don't know and will come right out and ask you, "What does a notary public do?" To answer that question, you have to first understand what a notary public IS. ... Continue Reading

Four Steps to Follow When Ordering a New Notary Stamp


A notary stamp is one of the most important tools that a notary public will use in the performance of his or her notarial duties. The official seal of a notary on a document is a recognized mark indicating that: ... Continue Reading

How long must I retain my notary journals?


A document signer expects a notary not only to exercise reasonable care in notarizing his or her signature on a document, but also to be able to show evidence, often years after the date of the act, that the notarization was performed in accordance with proper notarial procedures.
... Continue Reading

Notary Stamp Ink Color: Black or Blue?


If your state does not address which color ink to use when notarizing documents, ordering a notary stamp with a blue ink color is best. Given the improved quality of copy machines these days, it is difficult to distinguish between originals and copies. A blue ink notary stamp impression usually shows lighter prints than the original print on a black-and-white copier. ... Continue Reading

Certifying Copies of a Notary's Record Book Entries


On occasion, a notary public may receive a request from the public for a copy or certified copy of one or more notarial acts that the notary previously performed and recorded in his or her notary's journal (also called a record book, register, or log). For example, a family member is questioning a will that was notarized two years prior, so another family member requests a copy of the recorded notarial act to verify the reliability of the will. ... Continue Reading

Steps to Certifying a Copy of an Original Document


Many states allow notaries to make certified copies of documents as long as the original document is not a publicly recorded document. Documents that clients may ask to have certified by a notary include contracts, letters, settlement statements, agreements, and bills of sale. This list is certainly not all inclusive. ... Continue Reading

Florida Bills Close in on Notary Journal Requirement


If passed, either of two bills that were filed with Florida legislative bodies at the end of 2013 will significantly update Florida notary laws to include the requirement of keeping a journal of notary acts. The new law would go into effect on July 1, 2014. ... Continue Reading

Notary Jurat Certificates vs. Acknowledgment Certificates


The two most common notarial certificates used by notaries public are jurats and acknowledgments. They are not handled the same and this confuses many notaries public. Please note the differences explained below. ... Continue Reading

The Notary Commission Belongs to the Notary


Becoming a notary public is a noteworthy undertaking; there are many reasons why a person may apply for a notary commission. Some apply for a notary commission to broaden their professional credentials and skills for employment. Others become notaries at the request of an employer or as a service to their business clients. Law firms, shipping centers, banks, and post offices are a few of the many types of businesses that have notaries on staff. ... Continue Reading

Notarizing Handwritten Documents


Perhaps a father needs to have a statement notarized that authorizes his child to go on a trip with a friend's family. He might decide to handwrite it. The same could be true for a building tenant who needs to provide a letter to a housing authority verifying household income. Or, perhaps a separated couple facing an income tax issue may need to quickly submit a notarized declaration that they have lived apart for several months. ... Continue Reading

Notarizing Last Wills and Testaments


Wills are highly sensitive probate documents that determine how a person's assets will be distributed after his or her death. The person making the will is called a "testator" if male and a "testatrix" if female. ... Continue Reading

Notarizing for Blind and Illiterate Individuals


Most notarizations a notary will perform involve signers who are competent, understand the content in the document, and have the ability to sign freely and willingly. In rare situations you may receive a request to perform a notarization from a client who is blind or illiterate. How will you proceed? Will you refuse to perform the notarization simply because the signer is unable to read? Is it enough to ask those signers for proper identification and acknowledge they understand the contents of the document and proceed with the notarial act? What protections will you offer vulnerable signers to ensure a smooth and honest transaction? ... Continue Reading

Notaries, Plan Ahead for Tax Season


The end of the year will be upon us before we know it. Black Friday promotions, holiday decorations and cold weather serve to remind us that the end of the year is fast approaching. Along with making preparations for holiday and family gatherings, notaries may want to begin planning ahead for the upcoming tax filing season by making sure that detailed records of any invoices, bank statements, receipts, and 1099s will be in place for a timely and smooth filing. ... Continue Reading

Do I-9 Forms Require Notarization?


Many notaries across the nation receive requests from an employer to notarize or verify Employment Eligibility Verification (I-9) forms. The completion of an I-9 Form for each employee is mandated for every employer or agricultural recruiter/referrer-for-a-fee hirer. (An agricultural referrer is any farm labor contractor or agricultural employer or association.) All such employers and recruiters are subject to periodic ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) inspections to assure that accurately completed I-9 forms are on file for every employee; violators are subject to fines and administrative sanctions. Thus the proper completion and execution of the I-9 form is of extreme importance. ... Continue Reading

Pre-Inked Notary Stamps vs. Self-Inking Notary Stamps



The official seal of a notary on a legal document is a recognized mark that the notary is an officer of the state qualified to provide the services being rendered and that the authenticity of the signature on a legal document is being verified. It is important when making an impression of your notary stamp to ensure that all the required information will clearly print on the document that you notarize. Missing or unclear elements of the notary stamp may jeopardize acceptance of the document you notarize, making it questionable and probably invalid. ... Continue Reading

Notarizing for Family Members


Notaries must be impartial witnesses to transactions. They may not have an interest in the documents that they notarize. By the same token, notaries are prohibited from notarizing their own signatures, or documents in which they are named. ... Continue Reading

Notarizing Previously Signed Documents


There are times, as a notary, when you will be presented with a document for notarization that has been previously signed. This may occur simply because the signer thinks he is being thorough by filling in all the blanks and signing before he meets with you. At other times, a document may have been signed and submitted to the recipient before the signer was aware that notarization was required and now the document has been returned and the signer requires the services of a notary. ... Continue Reading

Can a Notary Offer Non-Notarial Services to their Notary Clients?


Most notaries acquire a notary commission as an additional credential. Very often, offering notarial services is not the notary's only, or primary, occupation. Many individuals become notaries at the request of their employers, while others wish to offer services to their local communities and neighborhoods. ... Continue Reading

Is a University ID Acceptable When Notarizing Documents?


The most basic task of the notary public, which underlies all other processes and procedures, is to identify properly the signer of a document. ... Continue Reading

Notarizing Foreign Language Documents


One of the keys to acceptable and accurate notarizations is clear communication between the signer and the notary. ... Continue Reading

Are My Donated Notary Services Tax Deductible?


If you are offering notarial services free of charge to certain segments of your constituency, this simply means you are not charging the notarial fees (or any additional travel fees) for the notarial tasks you perform. ... Continue Reading

Can a Witness to a Notarization Have a Financial Interest in the Notarized Document?


The role of the notary public in society is of vital importance. When a notary places his or her stamp and signature on a document, the document recipient or the receiving institution automatically assumes that the notary has executed his or her responsibility correctly. This means that the notary has maintained impartiality, has performed notarial duties according to state law, and has acted with the utmost integrity. ... Continue Reading

What If There Is No Room for the Notary Stamp or Notary Seal?


One of the most important steps in the notarization of any document is the placing of the notary stamp seal. This step, along with the notary's signature, is the culmination of all the preliminary steps in notarizing, such as identity checking, document scanning, and making record book entries. The notary stamp contains all the identifying information of the notary public - name, commission state and county, notary commission number, and commission expiration date. It is essential and mandatory that all of this information be placed neatly and legibly on every document that the notary executes. ... Continue Reading

Can a Notary Certify a Copy of a Passport or a Driver's License?


State laws vary on the acceptability and procedures for copy certifications. As with every other type of notarial procedure, notaries should study carefully their state's statutes on copy certification to see if, and how, it is administered. ... Continue Reading

How to Get Your First Assignment as a Signing Agent


If you've taken the steps to become a notary public, you've made a noble decision and are now ready to embark on an exciting career. You are now considered to be an officer of whatever state you reside in who serves the public by providing notarial services. This is an honorable endeavor; your government and your constituency will rely on you to perform your duties with integrity and accuracy. ... Continue Reading

Refusing to Notarize When There Is a Question of Benefit


A notary public should comply with every reasonable request when called upon to notarize a document. However, there are times when a request may not only be unreasonable, but may actually be unlawful. ... Continue Reading

The Benefits of an Employee Notary


Individuals who seek the office of the notary public come from many walks of life. Indeed, the vast majority of notaries have other professions and careers and obtain a notary commission in addition to their other jobs, skills, and credentials. ... Continue Reading

How to Advertise Your Notary Services


A notary public is a state officer commissioned by his or her state of residence to serve the public as an unbiased, impartial witness. More than likely, if you are a commissioned notary, you have undergone some kind of training or classes to become a knowledgeable expert in how to perform your notarial duties. ... Continue Reading

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


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. ... Continue Reading

What Is a Mobile Notary, and How Do I Become One?


A mobile notary is any notary who, upon request, travels from location to location to perform notarial services. While a mobile notary may perform any type of notarial service prescribed by his or her state's statutory laws, it is more common that mobile notaries are called upon to perform various types of real estate or mortgage transactions. Hence, the mobile notaries who perform such services are often called notary signing agents or mortgage signing agents. They are distinguished from loan closers who, in most states, have more complex duties than a commissioned notary public. ... Continue Reading

Having Multiple Notary Stamps - A Good Practice


While there are several states that do not specifically require the use of a notary stamp, most notaries find that a self-inking notary stamp is the easiest, cleanest, and most expeditious means of inscribing the mandated notary commission information onto a notarized document. ... Continue Reading

How to Handle Lost or Stolen Notary Supplies


Notaries are responsible for safeguarding their notary supplies and protecting them from fraudulent use. ... Continue Reading

Understanding the Importance of Your Notary Commission Name


Once you have received your notary commission from the state, you are ready to embark on your new career as a notary public. ... Continue Reading

How to Properly Use a Notary Stamp


Using a self-inking notary stamp is the easiest way to inscribe the notary commission information on a document to be notarized; it is quick, easy, and neat. ... Continue Reading

Using Notary Gold Foil Seals on Notarized Documents


While the self-inking or pre-inked notary stamp is the convenient tool of choice for all notaries when notarizing documents, there are times when a notary may wish to add extra enhancement to the executed document. ... Continue Reading

Using a Notary Seal Impression Inker on an Embossed Document


As a notary, you are not just a public servant, but you are also a professional and, as such, will want to take pride in your work. There are times when you may wish to give an added flair or enhancement to the document you are notarizing. ... Continue Reading

Notary Supplies That Every Notary Should Have!


The notary is a public officer and, as such, is required to comply with any reasonable request for notarization. Whether you are a notary with your own notary signing service or an employee notary, it is a good idea to keep essential notary supplies with you at all times so that you may be ready to adequately and efficiently serve the public upon request. ... Continue Reading

Employed Notaries - Your Notary Supplies Belong to the Notary


An employee notary is a notary who obtained a commission at the request of his or her employer. Perhaps your company transacts with clients, such as banks or insurance companies, that must have documents notarized on a regular basis. ... Continue Reading

How to Safeguard Your Notary Supplies


Notaries are responsible for safeguarding their notary supplies against fraudulent use. These items include the notary's original certificate or commission, the notary stamp and seal, and the notary record book of notarial acts. ... Continue Reading

How to Properly Destroy Your Expired Notary Stamps and Supplies


When a notary reaches the end of the notary commission term or decides to end his or her notary career, all expired and defunct notary supplies must be disposed of safely and properly. ... Continue Reading

How to Choose a Bonding and Notary Supplies Company


It is critical to choose a very reputable notary bonding agency and a notary stamp and notary supplies company that is approved by your state to issue notary bonds and notary supplies. As with any notary insurance, you want an agency you can count on. One that will still be here tomorrow and for years to come. ... Continue Reading

Practicing Law without a License / Unlawful Advertising


The following are issues that are addressed by law in many states and may carry severe penalties. Notaries in those states that do not address these issues should heed the following: ... Continue Reading

Tax Time - Notary, Start Now to Save!


Year's end is the time to start organizing for your taxes. And when the year is new, begin new procedures to make next year's taxes better for you. Here are some ideas to make things easier for a notary. ... Continue Reading

Homeland Security - A Notary Can Contribute


A notary public is at the forefront of security, in that notaries can significantly reduce fraud and are often responsible for detection of fraudulent identification documents. ... Continue Reading

Steps to a Proper Notarization


Notaries should follow proper procedures to minimize any risk of liability for an improper notarial act and reduce opportunities for fraud. With every notarization, the notary should use precise measures to: ... Continue Reading

Notaries, Avoid Conflicts of Interest!


Never act in a notary capacity if you have any involvement whatsoever in the transaction taking place. If you are named in the document, or if a family member or close affiliate is named, refuse to notarize. You must be a completely unbiased witness to the execution, and you are not unbiased, if for example, your spouse, your sister, or your boyfriend stands to gain financially or emotionally from the transaction taking place. ... Continue Reading

Why Do You Need Notary Errors and Omissions Insurance?


Many notaries are unaware that they have total liability for incorrect or inappropriate notary acts. If a notary makes an error that costs a client something of value, that client could sue, even if the notary had no idea of the wrongdoing. Ignorance of the law is not considered an excuse. ... Continue Reading

AAN Introduces Laser Engraving For Notary Stamps


In order to bring our members the absolute best in notary stamp and notary seal technology, the American Association of Notaries now provides notary stamps and notary seals made with a state of the art Laser Engraving process. ... Continue Reading

Notary Fees - How much to Charge


Notaries must know their state notary laws regarding all aspects of their notary commission, and this includes fees. You must NOT charge more than the law allows for any notarization. This can result in severe penalties against the notary. You may of course offer your services at no charge. Discuss fees and how you will handle them with your employer to avoid any misunderstandings. ... Continue Reading

Notaries: Maintain a Notary Journal!


The notary's best defense is the notary record book, or notary journal. Some states require notaries to keep a notary record book and some states do not; however, all notaries are encouraged to keep a journal of every notarial act. ... Continue Reading

Why Belong to a Professional Notary Association?


Notaries assume liability for every notarial act upon being commissioned as a notary public. It is critical to obtain the best information available to ensure compliance with your state's laws. If you observe laws properly, you can protect yourself and minimize opportunity for liability. ... Continue Reading

Texas Notaries Are Forbidden From Recording ID Card Numbers


As of April 22, 2007 Texas Notaries Public Are Forbidden From Recording Identification Card Numbers in Their Notary Record Books. Section 406.014(a)(5) does not require that the personal information on the identification card be recorded in the notary record book. However, notaries public have recorded the driver's license in their notary record books. ... Continue Reading
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.

Notary bonds and errors and omissions insurance policies provided by this insurance agency, American Association of Notaries, Inc., are underwritten by Western Surety Company, Universal Surety of America, or Surety Bonding Company of America, which are subsidiaries of CNA Surety.