Can a Notary Use a Signature Stamp to Notarize Documents?

Most notaries are accustomed to using a notary 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.

California, for example, requires that a notary sign each certificate in his or her own handwriting, which would preclude the use of a signature stamp. Florida allows the use of a signature stamp only by notaries with disabilities, who must first submit a facsimile of the stamp to the Department of State.

Texas, on the other hand, as stated in its FAQ page, allows Texas notaries public to use a printed, written, typed, or stamped signature as long as the signature matches the notary name which is on file with the Secretary of State. This is an exception rather than the rule, however. While most states require a handwritten signature, some are silent on the matter. New York is a state that falls into the latter category. If your state doesn't have official policy regarding signatures, we recommend consulting with your state's commissioning authority.

Because a notary's signature is subject to official authentication for use overseas, be diligent in being absolute certain that your state permits signature stamps. It is also important to be consistent. It is not recommended that a notary switch back and forth, for example, between using a handwritten signature and a signature stamp.

The American Association of Notaries always recommends using your official, handwritten signature, exactly as it appears on your oath of office. This is an additional fraud deterrent. Any notarized document bearing a facsimile of your signature, rather than an original, wet signature, would raise a red flag. If you do use a signature stamp, it is recommended that you notate that fact in your record book.

Laws between the different states can vary greatly on every aspect of notary law. Signature stamps are no exception, and many states have specific regulations pertaining to their use.

By Robert T. Koehler, a Contributing Writer with the American Association of Notaries, Inc.

Legal Disclaimer: The American Association of Notaries seeks to provide timely articles for notaries to assist them with information for managing their notary businesses, enhancing their notary education, and securing their notary stamp and notary supplies. Every effort is made to provide accurate and complete information in the American Association of Notaries newsletters. However, we make no warrant, expressed or implied, and we do not represent, undertake, or guarantee that the information in the newsletter is correct, accurate, complete, or non-misleading. 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 notaries' best practices, federal laws and statutes, and the laws and statutes of each state, we have gathered this information from a variety of sources and do not warrant its accuracy. In no event shall the American Association of Notaries, its employees, or contractors be liable to you for any claims, penalties, loss, damage, or expenses, howsoever arising, including, and without limitation, direct or indirect loss or consequential loss out of or in connection with the use of the information contained in the American Association of Notaries newsletters. It is your responsibility to know the appropriate notary laws governing your state. Notaries are advised to seek the advice of their states' notary authorities or attorneys in their state if they have legal questions. If a section of this disclaimer is determined by any court or other competent authority to be unlawful and/or unenforceable, the other sections of this disclaimer continue in effect.

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.

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