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.

However, there are exceptions. First, an acknowledgment does not require that the document be signed in the notary's presence. On the contrary, the document could have been signed years earlier - and bear an earlier date - but the principal signer must still personally appear before the notary to acknowledge his or her signature. The notarial certificate is then completed with the date the signer appeared - not the date the document was signed. Of course, documents that require an oath to be administered must always be signed in the presence of the notary.

That said, what does a notary do when a document has been dated for the future? First, it is necessary to distinguish between the signature date and the document date. The content of a document is generally not the notary's concern. Therefore, the fact that a document may contain an "effective date" or an "entered-into date" in the future does not necessarily preclude the document from being notarized. Consequently, this date is usually irrelevant as it pertains to the notary.

However, the date of the signature (i.e., the date on which the signer actually set the pen to paper) cannot be a date in the future. The reason is that it's impossible to notarize a signature on January 1 if the signature wasn't made until January 2. The discrepancy between the signature date and notarization date could cause the document to be rejected.

When presented with a post-dated document, carefully review the area around the principal signature to ensure that the signature date does not conflict with the date of the notarization. Sometimes this date may be included in the execution clause (i.e., "in witness whereof...") rather than immediately beside the signature. Always consult state law and use your best judgment when exercising your duties as a notary public.

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

Legal Disclaimer: The American Association of Notaries is committed to providing accurate and up-to-date information. However, it is important to note that the information provided on this page is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. We do not claim to be attorneys and do not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or reliability of the information provided. It is your responsibility to know the appropriate notary laws governing your state. You should always seek the advice of a licensed attorney for any legal matters. In no event shall the American Association of Notaries, its employees, or contractors be liable to you for any claims, penalties, losses, damages, 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 on any of the American Association of Notaries website pages. Notaries are advised to seek the advice of their state’s notary authorities or attorneys if they have legal questions. 

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.