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.)

A jurat is normally used when the signer is making an oath or affirmation as to the truthfulness of the facts stated in the document or as to his intent to perform the acts required by the document. The standard form of a jurat states that the signer appeared before the notary and swore (or affirmed) that the facts in the document were true and that the signer signed the document in the presence of the notary. It implies that the notary verified the identity of the signer and that the signer executed the document freely and willingly.

In an acknowledgment the signer is acknowledging before a notary that he or she signed the document freely and willingly. An acknowledgment does not specify that the signer took an oath.

There is also a notarial certificate which combines elements of the jurat and the acknowledgment. That type of certificate will be the subject of a future article.

As the notary certificate is a statement completed, signed, and sealed by the notary, it is the responsibility of the notary to be sure that it accurately states the details of the notarization. If anything in it is incorrect or missing, the notary has full authority to correct it and is required to do so using the usual method for corrections (one line through the incorrect information, print the correct information, and initial). Not correcting missing or inaccurate items in the notary certificate is a notary error that could have very serious consequences for the notary, the signer, or other members of the public. A notary commits negligence in his official duty if he signs and seals a document without verifying the details in the notary certificate.

The American Association of Notaries supplies rubber stamps containing the standard jurat forms and acknowledgment certificates.

This article is part of the series that began with What Does a Notary Public Do?

-- Tim Gatewood is a Contributing Writer with the American Association of Notaries

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. 

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