Improper Notary Stamp and Seal Usage

A notary public's stamp or seal, when affixed on a completed notarial certificate, is a symbol of trust assuring the receiving parties that the signature on the document is genuine and the signer is who they claim to be. However, improper use of a notary stamp can invalidate documents and expose notaries to legal trouble.

Here's a breakdown of six key things a notary should avoid when notarizing documents:

1- Placing a notary stamp over text.

Placing the notary stamp over text can render parts of the document unreadable, which may cause the receiving parties to reject the notarized document. This can result in delays and additional costs for re-notarization.

2- Blurry or incomplete notary stamp impressions.

A blurry or incomplete notary stamp impression can raise doubts about the authenticity of the notarization. The document may appear unprofessional and inspire suspicions of fraud or improper practice. County clerks may refuse to record documents with blurry or incomplete stamp impressions. This can cause delays in processing important transactions, legal filings, or contractual agreements and lead to financial losses or legal disputes.

3- Using an incorrect notary stamp ink color.

Many states have specific regulations regarding the color of ink that should be used for notary stamps. The recording office or receiving parties may reject documents notarized with non-compliant ink colors.

4- Using an expired notary stamp.

Using an expired notary stamp is a serious breach of a notary’s duties that can lead to significant legal and professional consequences. Notary commissions in most states have expiration dates, and using a stamp beyond this date undermines the validity of the notarization and can lead to legal disputes.

5- Pre-stamping documents.

This practice involves placing a notary stamp on business documents intended to be notarized at a later time. Pre-stamping documents is a violation of notary laws and can lead to fraud if these documents fall into the hands of unscrupulous individuals. Pre-stamping may also result in administrative action against the notary by their state’s notary authority.

6- Incorrect information printed on the notary stamp.

Incorrect information printed on the notary stamp may render notarized documents invalid. A notary stamp typically includes the notary's name, commission number, expiration date, and other information required by law. If the details on the stamp do not match the notary’s commission information, legal authorities and institutions may reject the document, resulting in delays and additional costs for all involved parties. To prevent these issues, verify that the information on your notary stamp is correct and conforms to the legal notary stamp requirements of your state.

7- Failing to darken a notary seal embosser’s raised impression.

In states that allow the use of a notary seal embosser, notaries should darken the raised impressions created by their embossers. This makes it possible for people to read the information printed on the notary seal. Embosser impressions alone can be difficult to see and photocopy, which can cause legal authorities, institutions, or other parties to question or reject the notarization. Notary seal embosser impressions can be easily darkened with a notary seal impression inker.

By avoiding improper use of their notary stamps, notaries can uphold the integrity of their profession, protect themselves from liability, and ensure the documents they notarize are accepted. Remember, proper use of a notary stamp is essential in any successful notary career.

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.