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Notarial Certificates


Latin Abbreviations Printed on Notarial Certificates


Occasionally, notaries may find the letters "S.S." or "L.S." preprinted on a notarial certificate. Some notaries may be confused by this, and we have even seen notaries write the signer's Social Security Number after the letters "S.S."

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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How to Handle Documents with Pre-Printed Notarial Certificates


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

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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