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Can I Notarize this Document?
A question frequently asked by both new and experienced notaries is, “Can I notarize this document?” Notaries are sometimes unsure how to proceed when presented with an unfamiliar type of document or with an unusual request from a customer. In general, any written document can be notarized if the general requirements for notarization are met, including completing a notarial certificate, inspecting identification, etc.... Continue Reading
Can I Notarize a Document Bound for a Foreign Country?
From time to time, notaries public may be asked to notarize a document that will be sent overseas. This type of request is common with foreign adoptions and foreign real estate transactions. You can notarize any instrument of writing as long as the transaction isn't obviously fraudulent and the appropriate notarial certificate is specified. However, there are some things you should know and do when notarizing documents headed overseas:... Continue Reading
Notarizing Birth Certificates
Notaries are occasionally asked to "certify a copy" of a birth certificate. This misunderstanding stems from the cruise ship industry, which for years told cruisegoers that a "notarized birth certificate" was acceptable as proof of citizenship. In reality, notaries are not authorized to make certified copies of birth certificates, regardless of where the original birth certificate was issued.... Continue Reading
Importance of the Personal Appearance of the Signer
The very foundation of notarization rests upon the personal appearance of the person requiring a notarial service. Since colonial times, it has been one of the basic requirements of notarial acts that the signatory personally appear before a notary. Even in states where remote notarization has been legalized, personal appearance is still king.... Continue Reading
Identifying a Signer in a Face Covering
One of the keystones of notarization is the proper identification of the signer. The notary must always be totally satisfied as to the identity of the signer before proceeding with the notarization. But in today's world of mask-wearing, identifying a signer can be problematic, especially because there isn't one clear cut-and-dry solution to the problem.... Continue Reading
Everything a Notary Needs to Know About Acknowledgments
Notaries in every state are authorized to take acknowledgments, but this basic act is often misunderstood by both new and experienced notaries. An acknowledgment is a public declaration made by the signer of a particular document that he or she executed the document voluntarily as his or her free act and deed. The acknowledgment, in a sense, solemnizes the execution of an instrument of writing. Documents usually requiring an acknowledgment include deeds, mortgages, and powers of attorney. The acknowledgment is the most common, and arguably the most important notarial act.... Continue Reading
Notaries frequently encounter situations in which the name of the signer on a document does not match the name on the identification the signer furnishes. It is a common myth that notaries should accept an identification using a "less, not more" rule - i.e., if the document says John Quincy Smith but the identification says only John Q. Smith, the notary shouldn't perform the notarization. However, there is no law in any state stipulating such a rule.... Continue Reading
Mistakes Notaries Should Avoid
While it may seem that a notary’s job is straightforward, simple errors could result in delays and legal or financial consequences. This is why notaries should take their jobs seriously. Below is an overview of the common mistakes that notaries should avoid.... Continue Reading
Notaries, Notarios Publicos, and Immigration
Notaries exist in nearly every country on the planet, but the role of notaries in the United States is far more limited than that of their international counterparts. In other countries, notaries are usually lawyers or other professionals who have been specifically trained in the drafting of documents.... Continue Reading
Does Notarizing a Document Make it Legal?
Most adults will have to get something notarized at some point in their lives The public's perception of what a notary does and what notarization accomplishes is often incorrect. This is particularly the case when a person brings a document to a notary public to be notarized, thinking that the notarization will in some way "legalize" the document or make it "official."... Continue Reading
Nine Ways to Protect Your Notary Stamp
Keeping your notary stamp safe and secure should be a top priority for all notaries. As a public officer of your state performing official notarial acts for important transactions, it is imperative that you retain your notary stamp in your possession at all times.... Continue Reading
Notarizing Absentee (or Vote-by-Mail) Ballots
An absentee or vote-by-mail ballot is a ballot cast in a United States election by mail, rather than at an official polling station. There are various reasons why a voter may choose to vote by mail rather than in person. Some states require that the voter have a good reason for requesting an absentee ballot, such as being stationed overseas in the military, or being homebound due to a disability. Other states allow any voter to use an absentee ballot. Each state also has different requirements on whether such a ballot requires notarization... Continue Reading
Notarizing for Signers who Cover their Faces
As a public officer, a notary cannot discriminate on the basis of sex, race, or religion. However, unintentional discrimination may arise when a woman who covers her face for religious reasons requests your notarial services. When this circumstance occurs, a notary must always act with the utmost caution to ensure that he or she does not discriminate but also follows the law. For this reason, notaries should always consult their own state's laws on matters concerning identification of persons with covered faces.... Continue Reading
Handling an Attorney-in-Fact Notarization
A power of attorney is a legally binding document that grants a specified person, called an attorney-in-fact, power over someone else's assets, legal-decision making, real estate transactions, and medical decisions in the event the individual is incapacitated or otherwise unavailable. A valid power of attorney requires two parties: the principal, who is the person signing and granting the power of attorney to another person, and the agent (sometimes called attorney-in-fact), who is the person given the power to act on behalf of the principal.... Continue Reading
Notaries and the Unauthorized Practice of Law
Unless a notary is also a licensed attorney, he or she may not give legal advice or accept fees for legal advice. In civil-law jurisdictions, and in most common-law jurisdictions outside the United States, notaries are essentially lawyers who have extensive training in the drafting of documents. However, American common-law notaries do not have any legal authority unless they happen to also be a licensed attorney. As a result, it would be considered unauthorized practice of law for a non-attorney notary to give legal advice.... Continue Reading
Can a Notary Use a Signature Stamp to Notarize Documents?
Most notaries are accustomed to using a 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.... Continue Reading
A Notary Official Signature
The most critical element on a notarized document is the notary signature. The lack of a notary signature is fatal to the notarization. It is essential that the notary sign every notarial certificate that he or she notarizes.... Continue Reading
Why Notaries Cannot Notarize Their Own Documents
It seems so simple. You're about to purchase some real property, and a number of the documents require notarization. You're a notary (and you obviously know who you are), so why not notarize your own document? There are two primary reasons why notaries public should never notarize their own document:... Continue Reading
Employer Liability for Notary's Negligence
Is a notary's employer liable for the notary's mistakes? The answer is usually yes. Many state's laws do not provide any limit to the liability of a notary, and when a notary is acting in the course of his or her employment, that liability often extends to the notary's employer.... Continue Reading
Can a Notary Notarize a Handwritten Document?
Many notaries ask whether it is acceptable to notarize a document that is handwritten by the client. In general, it is not up to the notary to decide whether a document presented for notarization is valid. Notarization does not make an illegal document legal and does not make an invalid document valid.... Continue Reading
Top Five Notary Signing Agent Mistakes
Humans make mistakes. We just can't be right 100% of the time. With repetition and sound practices, however, most mistakes made can be eliminated. Here are the top mistakes notary signing agents make so you can be on the lookout.... Continue Reading
Using an Employer ID Number to do Notary Business
Let me preface this article by stating that I am not an accountant, nor do I specialize in any form of business taxes. I just did some research and decided that, instead of using my Social Security Number (SSN), I should use an Employer Identification Number (EIN), also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number, to do notary business.... Continue Reading
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.... Continue Reading
Notary Best Practices Steps to a Proper Notarization Notarial Certificates Practicing Law Without a License
Can you notarize this photograph?
A notary should be prepared to explain to a client that notary law does not allow notaries merely to place their official notary seal and official notary signature on a document or photo in order to make it acceptable by the receiving party. A notary is almost always required to administer an oath or take an acknowledgment and complete a notarial certificate pertaining to the notarial act he or she performed.... Continue Reading
How Much Do You Charge for Notary Services?
This is a somewhat sticky question for mobile notaries. Why? Well, how much you charge depends on a number of factors.... Continue Reading
Legal by Notarization
I honestly cannot count the number of times I've been asked the question, Once you notarize my document, will it be legal? If I were to guess, I'd say I'm asked at least once a week (during a slow week). It seems people feel that a notary public can do the same thing an attorney does, but at a cheaper price.... Continue Reading
Notarizing for Family Members and the Family Businesses
Our readers have undoubtedly heard the legendary story about President Calvin Coolidge being sworn into the office of President of the United States of America by his father in 1923.... Continue Reading
Six Critical Steps to Follow if a Notary Stamp is Lost
If you lose your notary seal, will you react like the notary public in today's example? Of course, you won't! Everything that this notary does is wrong. Today, learn from his mistakes and make note of the six critical steps that you must follow when a notarial seal is lost.... Continue Reading
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.... Continue Reading
Notary Stamp and Supplies Notary Best Practices Steps to a Proper Notarization Notarial Certificates What Does a Notary Do? Affidavits
Protect Yourself: Report Stolen Notary Seals!
Have you recently left a job and had your seal or journal held back by your employer? Have you noticed that one or more of your seals is missing? If so, take immediate action to protect yourself.... Continue Reading
How to Handle Documents with Pre-Printed Notarial Certificates
If a document has a pre-printed notarial certificate, that certificate serves two purposes:... Continue Reading
The Contents of a Notary Journal
There are three primary types of notary journals. One has minimal space per entry; one has more generous space per entry but fewer entries per page; and one is designed for notary signing agents and has frequently-seen real estate documents pre-listed in it. Each of these three types can be found in paperback or hardback. Which type you choose is your decision. It is important to see a sample page of the journal before you buy it, as you will be using it for some time.... Continue Reading
Notary Stamp and Supplies Notary Best Practices Notary Journals Steps to a Proper Notarization What Does a Notary Do?
A Notary Signature is Essential on All Notarized Documents
The most critical of the five notary-specific elements on a notarized document is the notary signature. The lack of a notary signature is fatal to the notarization. It is essential that the notary always signs every notarial certificate that he or she notarizes. By signing the notary certificate, a notary is verifying that the venue, notary commission expiration date, and the notary certificate are true and correct.... Continue Reading
Notary Best Practices Steps to a Proper Notarization Maintaining Your Notary Commission What Does a Notary Do?
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.)... Continue Reading
The Importance of the Venue on a Notarized Document
With a few exceptions, notarized documents contain five notary-specific elements: venue, the notary certificate, commission expiration date, notary signature, and notary seal. This article covers the venue.... Continue Reading
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.... Continue Reading
Notary Best Practices Steps to a Proper Notarization Notarial Certificates Duties of a Notary What Does a Notary Do?
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.... Continue Reading
What it Means to Sign a Document Freely and Willingly
A notary public is an official witness to someone signing a document freely and willingly. "Freely and willingly" is one of those phrases that people use without really considering the meaning. This expression has been in use for so long that everyone thinks they know what it covers, but most people do not actually know.... Continue Reading
Verifying the Identity of the Signer
The most important duty of a notary public is to verify the identity of the person signing the document. How this is done will depend upon the law in the notary's jurisdiction, so please check the following general principles against your state's laws and rules.... Continue Reading
Personal Appearance of the Signer Before a Notary Is Required
It should go without saying that the signer has to personally appear before the notary public. Unfortunately, people will test this bedrock principle, either out of ignorance or arrogance.... Continue Reading
How long must I retain my notary journals?
A document signer expects a notary not only to exercise reasonable care in notarizing his or her signature on a document, but also to be able to show evidence, often years after the date of the act, that the notarization was performed in accordance with proper notarial procedures.... Continue Reading
Certifying Copies of a Notary's Record Book Entries
On occasion, a notary public may receive a request from the public for a copy or certified copy of one or more notarial acts that the notary previously performed and recorded in his or her notary's journal (also called a record book, register, or log). For example, a family member is questioning a will that was notarized two years prior, so another family member requests a copy of the recorded notarial act to verify the reliability of the will.... Continue Reading
Steps to Certifying a Copy of an Original Document
Many states allow notaries to make certified copies of documents as long as the original document is not a publicly recorded document. Documents that clients may ask to have certified by a notary include contracts, letters, settlement statements, agreements, and bills of sale. This list is certainly not all inclusive.... Continue Reading
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.... Continue Reading
Notarizing Handwritten Documents
Perhaps a father needs to have a statement notarized that authorizes his child to go on a trip with a friend's family. He might decide to handwrite it. The same could be true for a building tenant who needs to provide a letter to a housing authority verifying household income. Or, perhaps a separated couple facing an income tax issue may need to quickly submit a notarized declaration that they have lived apart for several months.... Continue Reading
Notarizing Last Wills and Testaments
Wills are highly sensitive probate documents that determine how a person's assets will be distributed after his or her death. The person making the will is called a "testator" if male and a "testatrix" if female.... Continue Reading
Notarizing for Blind and Illiterate Individuals
Most notarizations a notary will perform involve signers who are competent, understand the content in the document, and have the ability to sign freely and willingly. In rare situations you may receive a request to perform a notarization from a client who is blind or illiterate. How will you proceed? Will you refuse to perform the notarization simply because the signer is unable to read? Is it enough to ask those signers for proper identification and acknowledge they understand the contents of the document and proceed with the notarial act? What protections will you offer vulnerable signers to ensure a smooth and honest transaction?... Continue Reading
Do I-9 Forms Require Notarization?
Many notaries across the nation receive requests from an employer to notarize or verify Employment Eligibility Verification (I-9) forms. The completion of an I-9 Form for each employee is mandated for every employer or agricultural recruiter/referrer-for-a-fee hirer. (An agricultural referrer is any farm labor contractor or agricultural employer or association.) All such employers and recruiters are subject to periodic ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) inspections to assure that accurately completed I-9 forms are on file for every employee; violators are subject to fines and administrative sanctions. Thus the proper completion and execution of the I-9 form is of extreme importance.... Continue Reading
Notarizing for Family Members
Notaries must be impartial witnesses to transactions. They may not have an interest in the documents that they notarize. By the same token, notaries are prohibited from notarizing their own signatures, or documents in which they are named.... Continue Reading
Notary Best Practices Steps to a Proper Notarization Handling Difficult Notarization Conflict of Interest
Notarizing Previously Signed Documents
There are times, as a notary, when you will be presented with a document for notarization that has been previously signed. This may occur simply because the signer thinks he is being thorough by filling in all the blanks and signing before he meets with you. At other times, a document may have been signed and submitted to the recipient before the signer was aware that notarization was required and now the document has been returned and the signer requires the services of a notary.... Continue Reading
Notary Stamp and Supplies Notary Best Practices Steps to a Proper Notarization Handling Difficult Notarization
Is a University ID Acceptable When Notarizing Documents?
The most basic task of the notary public, which underlies all other processes and procedures, is to identify properly the signer of a document.... Continue Reading
Notarizing Foreign Language Documents
One of the keys to acceptable and accurate notarizations is clear communication between the signer and the notary.... Continue Reading
Notary Best Practices Steps to a Proper Notarization Handling Difficult Notarization Foreign Language Documents
Can a Witness to a Notarization Have a Financial Interest in the Notarized Document?
The role of the notary public in society is of vital importance. When a notary places his or her stamp and signature on a document, the document recipient or the receiving institution automatically assumes that the notary has executed his or her responsibility correctly. This means that the notary has maintained impartiality, has performed notarial duties according to state law, and has acted with the utmost integrity.... Continue Reading
What If There Is No Room for the Notary Stamp or Notary Seal?
One of the most important steps in the notarization of any document is the placing of the notary stamp seal. This step, along with the notary's signature, is the culmination of all the preliminary steps in notarizing, such as identity checking, document scanning, and making record book entries. The notary stamp contains all the identifying information of the notary public - name, commission state and county, notary commission number, and commission expiration date. It is essential and mandatory that all of this information be placed neatly and legibly on every document that the notary executes.... Continue Reading
Can a Notary Certify a Copy of a Passport or a Drive's License?
State laws vary on the acceptability and procedures for copy certifications. As with every other type of notarial procedure, notaries should study carefully their state's statutes on copy certification to see if, and how, it is administered.... Continue Reading
Notary Best Practices Copy Certification Steps to a Proper Notarization Handling Difficult Notarization
Refusing to Notarize When There Is a Question of Benefit
A notary public should comply with every reasonable request when called upon to notarize a document. However, there are times when a request may not only be unreasonable, but may actually be unlawful.... Continue Reading
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.... Continue Reading
Having Multiple Notary Stamps - A Good Practice
While there are several states that do not specifically require the use of a notary stamp, most notaries find that a self-inking notary stamp is the easiest, cleanest, and most expeditious means of inscribing the mandated notary commission information onto a notarized document.... Continue Reading
How to Handle Lost or Stolen Notary Supplies
Notaries are responsible for safeguarding their notary supplies and protecting them from fraudulent use.... Continue Reading
How to Properly Use a Notary Stamp
Using a self-inking notary stamp is the easiest way to inscribe the notary commission information on a document to be notarized; it is quick, easy, and neat.... Continue Reading
Using Notary Gold Foil Seals on Notarized Documents
While the self-inking or pre-inked notary stamp is the convenient tool of choice for all notaries when notarizing documents, there are times when a notary may wish to add extra enhancement to the executed document.... Continue Reading
Using a Notary Seal Impression Inker on an Embossed Document
As a notary, you are not just a public servant, but you are also a professional and, as such, will want to take pride in your work. There are times when you may wish to give an added flair or enhancement to the document you are notarizing.... Continue Reading
Notary Supplies That Every Notary Should Have!
The notary is a public officer and, as such, is required to comply with any reasonable request for notarization. Whether you are a notary with your own notary signing service or an employee notary, it is a good idea to keep essential notary supplies with you at all times so that you may be ready to adequately and efficiently serve the public upon request.... Continue Reading
Notary Stamp and Supplies Notary Best Practices Notary Journals Steps to a Proper Notarization Marketing
Employed Notaries - Your Notary Supplies Belong to the Notary
An employee notary is a notary who obtained a commission at the request of his or her employer. Perhaps your company transacts with clients, such as banks or insurance companies, that must have documents notarized on a regular basis.... Continue Reading
Notary Stamp and Supplies Notary Best Practices Steps to a Proper Notarization Maintaining Your Notary Commission Notary & Employer Privacy & Security
How to Safeguard Your Notary Supplies
Notaries are responsible for safeguarding their notary supplies against fraudulent use. These items include the notary's original certificate or commission, the notary stamp and seal, and the notary record book of notarial acts.... Continue Reading
How to Properly Destroy Your Expired Notary Stamps and Supplies
When a notary reaches the end of the notary commission term or decides to end his or her notary career, all expired and defunct notary supplies must be disposed of safely and properly.... Continue Reading
Practicing Law without a License / Unlawful Advertising
The following are issues that are addressed by law in many states and may carry severe penalties. Notaries in those states that do not address these issues should heed the following:... Continue Reading
Steps to a Proper Notarization
Notaries should follow proper procedures to minimize any risk of liability for an improper notarial act and reduce opportunities for fraud. With every notarization, the notary should use precise measures to:... Continue Reading
Notaries, Avoid Conflicts of Interest!
Never act in a notary capacity if you have any involvement whatsoever in the transaction taking place. If you are named in the document, or if a family member or close affiliate is named, refuse to notarize. You must be a completely unbiased witness to the execution, and you are not unbiased, if for example, your spouse, your sister, or your boyfriend stands to gain financially or emotionally from the transaction taking place.... Continue Reading
Notary Fees - How much to Charge
Notaries must know their state notary laws regarding all aspects of their notary commission, and this includes fees. You must NOT charge more than the law allows for any notarization. This can result in severe penalties against the notary. You may of course offer your services at no charge. Discuss fees and how you will handle them with your employer to avoid any misunderstandings.... Continue Reading
Notaries: Maintain a Notary Journal!
The notary's best defense is the notary record book, or notary journal. Some states require notaries to keep a notary record book and some states do not; however, all notaries are encouraged to keep a journal of every notarial act.... Continue Reading
Texas Notaries Are Forbidden From Recording ID Card Numbers
As of April 22, 2007 Texas notaries public are forbidden from recording identification card numbers in their notary record books.... Continue Reading
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.
Conflict of Interest 
Copy Certification 
Duties of a Notary 
Foreign Language Documents 
Handling Difficult Notarization 
How to Become a Notary 
I-9 Forms 
Maintaining Your Notary Commission 
Membership to Notary Association 
Mobile Notary 
Notarial Certificates 
Notary & Employer 
Notary Best Practices 
Notary Bonds 
Notary Commission 
Notary Courses - Online Course 
Notary Errors and Omissions Insurance 
Notary Fees 
Notary Journals 
Notary Laws 
Notary Locator 
Notary News 
Notary Stamp and Supplies 
Practicing Law Without a License 
Privacy & Security 
Remote Online Notarization - (RONS) 
Signing Agent 
Steps to a Proper Notarization 
What Does a Notary Do? 
- Read more
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.