A notary stamp is a tool that a notary uses to perform his or her notarial duties. A notary stamp placed on a document indicates:
- The notary is commissioned by his or her state to perform notarial acts.
- The signer was in the physical presence of the notary at the time of the notarization.
- The notary performed the verbal ceremony, and the signer acknowledged or swore to the truthfulness of what he or she was signing.
- The identity and competency of the signers was verified.
In the wrong hands, a notary stamp can be used to commit fraud that may require the notary to hire an attorney to prove his or her innocence. A bad notary stamp impression placed on a document may cause the document to be rejected by the receiving party. It might also cause financial loss to others, which could result in legal actions against the notary. Furthermore, a lost notary stamp might be used to commit fraud, which could require a notary to hire an attorney to prove his or her innocence.
To avoid common notary stamp errors and make a notary business run as smoothly as possible, every notary should know the following:
How to use your notary stamp
It is important to be deliberate when affixing the notary stamp seal on a document. Do not rush the process.
Put the document on a firm, flat surface and place the notary stamp on it. Make sure the notary stamp is also sitting flat on the document. Don’t hold it in the palm of your hand; hold it using your thumb and other fingers. Press down to affix the seal and release.
Check to see if the notary seal impression shows all of the information clearly and does not have any defects. Otherwise, the receiving authority might not accept the document. The notary stamp impression also cannot cover any text on the document. Sometimes there is not enough room on the document to stamp it with your notary stamp. To solve this problem, it is a good idea to have notary stamps of different sizes and configurations. It is recommended that you test your notary stamp before using it.
How to correct a bad notary seal impression
Affixing your notary stamp to a document is, to say the least, a critical part of your job. It’s essential that the notary stamp impression is crisp and clear, without smudges or some other defect. Otherwise, the document will probably be rejected.
Fortunately, there are ways to fix a bad notary stamp impression. If it is too light, you can affix the notary stamp a second time next to or near the first one (not over it). Avoid making an impression in the document’s margins. In instances where there is not enough room on the document, affix the notary stamp on a separate, attached, and completed notary certificate. (This is called a “loose notary certificate.”) Don’t try to use a pen to fix a bad seal. This may be considered tampering and the document will be rejected.
Before making a notary stamp impression on the document, try it on a scrap of paper to make sure it looks acceptable. However, don’t forget to tear up the paper to prevent anyone else from using your seal.
How to reink your notary stamp
Make sure your notary stamp has enough ink in it before you meet your client for a notarization. Luckily, most notary stamps can be used thousands of times before reinking. Depending on the type of stamp that you have, to reink, either (1) remove the cover and put some ink in the wells, or (2) remove the ink pad and add a few drops. Let the ink soak in for a few minutes before you start using the notary stamp again. Test the notary stamp and add more ink if you need. Usually, the cover box has instructions for reinking you notary stamp. When reinking your stamp, make sure you use the right ink color.
How to properly secure your notary stamp
Securing your notary stamp is just as important as using it correctly. If it falls into the wrong hands, your stamp could be used to commit fraud, and you will likely be called in to appear in court.
No matter where you are, never leave your notary stamp (or other notary supplies) unattended. This includes inside your car and even inside your home. Someone could break in to either and steal your stamp. Likewise, do not give your notary stamp to another person, even friends or family members, for any reason. As a commissioned notary, you alone are responsible for your notary stamp.
In general, you should store your notary stamp and tools in a locked safe or drawer. Many states have regulations regarding how to properly secure your notary stamp. Check your state’s notary laws to ensure you follow these guidelines. If your state does not have such regulations, it is highly recommended you nevertheless keep your notary stamp in a secure location.
If your notary stamp is stolen or lost, write a letter to your Secretary of State explaining in detail what happened. The letter must include your full name, signature, and your notary commission number. You should also send a police report if possible.
How to properly dispose of your notary stamp
Simply throwing away an old notary stamp or leaving it at your former place of employment is unacceptable. Anyone could find it and use it to commit fraud, including creating fake deeds or power-of-attorney documents. Since your name is on the seal, you could be charged with a crime, such as performing a fake notarization. Not only would your attorney fees be very expensive, but your reputation as a notary would be severely tarnished.
One way to dispose of your notary stamp is to destroy the rubber seal, which is engraved with your notary information, by cutting it up. If you have a notary seal embosser, remove the plastic pieces engraved with your notary information and cut it into small pieces.
Some states require you to destroy your notary stamp when your notary commission ends. Other states require notaries to turn in their stamps. Be sure to check your state’s notary law to learn what to do with old notary stamps.
These are just some tips to help make your notary business successful. If you have any questions regarding notary stamps, please contact the American Association of Notaries today. Click here to order a notary stamp.