Best Notary Practices to Secure Loose Notarial Certificates

The use of a "loose notarial certificate" has become commonplace in a nation where each state has different requirements for notarial certificate wording. Since many forms don't have notarial certificates that comply with state notary law, notaries frequently have to use replacements. However, many notaries often wonder what is the most secure way to handle these certificates, and how to prevent them from being misused.

Securing the loose notarial certificate

First, when possible, it is generally preferred that the notarial certificate wording be printed, typed, or stamped on the document itself. If there is sufficient space, you can legibly insert the necessary wording. This is always the most secure method to add a notarial certificate to a document. Another method of adding a certificate involves using permanent adhesive labels containing the certificate wording. These labels can be applied to the original document. This method is preferable to actual loose paper certificates only if the labels are truly permanent. The notary might also consider affixing his or her notary stamp or notary seal in such a way that part of the notary stamp is over the label, and part of it is on the actual document, thereby attaching the label to the document and preventing its misuse.

Add information to identify the notarized document

 When there is insufficient space to add the notarial certificate to the original document, a "loose certificate" may be used. This term refers to a notarial certificate (such as a jurat or certificate of acknowledgment) printed on a separate piece of paper and attached to the notarized document. The loose certificate should contain the certificate wording required by your commissioning state's laws. Remember, regardless of where the document originated or where it's going, you must always comply with the laws of the state wherein you are serving as a notary public. The certificate should also contain sufficient information (usually underneath the certificate wording) to identify the original document being notarized, such as the title or type of the document, the number of pages, the names of any additional signers, the date of signing, etc. This cross-referencing of the original document can help to prevent a loose notarial certificate from being detached from a properly notarized document and reattached to something else. For this purpose, a loose certificate should always be affixed with a staple. The fact that a loose certificate was used should also be notated in the notary's journal or record book.

Avoid stamping across multiple pages

Some notaries make it a practice to affix their notary stamp in such a way that the imprint crosses multiple pages, thereby "attaching" the loose certificate to the original document. This practice is not recommended, and in some states this may even constitute improper use of the notarial seal. An embossing seal can be used in this manner, if the embossing seal is not an official notarial seal and is authorized by law. However, the preferred method is always stapling.

Where to order loose notarial certificates

The American Association of Notaries offers both loose notarial certificate pads and notary stamps with notarial certificate wording. It is strongly recommended that notaries, particularly mobile notaries, carry loose certificates, certificate labels, or certificate notarial stamps along with their other notary supplies. Remember to use your best judgment when using loose certificates, and consult your state's laws for the most accurate information.

Click here to order loose notarial certificate, notary stamps, and notary supplies.

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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