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!

When faced with a notarial certificate that provides only a dime-sized space to place your official notary seal, what can you do? You need a solid fallback plan because you certainly can't stamp over any of the text.

The solution:

  • Be prepared for this situation; always have a supply of loose notarial certificates handy, both jurat and acknowledgment certificates.
  • Describe the problem to your client and tell him or her that you plan to attach an appropriate notarial certificate to the document, one that matches the original certificate's language.
  • After receiving the client's approval, mark one line through the tiny certificate, neatly print, See attached statutory notarial certificate, and, initial your changes.
  • Complete the attached certificate, writing on it the title of the document you have attached it to and its number of pages; note in your notary journal that you attached the loose certificate and why you did so.

If the client says you may not replace the certificate, you must decline to notarize the document. Explain that covering document text with a notary seal will almost certainly invalidate an important document, especially one that will be recorded.

In less extreme cases, there may be room on the certificate for a smaller notarial seal. Many of our members have said great things about the Trodat pocket notary stamp that has a baby's footprint of 9/16 x 2 1/8 - it's sold on our website. It could be a great tool for you if your state allows it.

Loose notarial certificates or the Trodat pocket notary stamp are available on our website.

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.