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.

While every notarized document must contain a notary certificate, likewise every notary certificate usually contains certain elements; the notary will come to identify and understand the type of data or information that should be inserted on that portion of the document.

A very common element that a notary may see on the notary certificate are the letters "ss," which usually appear in the upper-left-hand corner of the document or notary certificate. This is the area of the certificate that will contain the venue. The venue is the portion of the notarized document that indicates the place - physical location - where the notarization occurs: the location where the signer and notary are physically standing at the time of notarization.

What do these letters mean? Because social security numbers are a common identifier in our society many constituents and, perhaps, notaries may believe that the letters are requesting the client's social security number. This is incorrect. The letters "ss" at the location of the venue section of the notary certificate actually stand for the Latin word scilicet which means in particular, to wit, or namely. The idea has to do with the granting of permission or legal license; its meaning in relation to the venue and notary certificate is actually currently deemed archaic and obscure. While the letters "ss" may appear on the notary certificate, they are by no means required and may be omitted on some notary certificates that a notary may encounter.

A notary must be conscientious about inserting the state and county for the venue whenever they are requested but it is not necessary to add the letters "ss" to the notary certificate if they have been left out. The notarization is still valid without them.

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.

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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