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 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.