Steps to Proper Notarization

Demystifying Jurats and Acknowledgments

Notaries who wish to build a solid foundation in their notary expertise not only learn what to put into blanks by memorizing where certain key elements are plugged into a certificate, they actually learn the purpose and the reason why they do what they do when completing the most common and basic types of notary certificates.

When a prospective client contacts the notary for service, the reason is usually because they need the notary to complete either an acknowledgment or a jurat attached to an important legal document. There is a distinct difference between an acknowledgment and a jurat and how each certificate is commonly used by legal document preparers. Before we move on to a discussion of the differences between these types of certificates, as well as the proper procedure to complete them, let’s begin with an overview of the completion of the notary certificate’s “venue”. The venue is an element which should be included in all types of notary certificates in all states.


The venue is a required element of all notary certificates which declares to any reader or user of the document where the document was notarized. The venue of a notary’s certificate is the same across the nation with slight variations as mentioned below.

When a document is presented to the notary for notarization, the notary is most often encountered with wording such as this on the notary certificate:
State of ____
County of _____

In most states, except as shown below for commonwealths or the State of Louisiana, the venue will be filled out as follows:
State of State Notary is commissioned by
County of County the notarial act is taking place (not the county the notary lives in)

There is a common variation in the venue element of the notary certificate for four of the fifty states where desired to indicate that the state is a commonwealth. Four states in the United States designate themselves as "commonwealths"; these are:

In such commonwealths, the venue of the notary certificate may be seen presented as:
Commonwealth of _____
County of _____

The correct way to complete the venue in such cases is:
Commonwealth of Commonwealth of the notary’s commission
County of County where the notary is performing the notary act

Where the State of Louisiana is concerned, of course, there appears yet another variation of the venue. Louisiana is a state divided into “parishes” rather than counties. Where other states’ notaries are commissioned statewide, Louisiana’s notaries are commissioned in a particular parish (or parishes). The Louisiana notary’s blank and completed venues would look like this:
State of Louisiana
Parish of _______

The completed venue for the State of Louisiana would be completed in this manner:
State of Louisiana
Parish of (Being the parish where the notarial act is taking place which also must be a parish in which the notary is authorized to act.)


Acknowledgments are the most common certificates used on documents which will ultimately be recorded in the public records. The primary focus of the acknowledgment is to allow the signer to “acknowledge” their signature. Unlike when completing the jurat certificate, the signer does not have to be in front of the notary when the document is signed. However, the signer does have to personally meet the notary face to face to acknowledge that they have signed the document. Once this event takes place then the notary can complete the certificate.

Each state has slight degrees of differences within its law regarding the fulfillment of a complete acknowledgment. Notaries should carefully read any materials offered by their commissioning office regarding this type of certificate to understand the purpose and laws set forth in their states. Below are descriptions of a couple of states’ acknowledgment procedures chosen as examples because they will benefit the greatest number of readers of this article.

California Acknowledgments

Some states, in particular California, require more than other states do while completing an acknowledgment. For instance, California notaries’ certificates are created with language to assure that the person signing the document be made aware that they are intending to execute the statements within the document and that they are acknowledging to the notary that the signer is authorized to sign the document. The information the State of California provides to notaries regarding notarial acts can be found here . The act of an acknowledgment is described in detail on pages 10 and 11. A California notary must properly identify the signer but the notary is not permitted to require evidence that the signer is the one authorized to sign the document. In certain transactions a thumbprint is required in the notary’s journal. Other states do not necessarily require a thumbprint; therefore, before a notary in a state other than California requests that a thumbprint be utilized in their journal, the notary should check with their commissioning office to determine if such a request is allowable.

When completing a California acknowledgment, there are three pieces of information collected and written into the acknowledgment. These are the date the person appeared before the notary, the name of the notary (followed by “Notary Public”), and the name of the person personally appearing before the notary. See below (in italics) the language used in the California acknowledgment, as well as the way that the acknowledgment should be completed:

State of California
County of (here, insert the county where the act is taking place)

On (here, insert date) before me, (here, insert notary’s name, Notary Public), personally appeared (here, insert names of people appearing before the notary), who proved to me on the basis of satisfactory evidence to be the person(s) whose name(s) is/are subscribed to the within instrument and acknowledged to me that he/she/they executed the same in his/her/their authorized capacity(ies), and that by his/her/their signature(s) on the instrument the person(s), or the entity upon behalf of which the person(s) acted, executed the instrument.

I certify under PENALTY OF PERJURY under the laws of the State of California that the foregoing paragraph is true and correct. WITNESS my hand and official seal.

Texas (and other states)

For the purpose of this article, Texas is also being used to discuss how to complete acknowledgments because of the Texas Short Form Acknowledgment’s similarity to many states other than California.

In Texas, the acknowledgment rules are very basic and state that an acknowledgment is a formal declaration before an authorized official, such as a notary public. The signer, by executing the document, is confirming that the signature is authentic. Also, by the signer’s signature, coupled with the certificate of the officer (notary), on such instrument indicates that the document has been so acknowledged. The Texas Notary Public Educational Information which can be found at this link remind the notary that the notary should not complete an acknowledgment if they are a party to the transaction, and further, strictly forbid taking an acknowledgment if the person acknowledging their signature is not in front of the notary in the same room when such an act is completed. Such a reminder is applicable to other states. There is no state which allows for an acknowledgement to be taken over the telephone or by mail, or email.

Unlike California, however, which only has one acknowledgment form in their statutory notary educational materials, Texas, as mentioned above, has two types of acknowledgments. One is a short form, and one is a longer form. The longer form requires that the notary write in the type of identification used to identify the signer, the shorter form requires much less information. Below is the exact way to complete the Texas Short Form Acknowledgment. This acknowledgment form could also apply to many other states’ forms because they are almost identically worded.

Texas Short Form Acknowledgment (similar to many other states’ acknowledgments)

State of Texas
County of (here, insert the county where the act is taking place)

This instrument was acknowledged before me on (here, insert the date signer appears before the notary) by (here, insert the name or names of person or persons acknowledging).

Texas Long Form Acknowledgment–

The Texas Long Form Acknowledgment is not necessarily similar to other states and because of its uniqueness it often confuses notaries who complete them, especially if the notary is not from Texas. The following is the proper way to complete a Texas Long Form Acknowledgment:

State of Texas
County of (here, insert the county where the act is taking place)

Before me, (here, insert the name of notary, Notary Public), on this day personally appeared (here, insert the Name of Signer appearing before notary), known to me (or proved to me on the oath of [here, insert Name of person introducing signer to notary])See notes below.* or through (here, insert description of identity card or other document)See notes below.** to be the person whose name is subscribed to the foregoing instrument and acknowledged to me that he executed the same for the purposes and consideration therein expressed.

Given under my hand and seal of office on (here, insert date person appeared before notary) See notes below. ***.

Notes on *, **, and *** above in the Texas Long Form Acknowledgment:
* If the notary is introduced by a credible witness to the signer as a means of identifying the signer, then this blank is used. If the signer is not being introduced to the notary, the notary should strike through it by drawing one straight line through this blank. If the notary is being introduced to the signer, then the notary should ascertain and record in the notary journal the introducer’s name and their residence.
** This area is for a signer identified by another means other than being introduced by a credible witness. This is the more common mode of identification. The Texas notary law allows for a notary to use a government agency-issued method of identification. Other states may allow for more types of identification, but Texas is very specific about this. Commonly used identification of this type would be a passport (issued by the federal government) or a state issued driver’s license or state issued identification card. If a driver’s license or passport is used to identify the person, this is where the information would be inserted. If the notary is introduced to the signer and no identifying documents are used, then the notary should draw a line through this blank.
*** On occasion the date blanks will appear in a more formal type of language such as “the ___ day of ________, 20__”. In this case, if the acknowledgment were being taken on January 23, 2010, then the date would be “the 23rd day of January, 2010”.


The execution of a document requiring a jurat is very different. A document with a jurat attached is most like a “sworn statement”. A sworn statement is often called an “Affidavit”. The person signing an Affidavit may be referred to as an “affiant”. When a document requires a jurat, the signer must swear an oath or affirmation to the notary that the document is a true statement. In such a statement, the "affiant" is required to sign and affirm or swear that the statement is true. Take note that the material above regarding acknowledgments does not include any requirement that the signer(s) swear or affirm the truthfulness of the document statements. That is not the reason for the use of an acknowledgment, but it is the basic and important purpose of the jurat.

Important to remember: The jurat is used in order to require the document signer to swear to the notary that the statements in the document are true. Also, keep in mind that the jurat says that the document was “sworn to” and “subscribed” before the notary. In this context “subscribed” means signed with a signature at the end of a document. Therefore, the notary must comply with the words of the statement and actually see the signer execute the document. Because of the words, “sworn to” appearing in the jurat, the notary must also give a verbal oath or affirmation to the signer. Be careful to assure that if a document was signed before appearing before the notary, the signer must sign again in the presence of the notary, preferably after taking the oath or affirmation administered by the notary.

Typical Verbal Oath or Affirmation Given by the Notary

Many notaries are perplexed about how to administer an oath or affirmation. The California Notary Public Manual has a good example of an oath and suggests: “Do you swear or affirm that the statements in this document are true?” Of course, the notary would ask this question and the answer should be “Yes.” If not, the notary cannot complete the jurat. This source goes on to state, “When administering the oath, the signer and notary public traditionally each raises their right hand but this is not a legal requirement.” This type of statement is a good rule of thumb for most all other states. Whether or not the hand is raised during the oath or affirmation, it is important that the signer reflect on the importance of truthfulness and realize that they are swearing or affirming to facts stated in the document.

Jurat Wording

The wording of a jurat signed, for instance, on the date, January 23, 2010, is usually something like one of the following appearing just below the venue statement:
State of (here, insert the notary’s commissioning state)
County of (here, insert the county where the act is taking place)
-Sworn to and subscribed before me, a notary public on the 23rd day of January, 2010, by (here, insert the name of the signer).

State of (here, insert the notary’s commissioning state)
County of (here, insert the county where the act is taking place)
-Sworn to and subscribed before (here, insert the Name of Notary), a notary public on the 23rd day of January, 2010, by (here, insert the name of signer).

A word about missing venue statements on certificates: It should be noted that for various reasons involved with the process of drafting legal documents, jurats often come to the notary without a venue statement at the top of them. This error is not as common on acknowledgments. All notary certificates, whether jurat or acknowledgment, need the venue element preceding the language of the certificate. If the venue does not appear on the certificate, the notary should insert a proper venue statement at the top of the jurat certificate which follows the format mentioned in the above section on “Venue” discussed earlier in this article. This can be hand printed by the notary; however, many notaries opt for having a custom venue stamp made to use in this situation and in that of having an acknowledgment presented without a proper venue. Such a stamp impression is often considered a professional touch. If you are interested in having a venue stamp made for this purpose, please view this website: , then select your state, look to the left on that page and select “Notary Supplies”. Next, look for the stamp in the notary supplies section which can be customized with three or four lines of text. By using the editor on the website you can create a custom venue stamp for your use. For instance, if you are in Virginia, your stamp would appear like this and be useful for both jurats and acknowledgments which did not have the necessary venue element:
Commonwealth of Virginia
County of _____________

Important final comments about jurats and acknowledgments:

-Continuing Self-education is Key: Notaries should consult their commissioning office to learn the exact wording of the certificates mandated by their state and any required elements related to them. An alternative to this would be to carefully study the educational materials provided by one’s commissioning state.
-Interstate Certificate Compliance: Many states allow a notary in one state to complete a certificate compliant in another state if the document will be filed in the public records. This is something every notary should check their state’s rules for to learn if this applies to their commissioning state. If the notary is not sure, the notary can always opt to attach a certificate form and complete it.
-Handling Malformed Notary Certificates: Notary certificates often appear on documents with wording which does not comply with the notary’s statutory wording. In such a case the notary may make neatly hand printed corrections to the certificate or attach a certificate which conforms to the notary’s state’s mandated wording. If a malformed jurat is attached to the document, then the notary would attach a jurat. The same goes for an acknowledgment certificate.
-The Notary Never Determines the Type of Certificate: If the certificate is so different from the common jurat or acknowledgment language and the notary cannot determine which certificate the document drafter intended, the notary can allow the signer to choose a certificate by presenting an example of both an acknowledgment or a jurat and asking the signer to select one. It is very important to keep in mind that a notary may never select the certificate for a document or a signer. The notary must use the certificate placed on the document by the document preparer or, if the certificate does not meet the notary’s state requirements, the notary should attach the same certificate from their state to complete. (You can find such statutory certificates for your state by visiting , selecting your state, then look to the left and select “Notary Supplies”. You will find your state’s mandated notary certificates which you can purchase very inexpensively in pads of 50.)
-When There Is Not a Certificate Attached: If no certificate appears on the document presented to you, but the signer asks you to notarize the document, you must allow the signer to select the certificate by showing them the statutory certificates of your commissioning state and allowing them to choose.
-When the Certificate Requires Acts Outside of the Notary’s Duties: Say for instance, that the notary is presented with a document with a certificate attached which requires the notary to “certify” something which the notary has no way of being able to certify, most often due to the fact that the notary’s rules do not allow for it. The notary can reject the request to provide the service. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania does allow notaries to do certain types of certifications in a notary certificate, but most states do not. For instance, a Pennsylvania notary may be able to certify in a certificate that they viewed the signer’s identification documents and that certain information appeared. Be mindful that most states do not allow a notary to do certifications of such information. Notaries should continually review their notary rules and allowed acts to remain aware of what they can and cannot do within the scope of their notary duties.
-Jurat and Acknowledgment Stamps Are Available: Notaries can purchase acknowledgment and jurat stamps from our website. These are self-inking stamps which will place the words of the entire certificate on a document. These are very useful to busy notaries and provide a neat, small certificate with the proper wording which is compliant with the states for which they are sold. If you are interested in purchasing one of these, visit our website at ; select your state, look to the left of the page where you will see “Notary Supplies” and if these types of stamps are available for your state it will appear in the supplies section. However, if you are presented with a deed or other document which will be recorded in the public records of a state, it is better to use a full-sized paper sheet/blank acknowledgement to attach to the document rather than the notary stamp to apply the acknowledgment to a page on the document. Due to local recording clerk rules, some county recorders will reject a document with an acknowledgment stamp utilized rather than an attached sheet with the printed certificate on it.

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The information provided herein is not intended to be an authoritative statement of law. Notary laws differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and may be interpreted or applied differently depending on your state’s statutes or situations. By providing this information, we are not acting as your attorney. We are providing this information based on long-established and recognized notarial standards and practices. If you have legal questions regarding acts or conduct as a notary public, please consult with an attorney or refer to your state’s statutes or other appropriate legal resources.

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