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Notarial Certificate

If a notarial certificate is not preprinted on the document, can I attach a “loose” certificate?

In some states, notaries are prohibited from attaching a “loose” certificate to a document that does not contain a preprinted notarial certificate. Please contact the commissioning authority in your state or your state’s notary laws for further directions.

The document did not have the notary attestation clause because there was no more room on the page for one. Can I add a notarial certificate on a separate sheet of paper and attach it to the document?

If your state’s notary laws do not prohibit notaries public from attaching a “loose certificate” to a document, the notary may offer such certificate. Because state law imposes statutory requirements for a certain instruments to be valid, a notary must not determine what type of notarial certificate is appropriate for any document.

If a document does not have a notarial certificate, can I merely witness the signature of the signer and affix my notary seal and signature to the document?

No. Merely affixing your notary signature and seal to a document constitutes an invalid notarization. The statutes in most states dictate that a notary public must complete a notarial certificate in the performance of a notarial act.

The document I notarized yesterday only had the words “witness my hand and seal” and a notary signature line. I notarized it anyway. Did I do something wrong?

Yes. A document that only includes a testimonium clause such as “witness my hand and seal.” does not satisfy the requirements of a notarial certificate. Sometimes, a notarial certificate may include a testimonium clause to add some formality, but such a clause by itself is not sufficient. In the absence of a proper notarial certificate, the notary must refuse the notarization.

The notary notarized my document without completing the notarial certificate. Was that an improper notarization?

Yes. Proper notarial procedure requires completing the notarial certificate.

Does the venue have to be on top of the notarized document? Or does it have to be part of the notarial certificate at the bottom of the page?

Most affidavits have the venue at the top of the document; however, the notarial certificate on most documents includes the venue within the borders of the certificate.

Is a venue statement required on all notarizations?

Every notarial certificate should include a venue referring to the geographical place where the acknowledgment or oath was taken. If the notarial certificate does not include a venue, the notary public may add a venue statement because it is part of the notarial facts of the notarization.

Can I add a venue on a document that has no designated place for it?

Yes. A venue is a very important element for the notarization of a document.

The venue names a different state. Can I correct the state on the venue?

Yes. The notarial certificate must include only the facts of the notarization.

I was presented with a document with an attestation clause that did not include a venue or a signature line for the notary. Can I still notarize the document?

Yes. A notary may make the necessary alternations to a notarial certificate. If there are missing elements that are required in a notarial certificate, the notary public may add the required elements so that the notarial certificate reflects the complete facts of the notarization.

Is my notary signature and seal required on every notarial certificate that I notarize?

Yes. The notary signature and seal must be affixed to the notarial certificate at the time of the notarization, especially if state law mandates the authentication of every official act performed with a seal of office.

Can I backdate the notarial certificate on a document that I notarize?

No. The notarial certificate must bear the actual date of the execution of the notarization.