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Notary Seal


Do I need a seal to notarize?

Some states do not require their notaries to authenticate a notarial act with a seal of office; however, the state’s commissioning authority generally encourage their notaries to authenticate an official act with a seal of office when notarizing documents that will be recorded in other states.

If my state does not require a seal, can I still order one?

Yes. In fact, many of the states’ commissioning authority generally encourage their notaries to authenticate an official act with a seal of office when notarizing documents that will be recorded in other states.

I have an ink rubber seal. Do I also need an embossed seal to notarize?

Read your state’s notary laws to determine whether notaries are required to use an inked rubber stamp seal and/or a metal embosser to authenticate a notarial act. Notaries who are allowed to use either an inked stamp seal or an embosser may often use both seals to notarize documents in order to be able to identify the original document if later required to do so in a legal proceeding and to deter fraud. An original document notarized by a notary who used both seals can later be identified by the notary because the original document will have the clear, raised, and fine impression of the metal embosser. Too often, notaries have problems identifying the original document they notarized if it contains an inked rubber stamp.

What information is required on my notary seal?

Check your state’s notary laws to determine the statutory requirements elements regarding your official seal.

Is my commission expiration date required on my notary seal?

Some states require their notaries to include their commission expiration date in the essential portion of their official seal. Contact your state’s commissioning authority or read your state notary laws to learn the statutory requirements. Some states require their notaries to include the notary’s commission expiration date in every notarial certificate executed.

Does state law dictate what shape or form a notary seal should be?

Yes, some states mandate the shape and form specifications for a notary embosser seal and/or inked stamp seal. Please check your notary state laws for the shape and form specifications to ensure that your notary seal is in compliance with your state’s notary laws.

Does state notary law specify what color ink my notary seal should be?

There are a few states that specifically dictate the color of ink a notary public must use when authenticating a notarial act. Learn your state’s notary laws or contact your state’s commissioning authority for specific information regarding this subject matter.

Where do I place my notary seal on the documents I notarize?

Many legal documents will designate an area with the initials “L.S.” This is the abbreviation of the Latin words locus sigilli, which means “place of the seal.” The indentations made by the seal embosser or printed by the inked rubber stamp seal must not be applied on the wording of the certificate or document to be notarized in a manner that will render any of the printed marks illegible or incapable of being photographically reproduced.

There is not enough space in the notarial certificate for me to affix my notary seal. What should I do?

A notary public must use reasonable care and make every effort to affix his or her notary seal within the borders of the notarial certificate. The seal should not be on any printed language or signature on the document.

My seal image is not legible when I initially affix it on the documents I notarize. Is it proper to stamp the certificate again in hope of a more legible reading?

Yes. The notary statutes in many states specifically mandate that the seal of office must clearly show the statutory required elements of the seal when embossed or stamped.

My notary seal was recently stolen. Do I have to report this incident to anyone?

Most states usually require their notaries to report the theft of their notary seals immediately to the state’s commissioning authority and/or to their local law enforcement office so that a report may be filed. This will enable the notary public to show proof of theft.

Do I have to keep my notary seal under lock and key?

Yes, keep your notary seal and record books under lock and key to prevent the misuse of them by another individual. For further security, be sure to maintain only one key.

When I renew my notary commission, can I cross through the expired date on the notary seal and simply handwrite my new expiration date, or do I have to purchase a new seal?

A notary public may not simply mark through an expired commission expiration date and simply insert his or her new commission expiration date. A notary public must purchase a new notary seal to be in compliance with the state’s notary laws.

What is the best way to dispose of an expired notary stamp?

Most states do not provide a notary public with legal instructions for disposing of an expired notary public seal. This Association recommends thoroughly destroying the notary seal with a hammer to prevent the misuse of it by another individual.

How can I get my new seal to loosen up? I can barely squeeze it to get my seal elements to show up.

If you are referring to a metal embosser, the problem may be with the insert. Sometimes, during shipping, the insert gets off balance. Removing the insert and placing it back usually resolves problems with the metal embosser.

My employer wants me to leave my notary seal at work when I leave for the day and on weekends. I am afraid that he might be using it without my knowledge. What can I do about it?

Tell your employer that you have a responsibility to the state to prevent the misuse by another individual of your notary materials. Either take your notary materials home with you, or keep them at work under lock and key and maintain the only key.

Do I have to register a copy of my notary seal anywhere?

In some states, notaries are required to provide the state’s commissioning authority and possibly the county clerk where the notaries are performing their notarial acts with a copy of their official seal. Contact the state’s commissioning authority for further information.

Do I need to show proof of my notary certificate to order a new notary seal?

Yes.

What should I do with my notary seal if I move out of the state?

The statutes in some states dictate that a notary seal must be delivered to the state’s commissioning authority if the notary vacates his or her office during a current commission term. Contact your state’s commissioning authority for further information.

When I asked the notary why she did not use a notary seal on my mother’s will, she stated that she did not have to use a seal to notarize documents. Is she correct?

If the notary statute in your state requires a notary public to authenticate an official act with a seal of office, the notary must authenticate the notarial act with a notary seal at the time of the notarization. Contact the state’s commissioning authority to determine whether the state notaries are required to authenticate their notarial acts with a seal of office.

I notarized a document four months ago, and I forgot to affix my notary seal on the document. Can I affix my notary seal to the document after the fact?

No. A notary public should never amend a notarial certificate at a later date, including affixing a notary seal. The notary may prepare an “Affidavit of Facts” that indicates why the notary seal was not affixed to the document at the time of the notarization, or admit to the mistake that was made inadvertently. The notary should attach with his or her affidavit a certified copy of the page from the notary record book that substantiates the notarization.

The notary notarized a two page document. After she completed the notarial certificate, she affixed her seal next to the signer’s signature on page one. Is this proper?

No. The notary public must affix his or her notary seal near his or her notary signature within the borders of the notarial certificate.

I lost my notary seal. Can I notarize documents with my
expired seal?

No. A notary public may not use a notary seal that is not in compliance with his or her state notary laws.

I inadvertently failed to authenticate the notarization with a notary seal. Does my error make the document invalid?

If your state notary statute legally required you to authenticate a notarial act with a seal of office at the time of the notarization, then you violated the notary statute and such action constitutes an improper notarization. It is up to a court of law to determine whether an improper notarization will affect the legality of an instrument.

I have been notarizing documents with an improper notary seal. How will this affect the legality of every document that I have notarized?

Such an action constitutes an improper notarization and is a violation of state notary laws that may affect the legality of the documents. If you are able to contact the signers listed in your notary journal, you may want to contact them and inform them that the notarization of their documents were performed with an improper notary seal in the event they wish to have their documents notarized again. It is up to a court of law to determine whether an improper notarization will affect the legality of an instrument.

I am notary in a state that does not require a notary seal. Will the other states that require a notary seal accept my notarized documents without a notary seal?

Most states do accept documents without a notary seal if such documents were notarized in a state that does not require its notaries to authenticate their notarial acts with an official seal. The state’s commissioning authority generally encourages notaries to authenticate their notarial acts with a notary seal when notarizing documents that will be recorded in states that do require the authentication of an official act with a notary seal.

A notary failed to affix his notary seal to a mortgage document he notarized. Since the document has been recorded, do we need to re-record the document with the notary’s seal?

The notarization of a document is not intended to make the document legal, but to make the document recordable. Since the document was accepted for recording with the appropriate county registry, the document may not require anything further. However, the acknowledgment statutes in many states dictate that the failure of a notary to attach an official seal renders the acknowledgment or proof invalid if the jurisdiction in which the certificate was made requires the notary public to attach the seal. Please consult with an attorney for legal advice to make sure the document does not have any defects should it ever be challenged in a court of law.

I received an Heirship Affidavit that was notarized by a notary on March 4, 2008. However, the stamp that was used on this document said it expired March 1, 2008. Will this invalidate my document?

Most legal requirements usually indicate that the notary seal when embossed or stamped contain the notary’s current commission expiration date. It is up to a court of law to determine whether an improper notary seal will affect the legality of the instrument.