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Personal Appearance


My boss insists that I notarize our clients’ documents when they have not signed and acknowledged their signatures in my presence. Can I get in trouble for notarizing these documents?

Yes. The performance of a notarial act requires that the signer be face-to-face with the notary public (“personal appearance”) at the time of the notarization. There are no exceptions or exemptions to the legal requirement of “personal appearance” for the performance of a notarial act.

I notarized a statement for a friend who was incarcerated. I spoke with him via web cam before I notarized his form to get his consent to do so. Did I perform an improper notarization?

You failed in your official duties as a notary public by notarizing a document when the principal signer did not personally appear before you at the time of the execution of the notarization. Speaking with the document signer via web cam does not satisfy the requirements of “personal appearance.”

We have a client who resides in Nigeria. Can I notarize his document here by signature comparison is I verify his identification?

No. A notary public may not notarize a signature by signature comparison with identification verified. The execution of proper notarial procedures requires the personal appearance of the document signer, who must be face to face with the notary at the time of the execution of the notarization.

I had someone contact me from overseas to ask if I could notarize his signature via phone or email. Can I notarize for someone overseas?

No. The principal signer must personally appear before the notary public, face-to-face in the same room, at the time of the execution of the notarization. A notary may not perform a notarial act by telephone or email or any other electronic device if the signer is not physically present in front of the notary (“face-to-face”) at the time of the notarization.

My brothers who are incarcerated have signed a power of attorney that needs to be notarized. Can the notary notarize this document without their presence?

No. When a notary public is notarizing a power of attorney for a signer who is giving another individual the power to act as his representative, the signer must personally appear before the notary public at the time of the notarization so that the notary may take the acknowledgment of the signer that the signature was freely made for the purpose stated in the document. There are no exemptions or exceptions to the legal requirement of “personal appearance” for the execution of a notarization.

I have been presented with something to notarize that requires three signatures. However, the third person lives 500 miles away and is unable to appear in person. Since there is only one place for the notary to sign, can another notary attach an oath and sign for the third person?

When a document contains three principal signers, three signature lines for the signers, and one notarial certificate, it is directing the notary to perform one notarial act requiring all of the signers to be physically present for the performance of the notarial act. If all of the signers cannot come together at the same time for the performance of the notarial act, a new document must be prepared to include more than one notarial certificate to accommodate the circumstances.

My boss wants me to notarize his signature without him being present. Can I get in serious trouble for that?

Yes. If a signer or employer requests the performance of an unlawful notarial act, the notary public must refuse to act. There are no exemptions or exceptions to the legal requirements of “personal appearance” for the execution of a notarization. Acts of official misconduct can incur severe civil and criminal liabilities for the notary public.

The signer is out of the state and wishes to fax a signed copy of the document to be notarized. Can I notarize a faxed signature?

No. A notary public may not perform a notarial act when the person for whom the notarization is performed does not personally appear before the notary at the time of the execution of the notarization. There is no exception to this very important notarial requirement.