Notary Bulletin

How Do I ... Handle A Request For Authentication?

Most county recorders and other authorities will accept a properly notarized document from an out-of-state Notary with no questions. On occasion, the receiving agency may require proof that the notarial signature and seal are genuine. This proof is called “authentication” or “legalization.”

The customary proof is a certificate of authority (also called a certificate of capacity, a certificate of prothonotary or a flag). It is issued and attached to the notarized document by the local or state official with custody of notarial bonds and oaths. This certificate states that the signature and seal on the document in question belong to you.

Normally, for a document recipient elsewhere in the United Stares or its territories, a single certificate of authority from a county clerk, prothonotary or other designated local official is sufficient proof of a Notary’s authority.

Like an apostille, obtaining the certificate of authority is the responsibility of the signer or document recipient, not the Notary. However, you may have to direct signers to the certificate-issuing offices where your bond and oath are filed. Usually, anyone bearing a notarized document and paying the required fee can have a certificate of authority attached to the document. Sometimes this procedure may be carried out through the mail.

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Quiz: The Many Types Of Notarial Acts

Notaries perform many different duties for the public — and it’s easy to lose track of the different acts and what states they’re authorized in. Test your familiarity with common — and uncommon — notarial acts.

(A link to the correct answers is provided at the end of the quiz.)

Confronted with a tricky notarization? Unsure how to proceed? NNA members have unlimited access to our expertly trained Hotline counselors to help you with all of your notarial questions.

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