Notary Bulletin

Best Practices | How Do I ... ?

How Do I ... Take A Thumbprint?

How Do I ... Notarize A Foreign-Language Document?

With more than 35 million foreign-born residents living in the United States and millions more visiting every year, the chances are that you will encounter a document in a foreign language...More

How Do I ... Perform A Copy Certification By Document Custodian?

In states where Notaries are prohibited from certifying copies of documents, there is an alternative procedure called a copy certification by document custodian...More

How Do I ... Notarize A Signature By Mark?

Occasionally you may encounter an individual who is physically unable to write a signature...More

How Do I ... Tell If A Patient Is OK To Sign A Document?

When notarizing for a person with a serious medical condition, it’s important to carefully screen the patient for willingness and awareness to determine if they understand what they are doing...More

How Do I ... Dispose Of An Obsolete Seal?

If you resign your Notary commission, move to a new address or change your name due to marriage, it may be necessary to replace your seal of office...More

How Do I ... Notarize For A Minor?

If you encounter a signer who is a minor, the fact that he or she is underage does not preclude you from proceeding, but there are issues to keep in mind...More

How Do I ... Notarize For A Hearing-Impaired Signer?

Communicating directly with a signer is essential to notarization, as it is the only way to determine your signer’s willingness and awareness...More

How Do I ... Perform A Copy Certification By Document Custodian?

Because some states prohibit Notaries from certifying copies of documents, a useful alternative is the practice of copy certification by document custodian...More

How Do I ... Determine Venue On A Notarial Certificate?

The venue is the part of a notarial certificate that shows where the notarization took place. This element can sometimes cause confusion for signers and Notaries alike...More

How Do I ... Obtain And File A Bond?

A Notary bond — often required by state law — is a written guarantee that payment will be made up to a certain amount to cover losses caused by a Notary’s misconduct. It protects the public and any amount paid must be reimbursed by the Notary...More

How Do I ... Determine The Awareness Of Disabled Signers?

If you’re notarizing for disabled signer, the best way to determine if he or she is capable of understanding the transaction — and is a willing party to it — is to engage the signer in a conversation...More

How Do I ... Determine Representative Capacity?

It is sometimes necessary for one individual to sign as a representative for another, usually as attorney in fact or guardian, or as a representative of a legal entity, such as a corporation, partnership or trust. Documents signed in a representative capacity generally require special acknowledgment certificates that specify who or what is being represented...More

How Do I ... Determine Representative Capacity?

It is sometimes necessary for one individual to sign as a representative for another, usually as attorney in fact or guardian, or as a representative of a legal entity, such as a corporation, partnership or trust. Documents signed in a representative capacity generally require special acknowledgment certificates that specify who or what is being represented...More

How Do I ... Notarize For Signer I Cannot Communicate With?

A vital element of a sound notarization is the ability for the Notary to communicate directly with a signer to verify identity, willingness and awareness, or to recite an oath or affirmation, among other things. If direct communication with the signer is not possible due to a language barrier or some other circumstance, the notarization must be refused...More

How Do I ... Change My Commission Status?

Any time you change your name or address, it must be communicated to your state’s Notary Public authority as soon as possible...More

How Do I ... Avoid Being Sued?

Your best protection and defense against civil lawsuits is the use of reasonable care. Reasonable care is the degree of attentiveness and precaution that would widely be expected of a person of ordinary prudence and intelligence. This means, above all, following whatever notarial duties the law and official instructions of your state dictate. ..More

How Do I ... Give An Oath To A Credible Identifying Witness?

To compel truthfulness, you must administer an oath or affirmation to a credible identifying witness. The identifying witness must swear or affirm that the signer has the identity claimed...More

How Do I ... Perform A Signature By Mark?

When a signer for whatever reason cannot write a signature, he or she may sign by mark. The customary mark is an 'X,' but other marks, such as a thumbprint, also are acceptable...More

How Do I ... Fix A Bad Seal Impression?

You’re at the final stages of a notarization. Everything’s gone smoothly so far. The journal entry’s done, the signer’s been identified. You stamp the document ... and the seal is unreadable...More

How Do I ... Fix A Bad Seal Impression?

You’re at the final stages of a notarization. Everything’s gone smoothly so far. The journal entry’s done, the signer’s been identified. You stamp the document ... and the seal is unreadable...More

How Do I ... Certify An Event?

Notaries often are asked to certify that certain events or actions have occurred. The problem is, unless you live in the state of Washington, U.S. Notaries are not permitted to certify events themselves...More

How Do I ... Respond To Misconduct By A Fellow Notary?

There may be a case when you witness, or become aware of, a fellow Notary using his or her commission to commit a serious crime. This could include fraud or the unauthorized practice of law...More

How Do I ... Refuse A Fraudulent Notarization?

If you have reason to believe that a signer is trying to commit a fraud by using an obviously faked ID or bogus document, or is being coerced by another party, you should stop the notarization, note the circumstances in your journal and contact your local law enforcement authorities immediately...More

How Do I ... Notarize For A Blind Signer?

With a blind signer, you should proceed carefully because of the potential for fraud. A sightless person may have been misled about the contents of a document he or she cannot see or read...More

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.”..More

How Do I ... Administer An Oath?

An oath or affirmation can be administered as part of another notarial act, such as a jurat, or as a separate notarial act in its own right. Whatever the circumstances, the point of an oath or affirmation is to impress upon your client the importance of truthfulness. To accomplish that, you should lend a sense of ceremony and formality to the act...More

How Do I ... Handle A "Professionally Known As?

Just about anybody -- from writers to artists to attorneys -- can establish a professional identity that differs from the name on the driver's license or other official ID...More

How Do I ... Handle Documents Requiring Multiple Signatures?

Occasionally, you may be presented with a document that requires multiple signatures that must be circulated to signers over several days in different locations, requiring the work of several Notaries and notarial certificates in different jurisdictions...More

How Do I ... Use An Out-Of-State Acknowledgment?

Wording for acknowledgment certificates varies from state to state, with some states insisting that wording conform exactly to what the law mandates and other states giving vague, general guidance...More

How Do I ... Notarize Supporting Documents For An Orphan Visa?

Form I-171H, which is needed for the preapproval of an orphan visa, is among the most common U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) forms you may be requested to notarize. It is needed when adopting a child from another country...More

How Do I ... Notarize Over The Phone?

You don't. A telephone call is not considered personal appearance...More

How Do I ... Refuse A Notarization

While Notaries are prohibited from refusing a notarization without due cause, there are situations in which you are perfectly justified -- and even legally required -- to refuse to complete a notarization...More

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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.)

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