International Section
April 2014 Issue
Content is updated daily

Handling Communication Barriers With Foreign Signers

Notarization can be difficult when you do not share a common language with a document signer, or the documents are drafted in a language you don’t understand. The problem is possible miscommunication, as your signer must be able to acknowledge a signature, recite an oath or affirmation or respond to your questions.

This communication between you and your signer must be direct, so you never may rely on an interpreter. If you cannot communicate directly you must refuse the notarization and refer the signer to a Notary that speaks the client’s language or an appropriate foreign consulate. Consulates normally have officers with notarial powers on staff who can service the signer’s needs.

If a document you encounter is drafted in a language you cannot read, but you can communicate directly with the signer, you may perform the notarization as long as your state does not prohibit it. Note the document’s language in your journal record. Just be aware of the potential problems: You may have difficulty gleaning data for your journal, completing the certificate correctly or ensuring that the document is complete. Always make sure the signer tells you what type of notarization is required, and if the notarial wording is pre-printed on a document in another language, use a loose certificate.

Key points

  • Communication between you and your signer must be direct. Never rely on an interpreter.
  • It is possible to notarize a document in a language you don't understand as long as your state permits it.
© 2014 National Notary Association. All rights reserved . Privacy Statement . Copyright Statement
National Notary Foundation . Returns . About Us . Contact Us . Feedback