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Notary Bulletin

Guiding Principle IV: The Certificate

The notarial certificate and the information it contains are central to a Notary’s public duty. Different states have different requirements regarding what a certificate contains, but regardless of the jurisdiction, people rely on the certificate as a symbol of the integrity of a transaction — whether it’s a power of attorney, a parental permission form or a real estate purchase. A certificate that contains erroneous or false information undermines the value of the notarization, while a correctly executed certificate provides powerful protection against fraud. Guidelines for the proper use of certificates are detailed in Guiding Principle IV of The Notary Public Code of Professional Responsibility.

IV
THE NOTARY SHALL NOT EXECUTE A FALSE OR INCOMPLETE CERTIFICATE, NOR BE INVOLVED WITH ANY DOCUMENT OR TRANSACTION THAT THE NOTARY BELIEVES IS FALSE, DECEPTIVE OR FRAUDULENT.

Notaries are solely responsible for the accuracy and compliance of the notarial certificate. Some states, for example, stipulate the exact wording for certificates. Others only give broad guidance. It’s up to the Notary to make sure the language on the certificate meets state law.

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