Notary Bulletin Four Answers That Will Help New Notaries Properly Complete Notarial Certificates By David Thun on August 20, 2014 in Best Practices Notaries who have been on the job for a year or less often encounter confusing scenarios with certificate wording. To help guide you through the process, the Notary Bulletin compiled answers for these commonly asked questions on the NNA Notary Hotline. If a document doesn’t include notarial certificate wording, can I affix my stamp to the document? The answer is generally “no.” In most states, if there is no certificate wording included with the document, the signer must tell you what type of notarial act they need. Notaries aren’t allowed to choose a notarial act on a signer’s behalf. If the signer isn’t clear on this, you may describe the different notarial acts — for example, the two most common types of notarial acts are acknowledgments and jurats — and let the signer choose. If the signer isn’t sure what notarial act is needed, they can contact the agency that issued or is receiving the document or an attorney for instructions. Once you are informed what notarial act is needed, you can attach and complete a loose certificate for the appropriate notarial act. One exception is the state of Maryland, which does not allow loose certificates. In Maryland, if the document does not contain any acknowledgment or oath wording the Notary may witness the signing of the document in the Notary’s official capacity. This is considered “signature witnessing.” The Maryland Notary must obtain identification, observe the signing of the document; date, sign and stamp/seal the document, note on the document the date the Notary’s commission expires and record the notarization in the Notary’s journal. May a Notary complete both an acknowledgment and a jurat for the same signer on one document? Yes. This request would constitute two separate notarial acts for a signer. The Notary may charge for each notarization (acknowledgment and jurat) and would make two separate journal entries. May I use certificate wording from another state to complete a notarization? In the vast majority of cases, yes. California is the only exception, where Notaries are required to use specific certificate language prescribed by statute. California Notaries must always use statutory jurat wording, and they must use statutory acknowledgment wording if the document will be filed in California. Most states have certificate wording in their statutes but permit Notaries to use other wording, as long as it meets the requirements of the state’s other laws. A few states, such as Georgia, don’t have any specific certificate wording in their statutes but offer suggested wording elsewhere, such as in their Notary handbook or on their website, but again permit Notaries to use other wording. So, as a general rule, you may use an out-of-state certificate, as long as it meets your state’s requirements for that notarial act and doesn’t ask you to do something that’s not authorized in your state (such as asking a California Notary to certify a person’s representative capacity, which is not allowed in California). Can I correct an error on an acknowledgment or jurat certificate? It depends on your state’s requirements and when the mistake is discovered. In California and Florida, if you spot an error during the notarization while the signer is present before you, then “yes” — you can line through the mistake, enter the correct information, and initial and date the change. However, if the error is found after the notarization is completed and the signer leaves, the answer is “no” — in that case, a new notarial act would have to be completed. Some states provide specific instructions or regulations on making corrections in the certificate. Note that in Arizona and Hawaii, if a Notary attaches a loose certificate to correct an error, the law requires the Notary to describe the attached document on the loose certificate. Always be sure to follow your state’s rules regarding certificate corrections. Helpful Resources For NNA Members NNA Members can access information on state-specific laws regarding certificate wording online in the NNA’s U.S. Notary Reference Manual or contact our Hotline with any questions regarding unusual notarial certificates. David Thun is an Associate Editor at the National Notary Association. Email Share 17 Comments Add your commentKathy Liccardi25 Aug 2014I need information on Journaling PleaseNational Notary Association26 Aug 2014Hi, Kathy! You can find some basic information on keeping a journal in our complimentary webinar "How To Complete A Journal" here: http://www.nationalnotary.org/knowledge-center/news/webinars/commonly-asked-questions/how-to-complete-a-journal-entry Also, here are some Bulletin articles on journals that may be helpful to you: Recommended Notary Practices: Maintaining A Journal http://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2011/06/recommended-notary-practices-journal Handling Journal Inspection Requests: http://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2013/05/handling-notary-journal-inspection-requests Please let us know if we can be of further assistance. Have a great email@example.com Aug 2014Thanks for providing all this valuable informationJohn27 Aug 2014I noticed that there is no law primer for new notaries. Yet they need to be extremely aware of the requirements of the State where they have their commission. For example, if they are NSAs in Maryland do they have their Title Insurance License? Do they have the required E & O insurance as required (and not just the amount NNA offers)? Do they have the required CPEs? There are a mess of laws and "Best Practices they need to follow. I've encountered other NPs who believe they can notarized in several States using the same seal. Wrong! The 4th is not completely correct. ISO REQUIRES that a single line be drawn through the incorrect entry and an entry be made as to the reason for the error. Best Practices does not just mean what NNA says they are but also what industry standards require or you can lose certification.National Notary Association28 Aug 2014Hello John, Thanks for your feedback. We saw your comment about ISO standards in our other story too. In case you haven't seen our reply in that thread, please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We're happy to discuss your concerns and would appreciate it if you can include the specific sections you're referring to in your message. Thanks!Ashley Davis08 Jan 2015If i recieved a document without the notary stamp or seal is this document valid?National Notary Association08 Jan 2015Hello Ashley, Different states have different requirements regarding the use and format of the Notary's official seal. Whether the notarization is valid or not would depend on the laws of the state where the notarization on the document was performed.joseph 11 Mar 2015Very simple question: when entering my name and title to a certificate, is it ok to abbreviate my middle name for space purposes. My seal has my first, middle, and last name spelled out, but generally middle initials are used... It's a small detail but I know how things can affect recording. Thank you!National Notary Association12 Mar 2015Hi Joseph. You should enter your name on the certificate the same way as it appears on your Notary commission and seal. Michelle L30 Mar 2015I have 3 questions: 1) Is there any way I can find out if I should sign my full name in my notary certificate? I have my first, middle, and last name spelled out on my seal. But I usually sign my first and last name only, e.g. sign checks, driver's license, and almost everything else. I forgot if I included my middle name in my signature when I applied my Notary commission in California. 2) Should I sign and stamp my seal on the document that doesn't have the updated CA wording if I completed and attached a loose certificate? If not, should I cross out that on the document? 3) on the certificate, there is an optional session for additional information below the Notary seal area. If I don't fill out any thing there, do I have to cross that out? Thank you!National Notary Association02 Apr 2015Hi Michelle. 1. You should enter your name on the certificate the same way as it appears on your Notary commission and seal. 2. You should only affix your signature and seal to the notarial wording you are using to complete the notarial act. 3. You are not required to cross out a section for optional additional information on a pre-printed certificate. Ashley01 Apr 2015Is there a video I could watch to guide me on getting started with my notary? Such as what to expect on your first signing, what I need to get as far as supplies to get started with my notary business? Thank you!National Notary Association02 Apr 2015Hello Ashley. You may want to check out our webinar series on commonly asked Notary questions. Here's a link to the page: http://www.nationalnotary.org/knowledge-center/news/webinars/commonly-asked-questions We also have webinars for new signing agents if you're interested in working with loan document assignments: http://www.nationalnotary.org/knowledge-center/news/webinars/signing-agent Best of luck and please let us know if we can be of further assistance.Michelle L06 Apr 2015Hi, thanks for answering my questions. They're very helpful. One last thing that I want to make it clear. I always print my full name (first, middle, and last name) on the certificate the same way as it appears on my seal. My question is: can I sign the certificate only my first and last name? Thank you!National Notary Association07 Apr 2015Hi Michelle. As mentioned previously, you should sign your name as it appears on your seal and Notary commission. angela bennett15 May 2015I'm a new notary and has never notarized as of yet. Do I sign and stamp documents brought to me? I'm in the state of Michigan.National Notary Association19 May 2015Hello Angela. If you're an NNA member and need any help performing notarial acts, you can contact our NNA Hotline for assistance: 1-888-876-6827 or Hotline@nationalnotary.org. Leave a Comment Required * Name * Email *(for verfication purposes only) Comment * Enter the text shown in this image *(text is case sensitive)All comments are reviewed and if approved, will display.