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How do you handle out-of-state Notary certificates?

Document exchange between two people

Updated 5-21-24. Two of the most common questions Notaries ask the NNA are “Can I notarize a document from another state?” and “Can I notarize a document that uses notarial wording from another state?”

While most Notaries are familiar with the certificate wording of their own state, requirements regarding that wording vary greatly from place to place, and out-of-state certificates often include unfamiliar, even confusing, wording.

Some states prescribe the exact wording that certificates must use. Other states offer general guidelines. In some cases, it is left entirely up to the Notary to determine if the wording on a particular certificate is acceptable.

So how do you deal with a Notary certificate that comes from another state?

Comply With Your Own State’s Notary Certificate Laws

In most states, the general rule is that certificates must comply substantially with the requirements found within their statutes.

For example, many states say that an acknowledgment certificate is sufficient as long as it contains the words “acknowledged before me” or an equivalent of that phrasing, still leaving the exact wording somewhat open. 

In these states, a Notary may use a certificate from another jurisdiction as long as the Notary follows all of the requirements for the notarization in the Notary’s state. This typically means the signer must personally appear before the Notary and be properly identified, and sign, or acknowledge signing, the document. However, the actual certificate wording describing these actions may vary. In Texas, the state provides suggested certificate wording for Notaries to use, but permits Notaries to use different wording as well.

Other states have more rigorous requirements. In Florida, for example, every jurat and acknowledgment certificate completed by a Notary — whether issued in or outside of the state — must contain 9 specific elements and be substantially in the form prescribed in the statute. This gives Florida Notaries some leeway in completing out-of-state certificates, as long as the certificates include all of the required elements and the wording generally conforms to the examples in state law.

In California, Notaries cannot complete jurat or proof of execution certificates that come from out of state. Instead, they must use a separate certificate that exactly matches state-required wording. They may, however, complete an out-of-state acknowledgment certificate as long as the document will be filed outside of California and the wording doesn’t require the Notary to certify that the signer holds a representative capacity or make other determinations not allowed by law.

If you have any questions about your state’s requirements, contact your state Notary agency or the NNA Hotline.

Quick Tips For Out-Of-State Notary Certificates

Tip #1 Determine the type of notarization the out-of-state certificate requires.

If you are unfamiliar with the style and wording of the notarial certificate, read through it for keywords and phrases — such as “acknowledged,” “subscribed and sworn to” or “signed and sworn to” — which will help you determine what type of notarization is required.

Tip #2 Check the out-of-state Notary certificate's venue.

The “venue” field in a notarial certificate must always reflect the state and county where the notarization is performed — not necessarily where it was prepared or where it will be filed. If the certificate comes with another venue filled in, cross through it and enter the correct information.

Tip #3 Determine if the certificate wording variations are major or minor.

If you are in a “substantial compliance” state, check the certificate on the document against the statutory form — usually found in your state’s Notary handbook.

If the statutory form requires you to enter the date of notarization but the out-of-state certificate does not, this could be an indication the out-of-state form is not compliant.

If the statutory form reads, “Before me, John Smith, Notary Public…” and the out-of-state wording reads, “Before me, the undersigned Notary Public of said state…,” then the certificate is probably acceptable.

Tip #4 When in doubt, attach a separate certificate.

If you have any doubts about the out-of-state certificate, play it safe and replace it with one of your own. But first have your signer verify that a separate certificate would be acceptable.

NNA Certificate Forms

NNA Certificate Forms

Related Articles:

Quiz: Cross-border Notary issues

Notarizing documents from other countries

Additional Resources:

Notary Essentials

View All: Best Practices


Add your comment

R Forgey

04 May 2015

Very helpful and informative. Thank you Kelle Clarke.

Christina Boyd

04 May 2015

If the language does not comply with the current California requirements (I am a Notary Public in California) even if it's off by one word I cross out the language on the document and write "see attached acknowledgment" (or jurat) depending on what's required. I use the NNA loose certificate or the simplified certificate published by the Secretary of State. It's better to be safe than sorry.


04 May 2015

Thank you for the information.

Cecilia Romero

05 May 2015

Very interesting information.

05 May 2015

I just completed an out of state notarization. I confirmed the process through NNA's hot line and my client called the State of Texas, Houston County and asked if she could get her document notarized in California. What team work. I followed the procedures presented here, the document was accepted and recorded in the County of Houston.


05 May 2015

California notaries aren't required to have thespecial notice within a box at the top of the acknowledgment and jurat?

National Notary Association

07 May 2015

Here are some article links that may help answer your question:

Donna J. R. Conne

06 May 2015

From California: I add "see CA compliant Acknowledgment [0r Jurat]" and attach same. Since the addition of the January 2015 language requirement any attempt to revise the existing language on a non-compliant certification is too cumbersome. I've [so far] had no problem with any Title Company or Lender accepting an attached CA compliant certificate.

J Vasquez

08 Jun 2015

First off, thanks for the article, second, if choose to attach a CA certificate to the document (if needed or when in doubt) do I still fill out, sign, and put my seal in the out-of-state not CA compliant certificate as well? Thanks.

National Notary Association

09 Jun 2015

No, only on the correct certificate wording being used.

cheyl studley

09 Jun 2015

I notarize a lot of out state real estate documents and always attach a California certificate, A word of caution - you cannot always determine which certificate is appropriate by the phrases you are used to seeing. As an example the deeds I notarize for Hawaii have the wording "sworn to" but the title company actually wants an acknowledgment. Always check with the attorney and/or title company.

Barbara A.

11 Jun 2015

In Completing an Notary Acknowledgement today – an additional form; “Outside Notary’s Certificate of Compliance” containing basically 20+ lines of questions regarding our understanding of notary act under penalty of perjury, plus questions restating the identity obtained of the person we notarized, and restating all info noted in our notary stamp. This is not a normal part of a California notary – must we comply?

National Notary Association

12 Jun 2015

Hello Barbara. I'm not familiar with the additional form you are describing, but I can tell you that the information being requested is not a part of the statutory California notary certificate wording. We'd need more details about who asked you to complete this form and why before commenting further-if you would like to contact us to discuss more details privately, you can reach the Communication Team at or you can contact our Hotline at directly for assistance.

Jen C

18 Apr 2016

I am a Texas notary that sees CA documents all the time. I tried to attach loose certificates but the title companies want us to use their CA ones supplied. Our acknowledgements do not require us to have the jurat statement that CA does. I was told we can line it out or change from CA to TX but had a CA title company tell me "do not change it. If you do, the county won't accept the document or be able to record it.' Puts us in a difficult situation. Any advise?

National Notary Association

18 Apr 2016

Hello Jen. Are you referring to the new "consumer notice" on CA acknowledgment and jurat certificates? If so, please see the answer to question 2 in this article:

18 Apr 2016

I would have liked Tip #3 “substantial compliance” to be a link to a list or other guidance. Washington appears to be a “substantial compliance” state based on the brevity of RCW 42.44.100, "Short forms of certificate", but always good to have confirmation.

18 Apr 2016

In addition to being an Arizona notary, I am licensed to practice law in Arizona, California, and Florida. When I send a document into California that will need to be notarized, I use the California acknowledgment form under Civ. Code s. 1189. If the document is prepared for execution in Arizona or Florida (neither of those states has a mandatory form), I use the generic language. The bottom line is that the certificate needs to comply with the laws of the notary's jurisdiction.

John Cown,

18 Apr 2016

Understood the venue within the notarial certificate needs to be correct, but what about the case where the venue at the top of the document does not match the correct venue in the certificate? I am reluctant to change any wording in the document, other than the notarial certificate.

National Notary Association

18 Apr 2016

Hello. Notaries may only correct information in the notarial certificate wording. A Notary should not be altering or correcting information in the main body of the document-that is the signer's responsibility.


18 Apr 2016

It has only happened once where a jurisdiction (CT) did not want to accept a NM jurat because of wording. Their rationale was "the wording is not in compliance with CT law." They wanted to dock my fee (which is the main reason I cared lol) - since the jurat was administered in keeping with NM law, they had no basis for their argument. Long story short, they paid me to execute the jurat with CT-acceptable language that did not violate NM law.

Jack Crawford

18 Apr 2016

I attended a recent NNA trainging session for my CA renewal. One of the examples for out of state certificates (recalling from memory) stated something like: "before me apperaed John Jones, vice president, known to me to be the person who signed". We were told this was not acceptable because CA notaries cannot stipulate the capacity of the signed which I understand. However, I also questioned the words "to me known to be" since CA notaries cannot identify based on personal knowledge, only satisfactory evidence. I was told that it would be acceptable since it was an out of state document. Did I misunderstand?

National Notary Association

19 Apr 2016

Hello. The phrase, “to me known to be” does not indicate personal knowledge. The signer could be “known to be” based on the satisfactory evidence presented to the Notary, such as an ID card.


25 Mar 2017

Document: out of state document from Maryland from the department of Health, an affidavit for parentage. Carbon copy. The document did not have a certificate on it. There was a section that spoke of an affirmation and they wanted the notary to sign and date the document. I am a Florida Notary. Should I sign and date the document and include a loose certificate with a FL jurat certificate or should I just attach a jurat loose certificate and explain to client why I cannot sign the area for the notary on the document.

National Notary Association

27 Mar 2017

Hello. The signer would need to choose what notarial act they want. After the notarial act is selected, you can attach the appropriate certificate wording for the requested act if there is no appropriate pre-printed wording on the document. If the signer is unsure how to proceed, the signer should contact the issuing agency for further instructions.


03 Apr 2017

So can i just use the calif certs to be safe automatically? I've never had anyone come back on me

National Notary Association

05 Apr 2017

Hello Terri. As mentioned in the article, the only time a CA Notary would need to complete an out-of-state acknowledgment certificate is if the signer asked you to do so for a document to be filed outside of California, and only if the out-of-state wording doesn’t ask you to make determinations not allowed by CA law. In all other situations, you should always use the statutory CA wording.


05 Mar 2018

I just muved to another state, how can i have change my notary stamp in order to use it..?

National Notary Association

08 Mar 2018

Hello. You will need to apply for a new commission and seal in the state you have moved to. You cannot use your old seal in the new state. If you need assistance with the commissioning process, please call our Customer Care team at 1-800-876-6827.


05 Mar 2018

We have a branch in Louisiana. The manager was here in Texas with a document for me to notarize, but when I called NNA I was told that I had to live in Louisiana to be able to notarize the document.

National Notary Association

08 Mar 2018

Hello. Louisiana Notaries have significantly different duties than Notaries in other states. It is possible that the document required services that a Louisiana Notary may provide but that a Texas Notary may not be authorized to perform.

James Sr.

05 Mar 2018

Signing California based documents have been a problem for me when they are acknowledged outside of California. My state, Wisconsin, requires that the representative capacity of the signer be shown on the signature line and also in the acknowledgment. I have had signing companies insist that I use the California acknowledgment, but I can not do so since it would violate State of Wisconsin statutes. I guess that the recorders in California will not record documents that don't comply with CA law. I won't budge on this.

Keri c

06 Mar 2018

Completing this in California for our state department. Knowing the government won’t accept alterations or attached certificates is frustrating.


21 Nov 2018

I need to know, can I notarize court documents from the state of Idaho in the state of Utah, as I am a notary in the state of Utah? I am fairly new and want to be 100% sure what I am doing is correct. Thanks in advance

National Notary Association

26 Nov 2018

Hello. As long as the notarization being requested is permitted in Utah and follows all requirements of your state's law, you may notarize the document.

Leona Jeffery

28 Jan 2019

Individual asked me to notarize an Act of Donation. She is a donor. Donation of property is in Caddo Parrish, LA. Is this permissible? How do I handle? Document states Notary did not examine title and does not warranty same. Portion to be notarized states: "THUS DONE AND PASSED in (blank) County, TX, in the presence of the undersigned competent witnesses and me, Notary, after due reading of the whole, on this the (blank) day of January, 2019. Places for 2 witnesses to sign, the donor of said land, and notary.

National Notary Association

28 Jan 2019

ased on what you’ve described, we think it would be best if you contacted our Hotline team by phone and provided them with a more detailed description of the situation. The NNA Hotline: 1-888-876-0827 Mon – Fri: 5:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. (PT) Saturday: 5:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (PT) If you’re not an NNA Member or Hotline Subscriber, they will provide you with a one-time courtesy call.

J. Michael

11 Mar 2019

I was unaware that a California notary could notarize a document with non California wording if it is filed in another state. "They may, however, complete an out-of-state acknowledgment certificate as long as the document will be filed outside of California and the wording doesn’t require the Notary to certify that the signer holds a representative capacity..." do you have more information on this?

National Notary Association

12 Mar 2019

Hello. Please see this FAQ for more information:


19 Jun 2019

If I live in Illinois, and work in Denver, Can I still notarized documents in Denver?

National Notary Association

21 Jun 2019

Hello. If your commission was issued in Illinois, then the answer is no. Illinois Notaries may only notarize within the borders of their own state.


03 Sep 2020

If an entity in Massachusetts is bidding on a project in CA and a bid bond document is notarized in MA and correctly states the State and County in the caption but incorrectly states the word "California" in the document (I certify that under penalty of perjury of the laws of the State of California...), is that notary acceptable or is the document void?

National Notary Association

04 Sep 2020

Hello. We're sorry, but your questions would need to be answered by a qualified attorney.


09 Nov 2020

What are the precautions or steps that you need to take as a notary public in Nevada when notarizing real estate documents of real property located in other states such as California?

National Notary Association

10 Nov 2020

Based on what you’ve described, we think it would be best if you contacted our Hotline team by phone and provided them with a more detailed description of the situation. The NNA Hotline: 1-888-876-0827 Mon – Fri: 5:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. (PT) Saturday: 5:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (PT) If you’re not an NNA Member or Hotline Subscriber, they will provide you with a one-time courtesy call.

Nancy MacKell

28 Jun 2021

I do both because sometimes they need to file it in another state other than California (where I notorize). So, I fill out theirs and then add an attached Cali approved acknowledgement.

National Notary Association

28 Jun 2021

Hello. You should only fill out a single notarial certificate when performing a notarization.


28 Jun 2021

I just had my 1st Out of State Notary assignment a couple days ago. I am in California and 2 of the 3 signers were in CA as well. The 3rd buyer was in Idaho where, the property being purchased is also. To future complicate things, the lender was in Oregon! It actually wasn't that complicated. I knew the cross through the Notary sections that said I was a Notary in Idaho and add California along with the County venue. Since the 3rd signer was not present, I then had to cross out the 3rd signers name when it referenced that he appeared before me. I of course confirmed all of these modifications and any others that I may have been unaware of, with the signing company and escrow officer. Signing went smoothly and one of the signers, told me after the signing, that he was actually a mortgage broker in CA, thanked me for being so through in this complicated signing. I am also a Real Estate Broker in California, Nevada and Hawaii which, further assisted because of my experience and knowledge it has taught me. If you are ever unsure, ALWAYS reach out to NNA as well as, the people and resources the Title Company or Signing Company that hired you has to offer...


29 Jun 2021

Should you put and x over the state & the county and write in your state and county?

National Notary Association

01 Jul 2021

Based on what you’ve described, we think it would be best if you contacted our Hotline team by phone and provided them with a more detailed description of the situation. The NNA Hotline: 1-888-876-0827 Mon – Fri: 5:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. (PT) Saturday: 5:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (PT) If you’re not an NNA Member or Hotline Subscriber, they will provide you with a one-time courtesy call.

Lisa Gallagher

13 Jul 2021

If I am understanding the information correctly, it is acceptable to attached a separate acknowledgement if the acknowledgement has the state filled in. For example the acknowledgement has State of Texas printed and under the notary signature Notary Public, State of Texas but I am a notary in MT.

National Notary Association

03 Aug 2021

Yes, you can use an attachment and fill in the correct information. Alternatively, you can make a single strike-through of the incorrect information on the notarial wording and manually enter the correct information.


21 Dec 2021

If my commission is in Colorado, can I notarize a Washington Document?

National Notary Association

28 Dec 2021

Hello. There is nothing preventing you from notarizing a document from Washington state, but the notarization must take place within the borders of Colorado and the requested notarial act must meet all requirements of Colorado law.


21 Jun 2022

A notary public in New Jersey declined to notarize a document prepared by a court in S.C. because she said the notary must be performed by someone in the state of S.C. Is that erroneous information?

National Notary Association

22 Jun 2022

Hello. We're sorry, but we don't have enough information about the document to tell you if it requires a South Carolina Notary or not. The best course would to be to contact the court directly to ask for their instructions regarding notarization of the document.

James N.

27 Jun 2022

WI requires any representative capacity to be shown in the certificate CA does not allow representative capacity to be shown in certificate. I was told in a closing by a CA title company that I could not use a WI certificate if the document were to be filed in CA. Since the document was signed in WI I used the WI certificate and left it up to them. I thought that other states had to accept the format of the state of execution.

27 Oct 2022

new here, i wanted to understand when doing an out of state ack online for ron can i cross out the wording where it says "I certify under PENALTY OF PERJURY under the laws of the State of California that the foregoing paragraph is true and correct". can i change the "state" to my commission state or do i leave it be?

National Notary Association

02 Nov 2022

Based on what you’ve described, we think it would be best if you contacted our Hotline team by phone and provided them with a more detailed description of the situation. The NNA Hotline: 1-888-876-0827 Mon – Fri: 5:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. (PT) Saturday: 5:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (PT) If you’re not an NNA Member or Hotline Subscriber, they will provide you with a one-time courtesy call.

JR Padilla

04 Jun 2023

I am in CA and had a document from Vanguard (IRA) notarized and the CA notary attached the separate document but did not sign the area within the PoA Vanguard form. Vanguard denied the firm and said they require the notary to sign their form, that they do not accept the attached notary document. Took it back to the notary and she refused to sign the Vanguard form. Called vanguard and they says they receive plenty of forms signed by CA notaries and that we should keep shopping. All the while we pay for the notary just to have it declined by vanguard. Three times now. I feel like we are hampers on a wheel. Thoughts/advice?

National Notary Association

05 Jun 2023

Hello. If what you are describing is the Notary certificate wording, CA Notaries are required to uses the statutory certificate wording prescribed by state law if the document is being filed in California. If the company's certificate wording does not meet CA state Notary law requirements, then the Notary would not be able to use it.

JR Padilla

05 Jun 2023

Thank you for your feedback. I’ll try escalating my request with Vanguard.

BethAnne Russo

20 Jun 2023

I am a notary public in the State of New Jersey. Can I notarize a Last Will & Testament for a friend who lives in New York. I am told that as long as my friend from New York comes to New Jersey to sign her Will, that it would be fine. Can you please confirm this?

National Notary Association

20 Jun 2023

Hello. A will should never be notarized if the testator is asking the Notary questions about how to proceed. Rather, the testator should be following authoritative legal instructions and a certificate or certificates must be provided for the Notary to complete. Please see here for more information:

dalry A forbes

21 Jun 2023

I am a certified eNotary in the State of New York, my question to you is can Notaries perform Finger Printing Acts or do you need to be certified as a Finger Printing Specialist? Where can you get the information to do so in New York?

National Notary Association

30 Jun 2023

Hello. New York Notaries are not authorized to take fingerprints as part of their official duties. Any authorization to take fingerprints in New York would have to be obtained separately from Notary commissioning and certification procedures.

Stan N.

21 Jul 2023

I reside in California and recently had a document from Discover Bank notarized. The notary used the separate acknowledgement form, signed it and placed the notary seal on it. On the Discover document she placed a stamp "SEE CA NOTARY CERTIFICATE, with her initials and date. Discover bank representatives told me that the separate form was acceptable, but they would need the Notary Seal on their document as well. I went back to the Notary and she stated that under Ca Law she could not place the Notary Seal on the Discover document. I also verified this process with another notary at a local bank. Can Discover bank "legally" refuse to accept the proper "legal" CA notarization? What are my options if they continue to refuse?

National Notary Association

24 Jul 2023

Hello. The Notary is correct that CA Notaries cannot place their seal on a document separate from the statutory certificate wording. While any receiving agency may refuse a notarized document, you may want to ask your bank to contact the Secretary of State's office to confirm certificate and seal requirements for California Notaries.


20 Dec 2023

I am a notary in Michigan. I have been asked to notarize a document on Rhode Island. I am an RON but the document states "notary public for the state of Rhode Island". Is there a way that I am still able to notarize this document?

National Notary Association

05 Jan 2024

Based on what you’ve described, we think it would be best if you contacted our Hotline team by phone and provided them with a more detailed description of the situation. The NNA Hotline: 1-888-876-0827 Mon – Fri: 5:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. (PT) Saturday: 5:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (PT) If you’re not an NNA Member or Hotline Subscriber, they will provide you with a one-time courtesy call.


17 Apr 2024

I reside in California. Are Corporate acknowledgments considered out of state acknowledgements?

National Notary Association

25 Apr 2024

Based on what you’ve described, we think it would be best if you contacted our Hotline team by phone and provided them with a more detailed description of the situation. The NNA Hotline: 1-888-876-0827 Mon – Fri: 5:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. (PT) Saturday: 5:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (PT) If you’re not an NNA Member or Hotline Subscriber, they will provide you with a one-time courtesy call.

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