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The Wrong Reasons To Refuse A Notarization

notary-refuse-resized.jpgUpdated 10-8-18. One of the toughest situations you can face is being asked to notarize a document in support of something that goes against your beliefs. In the health care profession, these circumstances can include highly controversial health practices, such as abortion, assisted suicide and the use of medical marijuana that often require notarized forms.

While some Notaries may want to refuse requests they find objectionable, remember that you are acting as a public official when performing a notarization.

Many states specifically define a Notary’s role as acting as an impartial, third-party witness, and some, such as California, prohibit Notaries from refusing lawful requests. The Florida Department of State offers guidelines for when Florida Notaries can refuse services. Texas permits refusing if the Notary has reason to believe the signer is coerced or unaware, that the document will be used for illegal purposes, or if the Notary is unfamiliar with the requested act. None of these three states permits refusing a notarization simply because of the Notary's personal beliefs or preferences. 

Article I-A-3 of The Notary Public Code of Professional Responsibility states that a Notary should not refuse to perform a lawful and proper notarial act “because of disagreement with the statements or purpose of a lawful document.”

It’s important to avoid any practices that suggest bias or compromise your impartiality. While some might see refusing to notarize based on your personal principles as an appropriate gesture, it directly violates the principle of serving all members of the public equally.

Remember, your seal doesn’t equal personal endorsement or suggest that you agree with the content of a document. Your role is simply to verify the identity of a person signing a document.

As long as the document is lawful and there are no other factors — such as lack of satisfactory evidence of identification for the signer — you should perform the notarization. Like judges, impartiality is an integral part of the role of Notaries in the health care industry and any other profession.

7 Comments

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Bob Ssekyanzi

18 Dec 2017

Is it admissible to notarize a document with some sections left blank?

National Notary Association

20 Dec 2017

Hello. Please see this article: https://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2017/01/notary-tip-deal-with-blank-spaces-documents

Matt

19 Dec 2017

Except in today's world, judges aren't impartial. Just take a look at the supreme court.

wluna@tirprime.com

15 Oct 2018

What about a foreign document that was supposed to be a power of attorney?

National Notary Association

17 Oct 2018

Hello. If you are asking if you may notarize a document from a foreign country, please see this article: https://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2015/07/notarizing-documents-from-other-countries

Shelly

15 Oct 2018

excellent article, thank you

Blanca Thompson

15 Oct 2018

The father of a young girl, 15 years-old, wanted her daughter to marry her boyfriend because she got pregnant. In Marin County, State of California, he was told that he needed a Court Judgement approving the marriage of her underage daughter.

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