Your Cookies are Disabled! sets cookies on your computer to help improve performance and provide a more engaging user experience. By using this site, you accept the terms of our cookie policy. Learn more.

What notarization is needed?

Illustration of three question marks

Updated 1-9-24. Many customers have no idea what type of notarization they need when they visit a Notary. But at the same time, Notaries cannot choose a notarial act on a signer's behalf.

Follow the steps below to help you figure out what notarization your customer needs without violating the law.

Step 1: Check for pre-printed wording.

Many documents come with pre-printed Notary wording that clearly indicates what type of act is needed. For example, if your state requires specific wording for a jurat and that wording is pre-printed on the document, you may proceed with a jurat. However, if for any reason the certificate wording is unclear to you or the document lacks pre-printed notarial language, do not proceed until you can confirm what act is needed from another source.

Step 2: Ask the signer.

If the document lacks appropriate and clear certificate wording, ask the signer what type of notarization is needed. If the signer directs you to perform a particular act, that’s all you need.

If the signer isn’t sure, you cannot choose the notarial act for them, but you are permitted to describe the different notarial acts and let the signer pick one. For example, you can say, "If you need your signature acknowledged, you will need to be identified and confirm you are willingly signing this document and aware of what you have signed. If you need a jurat, you will need to sign in my presence and take an oath or affirmation swearing the contents of the document are true. Which would you like?"

You can also show the signer samples of an acknowledgment and jurat certificate. Once the signer chooses what type of notarization they want, you may proceed.

Step 3: Have the signer contact the issuing or receiving agency for instructions.

If you cannot determine what act to perform from steps 1 and 2, the signer should contact either the agency that issued the document or the receiving agency and ask what type of notarization is needed. Again, you may describe the different notarial acts to the agency and let them choose which one is appropriate. However, be careful. Some agencies unfamiliar with notarial laws and procedures may direct you to just "stamp and sign" the document or ask you to perform an act not permitted in your state.

If you are asked to perform an illegal notarization, explain that state regulations don't permit you to do so and ask the agency to choose an alternate lawful notarial act. Once you learn what act is needed, you can proceed.

If none of the above steps are successful, and it’s still not clear what notarial act is needed, the notarization needs to be called off. The signer may need to contact an attorney for guidance on how to complete the document before rescheduling the notarization.

David Thun is the Editorial Manager at the National Notary Association.

Related Articles:

‘Gray areas’ that often confound Notaries

Avoid common Notary certificate mistakes

Additional Resources:

Glossary of Notary terms

View All: Best Practices


Add your comment

Joey O.

20 Mar 2017

I often get the "Request for Birth Record Applications", and it's interesting that the entire document is a sworn statement affirming the identity of the individual applying for a copy of their records, and it even states above their signature "I swear the information is true and correct". Yet, at the bottom of the document, it says "Notarial Acknowledgement" for the notarial act. This is a confusing document because I'm used to seeing "sworn statement" being a Jurat. However, since the certificate clearly says "acknowledgement" I usually record it in my journal as such. In the "other info" column, I will always write "acknowledgement of sworn statement as presented by agency"

Kitty Rutherford

20 Mar 2017

I am always extremely surprised at the questions listed by the NNA and how to solve. The majority of these are covered in notary seminars and things notaries are required to how, before receiving certificate. Makes me wonder how efficient and knowledgeable most notaries in California really are !


20 Mar 2017



15 Apr 2019

I agree. I am shocked sometimes when I see the knowledge level of people becoming notaries is zero. For example in my company, they just do it out of convenience so they don't have to go to another department and rely on someone being there meanwhile they are clueless as to anything about being a notary. They are notarizing everything without seeing anyone sign it and other documents without having any notary language, etc. And this is in the office, imagine what they are doing outside the office. This is why laws should be different and there should be training required or something more needed to become a notary. People do not take it seriously at all and that is because there are very few requirements needed to be a notary in NJ.

Jerry Bransford

15 Apr 2019

The subject wording of this article surprised me, it mislead me into wondering what NNA was going to say on offering advice to a client on what type of notarization was needed before clicking on the article. It was nothing but a rehash of the most basic tenet of being a notary. I.E. we can't offer advice on what form of notarization is needed. Too many of these articles are simple rehashes of basic notary requirements. I'd rather see articles on subjects not covered in basic notary education and tests. For example, understanding that some of a particular state's notary requirements aren't required for signings being sent to out-of-state title or escrow companies. More practical information for those long past doing the most basic notarizations on subjects not already well covered in basic notary training classes..

Heather Lise DeBrosse

01 Feb 2021

As a new notary I welcome ALL bits of information I can get. To those have been a notary for some time, this might be something you may already know. To those of us who are new at this, this kind of information is very helpful.

David McAlister

02 Feb 2021

Good day “Newbie question” If you are not sure which type of notary is needed can you just due both and charge for two signings?

National Notary Association

02 Feb 2021

Hello. No, the Notary should never determine what type of notarization-or how many notarizations-are required on the signer's behalf. Doing so could constitute the unauthorized practice of law and leave the Notary open to possible liability or other penalties. The signer must select what type of notarization is wanted.

RM Vehar

02 Feb 2021

I agree with Heather. During the riggers of each day's activities, no matter how experienced one may be, the basics seem to be taken for granted and fade slowly over time. Like a base runner in baseball, one must touch base frequently so not to be put "out"..... Keep sending the basic reminders.

Michael Pekock

04 Feb 2021

I'm a newbie and this article helped me.

Yvonne Walton

27 Apr 2021

Certified Signing Agent now waiting on my first Signing.


16 May 2021

Hi, I already bought the $10,000 Bond notary but some of company required where can I buy the $100,000 bond notary insurance ?

National Notary Association

10 Jun 2021

Hello. If you are looking for errors and omissions insurance, information about policies available through the NNA can be found here: If you are looking for a surety bond, please see here for information on bonds available through the NNA:


31 Jan 2022

If a person doesn't know which type of form to get from us, and they request to get both a Jurat and Acknowledgment just to be safe, can we do that? I'm sure somebody would ask for this at some point.

National Notary Association

04 Feb 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.

Elaine johnson

01 Feb 2022

I was needed to sign a general durable power of attorney. As a regular notary do I need any extra abilities other than my regular notary information. Do I need to be a notary signing agent??

National Notary Association

01 Feb 2022

Hello. You are not required to be a Signing Agent in order to notarize a signature on a power of attorney document. Please see this article for more information about notarizing a power of attorney document:

Kelly Morgan

06 Feb 2023

Newbie here as well. Just became a certified signing agent. Scrambling for ALL the info I can get before I accept an assignment. Have mentorship consult set up and will be watching the NNA Summit, coming up March 2nd, I believe. I find it crazy that classes and training are not required by law. Could not imagine accepting an assignment without some knowledge. :)

Deb Can Do That Signing

06 Feb 2023

NNA, please remind newbees that they are not required to READ the document entirely; they are only there to identify signers' identity, understand what documents must be notarized, and perform the necessary notarization. Of course, a Signing Agent takes further steps.

Joe Batuyong

06 Feb 2023

I appreciate the refresher course because as a signing agent I’m not motarizing alot of different types of documents. It’s something we all need. Doing a weekly or monthly refresher would great.


06 Feb 2023

I have been a notary for awhile, this is a service that is offered to our clients. I do not get many notaries, so I welcome every little bit of information or reminders I can get.

Susan Bagorazzi

06 Feb 2023

I have met Notaries at banks who did not know what to do and were not familiar with the meanings of the words jurat , copy certification, etc. Basically the bank chose them to be Notaries gave them a book and a stamp and no training. It becomes frustrating for both the NOTARY and the client. In those situations there should be a class or at least a generalized video to watch

S m. Westbrook

09 Feb 2023

California requires certification to be a notary; i.e. must take and pass exam to obtain seal/stamp.

Nubia A. Dominguez

22 Jan 2024

I have been a notary for many years but it's helpful to get reminders about any notary procedures.

Fannie Green

23 Jan 2024

Verification keeps you honest, I appreciate it

Leave a Comment

Required *

All comments are reviewed and if approved, will display.