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What Notarization Is Needed?

confused-resized2.jpgUpdated 4-8-19. 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 an Associate Editor at the National Notary Association.


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..

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