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Four Answers That Will Help New Notaries Properly Complete Notarial Certificates

Acknowledgment Cert


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.


Add your comment

Kathy Liccardi

25 Aug 2014

I need information on Journaling Please

National Notary Association

26 Aug 2014

Hi, Kathy! You can find some basic information on keeping a journal in our complimentary webinar "How To Complete A Journal" here: Also, here are some Bulletin articles on journals that may be helpful to you: Recommended Notary Practices: Maintaining A Journal Handling Journal Inspection Requests: Please let us know if we can be of further assistance. Have a great day!

26 Aug 2014

Thanks for providing all this valuable information


27 Aug 2014

I 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 Association

28 Aug 2014

Hello 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 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 Davis

08 Jan 2015

If i recieved a document without the notary stamp or seal is this document valid?

National Notary Association

08 Jan 2015

Hello 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.


11 Mar 2015

Very 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 Association

12 Mar 2015

Hi Joseph. You should enter your name on the certificate the same way as it appears on your Notary commission and seal.

Michelle L

30 Mar 2015

I 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 Association

02 Apr 2015

Hi 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.


01 Apr 2015

Is 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 Association

02 Apr 2015

Hello Ashley. You may want to check out our webinar series on commonly asked Notary questions. Here's a link to the page: We also have webinars for new signing agents if you're interested in working with loan document assignments: Best of luck and please let us know if we can be of further assistance.

Michelle L

06 Apr 2015

Hi, 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 Association

07 Apr 2015

Hi Michelle. As mentioned previously, you should sign your name as it appears on your seal and Notary commission.

angela bennett

15 May 2015

I'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 Association

19 May 2015

Hello 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

Martine Lisa

22 Dec 2015

I'm a notary in Minnesota and I've noticed that on the certificate of some documents I'm notarizing there is not a spot that says "state of" and "county of" for me to fill in the blanks. Should I write in this information in pen?

National Notary Association

22 Dec 2015

Hello. MS 358.47 states that any notarial certificate "must include identification of the jurisdiction in which the notarial act is performed." If this information is not on the pre-printed certificate we suggest attaching and completing a certificate that includes a space for the venue information.

martine Lisa

23 Dec 2015

Than you for your reply. I just re read it and yes the Venue information is pre printed on the certificate. I wasn't sure if I still needed to write it in my own handwriting. But you answered my question so thank you.

Jon L

23 Dec 2015

If there are blank spaces on the document can I put a line through them or does the signer need to do that?

National Notary Association

23 Dec 2015

Hello. Any blank spaces in the main body of the document would need to be filled in or corrected by the signer. The Notary may only correct or complete blank spaces in the notarial certificate wording.

Carmelina Carrillo

24 Dec 2015

Texas one of my signers asked me if she could have a copy of my driver license? I showe to them, but I did not allow them to get a copy. Instead I sugest them to obtain information about me from the Title Company. Did I break any law? Thank you

National Notary Association

30 Dec 2015

Hello Carmelina. There's no Texas Notary law that requires you to provide a copy of your driver's license to a signer during a notarization. Public information about commissioned Texas Notaries is available online at the Secretary of State's website at


27 Apr 2016

Hi! I was wondering if I am notarizing a document in California, which will be filed in South Dakota, and my notary seal doesn't fit in the notary seal box on the form- can I attached a loose acknowledgement/jurat to the document with California verbiage? Any information would be greatly appreciated!

National Notary Association

29 Apr 2016

Try to affix the seal on the available certificate wording as close to the Notary signature as possible. This may mean finding another “blank” area within the certificate. A CA Notary may attach a loose certificate; however, that doesn’t always guarantee that the receiving agency will accept it. If in doubt, ask the signer to contact the receiving agency for instructions.

Todd Cottle

03 May 2016

Title company (out of my state) thinks I have made an error on my notary of the documents. They want me to email them ( and mail original) Jurat. How would I word a Jurat to comply for them?

National Notary Association

04 May 2016

Hi Todd. While some agencies may request it, Notaries should never mail a loose certificate nor rely on someone else to attach it to the document.

joy taffy

11 May 2016

Please clarify, I'm a notary in California, a client would like me to notarize a document for another state, let say for example sake an acknowledgement for the state of Arizona. The document does not contain the required CA Notarial wording. Do I complete the loose certificate?

National Notary Association

12 May 2016

Hi Joy. It depends. When executing a jurat or proof of execution, California Notaries must always use the certificates with the new consumer notice regardless of where the document is sent. California Notaries who take acknowledgments on documents that are filed in another state or jurisdiction may complete any acknowledgment form as may be required in that other state or jurisdiction, provided the form does not require the Notary to determine or certify that the signer holds a particular representative capacity or to make other determinations or certifications not allowed by California law.

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