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How To Fix A Bad Notary Seal Impression

Seal Impression
 

Updated 4-15-19. Notaries often ask how they can fix a bad seal impression where the ink smears or doesn't show up clearly during a notarization. While illegible Notary seal impressions are a common reason for document rejection,  fixing the problem can be simple.

Affixing A Second Seal

If your Notary seal should get smudged, be administered too lightly, or come out unevenly inked, simply affix a second seal near, but not over, the first one. Make sure it is readable and able to be photocopied. In doing so, make sure not to cover or obscure any other text or images on the document.

If space is tight, you may turn your seal sideways. However, avoid affixing a sideways seal in the margins of a document, particularly if it is a real property document that must be recorded.

Attaching A Separate Or Loose Certificate

If there is no room to affix a second seal impression, you should attach a completed separate Notary certificate (also known as a loose certificate) with a proper seal impression. If you have to attach a loose certificate, remember to put a line through the previous notarial wording and include a note: “See attached certificate.”

The error some Notaries make when fixing a bad impression is attempting to repair the initial impression using some other method, such as pen and ink, or attempting to cross out a smudged image. However, any sort of “tampering” with a seal is not allowed, and could cause the document to be rejected.

Notary Seal Tip

Before affixing your seal, do a practice run. Making sample impressions on a scrap piece of paper will let you know how much ink to use and how hard to press when affixing the seal. Be sure to destroy your “practice” seal impressions immediately after doing this.

Kelle Clarke is a Contributing Editor with the National Notary Association.

Additional Resources:

How to Use Your Notary Seal Stamp

97 Comments

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Rebecca Farrens

03 Nov 2014

Very helpful. Thank you.

sheila

03 Nov 2014

I messed up my seal before and found my methods to fix it identical to yours, so thank you for sharing this information and its good to know I'm doing the right thing.

Mary V. Damman

03 Nov 2014

Very good advice. Can we just use the gold seal and affix to record

National Notary Association

03 Nov 2014

Hello Mary, We apologize-can you please clarify what you meant by your reference to a 'gold seal?' Some persons use this term to refer to embossed Notary seals, but it is also similar to a reference to the Medallion Signature Program used by some financial institutions which does not involve notarization. Also, to help us answer your question can you tell us what state you are commissioned in, please? Thank you.

Janice R. Jowers

03 Nov 2014

What if you accidently stamp a seal upside down. Does this need correcting?

National Notary Association

03 Nov 2014

Hi Janice, To help us answer your question, can you please tell us what state you are commissioned in?

Cheryl Dawson

03 Nov 2014

My seal was uneven last week and I panicked, trying to artistically repair. Luckily there was an extra blank copy and I just started over. But I'm so glad to see these alternatives!

Letitia Gaye Casey

03 Nov 2014

if a notarization on a deed comes back as "rejected" by the Recorder or the Court due to an illegible seal, does the entire notarization need to be re-done or can a new seal be added to the original rejected document on the jurat?

National Notary Association

03 Nov 2014

Hello Letitia, In order to help us answer your question, can you please tell us what state you are commissioned in?

GPEERY

03 Nov 2014

Good article. When I was a newbie Notary, a recorder rejected my smudged & re-stamped deed, as I had lined-out the bad one.

Fran

03 Nov 2014

Room can be an issue on some forms when it has to be done on the top or bottom. My biggest booboo is stamping upside down!!!

Priscilla Figueroa

03 Nov 2014

I too had problems with upside down seals impressions. I put a big dot with whiteout in the front of the seal in the correct position on the plastic part, and I always look for the big dot staring at me before I stamp my paperwork. Hope this helps.

Gary Halvorsen

03 Nov 2014

My I use the Association logo on my business cards ?

National Notary Association

18 Nov 2014

Hello Gary. If you are an Association member, NNA members have access to specially designed member logos that can be displayed on all your business materials. We provide the logo in multiple versions: PDF, PNG, and EPS. Member logos can be found here: https://www.nationalnotary.org/my-nna/member-benefits/member-badge-privileges Members may also order business cards with the NNA logo directly from us here: http://www.nationalnotary.org/nna-business-cards

Emmanuel Dempsey

03 Nov 2014

Very good article.Very useable information. Thanks

Judy Hearne

04 Nov 2014

Yesterday J was notarizing several documents in a relocation package, (new employee moving from OH to TN, where I am also employed), and my expiration date seal was large enough that it went into the "state" line for the next notary to complete. (In other words, I had to notarize signatures in TN and another notary will need to notarize the spouse's signature in OH.) will this be a problem for her/him, or can they just write their state name beside my seal?

National Notary Association

04 Nov 2014

Hello Judy, If the seal impression obscured or covered notarial certificate wording, the obscured certificate wording should not be used when notarizing signatures on the documents. The issuing or receiving agency should be contacted for instructions on how to proceed.

Debbie Hicks

04 Nov 2014

I live in Tennessee and I have once accidently affixed my seal upside down. I noticed it as I handed the document back to the signer. They took it and I never heard back that it needed to be redone. I am very careful to watch for that now. Howerver should I have redone the seal?

betty

04 Nov 2014

I WISH that is was that easy!! I have gotten beaten up by vendors who want everything to be perfect, including my seal! Here is my solution: I carry a clipboard with cardboard from a used up 8 1/2 x 11 sized notepad. My stamp stamps flat and clear on this, when the surface at the location of a signing isn't flat enough, like my desk at work is flat. When in doubt about the signing surface, I use the work order with signing information and contact phone numbers that the vendors ask you print and take to the signing, and test it. Otherwise, I find that being methodical and careful works well, too. Interesting--I am the office manager at my DH's law office, and both he and his associate have no trouble with me stamping twice, if necessary. Go figure. =/

Carole Pateman

04 Nov 2014

I was shocked when my boss (an attorney) came to me with a denied Notary seal. It was fine when first done, but the paper made it smudge after the fact..weird....I had to fill out another paper stating who I was and redoing the seal... California commission

Bonnie

04 Nov 2014

What if you need to replace your seal because the seal doesn't give a complete impression from the day you received it?

National Notary Association

04 Nov 2014

Hi Bonnie, You will need to replace your seal following the guidelines in your state's laws. If you purchased your seal through the NNA, you can contact our Customer Care team for assistance at 1-800-876-6827 or CustomerService@nationalnotary.org.

Karla N. Lacayo

09 Jun 2015

Very helpfull. Thank you.

Gay Nell

04 Aug 2015

I did not see an answer to the question regarding a stamp was done up side down. Should I restamp the document or is it sufficient up side down?

National Notary Association

04 Aug 2015

Hello. An upside-down seal may be acceptable provided it does not obscure or cover any other wording. In this case, the signer should contact the receiving agency to confirm if the upside-down seal will be accepted.

Jo Cooper

26 Oct 2015

Thanks for this information. I have made corrections in the past as you suggested, but wondered about the legality of doing such.

Paula Dunn

26 Oct 2015

Nice article - good reminder that sometimes the simplest of things are the most troublesome.

Allison I. McConnell

26 Oct 2015

Thank you for sharing this information, especially regarding not reprinting in the margins of a document. Very, very important. It's much better and will save everyone a lot of time if you just affix the loose certificate and cross out the botched seal on the first page.

Maria D. Pozsonyi

26 Oct 2015

I do a lot of documents translations for immigration purposes, but very often clients ask that I translate immigration applications and assist with filling these out. I am extremely careful at doing this and only sign my name as the interpreter/translator, but I am constantly worry about getting in some type of trouble. My question is: is there any type of form I can have them sign for them to acknowledge about being informed that I am not a lawyer and that I am not liable for any type of misrepresentation?...... State of Mississippi

National Notary Association

27 Oct 2015

Hello Maria. Non-attorney Notaries in Mississippi may not assist another person in completing a document (MAC Rule 5.9). Furthermore, Mississippi Notaries who are not attorneys may not represent themselves as immigration consultants, immigration paralegals or experts on immigration matters unless the Notary is an accredited representative or an organization recognized by the board of immigration appeals pursuant to 8 CFR Section 292, 2 (a-e) or any subsequent federal law. (MCA 25-33-27) Unless you are an attorney or accredited representative as described above, you should not be assisting immigrants with completing forms in any capacity.

Doris Davison

26 Oct 2015

Thank you. I would probably have tried to "fix" it with black pen.

Chris Allies

26 Oct 2015

If my seal does not have a complete clear image, I attach a Notary Clarity form to the document, as this is allowable in CA and the County Recorder's office will not reject the document.

Johnie Johnson

26 Oct 2015

Great information; had this happen a couple of times and was at a loss. Want be in the future.

R K Sneed

27 Oct 2015

Good information. No matter how methodical you notary habits, there are times when notarial can occur. It is good to know how these errors can be corrected.

Quandra Nickols

27 Oct 2015

Question. I notarize poa docs for several personal care homes in Pennsylvania. Another notary notarize four docs for a client in which 1 of the 4 was done incorrectly where notary signed her name and clients names in wrong the spot. I was asked to only notarize the retyped incorrectly notarized doc. Should I have had them redo all 4 docs to be consistent with seal. I haven't heard anything for 3 months so I guess the 4 docs were accepted with 2 different seals.

National Notary Association

28 Oct 2015

Hello Quandra. In the situation you describe, unless you are attorney it would not be appropriate for you to advise the signer to change the other 3 documents that were notarized without errors. Nonattorney Notaries are not allowed to offer advice to signers regarding preparing documents, and you would have no way to know if any changes you recommended would cause problems with the receiving agency.

Davette

28 Oct 2015

Very excited to read Q&A thanks!

Dawn Bunker

29 Mar 2016

Hi, what if you affix your stamp over the word "seal" on the acknowledgement? Would there still be a possibility for rejection?

National Notary Association

30 Mar 2016

Hello. Yes, if text on the document is covered or obscured by the seal impression, there is a possibility the recording agency may reject the document. In such a situation, the signer should contact the recording office for instructions.

Laural Honig

14 Jul 2016

That was very helpful thank you

terri.a.kotchevar@abc.com

22 Nov 2016

Hi from California. My stamp recently needed re-inking, and I somehow seemed to have put too much ink in it (it was generic ink provided by my employer, not purchased from NNA). Now it's a guessing game if my stamp will smudge into one big blob every time I notarize! I've tried everything, even pressing it into piles of paper towels to try to get rid of the excess ink. I don't want to take it apart and risk getting ink all over everything (not to mention ME). Should I just order a new stamp and get the ink you sell?

National Notary Association

23 Nov 2016

Hello. If your current seal isn't working properly, you are certainly welcome to consider one of ours. You can see our available stamps at https://www.nationalnotary.org/california/supplies/stamps-embossers

Gloria Henderson

19 Dec 2016

Can I write in me seal information if there is very little space for the seal or should I attach a loose certificate?

National Notary Association

19 Dec 2016

Hello Gloria. So we can answer your question, can you please tell us what state you are commissioned in? Or, if you are an NNA member you can contact our Hotline team at hotline@nationalnotary.org for assistance.

James

02 Jan 2017

Luckily here in New Jersey seals are not required they're only helpful so we don't have to keep writing the necessary details (which is printed name, title of office, state of office, and commission expiration). However sometimes I have made bad deal impressions for one reason or another and I think because in nj seals aren't required I just write over the info with a pen and I've never had those documents get rejected.

Janette

02 Jan 2017

Also, check and do not place document over a crack in a desk or other uneven things like a pile of papers. This will make the seal not print correctly. I did that once in a Attorneys office.

ernestpetersjr@outlook.com

02 Jan 2017

can an Arkansas notary become an accredited representative? if so, how do you go about being certified?

National Notary Association

03 Jan 2017

Hello. We're sorry, but can you clarify what you mean by an accredited representative, please?

Kelli Doyle

03 Jan 2017

Is it possible to use white sticker paper to cover over the bad seal, and re- stamp the seal over it with the proper impression? I'm in California; And while I haven't had an unclear stamp issue yet, I'm sure I will in time; stamps don't last forever!

National Notary Association

03 Jan 2017

Hello Kelli. The CA Secretary of State's office has instructed Notaries not to use correction tape, correction fluid or other means to cover errors on a seal impression. From the CA SOS 2016 Notary Newsletter: " If the seal impression is not clear, the notary public should affix a new impression and never attempt to fix the old one, even if this requires attaching a separate notarial certificate." (http://notary.cdn.sos.ca.gov/forms/notary-newsletter-2016.pdf)

Skylar Marton

03 Jan 2017

I live in NY where a seal is not required. I fill out the portion of the document which states State, County, Notary Signature, Comission Expiration, Etc. I also affix my seal onto the document. If my seal comes out smudged, do I still have to correct for this since it is not required and I filled out the other portion?

National Notary Association

03 Jan 2017

Hi Skylar. While use of a seal not required in New York, it is possible that a receiving agency may reject a document if you choose to use a seal and the seal impression is unclear.

Norma

04 Jan 2017

I am in Hawaii and would like to know if a stamp is upside down by mistake, will it be accepted?

National Notary Association

04 Jan 2017

Hi Norma. That's up to the agency receiving the document.

Linda Cox

08 Jan 2017

In Illinois should you draw a line through the bad stamp and initial?

National Notary Association

11 Jan 2017

Hello Linda. Illinois Notary law does not provide specific guidelines in this matter. The state Notary Public Handbook only instructs Notaries not to place their seal impression over their signature.

Victoria Dickert

09 Jan 2017

Good article especially since I have a broken embossing stamp. I replaced it with a self inking stamp which is faulty,which makes 2 to be returned. I can't return the faulty stamps if I destroy them. What do you suggest that I do?

National Notary Association

09 Jan 2017

Hello. If you purchased the faulty stamp through the NNA, you can contact our Customer Care team at 1-800-876-6827 for assistance.

Collee

13 Jan 2017

My husband had a court document "notarized" in Ohio, (stamped and signed, but nothing else.) California is rejecting the notarization because it lacks information on how the identity of the signer was verified, and where he appeared to sign it. Can the document be re-notarized on the same page, or should the whole thing be rewritten and resubmitted. (Uncontested divorce papers.)

National Notary Association

17 Jan 2017

Hello. You would need to speak to the agency the documents are being submitted to, or speak with a qualified attorney to request instructions on how to re-notarize the document in a way that is acceptable to the receiving agency.

Susan

27 Feb 2017

I am commissioned in WV, and have a question about whether a seal is required on all documents. If I need to notarize a document that does not ask for the seal to be placed on it and there is no space to put it, am I required to place the seal on it anyway?

National Notary Association

28 Feb 2017

Hello. The WV Secretary of State's website says that a Notary must use the rubber stamp seal on every notarization and the seal must be placed on the document so that the information is legible. (www.sos.wv.gov/business-licensing/notaries/Pages/default.aspx)

Terri

27 Feb 2017

(California) -- If there is room to place a second stamp next to or near the smudged one, do I "X out" the bad one? Or leave it as is?

National Notary Association

01 Mar 2017

Hello. It should not normally be necessary to mark out a bad seal impression with an 'X'-the fact that it is unclear and the presence of a second seal impression is usually enough to indicate why a second seal was required. However, be careful when affixing the second seal impression not to obscure any text on the notarial certificate or document.

Wendy Thomas

02 Mar 2017

Thank you for reprinting! From this article, you should not cross bad seal out and initial?

National Notary Association

02 Mar 2017

Hello. It should not normally be necessary to mark out a bad seal impression with an 'X'-the fact that it is unclear and the presence of a second seal impression is usually enough to indicate why a second seal was required. However, be careful when affixing the second seal impression not to obscure any text on the notarial certificate or document.

Maria Eva Garcia

14 Mar 2017

Very helpful to do ...it has happen to me twice

Aída

14 Mar 2017

In Florida uf An stamp is placed upside down. What is the rule to follow?

National Notary Associations

14 Mar 2017

Hello. The customer should contact the agency receiving the notarized document to find out if they will accept the upside-down stamp. If the agency will not accept the document, the customer should ask the receiving agency for instructions how to proceed further.

Sarah

22 Mar 2017

Hello, I am in Cardiff and looking to get our Notary Seal fixed, Can you please recommend anywhere?

National Notary Association

23 Mar 2017

Hi Sarah. If you purchased your seal through us, you can call 1-800-876-6827 for assistance.

Cristina

21 Apr 2017

For a PA car title transfer, I stamped in the wrong place and then stamped in the incorrect place (there are 3 or 4 spots that a notary could stamp, depending on the transfer action). The junkyard that is taking the car is now requesting an affidavit to state that the place I incorrectly stamped is indeed incorrect. Do I just include a letter from myself?

National Notary Association

21 Apr 2017

Hello. We're sorry but you would need to contact the junkyard directly to ask if they will accept the letter.

Diane Deren

25 May 2017

at s rehab facility, the patient did not have his ID, but his wife had a completed poa with her so we did proceed. However, the wording did not say Attorney in Fact. I added some explanation to the Health Surrogate form to add her info. Ok?

National Notary Association

25 May 2017

Hello Diane. We apologize, but we can only answer specific questions about the notarization itself. We cannot answer questions regarding completion of a document such as a Health Surrogate form.

Katie D.

16 Aug 2017

Should the bad seal be lined out? CA commission

National Notary Association

22 Aug 2017

Hello. Simply affix a new seal image. It is not necessary to line out the incorrect one. The receiving agency generally looks for a clear, clean image.

Diane

02 Sep 2017

the metal plate in our corporate seal is offset, how do i adjust it

National Notary Association

06 Sep 2017

Hello Diane. Just to clarify, when you say "corporate seal" are you referring to a Notary seal embosser?

ETTA M DAVIS

01 Nov 2017

Great info. I will for sure remember this!!

vlove@moodynational.com

12 Mar 2018

This is all great feedback I will put to use --thank you!

Sabrina Donnell

15 Mar 2018

Thank you for the helpful tips.

National Notary Association

29 Mar 2018

Hello. That would depend on the receiving agency's preferences. The signer may wish to contact the receiving agency to ask if they would have any issues accepting the upside-down seal.

Tasha

06 Apr 2018

My seal and stamp has the wrong expiration date on them. They have 8/27/2024 instead of 8/19/2024. Is there anything i can do without having to replace them. I just got them and error is my mistake. I ordered them that way. Please advise.

National Notary Association

06 Apr 2018

Hi Tasha. If you ordered your seal through us, please contact our Customer Care team at 1-800-876-6827 or services@nationalnotary.org and they should be able to assist you.

poindexter156@gmail.com

06 Jul 2018

Thank you! Great Idea!!! Testing on a scrap piece of paper.

K James

25 Jul 2018

I signed my signature underneath my stamp. Is that bad? I am from New York

National Notary Association

26 Jul 2018

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.

Theresa Shannon

22 Apr 2019

In the State of Nevada it is my understanding that we void - a single line through with our initials next to the bad stamp and then execute a proper clear stamp,

Trent Schreiner

22 Apr 2019

I am in Arizona. What do you mean by term Notary Certificate?

National Notary Association

22 Apr 2019

Hello Trent. "Notary Certificate" refers to the wording that the Notary completes, signs and affixes the seal impression to during the notarization. You can find more information here: https://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2015/12/notary-certificate-four-simple-parts

Phyllis Denison

22 Apr 2019

My seal is self inking. So, finding that if I haven't used it for a week or so, when I do, I first breathe on it and then use it. I get a perfect impression everytime!

Yvonne Ruiz

23 Apr 2019

My seal imprint is getting lighter. I’ve barely had it since last January. I thought the ink lasted longer. I have ink drops. How many drops can I add to my stamp? Thanks

National Notary Association

26 Apr 2019

Hello Yvonne. If you purchased your stamp from the NNA, you can contact our Customer Care team at 1-800-876-6827 for assistance.

Kathleen A Lutsch

26 Apr 2019

Thank you so much for this reminder. These brush up articles are always helpful.

Lisa

28 Aug 2019

California - I am an Engineer an a client had a Mylar notarized, the notary used their stamp and it smeared. Can we, as the Engineer, erase the stamp? The City will not accept the mylar as is. The Notary should have known that you don't use stamps on mylar in CA.

National Notary Association

29 Aug 2019

Hello. It would not be appropriate for you to tamper with a Notary stamp on a document, even if it is smeared or illegible. We would recommend that you contact the city office and request instructions for correcting the issue.

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