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CA Recorders Rejecting Up To 30% Of Documents Due To Notary Certificate Errors

California Notary News

Most of California’s county recorders have rejected documents that are out of compliance with the state’s new notarial certificate wording, with some counties refusing 25 to 30% of documents, according to an online survey conducted by the Notary Bulletin.

Thirty-six of the state’s 58 county recorders responded to the survey and all claimed they had rejected documents with out-of-compliance notarial certificates.

Since the beginning of the year, acknowledgments completed by a California Notary on documents that are filed in the state, and all jurats and proofs of execution completed by a California Notary are required to include the consumer notice. The notice must be in a box, and it also must be legible and located before the words “State of… County of…” in the certificate.

Notary Certificate Rejection Rates Spike In California

The rejection rates for non-compliant documents vary widely. A number of respondents said they have only kicked back a handful of documents. However, 10 counties reported rejection rates of 5 to 15% while others are rejecting up to 30%.

Gina Alcomendras, the Santa Clara County Clerk-Recorder and president of the County Recorders’ Association of California (CRAC), says the disparity in rejection rates is due to how the law is being applied. She says, “We usually refer matters to our respective county counsels. With 58 counties in California, there will always be different interpretations.”

Some documents are being incorrectly submitted with the signature lines below the consumer notice, making it look like a part of the acknowledgment, says Kammi Foote, Inyo County Clerk-Recorder and past co-chair of the CRAC’s legislative committee. “Some counties are rejecting those and others are not.”

Reasons For Document Rejection

Almost every respondent (95%) said they have rejected documents because the notarial certificate did not include the consumer notice. They also cited these reasons:

 76% “The consumer notice was not in the proper position”

 74% “The consumer notice was not in a box”

 37% “The consumer notice was illegible”

16% “The consumer notice was affixed using an adhesive label”

13%  “The consumer notice was affixed by handwriting”

If Notaries and document preparers want to make sure their documents will be accepted in all California county recording offices, Alcomendras says, “Use the wording and format of the certificate prescribed by the new law exactly as it is, in form, content and format.”

When recorders reject documents, related transactions will be delayed while the Notary arranges to meet with the signer again to perform a new notarization. And if a document does not include correct wording, recorders will accept loose certificates as long as they comply with the consumer notice requirement.

Michael Lewis is Managing Editor of member publications for the National Notary Association.

Additional Articles:

Survey: Many California Notaries Seeing Incorrect Certificate Wording

View All: Notary News

1 Comment

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Alison T

02 Mar 2015

Just found it funny that I had something get rejected because I attached an acknowledgement with the proper wording to a document provided by a company for my client. The company was unaware of the changes and didn't accept the notarization until my clients went in and met with them. I happened to mention to the clients that the paperwork had the wrong wording otherwise they wouldn't have understood why it got rejected. The company then later accepted it but charged the client extra processing fees because my attachments added more paperwork!

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