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Q&A: How To Use California’s New Notary Certificate Wording

Notaries are asking questions about navigating California’s new notarial certificate wording on documents sent between California and other states.

The NNA answers three of your most common concerns below:

Q

If I’m notarizing a document in California but it’s going to another state, do I still use the California certificate wording — or can I complete an out-of-state Notary certificate?

California Notary News

The answer depends on the notarial act you perform. If a California Notary is taking an acknowledgment that will be filed in another state or jurisdiction of the United States, the Notary may complete another state’s acknowledgment wording that is preprinted on the document, provided the form does not require the Notary to certify a signer’s representative capacity or make other determinations prohibited by law.

If the California Notary is performing a jurat or proof of execution, however, a California jurat or proof certificate with the new consumer notice must be used, regardless of whether the document is filed in California or in another state.

Q

I’m a Notary commissioned outside of California and I’ve been asked to notarize a signature on a document that will be filed in California. Do I complete the notarization using the new California certificate or my own state’s wording?

The answer depends on your state’s Notary laws. In general, most states have a law that says the certificate presented to the Notary must "substantially comply" with any notarial certificate forms contained in state law. If the California form does not substantially comply, you should instead attach and complete a loose certificate that abides with all of your state laws.

Notaries in other states who choose to use the new California certificate wording should also be aware it includes a consumer notice, stating the Notary verifies only the identity of the individual who signed the document — and not the truthfulness, accuracy or validity of the document. In addition, the California acknowledgment certificate requires a Notary to certify under penalty of perjury (under California law) that the information in the certificate is true. Many Notaries outside of California have expressed reservations about signing an acknowledgment form under California’s penalty of perjury laws, and have attached their own forms.

Q

If I’m asked to notarize a signature on a power of attorney document sent between California and another state, do I complete the notarization using the new California wording?

While a power of attorney is certainly an important document, Notaries — whether commissioned inside or outside of California — should treat it just as they would any other document and apply the same principles for completing the notarial certificates on the documents.


Bill Anderson is Vice President of Legislative Affairs with the National Notary Association

19 Comments

Add your comment

Marian H.

23 Feb 2015

You guys have it wrong about documents notarized in California but going out of state. You say, "Notary may complete another state’s acknowledgment wording that is preprinted on the document, provided the form does not require the Notary to certify a signer’s representative capacity or make other determinations prohibited by law." That's only partially true. Like so many notaries out there you neglect to pay attention to the fact that it's not a matter of "You can do this if..." it's matter of "You can only do this if..." So many neglect to pay attention to the part about the supplied wording being "REQUIRED" for filing in that other location. That fact is, very few circumstances actually require specific wording. Even California allows to certificates properly notarized elsewhere to be used in California. The CA wording is there for a reason, and it protects the notary. Blindfully using some other wording simply because it's going to another state is, in my opinion, foolish, at best. CA notaries should always use proper CA acknowledgement wording, no matter what, unless the wording supplied to them is, for sure, required. And you know what? You probably won't find any such requirement... except for maybe one specific Federal form that I've run across in my career, where they specifically wrote on the form that it was required for filing. Other than that? No way... use CA wording. Protect yourselves, people.

National Notary Association

23 Feb 2015

Thank you for your comment.

Erika M.

24 Feb 2015

I also had an understanding that CA notaries are to use the California wording no matter where the document goes. We are commissioned under California law and must follow California's guidelines.

National Notary Association

25 Feb 2015

Hello, Erika. As mentioned above, if the California Notary is performing a jurat or proof of execution, a jurat or proof certificate with the new consumer notice must be used, regardless of whether the document is filed in California or in another state. However, California Civil Code Section 1189 permits California Notaries to complete another state’s acknowledgment wording on a document to be filed in another state if necessary, provided the wording does not require the Notary to certify a signer’s representative capacity or make other determinations prohibited by law.

Farok Ardesher

25 Feb 2015

I 100% agree with Marian. Whether acknowledgement or Jurat I always use the New Ca Acknow and Jurat. Many Lenders fail to use the new Forms and it is up to us to correct their mistakes and use the Proper Form.

Fermin Marengo

26 Feb 2015

First of all, I am new at this. What I believe is that the NNA should be the guiding source of information and should establish the guidelines for every Public Notary to abide by. We should have a uniform set of rules to follow. The guidelines should be the same for every notary no matter in which state you do business. Imagine if there was a different set of rules for the Major League of baseball, or for that matter, football. If becoming necessary to include something new for the benefit of one state it should be passed on to all states. Our guidelines should be uniform for every one. Correct me if I am wrong.

National Notary Association

26 Feb 2015

Hello Fermin. While the NNA provides guidance, education and recommended practices for Notaries through resources such as The Notary Public Code of Professional Responsibility (http://www.nationalnotary.org/knowledge-center/reference-library/notary-public-code-of-professional-responsibility), we are a professional association for Notaries, not a regulating authority. Each state is responsible for commissioning its own Notaries and creating and enforcing the laws that regulate them.

Rita Cannava

26 Feb 2015

It is my understanding that a document that is going to be recorded in the State of California (i.e. Deed of Trust) must have the required California wording on the Acknowledgment Form or it will be rejected. At least I know that the San Diego Recorder's Office sent out a postcard to San Diego Notaries stating that if the new working was not used, the document would be rejected...so I think the answer about notarizing in one state documents which are going to be filed in California is incorrect. If the document is to be filed/recorded in California, you should use the Calfiornia wording in my opinion.

Bill Anderson

27 Feb 2015

Rita, Thank you for your comment. As we have tried to make clear in our coverage of the new California certificates, the new law applies only to California Notaries. Notaries in other states are not governed by California law, but by the Notary laws of their respective states. I would encourage you to consider California Civil Code Section 1189(b), which states, "Any certificate of acknowledgment taken in another place shall be sufficient in this state if it is taken in accordance with the laws of the place where the acknowledgment is made." This means that an acknowledgment completed by a Notary of another state will be accepted in California if the acknowledgment complies with the law of the state where it was notarized.

Margaret Wrtaza

26 Feb 2015

I am a new notary in CA. I was asked to notarize documents going to the U.S. DEA and the U.S. SEC (one an acknowledgement and one a jurat). Each document had its own wording. The DEA's instructions to the notary said to use the appropriate wording for my jurisdiction. I went ahead and attached a loose acknowledgement cert. to that document. The SEC's document had no instructions to the notary so I attached a loose jurat certificate. I was told that these documents don't require special wording since they are going to federal agencies. Did I do the correct thing by attaching loose certificates? Can I get in trouble for using these certificates when/if they are not necessary? Thanks.

National Notary Association

27 Feb 2015

Hi, Margaret. Attaching a loose certificate is a common practice if a document lacks the appropriate pre-printed notarial certificate wording. If you were specifically instructed to use appropriate wording for your jurisdiction when notarizing, and the documents did not include pre-printed notarial wording, then it sounds like you followed instructions based on your description. However, if you still have concerns or questions about using a loose certificate on these documents, we suggest you contact the receiving agency (the DEA or SEC) to ask if there are any other issues regarding attaching a loose certificate to the specific documents in question.

Gloria A.

11 Mar 2015

If a comment is merelysomeone's person opinion, not the rule, I hope the NNA will always advise that person that their comment (not a question) is in error so we don't rely on incorrect information. As to the out-of-state certificates, could the the Attachment of the California All Purpose Acknowledgment be subject to rejection in the other state and thereby cause delays for the signer. That would not be good customer relations if we continue to use only the CA certificate on out-of-state documents where their state certificate is provided? Please clarify.

National Notary Association

12 Mar 2015

Hello Gloria. CA Civil Code 1189 states: "On documents to be filed in another state or jurisdiction of the United States, a California notary public may complete any acknowledgment form as may be required in that other state or jurisdiction on a document, 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 and certifications not allowed by California law."

Jorge G.

07 May 2015

First of all, Marian H.'s comment is a little too rambling to make much sense, but in the end, she seems to be saying "you CAN'T use the out-of-state wording". I think this is wrong, but unfortunately, the way CC 1189 is written, it seems ambiguous. However, one section clearly says, for ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ONLY, that you can use the out-of-state-wording, so long as it's just an acknowledgement and not a determination of capacity. Secondly, the comment by Rita Cannava about the San Diego recorder seems to bring to the fore the continuing problem with this wording of CC 1189. It would be great if the State AG or Secy of State would make a public proclamation clarifying the intent and operation of the law, so that people like the San Diego recorder isn't confusing further the notaries in this state. To me, it's clear that 1189 provides an out-of-state exception for acknowledgements, but the San Diego recorder buffalo'ed at least one person by the statement "if you don't use the required wording, I won't take it"... well, folks, realize that he is the San Diego recorder. If a document is going out of state, he has squat to say about it, so let's just back it up a little, OK? He should have made that amply clear. Just my 2c worth as a consumer of the "valuable services" performed by the notaries of California.

kuldeep singh

30 Jun 2015

I m notary going to notarized document in california and documents are from VA,do i need to use loose certificate for documents.

National Notary Association

07 Jul 2015

Hello. If the document includes notarial certificate wording that meets CA law requirements, you may use the existing wording. If the document lacks pre-printed notarial certificate wording that meets CA law requirements, the signer would need to tell you what type of notarization is required and you would attach and use a loose certificate with the appropriate wording specified in CA statute.

Debbie

13 Feb 2017

I will be having a Disclaimer of Interest notarized in California, but filing it in Texas. The Texas attorney stated the following should be at the top of the page so that the document won't get rejected with the County Clerk Deeds dept.: Notice of Confidentiality Rights. You are advised that you do not have to include personal identification...social security number or driver's license number. The California Notary law states the following should be at the top of the page enclosed in a box: A notary public or other ...that document. Which of the two statements should be first at the top of the page? I do not want to use the California statement on a separate Acknowledgement page for fear of the pages being separated down the road and it will appear the Disclaimer never got notarized. I would like the notary seal to be on the Disclaimer, but don't know which statement to place at the top. thank you.

National Notary Association

01 Mar 2017

Hello. If a California Notary is taking an acknowledgment that will be filed in another state or jurisdiction of the United States, the Notary may complete another state’s acknowledgment wording that is preprinted on the document, provided the form does not require the Notary to certify a signer’s representative capacity or make other determinations prohibited by law. A nonattorney Notary can't select which notary certificate wording to use on the signer's behalf, or determine the format for information on a document being notarized on behalf of the signer, as that would be the unauthorized practice of law.

Debbie

13 Feb 2017

I will be having a Disclaimer of Interest notarized in California, but filing it in Texas. The Texas attorney stated the following should be at the top of the page so that the document won't get rejected with the County Clerk Deeds dept.: Notice of Confidentiality Rights. You are advised that you do not have to include personal identification...social security number or driver's license number. The California Notary law states the following should be at the top of the page enclosed in a box: A notary public or other ...that document. Which of the two statements should be first at the top of the page? I do not want to use the California statement on a separate Acknowledgement page for fear of the pages being separated down the road and it will appear the Disclaimer never got notarized. I would like the notary seal to be on the Disclaimer, but don't know which statement to place at the top. Thank you.

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