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How to notarize a document in 5 steps

An illustration of a person pointing to chart

Updated 2-12-24. There are only a few states that give new Notaries practical tips for notarizing documents properly. Even states that have mandatory education requirements for commission applicants focus more on Notary law than Notary practice.

To help the new Notaries in our community, here’s how to notarize a document in 5 steps:

  1. Require personal appearance
  2. Check the document
  3. Carefully identify the signer
  4. Record your journal entry
  5. Complete the notarial certificate

Below, we’ll review each of these steps in notarizing a document and explain why they’re important for protecting your clients, and also yourself from any potential issues.

Step 1: Require personal appearance

Almost every state requires the signer to personally appear before you during the notarization. That’s crucial because it helps protect your signer, your employer, anyone relying on the notarization and you against potential fraud and liability.

Personal appearance allows you to complete other steps in a proper notarization.

Many states now permit Notaries to perform notarizations using audio and video conferencing technology — via remote online notarization.

Step 2: Check over the document

You should always check over the document you are notarizing for a number of important reasons:

  • To look for certificate wording that will tell you what type of notarization to perform.
  • To review the certificate wording to make sure it contains all the elements a Notary certificate should have and that it conforms to the requirements of your state.
  • To check for blank spaces. Some states mandate there are no blanks on a document and other states just strongly recommend it. Blank documents can be altered later in an attempt to commit fraud.
  • Be sure to enter the date the notarization took place in the certificate wording.
  • To verify that the name on the ID supports the name in the document.

Scanning the document does not mean reading it for its details. You should just glance over it sufficiently to get the information you need.

Remember, never give legal advice. Many signers will ask you for advice or assistance regarding their document. Unless you are an attorney, you should always say no because it would be the unauthorized practice of law, and you could be held liable.

Step 3: Carefully identify the signer

Properly verifying your signer’s identity is the essential duty of every Notary. Every state provides some direction as to how to identify your signer, and there are 3 general methods:

California does not allow Notaries to rely on personal knowledge to identify signers. Instead, California Notaries must rely either on one of the forms of signer ID permitted by state law, or credible identifying witnesses if the signer lacks other forms of acceptable identification.

Identifying the signer is always required when you are taking an acknowledgment of a signature and may be required when you perform a jurat, verification upon oath or affirmation or affidavit as well; it’s also recommended when you certify a copy.

At this point, make sure your signer is acting of their free will and is aware of what’s going on. You can do this with small talk and basic questions. When it comes to a signer’s awareness, it’s recommended that you simply make a layperson’s judgment about the signer’s ability to understand what is happening.

Some states, such as Florida, specifically prohibit notarizing if the signer appears mentally incapable of understanding the document. Texas authorizes Notaries to refuse a notarization if the signer appears under coercion, the Notary has reason to believe the document may be used for an illegal purpose or the signer does not understand the document, or if the Notary is not familiar with the type of notarization requested.  

Then take the signer’s acknowledgment, witness the signature, and/or take the oath or affirmation as required by the notarial act.

Step 4: Record your journal entry

Most states either require or recommend Notaries maintain a record of all notarizations. A good Notary journal entry contains details of the notarization that are helpful in case a document or notarization is called into question.

It’s generally a good idea to complete your journal entry before the notarization so you can make sure to collect all the necessary elements of the record, including your signer’s signature.

Step 5: Complete the notarial certificate

If the document does not contain certificate wording, ask your signer what type of notarization is required and then attach a separate, or loose, Notary certificate.

Many signers do not know what type of notarization they need so you may describe the different types, but you may not make the decision for the signer unless you are a licensed attorney. If your signer is still uncertain, he or she should contact the issuing or receiving agency for instructions.

When completing the certificate, make sure all the details are correct. For example, the venue — or location of the notarization, indicated by the words “State of … County of …” — should be where you performed the notarization, not where the document was prepared or will be filed.

Finally, take care to sign and affix your seal properly. You should always sign exactly as your name appears on your commission. Your seal should be close to your signature but should not overlap any wording. The goal is to make everything legible. If you are in a state that does not require you to use a seal, you may need to add your name and commission information in other spaces below your signature.

Notarize with confidence

NNA members enjoy access to our NNA Notary Hotline where you can have your most specific or unusual Notary questions answered in real-time.

Instead of risking an error during signing, NNA membership allows you to notarize with confidence knowing that you’ll have access to our experts who are ready to answer your state-specific questions.


Five Steps To A Proper Notarization

Download the PDF

5 steps to a proper notarization infographic

Related Articles:

The most common types of notarizations

When to say 'No' … and when refusing a notarization is not allowed

Additional Resources:

NNA Hotline

View All: Best Practices


Add your comment


11 Apr 2015

Great article! Recently, I had a conversation with a Notary from Indiana. He said notaries can file completely online. The Sec of State Office doesn't keep records of notary applications and no hand-written legal signature is required. How is this possible? If states aren't standardizing and regulating applications, signatures, and rules, who is? This can ultimately lead to the lose of the integrity of the notaries. Hmmm.

Teresa Karalus

13 Apr 2015

Very Informative!

Thomas O Evans

13 Apr 2015

Very good advise. Thank you


13 Apr 2015

I know that the signing location column does not need to be filled out in the journal since it is optional. Is it ok to leave it blank in California?

National Notary Association

14 Apr 2015

Hello Howard. California requires the following information to be recorded in a journal entry (GC 8206): 1. Date, time and type of each official act; 2. Character (type or title) of every document sworn to, affirmed, acknowledged or proved before the Notary; 3. Signature of each person whose signature is notarized, including the signature of any subscribing witness and the mark of a signer by mark; 4. Statement regarding the type of satisfactory evidence relied on to identify the signer; 5. Fee charged for the notarial act, or, if no fee was charged, “No Fee” or “0”; 6. If document is a power of attorney, deed, quitclaim deed, deed of trust or other document affecting real property, the right thumbprint (or any other available print) of the signer.

Etta Coley-Johnson

13 Apr 2015

Very good information!

Belinda Thomason

13 Apr 2015

Great info! I plan to attach it with my journal as a handy reference.


13 Apr 2015

Notaries in SC have to go to the court house, pay $5 and have their certificates filed and then they must sign a ledger with the exact signature they will be using. There are still some states that are on point.

Grace M. Stemple

13 Apr 2015

I paid my $99.00 just wanted to know when the items will arrive and the State Seal for Notaries.

National Notary Association

14 Apr 2015

Hello Grace. We checked your order status, and according to our records, we haven't yet received a copy of your Notary commission, which we need to confirm your status and continue processing your order. You can call our Customer Care team at 1-800-876-6827 and they can provide you with instructions how to send us a copy of your commission. If you need additional assistance, you can also email your contact information to us at and we'll be happy to have someone contact you.

Patricia Strickland

13 Apr 2015

Thanks for the up to date knowledge

Edgar O.

14 Apr 2015

Thanks for posting such an informative article. Checking for blank spaces on the document is definitely an important aspect for a proper notarization.

Fermin Marengo

14 Apr 2015

Excellent article. And the comment by Deborah as to the stadarization of the rules and regulations that the government should implant in every state that would give credibility and strength to the occupation of the signing agent. If everyone has its own set of rules, without control of some respectful entity, there will be no future for the signing agent in the near future.

Joan A. Baffa

15 Apr 2015

Many thanks for this submission - as usual, your information is always extremely helpful. I wanted to point out that each notary should always check the rules and regs of her/his own state because in NYS, for instance, Notaries Public are not permitted to CERTIFY anything......reference to certifying a copy was made in the third from the bottom paragraph of item #3 above. Again, many thanks - I'll post this information for others to see!


16 Apr 2015

Should I put in county where my commission is or where I preform the notary act /

National Notary Association

16 Apr 2015

Hello Chandra. We're sorry, we weren't completely clear from your question what you were asking. It seems you may be asking about the certificate venue, but we wanted to be sure in order to avoid accidentally giving you the wrong information. If you can please email to clarify your question and include the state you are commissioned in, our hotline team can assist you.


17 Apr 2015

I think I know what Chandra is asking...I believe I have the same question based on the above comment. My commission is registered in the county where I live but I work and notarize documents in another county. I think I would use the county where I am commissioned (where I live (TN)).

Delores Lyon

13 May 2015

Wow, I had no idea that so much is required in order to have a contract notarized! I have actually been thinking of drafting my will on my own and then having it notarized by a proper figure. It sounds like I better find the proper person near me so that I can have that document notarized properly.


14 May 2015

On my commission it indicates my complete full name: first, middle & last name. I understand I should always sign exactly as my name appears on my commission. But is it mandatory to sign with my middle name included every time? I have a very long first and last name as it is.

National Notary Association

15 May 2015

Hello Joey. To help us answer your question can you please tell us what state you are commissioned in?

Jim N

01 Jun 2015

Make sure that you examine your state statute and find out what is required as part of the notarial act. The information in the seal is not considered to be part of the information required in the notarial act. The seal stands apart from the required information. Make a list and number each requirement. When I check each document, I know that there are eight things required in my notarial act and the document requires a seal as the ninth. Many lender documents omit some of these requirements, but the lender will expect you to comply with your state statutes regardless.


15 Jun 2015

I am from Michigan. My question is, when using the embosser, in addition to the seal, should we be embossing over our signature or elsewhere on the page? I know not to emboss on the seal. Thank you!

National Notary Association

17 Jun 2015

Hello. If you use a seal embosser, it should not be placed over any text or signatures on the document.


01 Sep 2015

Is there a number I can call to discuss legal matters?

National Notary Association

02 Sep 2015

Hello. We're sorry, but we do not provide legal advice. If you need assistance with a legal matter, you will need to contact an attorney. Our Notary Hotline (1-88-876-6827 or can only answer questions about state Notary rules and notarial procedures.


20 Sep 2015

Great article! Bookmarking for future reference!

Khalid Rana

13 Oct 2015

Great Article. All expects of Notarial procedure have been explained.

Aquanetta Russell-Williams

14 Oct 2015

Hello, I live in Texas, I did the application online and submitted it. But I had to mail it into the NNC with my signature. Once they had submitted and it was approved I got my commission in the mail alone with my supplies.

Shelly Swinehart

07 Dec 2015

I am a new notary in PA and will mostly be notarizing for my boss. We mostly notarize AIA documents which have a waiver page and a certificate for payment page. In my journal, can I just write waiver and certificate of payment where you write acknowledgement or jurat or whatever the case may be? Also, where it ask for signature, do I have to have my boss sign everytime or can I leave it blank or stamp his name. Thanks for any help you can give.

National Notary Association

08 Dec 2015

Hello. No to both questions. You must complete the appropriate notarial wording required by your state for any notarial act you perform, and the signer must sign the document, physically appear before you, and be properly identified each time the person's signature is notarized. Failing to do so--or notarizing under false pretenses, such as attesting someone signed a document when they did not do so--is a serious breach of Notary law and you and your employer could face liability and criminal penalties, and your commission could be suspended or revoked.

Gerald L. Birk

01 Feb 2016

Thank you for the Notary Bulletin, very good information in that publication. Also, I just wanted to comment that using NNA for my bond was fast and easy, there are 7 of us here and we are going to be staying with NNA for our future bonding and supply needs. We are glad that you are available. THANK YOU! GLB


21 Mar 2016

What are the notary fees for different types of forms?

National Notary Association

21 Mar 2016

Hello. The maximum amount Notaries may charge for their services depends on the laws of the state where the Notary is commissioned. If you can tell us what state you are located in, we'll be happy to provide more specific information.

frank palazza

25 Apr 2016

im commissioned in new jersey ,question is..what county do I use ? where I was commissioned or county that I will notorize in

National Notary Association

25 Apr 2016

Hello. If you're referring to completing the venue section of the notarial wording you would always enter the location where the notarization took place.

Peggy A Veeder

25 Apr 2016

Excellent article! Great and refreshing points when your client keeps asking why this and why that

Marcela Franco

25 Apr 2016

What if a Notary has used a stamp with a wrong commission number and expiration date on a Power of Attorney and Quitclaim Deed? What does that do to the documents?

National Notary Association

26 Apr 2016

Hello Marcela. According to our records, you are contacting us from California. Notarizing a power of attorney, quitclaim deed or any other document with an invalid Notary seal is a violation of multiple California Notary statutes. The NNA cannot provide a legal opinion as to the effect of notarizing a power of attorney or quitclaim deed with an improper Notary seal. Please consult an attorney to be advised of your legal rights and any course of action you should take.


25 Apr 2016

Thank u always

25 Apr 2016

Not sure if my comment went through...How easy is it or can you transfer your appointment to another state. I still awaiting my stamp, but curious. This was good infomation for a quick reference checklist. Thanks!

National Notary Association

25 Apr 2016

Hello. Commissions don't transfer between states. If a Notary moves to another state, the Notary would need to resign the original commission and apply for a new one in the destination state.

sandra voyles

26 Apr 2016

I'm commissioned in California. My stamp has my first middle and last name. Do I have to sign my middle name?

National Notary Association

29 Apr 2016

Hello. The signature you affix to any notarial certificate must be the same signature you entered on the commission application submitted to the Secretary of State.


08 Jun 2016

I am in New Mexico and I have a form with the county printed on it but this is not where I will be performing the notarization. Can I use it anyway? Do I cross out the county and put the correct one?

National Notary Association

13 Jun 2016

Hello. The incorrect information on the notarial certificate wording should be lined through, then write in the correct location and initial and date your correction.

LeDora C.Stallworthl

28 Jun 2016

I need to know do you have the signer sign every time you do a notary for them or not?

National Notary Association

29 Jun 2016

Hello. It depends on the type of notarial act requested. For example, if the signer needs an acknowledgment, the signer may bring a previously signed document to the Notary. However, a jurat typically requires the signer to sign the document in the Notary's presence, followed by the Notary administering an oath or affirmation to the signer. Notaries are also sometimes asked to administer a verbal oath or affirmation that does not involve a document.

nereyda martinez

01 Jul 2016

can i give some on a copy of my journal, showing that i notarized something for them?

National Notary Association

05 Jul 2016

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


29 Jul 2016

My fiance was presented a document at his job today by his ex mother in law, requesting for him to give his son's mother full custody back (the ex mother & father in law had full custody of him). It was stamped & signed by the notary public & signed by the child's mother, but he signed without the notary public present.. is the legal in the state of Alabama?

National Notary Association

29 Jul 2016

Hello. If what you are saying is that the Notary's seal was affixed to the document and the notarial certificate was completed outside the signer's presence and before the signer actually signed then no, that would not be a legal notarization.

Ricardo Lopez

08 Sep 2016

Can I notarize Construction permits for my own company?

National Notary Association

08 Sep 2016

Hello. To help us answer your question can you please tell us what state you are commissioned in?


16 Oct 2016

I am a notary public in the state of California. Recently an older lady came in to have a document notarized. I asked here what type of document this was and type of notary act. She told me the type of act so I checked marked the journal that this was an acknowledgement.(as she said it was). The document had no date so I wrote in journal that there was no date posted. However, I noted that the notarized act took place on so and so date in county of los angeles. Was this done correctly? If not, how do I fix it and could I go to jail? I even had the person place their thumb print in my journal

National Notary Association

17 Oct 2016

Hello. CA requires that Notary record in their journal entry the date, time and type of each official act. (GC 8206[a]; NPH). If you entered said information in your journal entry, then you acted correctly.


28 Oct 2016

If some is signing a document for their trust. Exp. TRANSFERRING ownership from a property held in trust to someone else is ot the notarise responsibility to confirm on the trust documents that n person is allowed to sign for the trust? AND to keep copies of those tust documents ?

National Notary Association

31 Oct 2016

Hello Allison. To help us respond to your question, can you please tell us what state you are commissioned in, please?

15 Nov 2016

As a signing agent, am I allowed to prefill in venue, date, borrower's name etc., in Notary Certificates pre-closing and then sign and seal at the time the document is executed (commissioned in TX).

National Notary Association

17 Nov 2016

Hello. A Texas Notary must “complete the notarial certificate at the time the notary public’s signature and seal are affixed to the document” (Texas Administrative Code 87.11 [11])


01 Dec 2016

Hello! As a notary in TN, I am commissioned in the county where I work. However, due to the nature of my job, I end up needing to notarize papers while I am in a different county. (i.e. I am commissioned in Williamson, but am asked to travel to Davidson or Maury to notarize papers) When I fill out the paperwork, am I to write down the county where the papers are being signed (even though my seal says my commissioned county) or my commissioned county?

National Notary Association

01 Dec 2016

Hello Karyn. When completing the venue portion of notarial wording, you would write the county where the notarization takes place.


20 Dec 2016

Can we notarized personal letters?

National Notary Association

22 Dec 2016

Hello. Yes, if requested to do so and the notarial act meets all requirements of your state's law.

Pat Cunningham

18 Jan 2017

I am a notary in Arizona. I am involved in our family business. Can I notarize my husband or son's signature on misc. documents if it will not profit me directly.

National Notary Association

19 Jan 2017

Hello. Arizona Notaries may not notarize the signatures of anyone related to the Notary by marriage or adoption. (ARS 41-328[B]) So you may not notarize your husband's signature, but may notarize your son's signature as long as he is not adopted. However, state Notary officials have said that they do not recommend notarizing for blood relatives even though it is permitted by state law.


22 Jan 2017

I am a notary in Pennsylvania. In the document I am being asked to notarized, the 2 witness names are filled in and they will also sign in my presence. In the blank spaces in the Acknowledgment, do I also list the witnesses as well as the person signing as appearing before me?

National Notary Association

23 Jan 2017

Hello. The acknowledgment certificate should only include the name of the person or persons whose signature you are notarizing.


01 Mar 2017

I'm a notary in NYS. I forgot to order my new stamp when I renewed by notary public license. I have to notarize a document today. Can I change the date by hand when I stamp the document?

National Notary Association

01 Mar 2017

Hello. No, it is not permitted to notarize a document and then stamp it at a later time and alter the date of the notarization. However, a New York State Notary is not required by law to use a seal when notarizing.


14 Mar 2017

As a notary in AZ, I just moved to a new county, is my notary still good to use if I do a change of address? Can I notarize in my new county?

National Notary Association

14 Mar 2017

Hello. You need to notify the Secretary of State by certified mail or via the AZ SOS website ( of your change of address within 30 days. (ARS 41-323[A])

Vonnell Adams

15 Mar 2017

I'm contesting a notary my wife and I didn't sign. I'm asking the persons responsible for this fault to tell me where did this signing take place and they have refused to answer. I'm also at a lost on how they obtained the information from my driving license I'm in California.

Nora Torres

16 Mar 2017

Does a personal letter require notorial wording?

National Notary Association

17 Mar 2017

Hello. Whether a document requires notarization or not is up to the signer or document owner. Notaries may not advise a signer whether or not a document requires notarization, as this would be considered unauthorized legal advice.


20 Mar 2017

Does the Notary have to be from the same state as the person's document is from? Specifically, does a person in jail use a form from what he deems as "his" state or that in which he is imprisoned, if they are different?

National Notary Association

23 Mar 2017

Hello. No, a document does not have to originate from the state where the Notary is commissioned in order to be notarized. However, the signer must appear in person before the Notary and the notarization must meet all requirements of the laws of the state the Notary is commissioned in.

Michelle H

24 Mar 2017

When putting the date on an acknowledgement, should be written out (ex. March 18,2010) or numbers are ok (3/18/2010)?

National Notary Association

28 Mar 2017

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


02 Apr 2017

If someone needed a lease notarized in Cook County Illinois, can another sheet of paper be attached to perform this notarization due to the fact that a lease is not a document that would normally require notarization, like a deed?

National Notary Association

03 Apr 2017

Hello Dominique. The signer would have to contact the agency that issued the deed or the agency that will be receiving the deed after it is notarized to find out if this is acceptable or not.

Tiffany Churchwell

03 Apr 2017

Great article it was very informative bc I'm a Notary myself.

Darlene Moonan

19 Apr 2017

I have a notary question. Can a notary ALSO be the witness of a document or is that a conflict of interest? I have a NYS notary who witnessed signatures and ALSO notarized the docoument Seems like a conflict of interest

National Notary Association

21 Apr 2017

Hello. Acting as a witness and a Notary on some documents is not expressly prohibited in New York. However, a New York Notary may not notarize a document if the Notary is a party to the document or has a direct interest in the transaction, though attorneys are permitted to notarize for clients (EL 135).


23 Apr 2017

Do notary journals in California have to put APN on realestate in their book ledger (journal)?

National Notary Association

24 Apr 2017

Hello. Can you please clarify what you mean by "APN?"

Paula Berg

13 Jun 2017

I just had a document notarized. It was for my pension and had my husbands name, DOB and SS # on it. The notary at the postal shop made a copy of it. This makes me feel very uncomfortable as I don't know how secure her files are. Why would she need a copy of my personal document?

National Notary Association

14 Jun 2017

Hi Paula. Normally, a Notary does not photocopy the document being notarized. Can you tell us any more details why the Notary said she required a copy, and what state you are located in?


16 Jun 2017

I am a notary in California and I cannot find an answer to the following question anywhere: I prepare deeds in a law office. Since I am the one inserting the notary acknowledgment into the deed, I have always removed the pronoun references that do not apply to the signer so the acknowledgment is more accurate. For example, if I am preparing a deed for a "John Smith," I would remove the references to "she" and "they," and I would change all plural language, like person(s) and capacity(ies), to singular. Is this technically allowed? If the notary is the one preparing the document, can the acknowledgment be typed to accurately reflect the gender and number of signers?

National Notary Association

22 Jun 2017

Hello. Based on the information we have from the Secretary of State's office, the full "he/she/they" must be typed out.


31 Jul 2017

So on my notary stamp I have my first middle and last name. Am I able to sign with my first and last name only or does it have to be f/m/l name?

National Notary Association

02 Aug 2017

Hello Claudia. To help us answer your question can you please tell us what state you are commissioned in?

Renee Lee

12 Oct 2017

I was a victim of fraud and did not appear before a notary. There is two diffetent signatures for the witness that I never mey. I found the notary and she said it must have been you. The fake witness is deceased. Do not know what to do.

National Notary Association

13 Oct 2017

Hello. If you believe yourself to be a victim of fraud, you should report it to local law enforcement or a agency that handles fraud cases such as the attorney general's office.


18 Dec 2017

If a NY notary moves to a different county within NY State, can he cross out the previous county (shown on his notary stamp) and enter the new county?

National Notary Association

20 Dec 2017

Hello. The Notary should print the county where he is originally qualified for a commission. However, if the Notary has submitted paperwork to be qualified in that new county he can also add the ‘additional’ county.


01 Feb 2018

Can my signature be my first initial and middle initial and full last name? This is how I typically sign my name for anything else since it's long.

National Notary Association

02 Feb 2018

Hello. Please see this article for more information:


12 Mar 2018

Very Informative. Thank you for always being helpful

Linda Kaye

07 May 2018

Great information many times its good to review.

Mercedes Locke

07 Sep 2018

I just got a document notarized . The notary made and kept a copy of my license. Is that a new practice.?

Mercedes Locke

07 Sep 2018

Hello. To help us answer your question can you please tell us what state you are located in?


04 Jan 2019

I have a question I am having difficulties finding an answer to. If i am presented with two ORIGINALLY SIGNED documents that are exactly the same, brought to me and signed by the same person and is a legal agreement between the same parties on both documents they just need to have one original to keep on file and one to send to a supplier, do i need to make TWO SEPARATE journal entries or can I indicated that two or the same documents were notarized for the same person, etc.?

National Notary Association

04 Jan 2019

Hello Ashley. To help us answer your question, can you please tell us what state you are commissioned in?


15 Jan 2019

This question is applicable to New York State. A notary is qualified in Monroe County in 2014. A few years later, the notary moves to Erie County. When required to renew his notary license (it expires every four years), the notary submits his application for renewal with his address in Erie County and receives his renewed license listing Erie County. Does the notary, on his stamp, write "Qualified in Monroe County" or "Qualified in Erie County." The rule states the notary should have "the name of the county in which he originally qualified ..." The issue I am having is whether "originally qualified" means the first county the notary became licensed in, regardless of the county of renewal of the license/commission. Thanks!

National Notary Association

15 Jan 2019

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.


23 Jan 2019

I have received a copy of my parent’s trust in CA with copies of three amendments to the trust. The second amendment has different fonts used with some cut/paste activities on the last page of the amendment (meaning suspicious). Settlor has initialed all pages at the bottom and has signed the fifth page. Settlor’s signature on this second amendment (in question) includes her middle initial unlike any of her other signatures that have no middle initial. The notary attached to this amendment is a generic notary page, a separate page which carries the attorney/notary’s stamp and a signature but there are no other information or references on that notary page linking that notary to the second amendment which occurred some sixteen years ago in CA. How can anyone question the validity of such notary legally? How can I question the notary who is an attorney, who has notarized that exact second amendment document to the trust and that notary was not for something else and now others are just attaching to any document just because it has a matching date with other documents that have been notarized by the same notary on the same date? How can I know that notary/attorney was doing her job correctly by insuring that an 80-year-old lady knew what was she doing?

Michelle R

11 Mar 2019

I am a notary for the state of Iowa. I did peruse through the State Code section, Chapter 1050, Notarial Acts, but could not find any information related to my specific question. Is it required in the state of Iowa, if you have a credible witness for the individual you are performing the notarial act for, does the credible witness also need to sign your journal, other than acknowledging in the journal entry that there was a credible witness for that specific notarial act? Thanks!

National Notary Association

12 Mar 2019

Hello. Since Iowa does not have a journal requirement, the state's Notary laws do not provide guidelines regarding credible witnesses signing a journal entry.

Christopher Warren

04 Apr 2019

Great articles with to the point information. Being new, I want to make sure I do everything correctly.


05 Apr 2019

I'm finding that a good portion of people are completely relying on me being the Notary, to explain their document to them. Is the burden on the Notary or the signer to know the particulars of the document? I've had people who are otherwise competent, but cannot make heads or tail of where they should sign, etc....

National Notary Association

08 Apr 2019

Hi Celeste. Nonattorney Notaries are specifically prohibited from offering advice or answering questions about documents. Please see this article for more information:

Gail LaGuardia

12 Apr 2019

Is an emdosser included in my package I haven’t received it yet

National Notary Association

12 Apr 2019

Hello. If you need information about your order, please contact our Customer Care team at 1-800-876-6827 and one of our representatives can assist you.

Jean Dunn

18 May 2019

As a notary is it necessary to fill in and type; the state, county, clients name , witness names an date. Or can I just hand write it in

National Notary Association

28 May 2019

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.

Deborah Palmer

28 Aug 2019

Did not know you had to keep a journal or any type of log. I use only for my company!

Carl Porch

28 Nov 2019

Recently went into Wells Fargo Bank and they followed your guidelines for notarizing a document -- which I don't believe is accurate or valid. A separate loose document?! What are you notarizing -- the air?! What's to prevent someone from recreating the document (with different terms, but the same date and purported signature) of the document being referred to by the separate notarization form ?? This is exactly why individuals are required to initial each page of a will in addition to signing it and having it witnessed. So pages cannot be replaced. I would submit that while an external form and log entry are nice -- the only way to properly notarize a document is to have the stamp of the notary and the notary signature ON the document being notarized.

Mats Wolff

12 Feb 2020

Thanks for the suggestion of writing a journal entry before the document gets notarized. My brother and I are starting a company and we have many documents that we need to get notarized. We plan on finding a professional that can get our documents verified.

Jessica Spears

21 Feb 2020

Need info

Megan Alder

22 Jul 2020

I appreciate that you talked about the importance of having a record of entry and how beneficial it can be for the future. My husband and I have been thinking of buying a house and we want to notarize it so we were wondering what are the most important things to know. I will definitely consider what you said in the future.

Eric Hall

17 Aug 2020

Dumb question but when signing my documents as a notary, my signature does not look like my full name that's on my notary stamp. I assume it's okay for me to sign my name as I normally would sign any legal document since I'm required to print my name below my signature and my seal/stamp has my full name on it? Can you please confirm.

National Notary Association

17 Aug 2020

Hello. As stated in the article, you should always sign exactly as your name appears on your commission.

Vivian Kayo

26 Aug 2020

Very helpful information

Riveau Michel

21 Sep 2020

Very good info...


12 Oct 2020

Vey good info studying for my new career as a notary and a signing agent soon after as a veteran i look forward to serving this Great State as I served My Country.

thuy lam

02 Nov 2020

Please advise me on this situation. I have to notary one form from Los Angeles county but it didn't have a last paragraph "I certify under Penalty of Perjury under the laws...." so I attached a separate Certificate but the LA County returned the document, they wanted me to notary on their form instead. My Q's is if the form doesn't have the paragraph at the bottom like I mentioned earlier should I refuse to notary it? Thank so much for your help.

National Notary Association

02 Nov 2020

Hello. In order for you to notarize the document, it must include a Notary certificate compliant with CA state law for the act being requested. If the document already has the correct pre-printed certificate wording, then you should complete that certificate without adding any additional certificate. If the document does not include state-compliant certificate wording and the receiving agency does not want a separate Notary certificate attached, the signer must contact the agency and ask for additional instructions. Please remember that as the Notary, you may not make decisions regarding the main text of the document. You may only complete and/or attach the appropriate Notary certificate wording. A nonattorney Notary is not authorized to advise a signer to change the main content of a document being notarized, or to make changes to the main content of a document.


15 Feb 2021

I had a notary tell me she does not complete her notarizations in front f the client when doing loan documents as it takes too much time. She does them at home nor does she have the client sign the journal because of COVID. Isn’t she leaving herself open to possible legal issues down the road? I was taught to fill out the certificate in front of the client.

National Notary Association

26 Feb 2021

Hello. While we cannot comment on the specific situation you describe, Notaries should always follow state requirements regarding personal appearance before a signer and complete all required information for a journal entry.

Stephanie Jones

23 Feb 2021

As a remote notary, I have encountered many docs, primarily in real estate transactions that require the state and county specifically at the top of the document, outside of the notarial certificate. I believe it is correct to ask the signer to fill in the venue they are located at during the signing session, then I place my venue in the notarial certificate. Is this correct?

National Notary Association

05 Mar 2021

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

gerry piper

23 Mar 2021

I had a notary at my bank ask lots of questions, why are they asking for this, you really do not need to do this, have they asked for this every year ? was this proper of him ?

National Notary Association

24 Mar 2021

Hello. We would not be able to answer your question without knowing what kind of information the Notary was asking you for.


15 Jun 2021

When should I use the stamp or seal? Can they both?

National Notary Association

17 Jun 2021

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.

Dana L Jollota

12 Aug 2021

I was asked to notarize a Quit Claim Deed in CA that said the county the property was in, but then referred to Exhibit A (that was supposed to be attached and made part of) for the legal property description. The fact that Exhibit A was not attached made me decide that the document was incomplete and I did not notarize until they provided me with the attachment. Was this correct, or should I have allowed the signer to sign and then notarize the acknowledgement without insisting on the attachment?

National Notary Association

17 Aug 2021

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.


13 Aug 2021

Hi, great tips. I would like to know in NYS, does it necessary for Notary Public to compare the signature on doc and journal matches the signature on the customer's ID? Can I reject to notarize the doc. if the signature is totally different from the one on the ID?

National Notary Association

07 Sep 2021

There are several things to consider when looking at an ID: the name, photo, physical description and the signature. When considering all this items as a whole, you can reject the notarization if you are not satisfied with the information presented.

Cindy Simpson

04 Sep 2021

If an owner on behalf of their business is needs their car title notarized, how do we verify their identity? And how should the title be signed?

National Notary Association

10 Sep 2021

Hello. Any questions regarding the completion of a car title would need to be answered by the appropriate state motor vehicle department.

Amiry Enterprises

21 Oct 2021

Nice blog and thanks to share this information.

a johnson

23 Oct 2021

in a ron state such as michigan, may a title company affix a notary signing agent signature after the closing to correct a document recorded? the seal/stamp is on record with the company and is practice common in ron states?

National Notary Assocation

27 Oct 2021

Hello. No, no one except the Notary is authorized to affix the Notary's seal and signature to a certificate.

AR Mobile Notary Services, LLC

28 Oct 2021

When a notary signs on the 'Official Capacity of Officer' line, must they also print their name underneath? Or signature only is correct? Could the registrars office decline a notarized Last Will and Testament because there is a blank space? The space is for a 3rd witness but NJ only requires two witnesses.

National Notary Association

29 Oct 2021

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.


24 Jan 2022

Hi I live in tx and wanted to know what is the max I can charge for traveling to them?

National Notary Association

25 Jan 2022

Hello. Texas does not set guidelines for travel fees. For more information, please see here:

Rely Emmanuel Flores

28 Feb 2022

Very valuable information for reinforcement. Thank you for sharing us good stuff to be successful! More power to NNA!

Judy R Walton

28 Feb 2022

For informative and supportive for neophyte! I am learning much!

Tania McCash

28 Feb 2022

Properly notarial procedure is paramount to a successful negative averment document. Thank you the friendly notarization reminders.

Kim Beck

10 Mar 2022

Our state requires the commission expiration date on our stamp. If there is a line requesting the expiration date, but the Notary did not populate it, can it be populated by anyone since the information is available on the stamp? If the originator of the document requests it to be completed by the original Notary, is an all purpose acknowledgment required?

National Notary Association

11 Mar 2022

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.


27 Feb 2023

If the document just says "Affidavit" can you put that in the space in your journal under "type of notarization"? Sometimes, when the document is going to another state, you can't tell if it is a jurat or an acknowledgement...

National Notary Association

06 Mar 2023

Hello. Please see this article for more information:


08 Mar 2023

Thanks for your speedy response. However, I'm still unclear in what I would write in my journal. Clearly, if the document is being sent to another state, I would not attach anything - just verify, sign, and stamp. I wouldn't ask if the client wanted a jurat or an acknowledgement...right?

National Notary Association

09 Mar 2023

Hello. You cannot just "sign and stamp" a document as a Notary, and you cannot choose the notarial act on the signer's behalf. You must ask the signer to choose and tell you what type of notarization they wish for the document. Once the signer tells you what act is being requested, you may perform the appropriate notarization and record it in your journal.

26 Feb 2024

Jest remind me that our responsibality and duty.

Nitu bhakri

26 Feb 2024

Do all the documents need to be stapled after a notary is complete in CA?

National Notary Association

29 Feb 2024

Hello. The California Secretary of State’s office has clarified when a Notary is ‘attaching’ a certificate to a document they are notarizing, the certificate must be stapled to the document. “Both the certificate of acknowledgment and the jurat must be endorsed on or stapled to the instrument. Taping or paper-clipping the certificate of acknowledgment or jurat to the document is not permitted” (2018 CA Notary Newsletter).

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