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How Do You Handle Out-Of-State Notary Certificates?

Guidelines for handling out-of-state Notary certificates

Updated 3-28-17. Two of the most common questions Notaries ask the NNA are "Can I notarize a document from another state?" and "Can I notarize a document that uses notarial wording from another state?"

While most Notaries are familiar with the certificate wording of their states, requirements regarding that wording vary greatly from state to state, and out-of-state certificates often include unfamiliar, even confusing wording.

Some states prescribe the exact wording that certificates must use. Other states offer general guidelines. In some cases, it is left entirely up to the Notary to determine if the wording on a particular certificate is acceptable.

So how do you deal with a Notary certificate that comes from another state?

Comply With Your Own State’s Notary Laws
 

In most states, the general rule is that certificates must comply substantially with the requirements found within their statutes.

For example, many states say that an acknowledgment certificate is sufficient as long as it contains the words “acknowledged before me” or an equivalent of that phrasing, still leaving the exact wording somewhat open.

In these states, a Notary may use a certificate from another jurisdiction as long as the Notary follows all of the requirements for the notarization in the Notary’s state. This typically means the signer must personally appear before the Notary and be properly identified, and sign or acknowledge signing the document. However, the actual certificate wording describing these actions may vary.

Other states have more rigorous requirements. In Florida, for example, every jurat and acknowledgment certificate completed by a Notary — whether issued in or outside of the state — must contain nine specific elements and be substantially in the form prescribed in the statute. This gives Florida Notaries some leeway in completing out-of-state certificates, as long as the certificates include all of the required elements and the wording generally conforms to the examples in state law.

In California, Notaries cannot complete jurat or proof of execution certificates that come from out of state. Instead, they must use a separate certificate — sometimes called a ‘loose certificate’ — that exactly matches state-required wording. They may, however, complete an out-of-state acknowledgment certificate as long as the document will be filed outside of California and the wording doesn’t require the Notary to certify that the signer holds a representative capacity or make other determinations not allowed by law.

If you have any questions about your state’s requirements, check your Notary handbook or contact the NNA Hotline.

Quick Tips for Out-Of-State Notary Certificates
 

Tip #1  Determine the type of notarization the document requires.
 

If you are unfamiliar with the style and wording of the notarial certificate, read through it for key words and phrases — such as “acknowledged,” “subscribed and sworn to” or “signed and sworn to”— which will help you determine what type of notarization is required.

Tip #2  Check — and most likely correct — the ‘venue.’
 

The “venue” field in a notarial certificate must always reflect the state and county where the notarization is performed — not necessarily where it was prepared or where it will be filed. If the certificate comes with another venue filled in, cross through it and enter the correct information.

Tip #3  Determine if wording variations are major or minor.
 

If you are in a “substantial compliance” state, check the certificate on the document against the statutory form — usually found in your state’s Notary handbook.

If the statutory form requires you to enter the date of notarization but the out-of-state certificate does not, this could be an indication the out-of-state form is not compliant.

If the statutory form reads, “Before me, John Smith, Notary Public…” and the out-of-state wording reads, “Before me, the undersigned Notary Public of said state…,” then the certificate is probably acceptable.

Tip #4  When in doubt, attach a separate certificate.
 

If you have any doubts about the out-of-state certificate, play it safe and replace it with one of your own. But first have your signer verify that a separate certificate would be acceptable.

NNA_Certificate_Forms_780x340.jpg

 

Additional Resources:

Notary Essentials

 

 

26 Comments

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R Forgey

04 May 2015

Very helpful and informative. Thank you Kelle Clarke.

Christina Boyd

04 May 2015

If the language does not comply with the current California requirements (I am a Notary Public in California) even if it's off by one word I cross out the language on the document and write "see attached acknowledgment" (or jurat) depending on what's required. I use the NNA loose certificate or the simplified certificate published by the Secretary of State. It's better to be safe than sorry.

Alan

04 May 2015

Thank you for the information.

Cecilia Romero

05 May 2015

Very interesting information.

sandjef_03@att.net

05 May 2015

I just completed an out of state notarization. I confirmed the process through NNA's hot line and my client called the State of Texas, Houston County and asked if she could get her document notarized in California. What team work. I followed the procedures presented here, the document was accepted and recorded in the County of Houston.

Anita

05 May 2015

California notaries aren't required to have thespecial notice within a box at the top of the acknowledgment and jurat?

National Notary Association

07 May 2015

Here are some article links that may help answer your question: http://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2015/02/q-a-how-to-ca-notary-wording http://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2014/11/california-notary-certificate-wording-january

Donna J. R. Conne

06 May 2015

From California: I add "see CA compliant Acknowledgment [0r Jurat]" and attach same. Since the addition of the January 2015 language requirement any attempt to revise the existing language on a non-compliant certification is too cumbersome. I've [so far] had no problem with any Title Company or Lender accepting an attached CA compliant certificate.

J Vasquez

08 Jun 2015

First off, thanks for the article, second, if choose to attach a CA certificate to the document (if needed or when in doubt) do I still fill out, sign, and put my seal in the out-of-state not CA compliant certificate as well? Thanks.

National Notary Association

09 Jun 2015

No, only on the correct certificate wording being used.

cheyl studley

09 Jun 2015

I notarize a lot of out state real estate documents and always attach a California certificate, A word of caution - you cannot always determine which certificate is appropriate by the phrases you are used to seeing. As an example the deeds I notarize for Hawaii have the wording "sworn to" but the title company actually wants an acknowledgment. Always check with the attorney and/or title company.

Barbara A.

11 Jun 2015

In Completing an Notary Acknowledgement today – an additional form; “Outside Notary’s Certificate of Compliance” containing basically 20+ lines of questions regarding our understanding of notary act under penalty of perjury, plus questions restating the identity obtained of the person we notarized, and restating all info noted in our notary stamp. This is not a normal part of a California notary – must we comply?

National Notary Association

12 Jun 2015

Hello Barbara. I'm not familiar with the additional form you are describing, but I can tell you that the information being requested is not a part of the statutory California notary certificate wording. We'd need more details about who asked you to complete this form and why before commenting further-if you would like to contact us to discuss more details privately, you can reach the Communication Team at social@nationalnotary.org or you can contact our Hotline at hotline@nationalnotary.org directly for assistance.

Jen C

18 Apr 2016

I am a Texas notary that sees CA documents all the time. I tried to attach loose certificates but the title companies want us to use their CA ones supplied. Our acknowledgements do not require us to have the jurat statement that CA does. I was told we can line it out or change from CA to TX but had a CA title company tell me "do not change it. If you do, the county won't accept the document or be able to record it.' Puts us in a difficult situation. Any advise?

National Notary Association

18 Apr 2016

Hello Jen. Are you referring to the new "consumer notice" on CA acknowledgment and jurat certificates? If so, please see the answer to question 2 in this article: https://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2015/01/businesses-questions-new-ca-notary-wording

hugh.poling@boeing.com

18 Apr 2016

I would have liked Tip #3 “substantial compliance” to be a link to a list or other guidance. Washington appears to be a “substantial compliance” state based on the brevity of RCW 42.44.100, "Short forms of certificate", but always good to have confirmation.

ArizCalFlaLaw@msn.com

18 Apr 2016

In addition to being an Arizona notary, I am licensed to practice law in Arizona, California, and Florida. When I send a document into California that will need to be notarized, I use the California acknowledgment form under Civ. Code s. 1189. If the document is prepared for execution in Arizona or Florida (neither of those states has a mandatory form), I use the generic language. The bottom line is that the certificate needs to comply with the laws of the notary's jurisdiction.

John Cown,

18 Apr 2016

Understood the venue within the notarial certificate needs to be correct, but what about the case where the venue at the top of the document does not match the correct venue in the certificate? I am reluctant to change any wording in the document, other than the notarial certificate.

National Notary Association

18 Apr 2016

Hello. Notaries may only correct information in the notarial certificate wording. A Notary should not be altering or correcting information in the main body of the document-that is the signer's responsibility.

Brian

18 Apr 2016

It has only happened once where a jurisdiction (CT) did not want to accept a NM jurat because of wording. Their rationale was "the wording is not in compliance with CT law." They wanted to dock my fee (which is the main reason I cared lol) - since the jurat was administered in keeping with NM law, they had no basis for their argument. Long story short, they paid me to execute the jurat with CT-acceptable language that did not violate NM law.

Jack Crawford

18 Apr 2016

I attended a recent NNA trainging session for my CA renewal. One of the examples for out of state certificates (recalling from memory) stated something like: "before me apperaed John Jones, vice president, known to me to be the person who signed". We were told this was not acceptable because CA notaries cannot stipulate the capacity of the signed which I understand. However, I also questioned the words "to me known to be" since CA notaries cannot identify based on personal knowledge, only satisfactory evidence. I was told that it would be acceptable since it was an out of state document. Did I misunderstand?

National Notary Association

19 Apr 2016

Hello. The phrase, “to me known to be” does not indicate personal knowledge. The signer could be “known to be” based on the satisfactory evidence presented to the Notary, such as an ID card.

ashley

25 Mar 2017

Document: out of state document from Maryland from the department of Health, an affidavit for parentage. Carbon copy. The document did not have a certificate on it. There was a section that spoke of an affirmation and they wanted the notary to sign and date the document. I am a Florida Notary. Should I sign and date the document and include a loose certificate with a FL jurat certificate or should I just attach a jurat loose certificate and explain to client why I cannot sign the area for the notary on the document.

National Notary Association

27 Mar 2017

Hello. The signer would need to choose what notarial act they want. After the notarial act is selected, you can attach the appropriate certificate wording for the requested act if there is no appropriate pre-printed wording on the document. If the signer is unsure how to proceed, the signer should contact the issuing agency for further instructions.

Terri

03 Apr 2017

So can i just use the calif certs to be safe automatically? I've never had anyone come back on me

National Notary Association

05 Apr 2017

Hello Terri. As mentioned in the article, the only time a CA Notary would need to complete an out-of-state acknowledgment certificate is if the signer asked you to do so for a document to be filed outside of California, and only if the out-of-state wording doesn’t ask you to make determinations not allowed by CA law. In all other situations, you should always use the statutory CA wording.

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