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Notary Bulletin

May I Notarize A Document If It Does Not Have Certificate Wording?

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One of our clients came to us after another Notary told her that she could not perform a notarization because the document did not indicate what type of notarization was needed. Are we supposed to refuse the request in this circumstance?L.M., California

It depends. You may notarize a document that does not have pre-printed notarial wording as long as the signer tells you what type of notarization is needed. You would then attach the appropriate certificate wording. If the signer can’t tell you that, and can’t find out from the issuing or receiving agency, then you’ll have to refuse the notarization. As nonattorneys, Notaries cannot decide the type of notarization to perform on a document because the choice can have important legal ramifications.

Hotline answers are based on the laws in the state where the question originated and may not reflect the laws of other states. If in doubt, always refer to your own state statutes. – The Editors

Confronted with a tricky notarization? Unsure how to proceed? NNA members have unlimited access to our expertly trained NNA Hotline counselors to help you with all of your notarial questions. Call 1-888-876-0827, Monday through Friday, 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST; Saturday, 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST.

Related Articles:

Notary Basics: Ensure Your Certificate Language Is Compliant

When And How To Use A Loose Certificate

How Do I Notarize A Document With No Signature Or Certificate?

Additional Resources:

NNA Webinar: Acknowledgments and Jurats — What’s the Difference?

Notary Essentials

View All: Hotline Tips


Add your comment

Louis Jones Sr

18 Jul 2016

In one of your responses you said if the client tells you what type of notarization is needed you can then add the certificate. This is confusing!!!...I thought a notary could not add anything to a document unless he/she was an attorney.

National Notary Association

20 Jul 2016

Hello. If a document requires notarization but lacks pre-printed notarial certificate wording, once the signer tells the Notary what type of notarization is needed the Notary may attach and complete the appropriate notarial certificate wording to the document. The Notary may not choose what wording or notarial act is needed for the signer, as this would be the unauthorized practice of law unless the Notary is a qualified attorney.

18 Jul 2016

what am I aupposed to comment on??

18 Jul 2016

cannot access text even though I am a member

National Notary Association

20 Jul 2016

Hello. Please e-mail us at with a description of the problem you are having viewing articles and we will try to assist you. If you can include a link to which article you are trying to view, along with what type of device you are using that would be helpful also. Thanks.

Sheila Moore

08 Sep 2016

How do you handle notarizing documents with two signers but only one notary acknowledgement box? Should I add a Certificate of Acknowledgement or do I put both names in the acknowledgement?

National Notary Association

08 Sep 2016

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

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