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How To Complete An Acknowledgment

seal-certificate-resized.jpgUpdated 10-8-18. Many Notaries get confused when completing an acknowledgment, even though it is one of the most common types of notarization.

Here are five steps to help you make sure that you correctly perform an acknowledgment:

1. Require Personal Appearance

The signer must personally appear before you at the time of the notarization, though the document may be signed prior to the signer appearing before you. [Note: Only Montana and Virginia allow the personal appearance requirement to be satisfied via webcam under specific circumstances. Texas specifically prohibits Notaries from taking an acknowledgment by phone.]

2. Review The Document

Scan the document to make sure it is complete, has no blank spaces or missing pages, and includes a Notary certificate. The certificate tells you what type of notarization to perform. Without it, the signer will need to indicate whether they need an acknowledgment, jurat or other notarial act, and you’ll need to provide and attach the appropriate certificate form.

3. Screen The Signer And Verify The Facts

Screen the signer’s identity according to your state’s requirements, ask them if they signed or are signing willingly and watch to verify that they are aware of what they are doing. If the document has already been signed, the signer must acknowledge to you that the signature is theirs. If there is no signature, watch the signer sign the document.

4. Record The Notarization

Complete a detailed record in a bound journal about the facts of the notarization: the date and time, a description of the document, the type of notarization, the signer’s name and address, how the signer was identified, the fee collected, and the signer’s signature. Some states require specific information to be recorded; you must know and follow these requirements.

5. Complete The Notarization

Fill out, sign, and affix your official seal to the Notary certificate. The wording requirements for acknowledgment certificates varies from state to state. Some states require specific wording while other states provide Notaries general guidance. In California, for example, an acknowledgment certificate must be worded exactly as it appears in state law. Florida does not require exact wording, but the certificate must include elements spelled out in Florida Statutes,117.05[4], including the venue, name of signer, type and date of notarization, form of identification used, the Notary's signature, name and seal, and a statement the signer personally appeared before the Notary. Georgia, on the other hand, does not prescribe specific wording for acknowledgment certificates. Make sure to review and follow your state’s requirements.

Always remember that the Notary may not decide what type of notarial act is appropriate for a given document. If there is no certificate provided that tells you what to do and the signer is uncertain, refer them back to the person or agency that provided or will receive the document for instructions.

Cindy Medrano is the Social Media Coordinator at the National Notary Association.

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Unsure how to perform a notarization? Want to brush up on your skills? Notary Essentials can give you the expertise you need to perform the most common notarial acts in your state with ease and accuracy.

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17 Comments

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Mister J

24 Oct 2016

Thank you. It's so frustrating when your state provides sample short form certificates that refer to oaths and acknowledgments, but don't give any kind of instruction or explanation of how to administer them.

Margaret Paddock

05 Jan 2017

You failed to mention an oath. If needed it must be administered.

National Notary Association

05 Jan 2017

Hello. We covered oaths, affirmations and jurats in a separate article here: https://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2016/10/how-to-complete-a-jurat

Diane Bennett

06 Jan 2017

This article is only about acknowledgements, so no oath needed. I really like receiving these tips! Thank you NNA.

maria

03 Aug 2017

notary

mary

23 Oct 2017

So, please clarify this example. If I am a California notary notarizing a document for Florida, can I complete the notarization using the FL notarial text/form provided by the signor or must I use a CA notarial certificate?

National Notary Association

24 Oct 2017

Hello. If the signer is requesting a jurat, you must use the statutory CA jurat wording. If the signer requests an acknowledgment and the document is being filed outside California, you may complete any acknowledgment form as may be required in that other state or jurisdiction, provided the form does not require you to determine or certify that the signer holds a particular representative capacity or to make other determinations or certifications not allowed by California law.

Frances Hartzell

24 Oct 2017

The California Notary Handbook says that only the jurat must have exact wording, while a notary public may complete a certificate of acknowledgment required in another state or jurisdiction of the United States on documents to be filed in that other state or jurisdiction, provided the form does not require the notary public to determine or certify that the signer holds a particular representative capacity or to make other determinations and certifications not allowed by California law.

Olivia

06 Jul 2018

If a document is post dated (June 5th) but the notary acknowledgement is made on June 4th, is the acknowledgement valid?

National Notary Association

06 Jul 2018

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.

Karen

06 Jul 2018

Hi, I just was thinking that most of the time I made acknowledge of two person but can you tell us how to do it if you have to fill out acknowledge in case we have 5 person to identify their signature. Do you need to put just one name and then the words others?

National Notary Association

06 Jul 2018

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.

Pat L.

15 Oct 2018

A friend has asked me if i would notarize her signature on a form from a foreign country that is in a language I do not read. The form has part of the notary wording but not all of it. What should I do? Can i add the proper language and acknowledge the signature?

National Notary Association

17 Oct 2018

Hello. You should only notarize a document if the Notary certificate meets your state's requirements and is in a language you can read and understand. For more information, please see here: https://www.nationalnotary.org/knowledge-center/tips-tutorials/notarize-foreign-language-documents

sirageldin a osman

12 Nov 2018

Fantastic

Rodrigo V Rodriguez

14 Mar 2019

I am going to do a notary public today. My question is where the process is finished by signing the journal. Do I make a copy of certificate and keep it for me or do I have to do a copy at all

National Notary Association

15 Mar 2019

ased 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.

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