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A Guide To Correcting Notary Certificates

New-correcting-certificates-resized.jpgUpdated 2-25-19. No matter how careful you are, mistakes sometimes happen when notarizing — especially when completing certificate wording. If you make a mistake filling in information for a Notary certificate, these tips will help you.

Tip 1: Double-Check The Certificate While The Signer Is Present

How to correct a certificate error depends on a combination of circumstances and your state’s requirements. Here are 4 tips for making sure you get the corrections right:

Catching the mistake before your signer leaves is the best-case scenario. It will minimize any inconvenience, and all the information you need to make the correction will be available.

Here are some things to keep in mind when carefully reviewing the certificate:

  • Many documents have preprinted certificate wording, such as the venue or date of the notarization, or the names of the signers. You must check to ensure the preprinted information is correct.
  • Double-check all the information you wrote, such as the spelling of the signer’s name and the date, and make sure it’s correct.
  • If the document requires you to enter your commission number or expiration date, double-check that all the required information is there and is correct.
  • Make sure your seal has been affixed legibly.

When you’ve done all this, it can’t hurt to check everything because it’s better to get it right the first time.

Tip 2: Never Send Unattached Certificates Or Corrected Copies

Fixing a mistake after the signer and document are gone is more challenging. First, you’ll need to confirm that your state allows you to correct a notarial certificate after the notarization. If you are in a state where the law requires the certificate to be completed contemporaneously with the notarization, such as Texas, you may be out of luck. In this case you won’t be able to correct the mistake without getting the parties together to re-notarize the documents.

In California, Notaries are not allowed to correct certificates after the signer has left their presence. The only way to fix a mistake is for the Notary and signer to meet again to complete a new certificate. In Florida, Notaries cannot correct or amend a certificate once the notarization is completed. 

Even if your state allows you to fix a mistake after the notarization is complete, such as in Montana, there are other potential issues. Notaries often are asked to simply send a replacement certificate or make corrections to a faxed, photocopied or emailed copy of the original certificate. While these are the simplest, most convenient solutions, they open the door to fraud and may violate the Notary laws of your state. Make sure to check your state’s requirements to verify what you can do.

Your state, for example, may have a law that requires the certificate to be part of or attached to the document being notarized. That means anyone asking you to correct a certificate will have to send you the entire document with the original certificate. Then you’ll be able to review the document to ensure it contains your signature and cross-check your journal entry for the notarization to verify the particulars of the notarization before making the appropriate correction.

Tip 3: Correcting The Original Certificate

When it comes to making a correction itself, the process is as follows:

  • Line through the incorrect information.
  • Print the correct information in a legible manner.
  • Initial and date the correction.
  • Make a notation in your journal entry.

Legibility is crucial. If a receiving agency cannot read the corrected information, they may reject the document. Also, make sure you conform with any other requirements for the document. Some state recording laws, for example, have specific requirements for margin width; any information that protrudes into the margins could cause the document to be rejected.

Never let anyone else correct a certificate you completed. The certificate is your statement about what took place with the notarization you performed. No one else may certify the facts of a notarization you performed. The notarization will be undermined if anyone else changes the information on the certificate.

Tip 4: Using A Replacement Certificate

If there is not enough room to properly make the corrections on the original certificate, you may attach a separate, replacement certificate. Simply line through the original certificate, write “see attached certificate,” initial and date the original then complete and attach the new certificate.

If possible and if permitted by your state, use the same certificate wording that was on the original. This will reduce the chances of the document being rejected. Also, use the same date as the original.

If you follow these tips, you should be able to fix any mistakes that crop up.

Michael Lewis is Managing Editor of member publications for the National Notary Association.

Additional Resources:

NNA Hotline

40 Comments

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Diana Larson

12 Feb 2018

In the Commonwealth of Virginia, is it acceptable to correct information in the notarial certificate that is normally pre-filled information such as the date of the document? If this information is not pre-filled, the notaries frequently mistake this as the date of notarization instead of the date of the document even though there is a separate line below to provide the date of notarization.

National Notary Association

12 Feb 2018

Hello Diana. If there is any incorrect information pre-printed in the Notary certificate wording, then the Notary would need to correct it. However, the Notary should never correct or complete information in the main body of the document--the Notary may only complete the Notary certificate wording.

Richard Arrington

12 Feb 2018

why do I have to fill this out to access the article

National Notary Association

12 Feb 2018

Hello. We're sorry for any inconvenience ... you should not have to complete anything to access our Bulletin articles. If you are having difficulty viewing, please email us at social@nationalnotary.org with a description of the issue and the type of device and browser you are using, and we will try to assist you in resolving the problem.

Terresa E. Armstrong

13 Feb 2018

Thanks for the refresher on making corrections. Very informative.

Steve Bastow

13 Feb 2018

Might I also add that when attaching a loose certificate, while noting this in your journal entry also apply either an embossed impression to the document you are attaching the loose certificate to, or if that is not available, initial half on original and the other half on the replaced attachment. This will help either prevent fraudulently the loose certificate being applied to another document. And if it was to happen, you can easily ascertain if your certificate was used. On another note I recommend you create your own loose certificates on your own word processor, rather than purchasing the generic certificates. This way you can have one with the venue you are usually at. For myself "Los Angeles", and you can already have your name and capacity of officer inserted.

Nadia

07 Jul 2018

Hello, I have a question. Is it possible to correct a jurat, if on a certificate instead of name of a customer notary put his name. Is it fixable, or best practice would be to attached separate new certificate?

National Notary Association

10 Jul 2018

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

Tyffani

09 Aug 2018

I had to get a new survey of my property and the final plat has to be signed and notarized while we sign and also has to be sent off to the mortgage company for signing and notary. While our notary was filling out her info she accidentally put our state in the line for the mortgage company which is another state. She put all of her correct info where she was supposed to. The only problem is the state was wrote in the wrong place. Is this a problem and we need to get a new copy or is there a way the notary for the mortgage company can correct this?

National Notary Association

09 Aug 2018

Hello. We would recommend that you contact the agency the survey is being submitted to, explain the situation, and ask what steps they would like you to take to correct the error if needed.

Cheryl

18 Aug 2018

Can a map be corrected after notarization? The correction was hand written on the map. This correction was made from a redline from county surveyor after notarization.

National Notary Association

21 Aug 2018

Hello. Notaries have no control over what happens after the notarization takes place. Whether or not a correction may be made after notarization would depend on whoever is responsible for the map.

Jessica Lopez

24 Aug 2018

I missed my middle initial in an act and they want it corrected, do you suggest just adding the middle initial or crossing out my name and rewriting it with the middle initial?

National Notary Association

24 Aug 2018

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

Lori

01 Oct 2018

A paralegal is asking me if she can alter a jurat that I completed incorrectly (I'm a Notary). I am thinking I should ask for it back so that I can line through the incorrect word (it has the county where it should have had the month). I'm in California.

National Notary Association

02 Oct 2018

Hello. As stated in the article, California Notaries are not allowed to correct certificates after the signer has left their presence. You and the signer would need to meet again to complete a new certificate. The paralegal is not allowed to correct the certificate.

Tammy

13 Nov 2018

I put the wrong month on my notary acknowledgment. Can I cross off October and put November then just initial it? Or do I have to do a new acknowledgement? The signer is still with me

National Notary Association

14 Nov 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.

Melissa

14 Nov 2018

I'm in Florida. What is the proper procedure for correcting an already recorded document missing the printed name of the person who signed the document in the notary acknowledgement?

National Notary Association

14 Nov 2018

Hello. You should contact the office where the document was recorded for instructions.

Paula

23 Nov 2018

I am a notary commissioned in Ohio. I notarized an Ohio automobile title today for a buyer living in Pennsylvania. I incorrectly filled the buyers name and address in on the lines where the sellers information belongs. When I realized this I lined through the mistakes and initialed. Then filled in the correct information. I finished the title. I included my phone number very small beside my notary signature and was careful to keep all writing out of the margins. Did I do the right thing?

National Notary Association

27 Nov 2018

Hello. It would be the decision of the receiving agency whether or not to accept a document with corrected Notary certificate wording.

Thomas Pickle

16 Dec 2018

I have a Quit Claim Deed for property in Oklahoma that had to be signed and notarized in France because the subjects had move from United States. The deed document was signed by both individuals and notarized by an authorized notary in France. Issue is the signatures of the French notary was completed on the side of the document and not in the specified signature blocks at the bottom of the page. Can the document be appropriately notarized and signed by a notary here in the United States?

National Notary Association

17 Dec 2018

Hi Thomas. That's a legal question that would need to be answered by a qualified attorney.

Gery Balto

17 Dec 2018

My notary put the wrong year on the notarized document from the date , the seal is valid. How can we correct it

Gery Balto

19 Dec 2018

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

Mary Ann Reid

05 Feb 2019

In 2014, in the state of Florida, my father had a Power of Attorney Document written. He made his close friend POA; I was named successor. My father’s dementia has since then progressed to where he is mentally incompetent. He is 91 years old. I have given him full 24/7/365 care for him in my home, in Georgia, since December 2015. His friend, due to health and age issues, resigned as POA in late 2018. I accepted responsibility as POA in late 2018. I have used POA quite a bit to get access to his finances and to transfer his finances to Georgia. I am trying to get access to his pension so I can adjust his income tax withholding. This is also the first year I will be responsible for filing his income taxes. The pension company just notified me and made me aware that the notary public that signed his POA document in Florida, in 2014, failed to affix her stamp to the POA document. At that same time, the notary also signed and notarized a trust agreement for my father. The notary did affix her stamp to the trust agreement. The notary apparently forgot to affix her stamp to the POA document. I have made quite a few legal/financial changes for my father over the past 4 months. Right now I am waiting for Veterans Benefits to be approved for him- using the POA document. Is my father’s POA valid? Is there something I need to do?

National Notary Association

05 Feb 2019

Hello. You will need to contact a qualified attorney to answer any legal questions about the validity of your power of attorney agreement.

Lee Gale

07 Feb 2019

A quit claim deed was completed, but the notary failed to realize that her own name was listed as Grantor in the acknowledgement statement. The grantor is blind and we believe that a relative completed the QCD. It was filed by an heir to the grantee with the county after the grantee died and after the grantor died without anyone noticing the error. Now the heir to the grantee is trying to sell the home, but the title company won’t allow it due to the error. Does that error invalidate the Quit Claim deed?

National Notary Association

08 Feb 2019

Hello. That is a legal question that would need to be answered by a qualified attorney.

Angela Varvi

11 Mar 2019

I have been a California notary since 2009. According to your article, CA notaries can correct a notarization while the signer is still present (Tip #3). I had an error with my seal, crossed it out and re-stamped it (same area of the document). I was under the impression that was okay. I've had to do it before on occasion when my seal didn't fully print and have never had a problem. Of course if it's a loose certificate, I simply replace it. Later my client received a rejection letter from the L.A. County Recorder's office stating "We do not accept applications with any alterations (scratch-out or white-out)". So, my understanding of this is that corrections are no longer allowed? What if there is only one original document? Thank you for your response. Regards, Angela

National Notary Association

12 Mar 2019

Hello. While California Notaries may correct an error on a notarial certificate at the time of the notarial act, while the document signer is still in their presence, an agency receiving a notarized document (such as a recording office) has the discretion to accept or reject a document if it does not meet the agency's own requirements.

wendy traul

07 Jun 2019

Hello. I'm in Kansas. A notary forgot to write in the expiration date of her notary stamp. Can this be fixed using an affidavit?

National Notary Association

10 Jun 2019

Hello. Kansas Notary law states: "“If the officer is a notary public, the certificate must also indicate the date of expiration, if any, of the commission of office, but omission of that information may subsequently be corrected” (KSA 53-508[a]).

Yeshwanth

28 Aug 2019

I mistaken the initial instead of ..S i wrote it as N can I change it? Please answer

National Notary Association

28 Aug 2019

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

Juana Bergoglio

07 Nov 2019

Hi, the notary made a mistake years ago in a document, and my mom signed it without realizing that there was a mistake, so he notarized it. Is there any chance that document might be invalid because there was mistake? I lost track of the notary

National Notary Association

07 Nov 2019

Hello. You would need to speak to an attorney to get a legal opinion if an error in notarization would invalidate the document or not.

Marie

22 Nov 2019

I am in the State of California. I have a client that presented a quit claim deed. I forgot to check that the notarial wording box was incorrect that was preprinted on an acknowledgment. I completed the notarization and the next day he came back and said the recorder's office rejected the document because notarial wording is incorrect. They gave him a corrected acknowledgment, was I able to just transferred information from original acknowledgment to the new acknowledgment without changing anything in my notary book?

National Notary Association

26 Nov 2019

“There are no provisions in the law that allow for the correction of a completed notarial act. If a notary public discovers an error in a notarial act after completing the act, then the notary public should notarize the signature on the document again. All requirements for notarization are required for the new notarial act, including completing and attaching a new certificate containing the date of the new notarial act and completing a new journal entry” (California Notary Public Handbook).

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