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What California Notaries Need To Know About Notary Certificates

What California Notaries Need To Know About Notary Certificates

California has very specific requirements for its Notary certificates, and they often cause confusion. Here’s an overview of what Golden State Notaries need to know when completing certificates.

Mandatory California Certificate Language
 

When you are completing any notarization on a document that will be filed in California, you must use the certificate wording exactly as prescribed by state law. The certificate wording for the following notarial acts are listed in the statutes below, which can be found in the NNA’s California Notary Law Summary:

  • Acknowledgments: California Civil Code Section 1189
  • Jurats: California Government Code Section 8202
  • Proofs Of Execution By Subscribing Witness: California Civil Code Section 1195

Under some circumstances, a California Notary notarizing a signature on a document to be filed in another state may be allowed to complete that state’s acknowledgment wording instead (see “Out-Of-State Acknowledgments” below).

However, California Notaries may never use another state’s jurat or proof of execution certificate wording, no matter where the document is to be filed. All jurats and proofs of execution performed by California Notaries must use the certificate wording exactly as prescribed by state law.

The California Certificate Consumer Notice
 

California’s mandatory certificate wording for acknowledgments, jurats or proofs of execution must now include the following consumer notice above the notarial certificate:

“A Notary Public or other officer completing this certificate verifies only the identity of the individual who signed the document to which this certificate is attached, and not the truthfulness, accuracy, or validity of that document.”

While there are no specific fonts or formats required for the consumer notice, it must meet the following requirements:

A. The notice must be printed legibly, and the wording must appear exactly as shown above.

B. The notice must be enclosed in a box.

C. The notice must appear above the venue wording in the certificate (“State of California, County of ______ “). NNA members may download complimentary California certificates as a membership benefit by accessing their member profiles at NationalNotary.org, clicking the “Notary Certificate Forms” under the Quick Links menu on the right and selecting “California” from the drop-down menu.

Out-Of-State Acknowledgments
 

California Notaries often are asked to notarize a signature on a document that will be filed in another state or jurisdiction and includes out-of-state acknowledgment wording that differs from California wording. You may complete an acknowledgment using the out-of-state wording as long as the following three requirements are met:

1. The notarization being requested is an acknowledgment.

2. The document is being filed outside California.

3. The certificate wording does not require the Notary to determine or certify that the signer holds a particular representative capacity or make other determinations and certifications not allowed by California law.

In all other situations, a California Notary must use the state’s prescribed notarial certificate wording.

Correcting Notary Certificates In California
 

If you make an error while filling out a certificate, the correction must be made before the notarization is completed. The Secretary of State’s official position is that correcting certificates after the notarization is finished is prohibited.

If you spot an error during the notarization process, you may correct the certificate using the following steps:

1. Line through the incorrect information

2. Write out the correct information

3. Initial and date the correction

4. Make a note in your journal entry

Never let anyone else correct a notarial certificate you have completed, and never send an unattached or blank notarial certificate to anyone in order to correct a past certificate error.

David Thun is an Associate Editor at the National Notary Association.

 

6 Comments

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Jose Ramos

03 Jul 2017

David - thank you for providing this information regarding certificates. In the "out-of-state acknowledgements" section above, item (3), did you mean to say that "The certificate wording does NOT require..." or is the language correct as written?

National Notary Association

03 Jul 2017

Hello, thank you for your message. The sentence should read "does not." We've corrected the article and apologize for any confusion.

Lori

03 Jul 2017

In the answer to out of state notaries, under the 3 requirements that must be met, #3 states "the certificate wording DOES require the notary to determine or certify that the signer holds a particular representative capacity, etc). Don't you mean to say that it DOESN'T require the notary to determine or certify that the signer holds a particular representative capacity etc? I'm just a little confused about this.

National Notary Association

03 Jul 2017

Hello, thank you for your message. The sentence should read "does not." We've corrected the article and apologize for any confusion.

Lisa

07 Jul 2017

I am a Notary in the State of California. Recently I was asked to notarize real estate purchase documents for a property located outside of the State of California. The packet was sent Federal Express to the buyers that reside in California, but was going to be filed in the State of Arizona. Because the documents did not include the California wording, I attached an All Purpose Acknowledgment to each of the signatures. Could I have avoided that and notarized the documents provided by the title company?

National Notary Association

07 Jul 2017

Hello. As described in the article, a CA Notary may use an out-of-state acknowledgment certificate if: 1. The notarization being requested is an acknowledgment. 2. The document is being filed outside California. 3. The certificate wording does not require the Notary to determine or certify that the signer holds a particular representative capacity or make other determinations and certifications not allowed by California law.

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