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Notary Tip: How To Handle A Signature By Mark

Updated 9-23-22. In the event your signer is unable to sign their name for any number of reasons, a "signature by mark," such as an X, may be used instead. Here's what you need to know.

What Is A Signature By Mark?

A signature by mark is an alternative to writing a full signature. The signer instead makes a mark (such as an "X") or other symbols on the document. Under the laws of many states, a mark is considered a signature and is treated as such.

What Are The Rules For Notarizing A Signature By Mark?

As you'll see in the discussion that follows, there are notable differences in how various states treat a signature by mark. It’s always important to consult your state’s laws, rules and official guidelines before notarizing a signature by mark. 

Some states, including Indiana, Maine, Texas, along with states that have adopted the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts (RULONA) such as Pennsylvania and Washington, do not mention or differentiate between a signature and a mark. In these states, the way a signer signs their name is immaterial and the signature, mark or scrawl may be notarized without a Notary taking any additional steps.

There are additional steps a Notary must take to notarize a signature by mark in many states. North Carolina and South Carolina require the Notary to write, "Mark affixed by (name of signer by mark) in presence of undersigned notary" below the mark on the document. Nebraska requires the Notary to write "Mark affixed by (name of signer by mark) in presence of (names and addresses of witnesses) and undersigned notary public." Montana law requires another individual to write the marker’s name near the mark in addition to signing the document.

Arizona, ArkansasCalifornia, Illinois, and Oklahoma (for real estate conveyed or encumbered specifically in Oklahoma's case) limit the use of signatures by mark to persons who lack the ability to sign their name or who have a physical impairment or other condition that prevents it.

Massachusetts, North Carolina and Nebraska specify the types of notarial acts that must be performed on a signature by mark (acknowledgments and jurats are universally identified, and other acts depending upon the law of the state). Florida has statutory acknowledgment and jurat certificate forms for use when a Notary notarizes a mark. Illinois has an acknowledgment certificate for an individual who cannot write their name. Hawaii simply says the notarial certificate for a signature by mark should reflect that the individual signed with a mark.

What Are The Witness Requirements For Notarizing A Signature By Mark?

When notarizing a signature by mark, several states require one or more additional witnesses to be present when the mark is made. It is a common practice to have one of the witnesses print the signer's name next to the mark on the document, and the witnesses may be required to sign the Notary’s journal entry.

North Dakota does not require witnesses but recommends having at least one present. In Arizona and Montana, only a single witness is required, but California and Illinois require two. Arkansas requires at least one witness with no interest in the document. Florida, and Nebraska require two witnesses who must have no interest in the document being notarized.

May A Notary Witness A Signature By Mark?

Another question comes up: in the states that require a witness, can a Notary serve as a witness and also notarize the mark? Some states require the witnesses to have no interest in the document and others do not provide specific guidance on this issue. Unless your state specifically says Notaries may also act as a witness to a signature by mark, Notaries should not also serve as a signature by mark witness.

What About A Signature Stamp?

Many Notaries have asked if they can notarize a person’s stamped signature. Indiana, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon have statements in their Notary handbooks permitting Notaries to notarize a stamped signature used in place of a written signature. Nevada has a statute (NRS 426.257) that allows the use of a signature stamp if the signer is unable to write due to a physical disability. New York also has a statute that defines a signature as including a mark made by stamp (Gen. Constr L 46). Minnesota allows Notaries to notarize a signature made by a stamp (MS 645, Subd. 14).

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

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66 Comments

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ED E. HARRIS

25 Jun 2018

The commesnts are confusing. "In Arizona and Montana, only a single witness is required, but California and Illinois require or recommend two." Which is it in California? Require or recommend?

National Notary Association

27 Jun 2018

Hello. California requires two witnesses present in order to notarize a signature by mark. (GC 16; see also CC 14 and CCP 17[a]).

Joel

26 Jun 2018

What is the rule in the rest of Ohio?

National Notary Association

27 Jun 2018

Hello. Notary applications and disciplinary procedures are handled separately in each county in Ohio by the county court of common pleas. For assistance with a specific county, we recommend contacting the local county clerk of the court of common pleas or the county bar association.

Michelle Riesenberg

05 Jul 2018

I am a notary in Iowa. I don't know that I have come across this situation before. Could you please tell me what this rule is for the state of Iowa, if there is a rule for it?

National Notary Association

05 Jul 2018

Hello. Iowa does not provide statutory guidelines for notarizing a signature by mark. However, a disabled signer unable to write their name may use the following procedure in Iowa: “If an individual is physically unable to sign a record, the individual may direct an individual other than the notarial officer to sign the individual’s name on the record. The notarial officer shall insert ‘Signature affixed by (name of other individual) at the direction of (name of individual)’ or words of similar import” (IC 9B.9).

Aqueela Bowie

17 Jul 2018

Can a notary witness signature mark by X and also notarize? I think not but please confirm. Also the statements above says winesses may be required to sign journal.....what does it depend on and should we obtain identification from the witnesses as well?

National Notary Association

18 Jul 2018

Hello. So that we can provide you with the correct information for your state, can you please tell us what state you are commissioned in?

Kristina

03 Sep 2018

Do DC, Maryland, or Virginia have any rules about this? I have always gone by the rule that the signature on the Driver’s License is the legal signature.

National Notary Association

05 Sep 2018

Hello. To the best of our knowledge, none of the three jurisdictions you mentioned provides guidelines for notarizing a signature by mark.

Delia Granados

04 Sep 2018

What are the requirements, if any, for notarize a person’s stamped signature in California?

National Notary Association

05 Sep 2018

Hello. Please see the information in the article above about the limits on use of a signature by mark in California.

Kari

12 Sep 2018

What are the requirements for notarizing a signature by mark in Michigan?

National Notary Association

12 Sep 2018

Hello Kari. According to the Michigan Secretary of State's website, a Notary may take the acknowledgment of a person who cannot sign his or her own name.Such a person should sign the instrument by marking an ‘X’ in the presence of two witnesses, one of whom may be a Notary.

Vernita

15 Sep 2018

Are there any rules that prohibit a Notary from taking a photograph of the person signing the document?

National Notary Association

17 Sep 2018

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

michaelanthonyforbes@gmail.com

21 Aug 2019

Attempt #2... Please don't erase it Mr Capcha... The form used for a signature by mark is shown in every video and every book but there is no mention of how the form is produced or what it is called. Do we draft it up ourselves?!?? Is it just the one form that is absent from all training materials? What's the big heavily guarded secret?

National Notary Association

22 Aug 2019

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

Julia Blevins

18 Jun 2020

What are the requirements for notarizing a signature by mark for the state of Virginia?

National Notary Association

26 Jun 2020

Hello. Virginia does not provide guidelines or instructions for notarizing a signature by mark.

Doris Barnhill

31 Aug 2020

What are the requirements for notarizing a signature in the state of New Jersey?

National Notary Association

01 Sep 2020

Hello. Guidelines for performing notarizations in New Jersey can be found in the state's Notary Public Manual: https://www.state.nj.us/treasury/revenue/pdf/NotaryPublicManual.pdf

Brian kujawa

31 Aug 2020

Does Illinois require one or two witness signatures when someone can only mark an. X

National Notary Association

01 Sep 2020

Hello. The Illinois Notary Public Handbook states that when notarizing a signature by mark, the Notary should ensure that there are two persons to witness the signature by mark in addition to yourself.

Victoria Chase

31 Aug 2020

I am not able to open the above information that relates to CA.

National Notary Association

01 Sep 2020

Hello. Can you please clarify what CA information you are unable to access in the article?

Philip Berkner

31 Aug 2020

What about a name stamp in the state of California?

National Notary Association

04 Sep 2020

Hello. California does not permit a signer to have a stamped signature notarized.

William Westerfield Tolbert

31 Aug 2020

The article states no information about the State of Kentucky.

National Notary Association

01 Sep 2020

Hello. Kentucky does not provide guidelines for notarizing a signature by mark in its Notary laws. However, the state does provide guidelines for notarizing a signature by proxy if a signer is unable to write: “If an individual is physically unable to sign a record, the individual may direct another individual, other than the notarial officer, to sign the individual’s name on the record by proxy, in the presence of two (2) witnesses unaffected by the record, one (1) of whom may be the individual who signs, by proxy, on behalf of the individual physically unable to sign. Both witnesses shall sign their own names beside the proxy signature, and the notarial officer shall insert ‘Signature affixed by (name of proxy signer) at the direction of (name of individual) and in the presence of (names and addresses of the two witnesses)’ or words of similar import” (KRS 423.335).

Norm Stutesman

31 Aug 2020

I've heard that Michigan's governor just passed a law that states that all notarizations must be done electronically. How is this possible?

National Notary Association

03 Sep 2020

Hello. That is not correct. While Michigan has enacted laws authorizing qualified Notaries to perform remote online notarizations (RON), there is no law in place requiring Michigan Notaries to perform all notarizations electronically. For more information, please see here: https://www.nationalnotary.org/knowledge-center/remote-online-notary/how-to-become-a-remote-online-notary/michigan

Roderick Miller

01 Sep 2020

Does Mississippi have guidelines or instructions for notarizing a signature by mark?

National Notary Association

01 Sep 2020

Hello. Yes: “A notary may certify the affixation of a signature by mark on a document presented for notarization if: “1. the mark is affixed in the presence of the notary and of 2 witnesses unaffected by the document; “2. both witnesses sign their own names beside the mark; “3. the notary writes below the mark: ‘Mark affixed by (name of signer by mark) in presence of (names and addresses of witnesses) and undersigned notary under [Rule 6.2]’; and “4. the notary notarizes the signature by mark through an acknowledgment, jurat, or signature witnessing” (1 MAC Pt. 5, R. 050.5.1[C]).

kathy E Barrett

05 Apr 2021

How does a notary by mark work in Arizona?

National Notary Association

06 Apr 2021

Hello. “‘Signature’ or ‘subscription’ includes a mark, if a person cannot write, with the person’s name written near it and witnessed by a person who writes the person’s own name as witness” (ARS 1-215.36).

tim moran

12 May 2021

What are the requirements for a person signing a Power of Attorney in New York by mark.

National Notary Association

28 May 2021

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.

jsiegelhill@gmail.com

16 Dec 2021

I called the Hotline to ask if a Signature by Mark is allowed in VA and they said no. He also said that a Signature by Proxy is not allowed. However, I keep seeing sites online that say they are allowed. In fact, I'm seeing other notaries in VA advertise that they will do Signature by Mark. I'd like to confirm the information I received from the Hotline. And what kind of warning should the notaries get who advertise this in VA?

National Notary Association

13 Jan 2022

The state of Virginia does not have a law or a process for signatures by mark or signature by proxy. Additionally, they do not have a law that legally defines a signature. As such, a person’s signature can be in whatever format they wish it to be. Also, the recipient of the document should be contacted to see if they have internal policy regarding a signature by mark.

June

15 Jan 2022

I see above you said that Signature by Mark is not allowed in Virginia; however, it's in the NNA Primer. Where are you getting that information from? The Hotline also says it's not allowed. I'm confused now.

National Notary Association

26 Jan 2022

The state of Virginia does not have a law or a process for signatures by mark.

Patricia D. Jacobson at Law Office of Christopher A. Poulos

17 Mar 2022

I now work for Mr. Poulos since April 2020; I have personally known him for over 20 years. He's had a stroke and we need him to sign a gen'l POA during his recuperation giving his wife power and authority to handle matters - we did the Estate Planning docs but he didn't get them signed before this happened. If he signs his name to doc and my book, but it doesn't look clear, do I need 2 witnesses (it's not an "X"). Thank you.

National Notary Association

18 Mar 2022

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.

L. Carman

03 Apr 2022

I didn't find anything in the New York State Notary laws specific to marking with an X. Does that mean it is okay to notarize the person's mark if you see them make it?

National Notary Association

02 Jun 2022

New York law does not have a procedure for signature by mark. NY GC Law Article 2, section 46 defines a signature as follows: "§ 46. Signature The term signature includes any memorandum, mark or sign, written, printed, stamped, photographed, engraved or otherwise placed upon any instrument or writing with intent to execute or authenticate such instrument or writing."

KIM

09 Apr 2022

Does IL allow the thumbprint to be used as a mark?

National Notary Association

19 Apr 2022

Hello. The Illinois Notary Public Handbook says the following regarding signatures by mark: “When an individual requests a notarial act and the individual is prevented by disability or illiteracy from writing a signature … take these precautions: positively identify the individual; ensure that there are two persons to witness the signature-by-mark in addition to yourself; write in the name of the signer-by-mark near the mark on the document; and complete this form” (NPH): State of Illinois County of _________ This instrument was acknowledged before me on _________ (date) by _________ (name of person), who made and acknowledged making his/her mark on the instrument in my presence and in the presence of two persons who have signed below. (SIGNATURE AND SEAL OF NOTARY) _________ (signature and address of witness) _________ (signature and address of witness)

sandra.ajuzia@yahoo.com

06 Jul 2022

I am a notary in Texas how should a notary in Texas notarize a signature by mark for individual and what if the individual is in a health care facility

National Notary Association

10 Aug 2022

Hello. In Texas, “‘Signed’ includes any symbol executed or adopted by a person with present intention to authenticate a writing” (GC 311.005[6]). “The individual signing the document may sign in whatever manner he/she chooses. The name or manner of signing by the signor is not the responsibility of the notary public. However, the notary public does have a responsibility to make sure that the information contained in the notarial certificate is accurate. For example, if John Doe appears before a notary public and signs the instrument with an ‘X’ the notary public should still state in the notarial certificate that John Doe personally appeared on a given date” (TX SOS website, “Frequently Asked Questions for Notaries Public”).

sandra.ajuzia@yahoo.com

06 Jul 2022

I am a notary in Texas I need to know if a texas notary can help people fill out or prepare immigration forms . Do i have to be an acredited or non acredited immigration representative to do this . how much can i charge for this service if it is allowed

National Notary Association

10 Aug 2022

Hello. Texas prohibits a Notary from claiming to have rights, powers, qualifications or privileges that the office of Notary Public does not provide, including the power to counsel on immigration matters; prohibits a nonattorney attorney from using the term notario or notario publico in an advertisement. For more information, please see here: https://www.nationalnotary.org/immigration/knowledge-center/state-immigration-consulting-rules

Kris

22 Aug 2022

Does Missouri require witness for Mark X Signature and Can a notary notarize a stamp signature.

National Notary Association

25 Aug 2022

“A notary may certify the affixation of a signature by mark by a principal on a document presented for notarization if: “(1) The mark is affixed in the presence of the notary and two witnesses disinterested in the document; “(2) Both witnesses sign their own names beside the mark; “(3) The notary writes below the mark: “Mark affixed by (name of signer by mark) in the presence of (names and addresses of two witnesses) and the undersigned notary pursuant to section 486.645, RSMo”; and “(4) The notary notarizes the signature by mark through an acknowledgment, jurat, or signature witnessing” (RSMo 486.645.2)."

Joanne Hillebert

22 Aug 2022

Hello What are the rules in Tennessee for Signature by Mark? I’ve not had this situation yet and want to be prepared in case of this issue in the future. Thank you!

National Notary Association

26 Aug 2022

Hello. Tennessee does not have a separate procedure for notarizing a signature by mark: “‘Signature’ or ‘signed’ includes a mark, the name being written near the mark and witnessed, or any other symbol or methodology executed or adopted by a party with intention to authenticate a writing or record, regardless of being witnessed” (TCA 1-3-105[30]). “‘Subscription’ includes a mark, the name being written near the mark and witnessed” (TCA 1-3- 105[32]).

Kristina

22 Aug 2022

What are the requirements for the states of Missouri and Kansas?

National Notary Association

25 Aug 2022

Hello. In Missouri: “A notary may certify the affixation of a signature by mark by a principal on a document presented for notarization if: “(1) The mark is affixed in the presence of the notary and two witnesses disinterested in the document; “(2) Both witnesses sign their own names beside the mark; “(3) The notary writes below the mark: “Mark affixed by (name of signer by mark) in the presence of (names and addresses of two witnesses) and the undersigned notary pursuant to section 486.645, RSMo”; and “(4) The notary notarizes the signature by mark through an acknowledgment, jurat, or signature witnessing” (RSMo 486.645.2)." Kansas does not provide guidelines for notarizing a signature by mark, but does provide guidelines for a signature by proxy for a person unable to sign their name: “If an individual is physically unable to sign a record, the individual may direct an individual other than the notarial officer to sign the individual’s name on the record. The notarial officer shall insert: “Signature affixed by (name other than the individual) at the direction of (name of individual)” or similar words” (KSA 53-5a09[a]).

Lesley M

22 Aug 2022

What about the state of Missouri? I know iof someone who signs stuff with an X. How would I, as a notary, handle that?

National Notary Association

25 Aug 2022

“A notary may certify the affixation of a signature by mark by a principal on a document presented for notarization if: “(1) The mark is affixed in the presence of the notary and two witnesses disinterested in the document; “(2) Both witnesses sign their own names beside the mark; “(3) The notary writes below the mark: “Mark affixed by (name of signer by mark) in the presence of (names and addresses of two witnesses) and the undersigned notary pursuant to section 486.645, RSMo”; and “(4) The notary notarizes the signature by mark through an acknowledgment, jurat, or signature witnessing” (RSMo 486.645.2)."

Kristen

25 Aug 2022

In Illinois, can the 2 witnesses be related to the signer?

National Notary Association

06 Oct 2022

Hello. The state only indicates that the witnesses should be two individuals apart from the Notary. As Notaries Public, we cannot advise on who can and cannot act as a witness. This would be the same as giving legal advice. Your client should seek advice from the ultimate recipient of the document or other trusted source.

VA Notary

13 Sep 2022

I think this is what confuses me. You stated above that VA does not have a law or process for Signature by Mark. What you mean is that a mark is allowed, but there is no clear way stated in the law for notarizing for someone in that case. Is that correct? They do state recommendations in the VA Primer, so is it safe to go with those? Also, the VA Handbook states absolutely nothing, which makes notaries think that Notary by Mark doesn't even exist in VA. Why does it not appear in the Handbook?

National Notary Association

06 Oct 2022

There is not law in VA that defines a signature by mark nor is there any law that indicates a procedure for it. That being the case, a signature in VA is whatever the signer is able to make, whether it is a standard signature or a signature made by a mark or other sign.

tasia wilson

14 Sep 2022

no information listed in the Alaska handbook on this subject. what are the procedures for signature by mark in Alaska?

National Notary Association

16 Sep 2022

“‘[S]ignature’ or ‘subscription’ includes the mark of a person who cannot write, with the name of that person written near the mark by a witness who writes the witness’s own name near the name of the person who cannot write; but a signature or subscription by mark can be acknowledged or can serve as a signature or subscription to a sworn statement only when two witnesses so sign their own names to the sworn statement (AS 01.10.060[12]). “When a physical handicap or illiteracy prevents a signer from writing his or her signature in the normal fashion, a mark (usually an ‘X’) may be used. This type of signature requires two witnesses in addition to the notary” (Lt. Governor's website, “Frequently Asked Questions”).

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