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Quiz: What's Wrong With This Notarization?


1.  A man asks you to notarize a financial document. As you notarize his signature, he slaps his forehead. “I’m so sorry!” he says. “I forgot that my wife’s signature needs to be notarized too, but she’s at work. Please notarize it with an acknowledgment and I’ll vouch for her identity, OK?” What’s wrong here?

A. The wife needs to call you first to confirm she signed the document.
B. The man needs to show you his absent wife’s ID.
C. The wife is not physically present.
D. The man needs to take an oath or affirmation to vouch for his absent wife. 

ANSWER: C. You cannot notarize the wife’s signature unless she is physically present. Without the wife being present, you have no way to confirm she is signing this document willingly or if her signature is genuine. A telephone call is insufficient, because you have no way of knowing if you are speaking to the wife or someone else. A Notary cannot simply accept a spouse’s or family member’s request to notarize an absent person’s signature — even under oath. There have been many cases of Notaries who did so only to find out the spouse or relative was committing fraud against the absent person.

2. A woman comes into your office and presents you with a statement she’s written. “I need a jurat from a Notary for this document,” she says. “I’ve already signed it, so can you just give me an oath and fill out a jurat certificate, please? I’m in a hurry.” What’s wrong here?

A. The woman needs a verification on oath or affirmation instead of a jurat.
B. The woman needs to sign the document again in your presence.
C.  The woman needs an acknowledgment instead of a jurat.
D. You need to check what notarization the woman needs. 

ANSWER: B. Any time that a customer requests a jurat, the document must be signed in your presence. If the document has been previously signed, you can only perform the notarization if the customer signs again in front of you.

3. A customer you don’t know personally brings you an insurance form and asks you to take her acknowledgment of her signature. For ID, she hands you a black and white photocopy of a driver’s license. “I lost my driver’s license, so I’m using this as ID until I can get a replacement,” she says. What’s wrong here?

A. The photocopy needs to be in color in order to be acceptable.
B. The woman needs to sign the photocopy before you can accept it.
C. The woman needs to sign the document in your presence.
D. A photocopy of an ID is not an acceptable substitute for an actual ID. 

ANSWER: D. A photocopy of an ID is not an acceptable substitute for actual identification documents. The Notary has no way to verify if the photocopy was altered in some way from the original ID. Unless the customer can provide an alternate form of identification acceptable under your state’s laws, you cannot proceed with the notarization.

4. Your boss asks to borrow your Notary seal. “I’m meeting with an important client for lunch,” he says. “He’s going to sign some important documents, and I need his signature notarized. I’ll just borrow your seal, stamp the documents and you can sign the document and I can sign your journal when I get back.” What’s wrong here?

A. Your boss is not allowed to use your Notary seal.
B. It is improper to merely “stamp documents.”
C. The journal entry must be fully completed by the Notary during the notarization.
D. All of the above.

ANSWER: D. There are multiple problems with the boss’ request. First, the Notary must maintain exclusive control over his or her seal at all times — no one else may borrow or use it.  Second, simply “stamping documents” is not sufficient to complete a notarization — the appropriate Notary certificate wording must be completed and attached to the document as well. And finally, the boss cannot simply sign a journal — any time a notarization takes place, the journal entry must be fully completed at the same time, and only the Notary is permitted to do so. 

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

Additional Resources:

NNA Hotline

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Add your comment


05 Jun 2019

Not all states require a journal, and of those that do, many are silent about whether the journal must be completely filled out while the notary is with the signer.

06 Jun 2019

This is an excellent training for new notaries. If you could please add more questions to this training, that would be excellent.


10 Jun 2019

We need more testing sights and a little more convenient

D Marie Nichols

10 Jun 2019

I've always wanted to be a notary. Taking your little quiz was exciting and gave me courage with additional quizzes and training I'm sure I could be a good Notary. How do I get started with National Notary? Could you send me an information packet for Utah

National Notary Association

10 Jun 2019

Hello, and we're glad you enjoyed the quiz! You can find more information about becoming a Utah Notary through the NNA at the following link: You can also contact our Customer Care team at 1-800-876-6827 if you need any other assistance.

Carmen Gonzalez

10 Jun 2019

always learning and growing in knowledge with the Notary Bulletins and "knowledge is Power" to do a better job as a Public Notary. Thank you for the great articles...

A C Dye

10 Jun 2019

I too love these questions testing our knowledge and particularly like hearing how others made the error so we can avoid the same...thank you..and yes more questions along these lines would be appreciated...

Mariah L. Beck

10 Jun 2019

I enjoyed the quiz, thank you

Beth McAbee

10 Jun 2019

Do witnesses need to sign the journal? Fo you charge for witnesses

National Notary Association

10 Jun 2019

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.

Pauline Prescott

10 Jun 2019

I like the quiz, it helps to keep you mind fresh on expectations before you encounter them.

Karen Marston

10 Jun 2019

Love the questions, good one is ID names vs Documents. Married with madien name, Sr, Jr. or shorten named vs ID and acceptable documents.

Ronald Lightley

10 Jun 2019

Answering questions help remember what right or wrong

Sandra Cox

10 Jun 2019

I think these mini quizzes are excellent, it does help keep your knowledge sharpened

Mary Carrier

10 Jun 2019

I really like the little quiz

Doris Vinson

11 Jun 2019

Great questions

Monica Caeiro

12 Jun 2019

Thank you it was great !!!

Joyce Rodgers

16 Jun 2019

I liked the quiz question, it helps to stay Update and the right way to work with people.


23 Jun 2019

enjoyed the quiz questions keeps u updated and alert , makes us pay more attention what customes askin

Jarryl McQueen

29 Dec 2019

I like the quizzes it helps. Can a child support document be notarized?

National Notary Association

30 Dec 2019

Hello. Yes, provided the requested notarization is lawful and meets all requirements of your state's Notary statutes.

Lisa Johnson

17 Apr 2020

I like these questions, as they are very helpful and correct. Keep them coming


24 May 2020

I had a friend quit claim her house to me. She's in the hospital and suffering memory loss and is going to die soon. The court appointed gardian at lideim is wanting to prosicute me for filing a fraudulent notorized quit claim deed. Come to find out I signed the quit claim deed. Problem is it had already been notorized prior to me signing it. I was given the deed to sign and had no knowledge of how these things worked. What do I do?

National Notary Association

27 May 2020

Hello. We are sorry, but we cannot provide legal advice regarding a criminal court case. You would need to contact a qualified attorney for assistance.

Joseph J Victor

14 Jul 2020

I am proud to be a Certified Signing Agent!!!

Rosemary Mathews

13 Apr 2021

If a new notary would read all your Bulletins and take all your quizzes, they will become proficient and realize that being a notary is serious business.

Shirley Wells

15 Apr 2021

Great!!!! Questions were super and the advice was sound. Loved it!

Elizabeth Peterson

16 Apr 2021

This is a great quiz. It's helpful for new and experienced notaries. Not only are laws and rules discussed, but best practices are included too. However, knowing the right answer is the first step. Knowing how to respond is the second step. Most of the time, these type of requests are not made in ignorance but in spite of the laws. Those are the times you have to develop a strong backbone and speak up. It might be scary . . . but so is prison.

03 May 2021

I recently had a Notary Public family member pass away. As a Notary Public myself, We are taught to contact the DOL to get instructions what to do with the Journal and Stamp. They said the estate was to keep the journal for 10 years after last entry. But the estate is not trained in keeping the journal private and locked up. I thought, easy way for it to be miss handled.

C Dav

21 Jun 2021

Really appreciate these quizzes from NNA. It is good for everyone who is a Notary to realize the importance of knowing proper notarial procedure and following it. Sloppy work reflects on the profession and costs everyone involved. Thanks NNA


21 Jun 2021

A little pop quiz to keep us on our toes!


22 Jun 2021

I enjoyed the quiz do more


31 Aug 2022



05 Jan 2023

For question #2 - lets assume the lady does not want to resign or is unable but still needs it notarized. Would we show her the different certificates she can choose from and include verification in that mix?

National Notary Association

11 Jan 2023

Hello. If the woman is unwilling to sign the document in the Notary's presence, then a jurat cannot be performed.


19 Jun 2023

these type of mini quizzes keep you on your toes and I like them please keep them coming monthly if you can I hope everyone feel the same way I do about the quizzes.

Tiffany Boney

19 Jun 2023

For question #1 Since the wife is not present at the time of the notarization but has already signed the document, which has an acknowledgement certificate, can a notary complete the notarial certificate AND complete a proof of execution by subscribing witness notarial certificate? I am a notary in the state of NJ.

National Notary Association

30 Jun 2023

Hello, and thank you for your question. In New Jersey, a proof of execution by subscribing witness could be performed under the following conditions: “To prove a deed or other instrument, a subscribing witness shall appear before an officer specified in R.S. 46:14-6.1 and swear that he or she witnessed the maker of the instrument execute the instrument as the maker’s own act. To prove a deed or other instrument executed on behalf of a corporation or other entity, a subscribing witness shall appear before an officer specified in R.S. 46:14-6.1 and swear that the representative was authorized to execute the instrument on behalf of the entity, and that he or she witnessed the representative execute the instrument as the act of the entity” (NJSA 46:14-2.1.b). If the person appearing before the Notary did not witness the signature being made, that person cannot serve as the subscribing witness.

Hany Abdelmalek

19 Jun 2023

It is useful. Thank you

Lisa Fiore

21 Jun 2023

In NYS with my real estate license, I need to do continuing education every 2 years. Are there any "refresher" courses a notary can take? My course was so many years ago, it would be good to just refresh notary knowledge.

National Notary Association

30 Jun 2023

Hello. Please see here for information about NY Notary training offered by the NNA:

Nadira Mohamed

22 Jun 2023

very informative and useful infirmation

Deborah E Helbling

20 Jul 2023

Love the Quiz, In ohio the state no longer gives you a physical driver license at the BMV office, they gives ue a paper copy that is black and white, we have to wait for the card to arrive in the mail for the hard card.

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