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Be Careful Writing ‘2020’ When Notarizing


Remembering to write the correct date when a new year starts is challenging. This year, Notaries must take additional care because writing the 2-digit form of the year “2020” on certificate dates could potentially leave a document vulnerable to changed dates.

Many people typically shorten the year when writing out dates, such as abbreviating “February 12, 2019” as “2-12-19.” Notaries contacted the NNA this month to point out that if the year 2020 is shortened to just “20” when dating Notary certificate wording, an unscrupulous person could write in additional numbers later to alter the date of notarization. For example, the date “1-28-20” could be:

  • Backdated by adding the number 17 at the end, changing the date to “1-28-2017”
  • Post-dated by adding a “21” at the end, changing the date to “1-28-2021”

To avoid potential tampering, the safest course is to write out the full year as “2020” when completing Notary certificates or any other important records such as your journal entries.

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

Additional Resources:

How To Correct A Certificate



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20 Jan 2020

I remember listening to an old "Suspense" radio program. An American in England needed cash, so he filled out a check, forced his rich English father-in-law to sign it, and murdered daddy, planning to cash the check and escape before the police suspected him. The twist was that when he took the check to the bank, they wouldn't cash it. It seems he had used the American mm-dd-yy format, instead of the European dd-mm-yy. "No problem," says the bank, "you just need to wait a month..." Ever since hearing that, I always use an unambiguous "20 Jan. 2020" format whenever dating something, unless the document explicitly requires otherwise.

Donna Redmond

20 Jan 2020

For that matter, abbreviating January to "1" can be easily altered to read "11", as can February from "2" to "12". Any single digit can have a second digit added, especially the actual day. So in my opinion, encouraging signers to use the "two, two, and four" digits rule is always the best practice.

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