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Is It Illegal For A Notary To Read A Signer's Document?

Is it illegal for a Notary Public to read the full document before providing the Notary service?R.L., Texas

No, it is not illegal; however, the Notary should not read the documents they notarize because it is unnecessary and could possibly be a violation of the signer’s privacy. You may scan over the document to obtain the information you need for your journal entry of the notarization.

Hotline answers are based on the laws in the state where the question originated and may not reflect the laws of other states. If in doubt, always refer to your own state statutes. – The Editors

Confronted with a tricky notarization? Unsure how to proceed? NNA members have unlimited access to our expertly trained NNA Hotline counselors to help you with all of your notarial questions. Call 1-888-876-0827, Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. PST; Saturday, 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST.

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Paula Buehrer

15 Feb 2021

I renewed my Notary in June 2020. Due to COVID & many shut downs I have not had to use it. I had covid myself & double pneumonia which caused a delay in getting the background check. I know I still need to meet this condition but am I eligible to notarize prior to obtaining the background check. I have something to notarize now but I didn't want to without the background check if that was absolutely necessary. Please advise. Thanks. Paula J. Buehrer

National Notary Association

05 Mar 2021

Hello. If your previous commission has expired and you have not completed the renewal process or received your new commission, you should not notarize again until you receive your new commission.

10 Jul 2023

Notary Public of Michigan My question; Would you sign a contract before you read it?


21 Aug 2023 - Many people do sign contracts without reading it. Think about all the waivers, disclosures, consents, terms of service that you often need to accept in order to do any kind of business. Most people sign them without looking because they need or want the product or service, and it is a take-it-or-leave-it proposition with regard to the contract. I wouldn't be surprised if one day soon you need to sign something to get a seat at a restaurant! In my opinion, for a notary, the most you should need to read of the document itself is maybe the title at the top. The signer is the one responsible for reading the document and knowing its contents. The notary doesn't really sign the document and has no valid reason to need to read the document itself unless conducting a legal review (i.e., a practice of law reserved for attorneys). All the notary's signature relates to is the notarial certificate at the end of the document, and that should read nearly identically for all documents notarized... P.S. This is a common issue facing notaries presented with a document written in a foreign language that they cannot read. The issues and answer on how to handle it is the same as discussed in this article.

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