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Notary Bulletin

Top 5 questions Notaries ask the NNA Hotline

The NNA’s Notary Hotline service receives hundreds of phone calls a day from Notaries all over the United States. The questions we receive vary a great deal from state to state. They cover general Notary work as well as Signing Agent assignment questions.

To help our members, we have complied a list of the top 5 “what if…” questions asked on the Notary Hotline.

1. What if I get an expired driver’s license?

Some people do not keep their driver’s licenses and ID cards up to date. In most states, expired ID cards can be used if the cards meet certain criteria. 

Some states such as Florida and California allow Notaries Public to accept expired driver’s licenses if they have been issued within the last 5 years. 

In Oregon, Notaries may accept a driver’ s license or state issued ID card if it has expired in the last three years.

In Colorado, satisfactory evidence rules indicate that acceptable forms of identification must be current or expired not more than one year. 

If your state does not specify any rules or regulations about accepting and expired ID, it is a best practice to accept a current form of identification.  

2. What if there is no notary wording on the document?

When presented with a document that does not contain notary wording, a certificate attachment such as an acknowledgment or jurat will be used. However, a Notary may not choose which certificate to use.  This decision must be left up to the signer. 

Since most signers are not going know the meaning of the attachments, it is best to show them a blank of the following certificates:

  • Acknowledgment
  • Jurat (also called a “verification upon oath or affirmation” in some states)
  • Signature witnessing (where allowed by law)

While showing the certificate options to the signer, you can define the nature of the act that the certificate represents. With the information you provide, they can choose which one best suits their needs. If they are still unsure which one to select, they can contact the document recipient to determine which they would prefer.

3. What if all signers are not present at the time of notarization?

When a document requires multiple signatures, but not all signers are present, is commonly referred to as a “split signing.” The typical scenario is when one signer will sign in front of you, and another signer will sign in front of another Notary in the future.

When filling out the notary wording, make sure to enter to only enter the name (or names) of the people present during your notarization. Additionally, in your Notary journal, you can enter notes that include the names of the people not present (if known) and further indicating that they were not present for this notarization. 

4. What if the state and county on the certificate wording is incorrect? 

The space on the Notary wording for state and county is referred to as the venue. When presented with pre-printed wording that reflects the wrong state and/or county, you can simply make a single strike through of the incorrect information and enter the correct information. 

If the venue does not appear on the Notary wording at all, you can simply enter it in the top left-hand portion of the wording.

Alternatively, you can complete and attach a separate Notary certificate form with the correct venue information in place of the pre-printed Notary wording on the document. 

5. What if the signature line has “aka” on it? 

As Notaries, we cannot instruct a signer on how to sign a document. If they wish to sign a document that includes an “aka” statement, they can do so. 

It is very rare when an identification document has a person’s name listed with an aka. So, regardless of how the person signs the document, you will enter the name that is supported by the ID into the Notary wording. 

For example, if the signature on the document reads Jane S. Smith aka Jane Doe but the ID reflects the name Jane Doe, then you would only enter Jane Doe in the Notary wording. This is because the name “Jane Doe” is supported by the ID presented by the signer.

If you have questions about what your state requires, or does not require, you can call the NNA Hotline for further guidance.

John Jacobson is a Notary Consultant with the Information Services team at the National Notary Association and regularly answers questions from Notaries on the NNA Hotline.

Additional Resources:

Notary Best Practices

 

 

View All: Hotline Tips

12 Comments

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Melvie Carris

22 Mar 2021

Perfect explanation

writ2me@live.com

22 Mar 2021

If I have a lifetime Notary and I was fighting cancer or other elements and I pay my membership by the 'year' then, why should I be PAYING back pay to have my Notary reenacted?

National Notary Association

23 Mar 2021

Hello. We apologize, but we are not entirely clear what type of information you are asking about. NNA membership can be renewed on a yearly basis, however, NNA membership is not the same as holding a Notary commission issued by a state. While we can certainly assist you with the commissioning process, NNA membership does not automatically convey an official Notary commission. State-issued Notary commissions normally expire and must be renewed after a set period (typically four years in most states). If you can tell us what state you are commissioned in, or wish to apply for a commission in, we will be happy to provide you with more specific information for your state.

Candice Angotti

22 Mar 2021

What I just read is scary. If those are the most common questions a few things need to change and soon! First of all know your state notary law. Unfortunately, what works in Michigan, may not work in Florida. The notarial laws can vary greatly from state to state. You just addressed the laws in a few states and said that most states will accept an expired license in some instances. Not true in Michigan. Second, a notary should know the answers to these common sense questions. Part of the problem is many states do NOT require any testing before they give out a notary commission! Notaries are being commissioned daily in large numbers and more and more mistakes are being made! The NNA Hotline is a great resource and tool. However, it seems notaries are getting lazy and just call there with any question and use it as a crutch. Yikes! Lastly, notary law in many states is vague and has many gray areas. In that case the Notary Public Code of Professional Responsibility of 2020 should be helpful. The NNA also provides a Notary Primer for each respective state which can also be helpful.

Dan Kane

22 Mar 2021

John: Virginia followed California last year and s as lllows expired IDs for up to 5 years for those in nursing homes, shelters, disabled etc.

Kaa Leighton

23 Mar 2021

Hello is the background for nortary signing agent background check the same as a notary public, Can i be a signing agent with an expunged record in nj

National Notary Association

24 Mar 2021

Hello. No, the background check for NNA Signing Agent certification is not the same as the process for applying for a Notary Public commission. A New Jersey Notary applicant may not have been convicted of a crime under the laws of any state or of the United States for an offense involving dishonesty or a crime of the first or second degree (NPM and NJSA 52:7-12, 52:7-13, 52:7-20 and 52:7-21).

Sandra Guerrero

26 Mar 2021

Thank you for your help and leadership. Always Sandra Guerrero.

Anne D. Harris

02 Apr 2021

Why have you not sent a blast out to all your signing agents about the New Uniform loan app (1003) that went into effect April 1 2021? Have not seen anything on it until there it was yesterday. I am fixing to take my yearly tests.

National Notary Association

05 Apr 2021

Hello. We published an article about the new Form 1003 on March 15. You can find the article here: https://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2021/03/signing-agent-update-new-loan-form

onyxvirtualsolutions@gmail.com

14 Apr 2021

I'm a bit about the attachment of an acknowledge form it customer does not have one or for what ever reason if we need to include one at a signing. Everything I read says to attach the acknowledgement to the document. Am I physically i.e stapling attaching this document or simply completing the acknowledgment.

National Notary Association

26 Apr 2021

Hello. Please see this article for more information: https://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2015/04/when-use-loose-certificate

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