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Top 5 questions Notaries ask the NNA Hotline

Updated 3-9-23. 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 this year:

1. What if I get an expired driver's license?
2. What if there is no Notary wording on the document?
3. What if all signers are not present at the time of notarization?
4. What if the state and county on the Notary certificate are incorrect?
5. Can I notarize a document from another country?

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 Notary certificate are 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. Can I notarize a document from another country?  

Yes, signatures on documents from other countries can be notarized. You simply follow the regular steps to complete a notarization in your state.  As with any document, the notarial certificate wording should be reviewed to ensure that it is compliant with your state’s laws and regulations. Additionally, Notaries Public in other countries are able to performs acts that cannot be performed by Notaries in the United States. Always make sure that Notarial act being requested is one that can be performed in your state.

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


Add your comment

Melvie Carris

22 Mar 2021

Perfect explanation

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:

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:

Ekta Shah

27 Mar 2023

I am a California state approved Notary public. I need a list for acceptable forms of IDs. Just wanted to have a copy with me to remind myself if I ever miss something. One more question many times signers come to me with copy of their passport, Green Card, PG&E bill, copies of their I797 to get notarize as Indian embassy want them to get notarize in order to get passport renewal or for visa purposes. These copies does not have any notarial wording, how should I proceed? Most of the time they want my seal without any certificate as they are concern if their documents get rejected if I attached anything additional and again their processing time increases and they end up with more hustle. Please advise here, how to notarize that copies ? Thanks

National Notary Association

28 Mar 2023

Hello. You can find a list of acceptable signer IDs for California here: California Notaries are not authorized to certify copies of documents except for a power of attorney (GC 8205[a][4]; Probate Code 4307[b][2]) or an entry of the Notary’s journal if ordered by the Secretary of State or a court (GC 8205[b][1]; GC 8206[e]).

Trina B

01 Apr 2023

Excellent, thank you


07 Apr 2023

if a signer signed the document and dated, but the Notary did not notarized her signature due to some mishape. When the Notary Public notarizes her signature, I have two questions: 1. does she have to sign again over the signature she already signed? 2.what date does the Notary Public put on his acknowledgment? tks

National Notary Association

10 Apr 2023

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

Melissa Lauber

05 Sep 2023

Hello, I am a notary practicing in Maryland. I would like to know how long a notarized document is valid for.

National Notary Association

05 Sep 2023

Hello. Notarization does not validate a document. Notarizationverifies the identity of the person who signed the document.

Carol Stevens

01 Feb 2024

I am a Notary in NYS. I know we can't notarize passport copies. But if the passport holder writes a letter attesting that his passport and his children are genuine and accurate. Would a NY Acknowledgement form be the correct form to use to notarized? More information is that his passport is a foreign while his children a US passport. This person needs to send copies of the passport to a consulate.

National Notary Association

16 Feb 2024

Hello. As the Notary, you may not choose for the signer what type of notarization is required for the letter you described. The signer would need to contact the consulate and ask what type of notarization he would need.

Zaida Nieves

12 Feb 2024

If im a notary in North Carolina , can I notarized a document in south Carolina. .

National Notary Association

15 Feb 2024

Hello. No, North Carolina Notaries are only authorized to perform notarizations within the borders of their own state.

Lisa Liang

16 Mar 2024

Hi, I am a California Notary. Please let me know what to do with an expired seal. Thank you. Lisa

National Notary Association

18 Mar 2024

Hello. If you are planning to resign your commission, send a letter of resignation to the Secretary of State’s office; within 30 days deliver all of your notarial journals, records, and papers to the county clerk in which your current oath of office is on file; and destroy the seal.

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