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How to fill out a Notary certificate

Last updated: May 13, 2022

Completing the Notary certificate wording correctly is an important part of the notarization process and critical in establishing the trustworthiness of the notarial act. This article and video will show you the information you need to write in each part of the certificate wording, and common mistakes to avoid.

Filling out the venue

The venue shows where the notarization takes place. Typically, this is the county and state where the notarization is performed. However, some venue forms may ask you to write information such as the city instead of the county.

When completing the venue:

  • Always write the location where the notarization actually took place. For example, if the notarization took place in Los Angeles County, California, you would write "State of California" and "County of Los Angeles."
  • Do not write a different location other than where the notarization was performed! For example, Notaries sometimes mistakenly write the county where their Notary commission is filed instead of the location where the notarization took place.

Filling out the main body of the Notary certificate

The body of a certificate provides the details of the notarial act. While the language varies depending on the type of notarization and the law of state in which you are commissioned, the main body of a certificate will require you to note the date of the notarization, the name of the signer appearing before you, and your official name as the Notary.

When completing the main body of a certificate:

  • Enter the correct date. This must be the actual date the notarization takes place. Never pre- or backdate the certificate or falsify a date on a certificate, even if you are asked to do so. Falsifying a certificate is illegal and could result in you losing your commission and facing civil or criminal penalties.
  • Write the signer's and your name in the correct locations on the certificate! Sometimes careless Notaries will write their own names in a space intended for the signer's name. This can lead to the document being rejected by a receiving agency.

Signing the certificate

You must sign each Notary certificate. When signing the certificate:

  • How you sign your name matters. Your signature should match the name that is on file with your commissioning official. In some states, this is the signature that you signed on your Notary application or oath of office form.
  • Depending on your state's rules, you may also be asked to also print your name, your title "Notary Public," or commission expiration date.
  • Make sure all signers are present if only one acknowledgment certificate appears at the very end. If the certificate is not present, the decision to use one or more certificates should be made by the party issuing the document. If all signers are not present, you'll need to use additional certificates if you notarize the signatures of these individuals later.

Affixing your Notary seal to the certificate

Most states require you to affix your Notary seal to the certificate to authenticate the notarial act. Typically, the seal will be affixed next to your signature.

When affixing your seal on the certificate:

  • Be sure the seal impression is clear and legible. If the seal is smudged or blurry, affix a second seal impression nearby the first.
  • Do not place the seal where it would cover any text or signatures on the document.

The NNA can help you with certificate questions

If you're an NNA member and you have questions about filling out a notarial certificate, the NNA's Notary Hotline is available to answer your questions by phone or email. Non-members will be provided with a one-time courtesy call.

David Thun is the Assistant Managing Editor with the National Notary Association.

Related Articles:

A Notary certificate in 4 simple parts

Avoid common Notary certificate mistakes

Additional Resources:

How to handle name discrepancies

Purchase or download Notary certificates

Desktop ad for Notary certificates

Mobile ad for Notary certificates


Add your comment

Navneet kaur

07 Apr 2022

hi I am notary public and this is my first time, some body was asking me if I can notarized his husband's death certificate if so then how can I? Please help

National Notary Association

08 Apr 2022

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

Brenda Douglas

11 Apr 2022

This info is very helpful. I would also like to see tips or more information on the notarization of court documents and Last Will and Testaments. Thank you 😊

National Notary Association

30 Jun 2022

Thank you for your feedback! For now, you can find more information on notarizing a will here:

Romina Zarza

11 Apr 2022

I would like to learn how to get certified for notary please. I need information

National Notary Association

11 Apr 2022

Hello. We have information that can help you get started here:

Luisa Diaz Torres

11 Apr 2022

Good morning - very informative. My question is: sometimes upon placing the notary seal part of it is legible and the other part is not. Do I need to cross it off and stamp it again? I am in the State of California. Thank you

National Notary Association

19 Apr 2022

Hello. Please see this article for more information on correcting bad seal impressions:

Willie Searight

11 Apr 2022

Do the Notary certificate work for cars and trucks also?

National Notary Association

18 Apr 2022

Hello. We're sorry, but we aren't clear from your question what you are asking. If you need information relating to notarizing or processing a motor vehicle title, please contact your state motor vehicle department for instructions.

11 Apr 2022

When a notarization form already has the typed in state and county or city but they are wrong, I cross them out and write in correct info. The problem is that one title company tells me it must be initialed by me and another title says do not initial that change. Which is correct?

National Notary Association

02 Jun 2022

Initialing the changes is not required by law but it is a best practice.

11 Apr 2022

When notarizing some documents, especially out of state documents, is it ever ok to manually write the venue if the notarial certificate doesn't have it? I have always attached loose certificates to those that lack proper notary verbiage but recently a court in Georgia would not accept the certificate and required the document be stamped. I contacted my state officials, and the answers are mixed.

National Notary Association

02 Jun 2022

You can manually write in the venue or use a certificate attachment. The law does not indicates that one must be done over the other.

Ruth Regis

11 Apr 2022

Yes hello I would also like to see notarization on court documents last wills and testament.

National Notary Association

30 Jun 2022

Hello! Thank you for your feedback. Please find more information on notarizing a will here:

27 Apr 2022


Banita T Lovejoy

25 Jul 2022

Thank you for sharing this information is very important. I am now able to share with my fellow notaries to avoid mistakes.


09 Aug 2022

Can you tell me which Documents need witnesses in SC. Thank you

National Notary Association

09 Aug 2022

Hello. We're sorry, but the question is too broad and outside the scope of our information resources for us to answer. The customer making the notarization request or the issuing/receiving agency would need to provide you with any instructions regarding witnesses for a specific document.

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