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Feature

How to fill out a Notary certificate

Updated 5-6-24

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 the 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 print your name, your title “Notary Public,” or your 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 near 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 Editorial Manager at the National Notary Association.

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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


56 Comments

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: https://www.nationalnotary.org/knowledge-center/about-notaries/tips-tutorials/notarize-wills

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: www.nationalnotary.org/become-a-notary

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: https://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2014/10/notary-fixing-bad-seal-impression

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.

jimjames1@gmail.com

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.

4tharrismobilenotary@gmail.com

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: https://www.nationalnotary.org/knowledge-center/about-notaries/tips-tutorials/notarize-wills

julieoruche2121@gmail.com

27 Apr 2022

Satisfactory

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.

Debbie

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.

Carlos A. Ribadeneira

12 Sep 2022

When the body of the notarial certificates shows "he/she/them or his/hers/their," do you have to cross-out the pronoum that do not apply, or not?

National Notary Association

28 Sep 2022

Based on what you’ve described, we think it would be best if you contacted our Hotline team by phone and provided them with a more detailed description of the situation. The NNA Hotline: 1-888-876-0827 Mon – Fri: 5:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. (PT) Saturday: 5:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (PT) If you’re not an NNA Member or Hotline Subscriber, they will provide you with a one-time courtesy call.

Lavonna

22 Sep 2022

Hello, I am Notarizing in the state of North Carolina. If my name, county, and commission expiration appears on my seal, do I still need to fill it the blank areas that are asking for the same information in the body of the Notarial act?

National Notary Association

06 Oct 2022

Yes. While this is repetitive, the creator or the recipient of the document being notarized still has an internal requirement of that information being entered manually.

Trish

03 Nov 2022

I received a Notary Clarity form because the notary seal is "illegible" according to the County of Riverside, California. Do I, the person for which the Document is notarized, sign this form or do I need to take it back to the notary for signature? Thank you.

National Notary Association

09 Nov 2022

Based on what you’ve described, we think it would be best if you contacted our Hotline team by phone and provided them with a more detailed description of the situation. The NNA Hotline: 1-888-876-0827 Mon – Fri: 5:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. (PT) Saturday: 5:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (PT) If you’re not an NNA Member or Hotline Subscriber, they will provide you with a one-time courtesy call.

Linda C

30 Nov 2022

Can you use a prison paper ID to notarize for the form of a state ID card?

National Notary Association

30 Nov 2022

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

Linda C

30 Nov 2022

Can you use a prison paper ID to notarize for the form of a state ID card? We are in Texas

National Notary Association

01 Dec 2022

Hello. In Texas, an ID presented by a signer must be a current identification card or other document issued by the federal government or any state government that contains the photograph and signature of the acknowledging person (CPRC 121.005[a]. The only exception is that a current foreign passport may be accepted when notarizing a document related to a residential real estate transaction (1 TAC 87.1[1]).

cmohn10@gmail.com

05 Jan 2023

I am in Human Resources and notarizing an employee contract. Do I put Human Resources or Notary Public on the "Title of Notarial Officer" line?

National Notary Association

11 Jan 2023

Based on what you’ve described, we think it would be best if you contacted our Hotline team by phone and provided them with a more detailed description of the situation. The NNA Hotline: 1-888-876-0827 Mon – Fri: 5:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. (PT) Saturday: 5:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (PT) If you’re not an NNA Member or Hotline Subscriber, they will provide you with a one-time courtesy call.

Mary

10 Jan 2023

We are having a problem with a notary. A partner filled out everything, including the body of the notary. Part in the notary, just signed and put her stamp. The person was not present. Is the notary supposed to fill out the body part the area right Next where she stamps?? She only stampe and sign. Someone else filled everything out.

National Notary Association

11 Jan 2023

Hello. The Notary is the only person who should complete any notarial certificate wording during a notarization.

Mallory Blackburn

25 May 2023

I am a notary in Illinois and wanted to clarify something. When a form I'm notarizing asks for the "County" do I put the County where I got my notary certifcate issued from? Or do I put the county that I am currently in when the signing is done?

National Notary Association

26 May 2023

Hello. When filling out the venue portion of a Notary certificate, you would enter the location where the notarization takes place.

Jack Roditi

22 Jun 2023

Can you advise what an I9 form is and what is required of the notary.

National Notary Association

22 Jun 2023

Hello. Please see this article for more information: https://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2014/08/i-9-forms-notaries-need-to-know

PIERSANTEJ@GMAIL.COM

11 Jul 2023

Hello, I am Notary Public in State of Florida, I get confused in filling out all the certificates, are there any certificates filled out as an examples?

National Notary Association

11 Jul 2023

Hello. While they are not filled in, you can see examples of Florida certificate wording here: https://nnainternal.atlassian.net/wiki/spaces/ETS/pages/2639434368/Florida+Chapter+U.S.+Notary+Reference. Also, if you're a NNA member and have questions about filling out Florida certificate wording, you can call the NNA Notary Hotline at 1-888-876-0827 and our Hotline Team will be happy to help you.

michelle

01 Aug 2023

Hello There seems to be some confusion with some of my Notary's regarding the "The forgoing instrument was acknowledged before me this ___day of ___by___", this statement is on a Notice of Commencement. It is to my understanding that the person signing, (homeowner) name should be in this section. There are notaries that are inputting there name instead. Please clearify this.

National Notary Association

04 Aug 2023

Based on what you’ve described, we think it would be best if you contacted our Hotline team by phone and provided them with a more detailed description of the situation. The NNA Hotline: 1-888-876-0827 Mon – Fri: 5:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. (PT) Saturday: 5:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (PT) If you’re not an NNA Member or Hotline Subscriber, they will provide you with a one-time courtesy call.

Martha

07 Aug 2023

What is the NNA's recommendation when notarizing for a person who does not identify with a binary gender and prefer the 'they/them" pronouns? The Acknowledgement wording contains "his/her/their" and "their" is used when multiple parties' signatures are acknowledged in one certificate. If I am notarizing for a non-binary, do I ask them how they prefer to be identified in my certificate or just rely on the gender in the form of ID they have presented to me? I don't want to offend, however, want to complete the acknowledgment certificate accurately.

National Notary Association

08 Aug 2023

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

Yesenia

26 Oct 2023

I have my seal embosser without my expire date , can I do it manually? Virginia state

National Notary Association

26 Oct 2023

Hello. According to the Handbook for Virginia Notaries Public, a Virginia Notary's seal must include the following information for the notarization of paper documents: 1. Name of Notary exactly as on commission; 2. The title “Notary Public” and 3. the phrase “Commonwealth of Virginia.” While many seals also include the Notary's registration number and expiration date, the registration number and expiration date are not mandatory. “There is no requirement that the ‘registration number’ be part of the seal, although it can be under the new law. Your notary registration number must appear on each notarial certificate in order for your notarization to be valid. If you acquire a new seal, we strongly recommend that the notary registration number be part of the new notary seal” (joint statement by the Secretary of the Commonwealth and the National Notary Association, June 13, 2007).

Felicia

22 Jan 2024

When notarized a letter to be sent to child support, do I stamped the letter and complete an acknowledgement form?

National Notary Association

23 Jan 2024

Hello. The customer would need to select what type of notarization they wish and tell you what notarization they want. You may not choose the type of notarization on the signer's behalf.

Jordan

22 Feb 2024

I'm in the state of Tennessee When filling out an Affidavit of Compliance. There is a blank line so it goes " Sworn to and subscribed before me, a Notary Public, this _day of_ 20_ then below it is just a blank line. do I add anything to that line? It's confusing

National Notary Association

26 Feb 2024

Based on what you’ve described, we think it would be best if you contacted our Hotline team by phone and provided them with a more detailed description of the situation. The NNA Hotline: 1-888-876-0827 Mon – Fri: 5:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. (PT) Saturday: 5:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (PT) If you’re not an NNA Member or Hotline Subscriber, they will provide you with a one-time courtesy call.

njpwright08@gmail.com

23 Mar 2024

I’m confused about the attached notarial certificate when there is no room for my seal or there is no notarial wording. For instance, if there is no certificate already printed on the document, can I hand write the notarial certificate and fill it out or should it only be stamped or with a loose leaf certificate stapled to the back?

National Notary Association

08 Apr 2024

Based on what you’ve described, we think it would be best if you contacted our Hotline team by phone and provided them with a more detailed description of the situation. The NNA Hotline: 1-888-876-0827 Mon – Fri: 5:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. (PT) Saturday: 5:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (PT) If you’re not an NNA Member or Hotline Subscriber, they will provide you with a one-time courtesy call.

Eva Vidal

09 May 2024

When a document has the correct state and county in the venue section, but then asks for it again in the notary signature section, is that asking for the venue where the signing is taking place or the county where I reside?

National Notary Association

10 May 2024

Based on what you’ve described, we think it would be best if you contacted our Hotline team by phone and provided them with a more detailed description of the situation. The NNA Hotline: 1-888-876-0827 Mon – Fri: 5:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. (PT) Saturday: 5:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (PT) If you’re not an NNA Member or Hotline Subscriber, they will provide you with a one-time courtesy call.

Kathy O’Connor

21 May 2024

I reside in Colorado. I have had two clients recently who have signed a car title before they found out it needed to be notarized. Do I attach a notary certificate and witness their signature before notarizing.

National Notary Association

22 May 2024

Hello. The signers would need to contact their state motor vehicle department to answer this question and request additional instructions.

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