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Can I notarize a document written in a foreign language?

Photo of woman with long dark hair on phone. She is looking at papers in her hand. Text on image reads NNA Hotline Tip.

Am I allowed to notarize a document that has been written in a foreign language? — N. X., Colorado

Yes. According to the Colorado Secretary of State, Notaries may notarize a document that is drafted in a foreign language, but the Notarial certificate must be in English (see here).

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 consultants 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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3 Comments

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Hope

17 Jan 2023

Can I notarize a foreign document if I live in NC?

National Notary Association

24 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.

Jerry Lucas

22 Jan 2023

The link you referred to specifies the requirements for receiving an apostille from the CO SOS, for documents going to a foreign country, not for documents that do not require an apostille. The Colorado Court system has translated many court forms into Spanish, including the notarial certificates. These forms are posted on the court website. [do not use the Spanish word notario, use notary public] The Colorado notary laws do not prohibit notarizing a foreign language document. But, the SOS added a rule that prohibits the use of a translator, except for a sign language interpreter to aid a deaf person. A notary must be able to communicate with a customer in a language they both understand, so the notary can complete all the required steps. The notary does not read the document and does need to speak the foreign language if the customer can communicate in English, which is usually the case in my experience. I write the document title in my notary journal (in the foreign language and in English), and make a note of the foreign language. Google Translate is a free useful translation tool. The Maine SOS website includes a search tool for finding a notary who speaks a foreign language, including the Passamaquoddy Native American tribal language. Or Latin, if you are notarizing for the Pope...

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