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FAQ

Traveling Mobile Notary Public

What is a notary public?

A notary public is a public official appointed by the Secretary of State to administer oaths and affirmations, witness signatures, and perform other duties as permitted by state law. Notaries are most commonly called upon to attest to the validity of signatures, especially on court papers such as affidavits.

What does a notary do?

The most frequent service a notary public performs is the simple one of taking someone's acknowledgment.  An acknowledgment is the solemn statement of a person that he or she signed a paper of his or her own free will.  The notary verifies the person's identity, presses his/her notary seal on the paper and signs it where the notary is meant to sign.

How does a U.S. notary differ from a Notario Publico?

In Latin America, a Notario Publico is a high-ranking official like a judge or an attorney. Unlike a Notario Publico, a U.S. notary public is forbidden from preparing legal documents or giving legal advice unless he or she is also an attorney.

Why are documents notarized?

Notarization is intended to deter fraud. The impartial witness (notary public) ensures that the signer of a document is who they say they are and that the person signed the document willingly.

Does notarization mean that the information on a document is true?

No. Notarization does not prove that information or statements on a document are true or accurate. The signer is responsible for the content of the documents. The notary public certifies the identity of the signer.

How does a notary public identify a signer?

Generally, the notary public will ask to see a current identifying document that has a photograph, physical description and a signature. A driver's license, military ID or passport is usually acceptable.

Identification Required For Any Notarization:

Each signer must either present current photo ID such as drivers license, California ID, or passport issued within the last 5 years; or have two other persons present who will swear to the signer's identity, each of whom has a good current photo ID.  You will also need to bring the documents that need to be notarized.  Make sure there are no blanks in your document, except for the notarial wording.

Can a notary notarize for a stranger with no identification?

Yes.  When a document signer is not personally known to the notary public and is not able to present reliable identification documents, that signer can be identified on the oath or affirmation of a credible identifying witness. The word of a credible identifying witness is satisfactory evidence of identity.

Does a document have to be signed in the notary's presence?

Yes and No.  The form most frequently completed by the notary public is the acknowledgment.   Documents requiring acknowledgments do not need to be signed in the Notary's presence. However, the signer must appear before the Notary at the time of notarization to acknowledge that he or she freely signed for the purposes stated in the document.  In the acknowledgment, the notary public certifies:

1.)   That the signer personally appeared before the notary public on the date indicated in the county indicated.

2.)  To the identity of the signer.

3.) That the signer acknowledged executing the document.

The second form most frequently document completed by a notary public is the jurat. The jurat is identified by the wording "Subscribed and sworn to" immediately above the place where the notary public signs his/her name.  In the jurat, the notary public is not certifying to the identity of the signer. However, the notary public does certify: 

1.)  That the signer personally appeared before the notary public on the date indicated and in the county indicated.

2.)  That the signer signed the document in the presence of the notary public.

3.)    That the notary public administered an oath.

How do you correct a name that has been misspelled on the document?

Only the document signer has authority to make any changes on the document.  When you are correcting a document simply line through the mistake with ink, write the correction above or beside, initial and date the correction.

Can a notary certify a copy of a birth or death certificate?

No.  A California notary public cannot certify a copy of a birth or death certificate. Certified copies of birth and death records should be referred to the State Bureau of Vital Statistics or County Clerk's office in the county where the birth occurred.  For foreign birth certificates, a person should contact the consulate of the country of origin.

Can a notary certify a copy of a passport or a driver's license?

No.  California statute prohibits a notary public from certifying any documents other than: 1.) copies of powers of attorney and, 2.) copies of entries in his or her notary journal.

Can an undated document notarized?

Yes.  If there is a space for a date it should be filled in with the correct date or lined through by the document signer if incorrect. If the document simply doesn't have a date, it is acceptable for the signer to date the document next to their signature or mark, thus establishing a document date for practical purposes.

Can a fax or a photocopy be notarized?

Yes.  A photocopy or fax may be notarized, but only if it bears an original signature. That is, the copy must have been signed with pen and ink. A photocopied or faxed signature may never be notarized.  Care should be taken to copy faxes from thermal paper to regular paper before proceeding in having a document notarized in order to avoid rejection by public recorders.

Can a will be notarized?

No and Yes.  A California notary public should not proceed in notarizing a document which purports to be a will unless clear instructions and notarial wording are provided, and only upon specific instructions by an attorney.

Can a notary list two signers on one notarial certificate?

Yes.  If two signers appear before the notary public at the same time, the names may appear on the same certificate. Since each signature constitutes an individual notarization, there may be separate fees for each notarization.

How do you correct a name that has been misspelled on the document?

Only the document signer has authority to make any changes on the document.  When you are correcting a document simply line through the mistake with ink, write the correction above or beside, initial and date the correction.  Likewise, only a notary public can correct mistakes on a notarial certificate.

Can notaries give legal advice?

No.  State law strictly prohibits notaries from the practice of law.  Notaries should never give advice on any matter relating to a document  unless they are an attorney or professionals certified or licensed in a relevant area of expertise.

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