The signer(s) must personally appear before the notary at the time of the notarization. This is the only way to verify signers
- are who they say they are
- are signing of their own free will
- are aware of what’s happening
Personal appearance means face to face in the same room (for traditional notary service) or face to face via webcam (for online notarization service).
The document will be briefly scanned by the notary to ensure it is OK to notarize, determine the type of notarization required, and obtain information needed to record in the notary journal.
- The document must be complete (no missing pages, no blank spaces in the text).
- The notarial certificate must be written in the English language.
- The signature must be a handwritten original. A stamped, photocopied or faxed signature is not OK.
- The signer’s name on the document must be spelled correctly and checked against the signer’s identification credential.
A signer must be able to communicate directly with the notary in the English language. As part of the notarization process, the notary is required to screen the signer for their willingness to sign a document, their awareness of the situation, and their identity. The notary may also need the signer to respond to other inquires, such as: acknowledging they signed a document outside of the notary’s presence… taking an oath or affirmation… etc.
- A document signature cannot be notarized unless the notary can communicate directly with the signer (no translators are permitted).
- Non-speaking signers must be able to communicate in writing with the notary, using complete sentences.
- Non-English language signers will require a notary public that can directly communicate with them in their language.
- Upon request, I will attempt to locate a notary public that can communicate with a signer in their language.
- An Embassy or Consulate is another source for locating a notary that can communicate directly with a signer in their language.
Screen the Signer
The notary must screen each document signer to verify their willingness to sign the document, their awareness of what is going on, and identity, by one of the following methods:
Personal Knowledge – The notary knows the signer to be who they say they are beyond reasonable doubt.
Identification Documents – Current ID issued by a federal or state government agency with a signature and photo. Comparisons will be made with the signature on the ID to the signature on the document, the photo on the ID to the appearance of the signer, and the name on the ID to the name on the document.
Credible Identifying Witness – A person who knows the signer well enough to swear or affirm that the signer is who they claim to be. The credible identifying witness must be personally known to the notary. This witness is someone who seems honest, trustworthy, reliable and impartial (not named in the document and has no interest in the transaction).
Verify Notarization Facts
- The notary will review the notary certificate printed on the document.
- The certificate provides information on the type of notarization required.
- The notary will carefully read the language in the notary certificate and verify each listed fact was performed.
- When there is no pre-printed notary certificate on the document, the notary will ask the signer what type of notarization is needed and show them sample certificate forms from which to choose. The notary is prohibited by law from making any selection or recommendation. If the signer is unsure, they should make inquiry with the document originator, the document recipient, or legal counsel. Once determined, the notary can then produce, complete and attach the requested notary certificate.