The document signer must personally appear before the notary public at the time of the notarization. This is the only way to verify
- the signer is who they say they are
- the signer is signing the document of their own free will
- the signer is aware of the content of the document and what is 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 reviewed by the notary public to ensure it is acceptable for notarization, 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 public in the English language. As part of the notarization process, the notary public is required to screen the signer for their willingness to sign a document, their awareness of the situation, and their identity. The notary public 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 public can communicate directly with the signer (no translators are permitted).
- Non-speaking signers must be able to communicate in writing with the notary public, 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.
Screen the Signer
The notary public must screen each document signer to verify their willingness to sign the document, their awareness of what is going on, and their identity, by one of the following methods:
Personal Knowledge – The notary public personally knows the signer to be who they say they are.
Identification Documents – The document signer presents a valid, government-issued identification credential, containing their photograph and signature to the notary public. The identification credential must be issued by either the federal government or a U.S. state government agency. Examples of acceptable identification credentials include: Texas Driver License, Texas Identification Card, Texas License to Carry a Handgun (LTC), and U.S. Passport. 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. Per Texas state statute, expired identification documents are not acceptable.
Credible Identifying Witness – For a document signer without an acceptable identification credential, a Credible Identifying Witness will be required. This is a person who knows the document signer well enough to swear or affirm that the signer is who they claim to be. This witness is someone who seems honest, trustworthy, reliable and impartial (not named in the document and has no interest in the transaction). A Credible Identifying Witness must possess a valid identification credential.
Verify Notarization Facts
- The notary public will review the notary certificate printed on the document.
- The certificate provides information on the type of notarization required.
- The notary public 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.