The notarial certificate is the wording, usually at the end of a document, which identifies the steps a notary public has performed in witnessing a signature. For all notarial acts requiring a certificate, a notary must complete a notary certificate [1 TAC 87.40(c)]. The notary certificate may be typed or printed on the document itself or on an attachment typically stapled to the documents left margin following the signature page.
A notary public may perform the following acts, as authorized by the Texas Government Code (TGC) 406.016(a); Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code (TCPRC) 121.001(a)(3) and 121.003(1); and Texas Finance Code (TFC) 59.109
Acknowledgments: A formal declaration by someone who personally appeared before a notary public, was identified by the notary, and acknowledged signing the document for its stated purpose [TCPRC 121.005(a) and 121.006(b)].
Certified Copies: A certification that a photocopy (made by the notary Public) of a document not recordable in public records is true and complete [TGC 406.016(a)(5)]. As notary records are public information, members of the member may lawfully request notary-certified photocopies of entries in the notary’s official journal [TGC 406.014(b) and (c); 1 TAC 87.42].
Depositions: A certification that the spoken words of a witness were accurately taken down in writing. [TGC 406.016(a)(4)]. Normally, trained and certified court reporters execute this duty.
Jurats: A certification added to an affidavit or document stating when and where a signer personally appeared before the notary public, took an oath or affirmation from the notary, and signed the document in the notary’s presence.
Oaths and Affirmations: An oath is a solemn declaration, accompanied by a swearing to God or a revered person or thing, that one’s statement is true or that one will be bound to a promise. The person making the oath implicitly invites punishment if the statement is untrue or the promise is broken. An Affirmation is the act of affirming the truth of a document, not an oath. “I solemnly affirm and declare the foregoing to be a true statement…” Note that an affidavit may appear in two forms: a sworn affidavit with oath, or an affirmed affidavit with affirmation. Each has the same legal import.
Proofs of Acknowledgement by Subscribing Witness: A notary public certifies that the signature of a person who does not appear before the notary (the principal signer) is genuine, based on the sworn testimony of another person who does appear – a subscribing (signing) witness [TCPRC 121.0029]. The subscribing witness must be personally known to the notary public or the identity must be proved on the oath of a Credible Identifying Witness [TCPRC 121.009(c)].
Protests: A Notary Public’s written statement that, upon presentment for payment or acceptance, a negotiable instrument was neither paid nor accepted. While common in the 19th century, today it is mostly an antiquated act. [Texas Government Code 406.016(a)(2)]
Witness Opening of Safe Deposit Box: A notary public is required to be one of two witnesses present when a safe deposit box is opened, viewed and the contents inventoried, when rent on the box has been declared delinquent.
The notarial certificate wording generally determines the notarial act that is performed. Often, a document you receive that requires notarization will already have certificate wording pre-printed at the bottom of the document. If a document you present to a Notary Public is without certificate wording, you will be asked what type of notarial act is appropriate. If you don’t know, you will be asked to find out. You can normally obtain this information from the organization that either provided you the document or the organization that will be accepting the document. You may also wish to consult with an attorney.
It is not the role of a non-attorney notary public to decide what type of certificate (and what type of notarization) a document will need. A non-attorney notary public who selects certificates or even suggests what type of certificate a signer needs may be engaging in the unauthorized practice of law, which is a Class A Misdemeanor in the State of Texas (first offense).
Texas law states that for an acknowledgment by a person acting in a representative capacity – such as a corporate officer, trustee, partner to a partnership, attorney-in-fact or other capacity – the signer must acknowledge executing the instrument by proper authority in the capacity claimed for the purposes stated in the document [TCPRC 121.006(b)].
The age of majority in Texas is 18. The notary public will ask the signer to place their age next to their signature on the document and in the notary journal. This will alert any interested party that the signor is a minor.
The minor must be identified by personal knowledge, acceptable ID, or the oath/affirmation of a credible identifying witness.
A Texas notary may sign the name of a person who is physically unable to sign or make a mark on a document. [TGC 406.0165(a) and (d)]. The notary must be asked by the disabled individual and there must be a witness present, who has no financial interest in the transaction.
Beneath the proxy signature, the notary must write the following:
Signature affixed by Notary in the presence of (name of witness), a disinterested witness, under Section 406.0165, Government Code.
A person who cannot sign his or her name because of illiteracy or a physical disability may instead use a mark, such as an X, as their signature. A signature by mark requires two disinterested witnesses to the mark, both of whom must sign the documents. This is addition to the notary.
Personal appearance is required – face to face in the same room.
- If witnesses are required, they must also be present – face to face in the same room.
- The signers must express a willingness to sign – No evidence of coercion or duress.
- Signer(s) must display an awareness of the document and what it represents.
- Identity verification of the signers and any witnesses.
Proof of Identity
For traditional notarizations, a notary may accept a valid identification credential issued by the federal government or any state government that contains the photograph and signature of the bearer. Examples include state driver’s license, state non-driver identification card or U.S. Passport.
- For online notarizations using the DocVerify platform, the only accepted identification credential is a valid U.S. driver’s license.
- For notarizations involving residential real estate transactions, a valid passport issued by a foreign government may also be accepted as identification [TCPRC 121.005(b)(3)].
Texas requires that a notary public confirm the identity of all participants in a notarization. There are three ways identity confirmation can be established.
Personal Knowledge – The signer is personally known to the notary public.
Identification Documents – The participant presents a valid, government-issued identification credential, containing a photograph and signature.
Credible Witnesses – If a principal signer is not personally known to the notary public and does not possess a valid government-issued identification credential, the last method to confirm identity is by oath or affirmation of a credible identifying witness. Texas requires that a credible identifying witness must be personally known to the notary public [TCPRC 121.005(a)(1)].
- Blank or incomplete documents
- Photocopied or faxed signatures
- Foreign language notarial certificates
- Immigration documents issued by the USCIS
- Any publicly recorded record, such as birth, marriage and death certificates
- Names on documents do not match names on identification documents
- Adoption Documents
- Business Documents
- Corporate Affidavits
- Designated Beneficiary Documents
- Discovery Documents
- Employment Forms
- Estate Planning Documents
- Financial Documents
- Insurance Documents
- Legal Documents
- Loan Documents
- Medical Documents
- Parental Rights Affidavits
- Permission to Travel Documents
- Power of Attorney
- School Documents
- Texas DMV Gift & Heirship Affidavits
- Vehicle Title Transfers
- Waiver Forms
- Wills and Codicils
Documents must be filled out, with no blank spaces.
- Names on documents must match the ID of the signers.
- Photocopied signatures can never be notarized.
- Documents that are publicly recordable records cannot be notarized.
Remote Online Notarizations
Before a participant is provided access by docVerify to connect their web cam to the online notarization process, they must:
- Complete and pass the ID Verification (identity proofing), if not personally known to the online notary public.
- Complete the ID capture (credential analysis) procedure.
- Adopt their signature and initials in the areas designed by docVerify.
- Note: If the notarial act has more than one participant, all participants must complete the above three requirements before the online notary public will be able to connect them online and complete the notarization.
The following steps describe a typical online notarization process, utilizing the docVerify remote notary platform:
- The principal reviews documentation at notaryarlington.com -The principal carefully reviews the website documentation on Remote Online Notarization, including the FAQ Section that references signer(s) requirements, technology requirements and document requirements.
- The principal submits an Online Notary Request Form – With an understanding that all participants can successfully participate in a remote online notarization transaction, the principal completes and submits the Online Notary Request Form from the website. The submission includes uploading the digital document to be notarized and online payment for the transaction.
- The online notary public reviews the submission – The online notary public receives the completed Online Notary Request Form. The notary reviews the information submitted on all participants, vetting each against participation requirements for an online notarization. The notary then reviews the document for proper completion and the type of notarization requested.
- The online notary public uploads the document(s) to docVerify – Upon completion of review and payment processing, the online notary public uploads the document(s) for processing to the docVerify notary portal.
- All participants complete ID verification and credential analysis – If the principal(s) are not personally known to the online notary public, they will each receive an email with a link to participate in docVerify’s ID verification process. All participants will receive instructions for ID capture for credential analysis.
- All participants adopt their e-signatures – Upon successful completion of ID verification and credential analysis, each participant will receive another email with a link to adopt their e-signatures for use in the notarization.
- The online notary public is notified that all parties are ready to proceed – Once all participants have completed the identification credential analysis, ID verification, and signature adoption, the online notary public is notified to continue the online notarization process.
- The participants are invited to connect their webcams to the online session – When the online notary public accesses the transaction within docVerify and selects “Notarize Now,” the document is loaded online for notarization. The participant(s) receive an email stating the online notary public is ready and waiting to notarize the documents. They receive a link to connect their web cams to the online session, joining the online notary public.
- The online notary public checks the audio and video of the participants – Once all participants have successfully connected with their web cams, the online notary public checks to ensure all faces can be clearly seen and all voices can be clearly heard, before beginning the recording session.
- The online notary public begins formal recording of the session – At the start of the recording session, the online notary public introduces himself, stating his current location (state & county). He then explains the remote online notarization process, the order of events, the questions to be answered by each participant, and instructs all participants that their faces must remain clearly in camera view during the recording session. He then presents an identification card, demonstrating how the participants will be displaying their identification cards to the camera.
- The participants identify themselves online and display their ID – One at a time, each participant will introduce themselves on camera to the notary, answer questions asked by the notary, and present their identification credential to the camera when prompted.
- The online notary public arranges elements on the document – Once the participant introductions and identification requirements have been completed, the online notary public begins to complete the act. With the document displayed, he drags and drops the various elements in the correct locations of the various pages, explaining and confirming placements with the participants.
- The online notary public ensures participants have process clarity – With all elements in place on the document, the online notary public pauses and asks the participants if they have any questions or concerns, prior to completion of the notarization.
- The online notary public explains the final steps in the notarization process – The online notary public then states that once the notarization is completed, the video and audio will end. The notary informs the participants that each will receive a copy of the notarized document via their email address. They will be able to create a free docVerify account to access their document(s). The notary relates to the participants that the notary will no longer have access to the document as it will be electronically stored, along with the recording session.
- The remote online notarization is completed – The online notary thanks the participants and dismisses them by completing the notarization and clicking the “Notarize & Sign” button.
Ensure that your document is completely filled out, except for signatures and signature dates. There cannot be blank lines or fields that are not filled in.
Paper documents must be scanned into to a digital .pdf format and uploaded using the Online Notary Request Form. No scanner? No problem. Using your smartphone, open the Apple App Store (iOS) or Google Play (Android) and search PDF Scanner. You will find numerous free apps that you can download and use to create .pdf documents.
Accessing the Online Notary Request Form from a tablet or notebook computer? Simply transfer your phone-scanned .pdf document from your phone (via email attachment or cloud storage medium).
If a Texas online notarial certificate is not typed directly in the document, docVerify allows the online notary public to “electronically stitch” one at the end of your document. You will need to determine the type of Texas online notarial certificate that is appropriate for your needs. I cannot assist you by recommending a particular online notarial certificate. Doing so, would be providing legal advice, which I am prohibited from doing.
You can access sample online notarial certificate forms at the Texas Secretary of State website. (Scroll down to the “Sample Forms” section)
If you require additional assistance in selecting an online notarial certificate form, please consult with the document originator or an attorney.
To use docVerify’s remote notary platform, each participant must be able to comply with the following technology requirements. If the technology requirements cannot be met, the remote notarial act cannot be conducted.
- Each participant must have their own computer or device (notebook, tablet, smartphone).
- Each participant must have their own email account. Spousal sharing of a single email account is not permitted for a docVerify remote notarization transaction.
- Each participant’s computer or device must use specific supported browsers that will allow the browser to access the device’s camera and microphone. Use of any browsers not listed below will most likely result in the required video/audio not working.
- Android (smartphones and tablets)
- Google Chrome – latest version
- iOS (iPhone or iPad)
- iOS 11 or higher only, and
- the Safari browser that comes with iOS 11 or higher
- Android (smartphones and tablets)
- For additional camera and microphone troubleshooting, docVerify provides some guidance.
To use DocVerify’s remote notary platform, each participant must be able to comply with the following requirements. If the requirements cannot be met, the remote notarial act cannot be conducted. (1 TAC §87.70)
- Credential Analysis (ID Capture) – DocVerify can only accept a U.S. driver’s license containing the photograph and signature of the bearer. To prepare for the ID capture, take photos in landscape mode of the front and back sides of your driver’s license. Then take a photo of your face (selfie). Have these photos saved on the device that you will use for the online notarization.
- Identity Proofing (ID Verification) – Each participant who is not personally known to the online notary public must submit to a dynamic knowledge-based authentication (KBA) process to verify their identity.
- The principal/credible witness must answer a quiz consisting of a minimum of 5 questions, related to the principal’s personal history or identity.
- All questions must be answered within two minutes.
- At least 80% of the questions must be answered correctly.
- If the principal/credible witness fails the quiz, they may retake the quiz one time within 24 hours.
- If they fail the quiz a second time, they are not permitted to retry with the same online notary public for 24 hours.
- Dynamic knowledge-based authentication (KBA) – Third-party providers that create the identity quiz derive most of their information from credit bureau databases. docVerify states that if signers do not have the following, they will not be able to pass the ID verification:
- A U.S. Citizen
- A Valid Social Security Number – Even though the docVerify system needs the last four digits, if the signer does not have a SSN, more likely than not, they will not be in any of the credit bureau databases.
- A Valid U.S. Driver’s License – This is also a requirement in order for the third party to be able to find questions only the signer knows.
- Credit History – Technically, if the signer does not have a credit history in the United States, they are not going to pass the ID verification.
- Ensure Credit Reports are Unlocked – Because of compromises in recent years, some credit reports may be locked. If a credit report is locked, the signer will fail ID verification.
Note: If you are uncertain, please speak with me before paying and beginning a remote online notarization. If we conclude that a Remote Online Notarization is not your best option, I can still notarize your documents the “traditional” old-fashioned way – with wet ink signatures and a wet ink notary stamp.
Mobile Notary Service
A Mobile Notary is a Texas Notary Public who travels to the customer’s location to perform notarizations. They may charge up to the maximum fee set by Texas law for notarization services. In addition, they may also charge a separate travel fee for traveling to the customer’s location.
They may provide services statewide to any customer or business that requires a notarization, as long as the notarization request is permitted by Texas law.
In addition to traditional “wet ink signatures” and “stamped notary seal” notarizations, a Mobile Notary is authorized to perform electronic notarizations.
Simply put, electronic notarizations are performed with digital documents, obtaining digital signatures and a digital notary seal. Unlike an online notarization, the signers and the Notary Public are together, face to face in the same room. Instead of wet-ink signatures, computer-type devices are normally used.