How to Notarize a Document

As a notary public, your role is to verify the authenticity of signatures, the identity of the parties involved, and the legality of the document being notarized. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to notarize a document:

1. Verify Your Notary Commission: Ensure that your notary commission is up to date and valid in your jurisdiction. Familiarize yourself with the laws and regulations related to notarization in your area.

2. Prepare Your Notary Kit: Have all necessary notary supplies on hand, including your official notary seal, stamp, and any required forms or certificates.

3. Meet the Signer in Person: The person signing the document (referred to as the “signer” or “principal”) must appear before you in person. Remote notarization rules may vary by jurisdiction.

4. Check Identification: Request and examine the signer’s government-issued photo identification to confirm their identity. The ID should be current, unexpired, and include a physical description and photograph of the signer.

5. Confirm Understanding: Ensure that the signer understands the document they are about to sign. If the document is complex or legally significant, you may wish to ask if they have consulted a legal professional.

6. Witness the Signing: Watch as the signer signs the document in your presence. Do not accept a pre-signed document. The signer must sign the document at the time of notarization.

7. Administer an Oath or Affirmation: Depending on your jurisdiction and the nature of the document, you may need to administer an oath or affirmation. This is a solemn statement that the signer makes regarding the truthfulness of the document’s contents.

8. Complete Notarial Certificate: On the document itself or an attached notarial certificate, complete the required information. This typically includes the date of notarization, your official seal/stamp, your signature, and any relevant details.

9. Recordkeeping: Many jurisdictions require notaries to keep a journal of their notarial acts. Record the date, type of document, names of the parties, and other pertinent information. This serves as a record of your notarial acts.

10. Charging a Fee: In most cases, notaries are allowed to charge a fee for their services. Make sure to adhere to any fee regulations in your area.

11. Give the Notarized Document: After notarizing the document, provide the signer with the original notarized copy. You may also keep a copy for your records, as well as a record in your notary journal.

It’s essential to be familiar with the specific laws and guidelines governing notarization in your area, as they can vary. Consult your state’s notary handbook or consult with legal professionals to ensure you are following the proper procedures.