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Notarizing documents is a crucial aspect of legal and financial transactions. As notaries, we serve as impartial witnesses, ensuring the authenticity of signatures and the integrity of documents. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take you through the step-by-step process of notarizing a document, providing clarity and guidance for both seasoned notaries and those new to the profession.
Step 1: Verify Identity and Eligibility
First and foremost, the notarial process begins with verifying the identity of the signer. It is essential to check that the person presenting the document is indeed who they claim to be. This involves scrutinizing government-issued identification, such as a driver’s license or passport. Additionally, it’s crucial to ensure that the signer is eligible to sign the document. This means confirming that they are of sound mind and not under duress or coercion.
Step 2: Confirm Understanding
Next, engage in a brief conversation with the signer to confirm their understanding of the document they are about to sign. In other words, ensure that they are fully aware of the content and implications of the document. This step is crucial to prevent future disputes or claims of fraud.
Step 3: Administer the Oath or Affirmation
Subsequently, for certain documents like affidavits, you’ll need to administer an oath or affirmation. This step involves the signer solemnly swearing or affirming, under penalty of perjury, that the statements in the document are true and accurate. In this case, the notary should ask the signer to raise their right hand and repeat the oath or affirmation.
Step 4: Witness the Signature
Once you are satisfied with the signer’s identity and understanding, it’s time to witness the signature. In general, the signer should sign the document in your presence. Watch closely as they do so to ensure that the signature matches the one on their identification. Additionally, ensure that the document is complete before they sign. Blank spaces can be filled in later, potentially compromising the document’s integrity. A Signature Witness stamp can assist you in this task, found here:
Step 5: Complete the Notarial Certificate
Now, it’s time to complete the notarial certificate, which is the notary’s official statement about the notarization. In other words, it’s your way of documenting the notarial act for future reference. Typically, this certificate includes details such as the date, location, type of notarial act, the name of the signer, and a statement affirming that the signer appeared before the notary and acknowledged the document.
Step 6: Affix Your Notary Seal
After completing the notarial certificate, affix your notary seal or notary public stamp. This step is essential, as it signifies the authenticity of the notarial act. Moreover, notary seals vary by state, but they usually contain your name, commission number, and commission expiration date. Anchor Stamp is the leading manufacturer of Official notary stamps and notary supplies,
Step 7: Record the Transaction
Following the notarization, it’s wise to keep a detailed record of the transaction. In general, this includes making an entry in your notary journal. Furthermore, the journal entry should include information about the document, the signer, the notarial act, and any fees collected. Keeping meticulous records is essential for liability protection and accountability.
Step 8: Secure the Document
Lastly, make sure that the document is securely attached to the notarial certificate. In other words, ensure that the pages cannot be separated or swapped without detection. Additionally, it’s advisable to use tamper-evident methods, like notary seal impressions that overlap both the document and the certificate.

Common Notarial Acts and Their Specifics Now that we’ve covered the general steps in notarizing a document, let’s delve into some common notarial acts and their specific requirements.
An acknowledgment is the most common notarial act. In general, it involves the signer acknowledging that they signed the document willingly and without duress. Specifically, an acknowledgment requires the following steps:

  1. Verify the signer’s identity and eligibility.
  2. Confirm their understanding of the document.
  3. Administer the oath or affirmation if necessary.
  4. Witness the signature.
  5. Complete the notarial certificate, which should include an acknowledgment statement.
  6. Affix your notary seal.
  7. Record the transaction in your notary journal.
    A jurat, also known as a verification upon oath or affirmation, is often used for affidavits and sworn statements. In this case, the signer swears or affirms that the content of the document is true. Specifically, for a jurat:
  8. Verify the signer’s identity and eligibility.
  9. Confirm their understanding of the document.
  10. Administer the oath or affirmation.
  11. Have the signer sign the document in your presence.
  12. Complete the notarial certificate, including a jurat statement.
  13. Affix your notary seal.
  14. Record the transaction in your notary journal.
    Certified Copies
    Notaries can also certify copies of certain documents. To do this, follow these steps:
  15. Verify the identity of the person requesting the certified copy.
  16. Confirm their understanding of the document.
  17. Compare the copy to the original document to ensure it is a true and complete reproduction.
  18. Complete the notarial certificate, including a statement certifying the copy.
  19. Affix your notary seal.
  20. Record the transaction in your notary journal.

    Notarizing a document is a meticulous process that demands attention to detail and adherence to specific steps. In conclusion, by following this step-by-step guide and understanding the nuances of different notarial acts, you can ensure that your notarizations are conducted accurately and with the utmost integrity. Remember, as a notary, you play a vital role in upholding the legal and financial integrity of documents, and your commitment to professionalism is essential. Anchor Stamp offers quality Notary Jurat Stamps, Notary Acknowledgement Stamps, Certified True Copy Stamps, and the most complete Notary Supply product line.

    About the Author: Thomas McTague is the owner of Anchor Rubber Stamp Co. Inc. and with nearly 30 years of experience in the Notary Industry.