1. What are the general powers/functions of a Notary Public?
A Notary Public acts as an official witness appointed
by the state government to witness the signing of important
documents and to administer oaths. A Notary is authorized
to witness or attest a signature, administer an oath or
affirmation, certify an oath or affirmation, take
acknowledgements, and certify or attest a copy (in limited
cases). Every state has their own Notary guidelines and
codes, administered and maintained by each Secretary of State.
As a public officer, the
sovereign power of your state is vested in you; that is, your
authority to act comes from the state.
A notarial appointment is a privilege. A notary
must be a person of proven integrity and character, and one who
can be trusted to perform the duties of a state officer.
2. What is a Notary Loan Signing Agent?
A Notary Loan Signing Agent is a Notary with
experience witnessing loan document signings. A Notary is
hired as an independent contractor by either a real estate
lender, a closing agent, title/escrow firm, signing service, or
the borrower to deliver documents, present each page in the
package, ensure that documents are initialed and signed as
necessary, notarize where required, and return the signed loan
documents for processing. Many borrowers do not realize
that in many cases they may select their own Notary to perform
this service, which is something they need to discuss with their
escrow or title officer. I have often been requested by
borrowers directly to be the Notary assigned to their loan
3. Why are documents notarized?
Documents are notarized to defer fraud and to create a public
record. Once a document is signed before a Notary Public,
who is an impartial and responsible public official, it could be
recorded by a county clerk, entered as evidence in a courtroom
proceeding, or used in other legal and government functions.
A Notary Public also takes steps to confirm the identity of the
signer when necessary. Also, a Notary will observe for
signs that the signer is signing documents knowingly and
4. How much does it cost to have something notarized?
Fees for notarial services are mandated by each state.
In addition to the fees for each notarization, travel fees will
also apply for instances when a Notary travels to your location
for a notarization. Loan documents signings require much
more than the notarization involved and fees are on a
case-by-case basis. Please call for more information about
5. What types of identification are required?
Driver's License or non-driver's ID card
issued by a U.S. state.
Foreign passport stamped by the U.S.
Immigration Services (USCIS).
US Military Identification Card that
contains all required elements stated above, (The Common
Access Card 'CAC' is not acceptable).
Driver's license issued in Mexico or Canada.
Inmate ID Issued by
the California Dept. of Corrections.
Employee Card issued by an agency or office
of the state of California or any city or
county within the state. (Federal IDs are not acceptable.)
*Note IDs must be current, or if expired, issued within
the past 5 years.
the document signer's photograph, physical description and
serial or other identifying number.
6. Are Social Security cards, birth certificates, or marriage
licenses acceptable forms of ID?
No. They do not meet the above requirement.
7. Does the name on the document have to match my ID exactly?
Not necessarily. However, the name on the document can
be no more than the name on the ID. For example, if the
name on the ID is “Jane Alice Doe,” the document can bear the
names “Jane Doe,” “Jane A. Doe,” “J.A. Doe” but not “Jane B
Doe,” “Jane Brown-Smith,” or “J.B. Smith.”
8. Can I sign the document before the Notary arrives?
It depends. A document that needs a Jurat (usually an
oath or affirmation, depending on what the issuing party has
requested) must be signed in the presence of the Notary.
Documents that require an acknowledgement require only that the
signer appear before the Notary and acknowledge that they did
indeed signed the document. If it was virtually impossible
to appear personally a "Subscribing Witness" may be used.
The Subscribing Witness must be someone the Notary
personally knows. The Subscribing Witness has to have
witnessed the signer signing the document.
9. Can you give me advice on which type of notarization I
No. However, generally speaking, the wording on the document
indicates which type of notarization that is required.
When in doubt you should contact the person requesting the
notarization or the receiving agency.
10. May a Notary assist me in drafting legal documents or
give me legal advice?
No. All states prohibit non-attorneys from practicing law.
A Notary can not be held liable for any damages resulting from
an incorrectly chosen certificate or notarization .
11. Does notarization mean that a document is "true" or
No. Notaries are not responsible for the accuracy or legality
of a document they notarize. The signers are responsible
for the content of the documents.
12. Can my document be in a foreign language?
Yes, as long as the document has been completely filled out
and there are no blanks, and the signer can communicate with the
Notary. The Notary is not responsible for the content of
the document, and therefore does not need to be able to read it,
only to be able to confirm that it contains no blanks.
13. I am sending my notarized documents to another country.
Will this notarization be valid there?
The documents will be valid only if it is accompanied by an
apostille. Official documents being sent from the United
States to any country which is a member of the Hague Convention
require an apostille in order to be effective. Depending
upon your needs, an apostille from the Secretary of State may be
sufficient or you may choose to have the embassy or consulate of
the country the document is going to apostille the document
also. If the country in question is not part of the Hague
Convention, documents require a legalization which is also
preformed by the Secretary of State.
14. Can a faxed document be notarized?
Only if it bears an original signature after it has been
faxed. Under no circumstances can a faxed or photocopied
signature be notarized.
15. Can my document contain blanks?
No. A Notary may not notarize a document that is incomplete
or contains blanks.
16. Can a Notary notarize a birth certificate or photograph?
No, the Notary cannot notarize either a birth certificate or
Photograph. You will have to get a certified copy of the
birth certificate from the county. However, you can sign
the bottom of a photograph with a statement such as "this is a
photo of myself..." and the Notary can notarize your statement
17. May a Notary refuse to serve someone?
The Notary shall, as a government officer, public officer and
public servant, serve all of the public in an honest, fair and
unbiased manner. A Notary may refuse service in cases
where there is suspicion of fraud or there is uncertainty of a
signer's identity, willingness or competence. A Notary may
not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, gender or
May a Notary prepare or notarize immigration papers?
Only a few
immigration forms must be notarized, such as the Affidavit of
Support (1-134, I-864), but the U.S. Immigration and
Naturalization Service (INS) regulations state that no one may
prepare or file another person's immigration papers unless he or
she is an attorney or a U.S. Department of Justice-approved
"accredited representative." Notaries may provide clerical,
secretarial or translating assistance with INS forms as long as
they do not provide legal advice, and then may notarize these
Is a Notary the same as a Latin Notario Publico?
No. In Latin
countries, the Notario Publico is a high-ranking official with
considerable legal skills and training. Unlike the U.S. Notary,
the Notario Publico drafts documents, provides legal advice,
settles disputes and archives documents.
Where can I report unethical or
Any wrongdoing or illegal activity
should be reported to law enforcement and the appropriate
Notary-regulating state official (typically the secretary of
state, governor, lieutenant governor or attorney general).
What is a title search?
to real estate, a title search is a process that is
performed primarily to determine the answers to three
the seller or grantor have an interest in the
property being transferred?
- Are there any restrictions pertaining to the use
of the land (real covenants, easements, or other
- Is the property encumbered (mortgages,
back taxes, mechanic's liens, or other assessments)?