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Notary Frequently Asked Questions

Having documents notarized can be disconcerting for someone who is not familiar with the notarization process.  Here are the answers to frequently asked questions:

Q:  What do I need to bring with me to the signing?
A:  You will need to bring one of the following forms of approved identification:

  • State Issued Drivers License or ID Card  (Canada or Mexico licenses are also acceptable) 
  • Military ID
  • Passport
  • Employee ID from an agency or office of the State of California, or by an agency office of a City, County in California.

Q:  Does notarizing a document make it truthful and correct? 
A:  No.  Notarizing a document only validates that the signer personally appeared in front of the notary and subscribed or affirmed to the truthfulness of the document.  The Notary Public has no authorization to state that a document is official, true or correct.

Q:  I don't have an acceptable ID.  Can I still have a document notarized?
A:  In most cases, yes.  If none of the types of Identification listed are available, or it would be excessively difficult for the document signer to obtain them, two additional persons who do have acceptable identification may be present who will swear to the signer's identity. The two individuals have to be over the age of 18, have valid identification ready for inspection and recording in the notaries journal and must swear or affirm, under penalty of perjury, that they personally know the signer.  They will also need to be present at the time of witnessing and sign the notary journal.

Q:  The document I need notarized requires that multiple people sign, but we all  work different schedules.  Do we all need to be present at the same time?
A:  No, All signers can appear at different times.  

Q:  I was sent a document from out of state.  Can this document be notarized by a California Notary?
A:  In most cases yes, wherever you are at the time of notarization, will be listed on the notary certificate as the "venue."  The venue determines the specific state laws that are to be followed when notarizing a document.  Every Notary Public is bound by the laws of the state they are commissioned in. 

Q:  Can you notarize at my office, a jail, a hospital?
A:  Yes.  We can travel to most any location you are comfortable with.

Q:  What is a Notary Public?
A:  A Notary Public is a state appointed individual who verifies a signer’s identity using approved identification and takes acknowledgment of the individual executing the document, or administers an oath witnessing the signing of the document. Notaries do not give legal advice or verify that documents are true or legally binding.

Q:  Do Notaries draft legal documents? 
A Notary Public is forbidden from preparing legal documents or acting as a legal advisor.  Violators may be fined and/or imprisoned for practicing law unauthorized.

Q:  What does a Notary Public charge?
A:  The maximum fee per signature is $15 mandated by the State of California. The state does not impose the maximum a notary may charge for other fees. Travel and convenience fees are charged at their discretion. The cost of service will vary based on appointment location, distance traveled, and number of signatures notarized.

Q:  Why documents need to be notarized?
A:  The Notary Public officiates the document signing process insuring the documents are signed correctly and that signers are knowingly and willingly entering into an agreement. Documents must contain the proper notarial wording and text committing the signer in some way.

Q:  Can an incomplete document be notarized?
A:  Notarizing incomplete documents or those containing blank spaces is risky and unacceptable due to potential fraud. A Notary must ensure a document is complete with no missing information before proceeding with an assignment and shall refuse service otherwise.

Q:  Can a Notary decline to help me?
A:  A Notary can refuse service if there's a reasonable suspicion that a transaction is unlawful, improper, or incomplete. Failing to provide acceptable identification at a signing appointment also serves as grounds to deny a notarization.

Q:  Can any document be notarized?
A:  For a document to be notarized it must contain the proper notarial wording, text committing the signer, an original signature, and a completed certificate.