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- Notary FAQ
- 1. What is a Notary Public?
A Notary Public is a responsible person who has been appointed by their state government to administer oaths and witness the signing of important documents.
- 2. Why are documents notarized?
Documents are notarized as a means of deterring fraud. The Notary ensures that the document signers are who they say they are and are not impostors. Today, business dealings are the norm between strangers and the Notary creates a trustworthy environment where these strangers are able to share documents with full confidence in their authenticity.
- 3. Is a Notary Public the same as a Notario Publico?
A Notary Public is NOT the same as a Notario Publico, which is a high-ranking official in Latin America, like an attorney or judge. A U.S. Notary Public is forbidden from giving advice on immigration, litigation, or other matters, as well as forbidden to prepare legal documents (unless the Notary Public happens to be an attorney, as well). There are a few immigration forms requiring notarization, including the Affidavit of Support (I-134), so the Notary can notarize the forms, but must refrain from giving advice.
- 4. May any document be notarized?
There are a few requirements that the document must meet before it can be notarized. The document <strong>must</strong> contain:
* text committing the signer in some way,
* an original signature (not a photocopy) of the document signer,
* a notarial “certificate” which may appear on the document itself or on an attachment. The Notary fills in the certificate, signs it, then applies his or her seal to complete the notarization.
- 5. Is notarization required by law?
There are many documents that do require notarization by law, yes. Some types of affidavits, real estate deeds and other documents may not be considered legally binding unless they have been properly notarized.
- 6. How does a Notary identify a signer?
The Notary identify's a signer by requesting to see a current identification document that includes a signature, physical description, and a photograph. Driver's license, military ID and Passports are usually acceptable forms of identification documentation.
- 7. Does notarization mean that a document is “true” or “legal”?
Notaries only certify the identity of the signer(s). Notaries are NOT responsible for the legality or accuracy of the documents they are notarizing. The signer(s) are the responsible parties for the content of the documents.
- 8. May a Notary refuse to serve people?
A Notary may legally refuse to serve people under certain circumstances:
- Uncertain of a signer's identity, general competence or willingness,
- A good reason to suspect fraud
Notaries should not refuse to serve anyone because of race, religion, nationality, lifestyle, or because the person is not a client or customer. Discrimination on any basis is not a suitable policy for a public official.
- 9. Where do I report illegal or improper acts by a Notary?
Reporting illegal or improper acts by a Notary should be reported to local law enforcement or to the appropriate state Notary-regulating office, which may be the Secretary of State, Governor, Lieutenant Governor or the Attorney General.
- 10. Is there a National Notary Association?