Steps of Notarization

Important steps you should follow when notarizing documents.


A notary public is a person commissioned or appointed by the Secretary of State to serve the public as an impartial and unbiased witness by identifying persons who come before the notary.

The most common function of the notary is to prevent fraud by attesting that a person actually signed a document. The responsibilities of a notary public are critical to the legal, business, financial, and real estate communities and should be taken seriously. This pocketbook is designed to assist you when performing a notarial act.

Remember, as a commissioned notary you are a public official commissioned or appointed to serve the public.

Always keep in mind these important points when you notarize documents:

* All document signers must personally appear before you.

* Assess whether each document signer is competent.

* While not responsible for the content of a document, alert the signer to any blanks.

* Establish the identity of each signer through personal knowledge or with I.D. documents.

* Have all parties sign the document.

* Complete the notarial certificate – this may include requiring the signer to give a verbal oath or acknowledgment.

* Use your stamp or seal on the document.

* If you have a notary journal, always make an entry


The process of notarization involves two critical steps that a notary public should always follow: screen the signer and complete the notarial certificate. It is also encouraged to make a journal entry.


Screen the Signer Not all notarizations require the document to be signed in front of the notary public, (e.g. acknowledgment, copy certification) but you should always screen the signer.

Personal Appearance – Personal appearance by the individual requesting notarization is required at the time of notarization in ALL instances.

Determine Willingness – Make sure the signer is not being forced to sign the document. If you suspect coercion, it is best to refuse to notarize.

Determine Awareness – Do not notarize the document if you have a reasonable belief that the person signing the document is not aware of the significance of the transaction.

Determine Identity – You must have satisfactory evidence that a person is an individual whose true signature is on the document. Identity may be proven through: personal knowledge, identification documents ( i.e. driver’s license), or the sworn word of a credible identifying witness.


Complete Certificate of a Notarial Act When notarizing a document, you must complete and sign a certificate of a notarial act. It indicates the procedure followed in performing the notarization. The certificate includes

1. a place at the top to fill in the jurisdiction (“State of ” and “County of ”). This is the location where your “feet are planted” at the time the document is notarized.

2. a place to include the title “Notary Public” under your signature; not your title at work. Make a Journal Entry a journal serves as a permanent record of notarizations you perform.

When making journal entries:

1. Complete the entry in ink; do not use a pencil.

2. Enter the data before the notarial certificate is complete to prevent the signer from leaving before all data is recorded.

3. Record all notarizations – even the requests for notarization that you have refused. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

4. Date and time of day of the notarization

5. Name and address of the signer.

6. Type of notarization (i.e. jurat, acknowledgment).

7. Description of how signer was identified – include ID

8. Date of the document. issuing agency, ID# and issuance/expiration date

9. Type of document being notarized.

10. Any additional pertinent information.

11. Signature of document signer.