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September 25, 2016

Foreign Intrigue

Foreign Intrigue

Chances are 95% of your notarizations are for use in the USA. Every now and then along comes a request to notarize a document destined to be used in a different country. Documents prepared outside of the USA present special requirements. I have processed many. They range from being in a foreign language, to ones in English. They virtually never have a useable notary section. The usual procedure is to slap on an acknowledgement, the wording taken from the state notary manual. That’s fine; it’s certainly a legal notarization. But will it fly in the destination country?

A State issued Apostille is generally added, procedures vary by state. They either issue an Apostille or a Certification; depending on the target country’s ratification status with The Hague. Is it complete? Perhaps, but often there is more work to do. China, for example requires the addition of their “tax stamp” for the document to be used in their country. That procedure entails, at the NYC location; an application form, a complete (and they do a page by page check) copy of the document. As the NY State added Apostille is affixed with a tamper resistant “grommet” it’s hard to photocopy the underlying pages. It’s best to, just prior to the Apostille step; photocopy everything – then when the Apostille is added – photocopy the top page. China offers a variety of “service levels”, same day, three day and a week; with varying fees. I have gone there to find them closed; causing my prior commitment for delivery to be thwarted; I did not know they had both US and China holidays “off”.

Another example is Brazil. They are very strict as to how the document is bound. One of my projects was over two hundred pages. I could not find a stapler with that capacity. My submission for their “tax stamp” was rejected initially. The document had to be bound, just like a book; for them to accept it. Sometimes there are genuinely nice surprises. The waiting room at the Brazilian Embassy has an urn with the most wonderful coffee, no charge. Hope you like your coffee without milk or sugar – none is available.

Other countries have their own specifications. Some want every page to have a notary stamp, bound or not. Some go a step further and require embossing on each page. At least one requires the original passport of the affiant to be shown, actually left with them till the time of pickup. Some folks just don’t like leaving me their passport for a few days; but unless they go to the Embassy, they have no choice.

One has to start with a state compliant notarization to obtain a state issued apostille. But how about the notary section on the original document? Many destinations also require their “notary section” to also be completed. This can be a real problem. I often run into this situation with European “proof of life” documents whereby pensioners must annually submit proof they are still alive. This is a bit of a dilemma. For the German authorities to accept it – their “notary section” must also be completed. But, I am not fluent in that language. It’s quite a leap of faith to sign on a line, when the above text; and the writing under the line are in German! Am I declaring that I am an attorney? Or worse? Scanning the document and using translation software is one approach. Or, an impartial translator; but not the affiant!

There are 190+ sovereign countries in the world. I have been handed what the affiant purported to be a Latvian divorce application and asked if the form met all requirements for use in Latvia! Clearly way above my pay grade. The key point is to document your responsibilities, in writing; clearly stating that you are unable to guarantee suitability for purpose. Also, clearly state what you are able to do. Refer them to legal services where the document is destined to be used. Don’t assume, don’t guess. Either have your client explicitly state your duties, in an email; or offer to research, for a fee; what is needed.

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September 24, 2016

Can a Washington Notary notarize in Idaho?

As a general rule, a Notary can notarize in any county of their state of commission. A few states have some bizarre exceptions to this rule for Deeds of properties that are in the Notary’s home state. Louisiana also has a weird rule that you can only notarize in Parishes that you are commissioned in or ones with reciprocal agreements unless you have statewide jurisdiction. What does it have to be so complicated? And why can’t they have counties like normal states?

A Washington State Notary Public may Notarize in any part of the state of Washington. However, it is allowed for a Washington Notary Public to get dual commissioned as an Oregon Notary Public or an Idaho Notary Public which is very practical if you live near a state border. Notaries in Vancouver, WA often get dual commission in Oregon so that they can service a larger area. Additionally, Notaries in Spokane, WA often become dual commissioned in Idaho as an Idaho Notary Public as well.

If you are in a pinch, and someone out of state needs your Notary services, you can meet them right at your state’s border (on your side of the border) and Notarize them there. It rarely matters what state a person is notarized in, but you could lose your commission if caught notarizing outside of your state’s borders!


September 23, 2016

The Seal Fixer

Filed under: Virtual Comedy Themes — Tags: , , — admin @ 11:00 pm

The Seal Fixer is/was a Notary who went back into time to fix what was wrong and make it right — at least as far as notarizations are concerned. Our Seal Fixer’s first assignment was to go back to ancient Rome to fix a botched notarization. The Notary apparently botched a sales contract for half a million bushels of olives which affected the entire empire. So the Seal Fixer got into his time machine set it for the correct year and GPS coordinates and arrived in ancient Rome.

The Roman Notary was going to affix his seal, but our American hero blurted out, “No!!! You wrote the wrong date!” The Roman Notary retorted, “Hey, those are Roman numerals buddy, they might look funny to you guys.” The Notary said, “No, listen you’s guys, even though it looks wrong, it’s STILL ain’t right, capiche?” The Roman took a closer look and realized that one of his V’s was supposed to be an X and thanked our American friend and then said, “Fugetabout it!” Then the American told him to use his seal a little more carefully as not to smudge the document like it came out originally before the time travel. All went well. The Notary patted himself on the back, walked out of the building and was attacked by a wall of water. A local aqueduct had burst and there was water everywhere. Fortunately, the contract signed was on the second floor of a building, so it didn’t get soiled. The Notary eventually freed himself from the river of water and got back to his landing pad to go back to the present.

Our Notary friend’s next job was much more serious. The Notary was assigned to notarize the declaration of independence had gotten drunk on colonial ale the night before and was badly hung over. He would botch the notarization if nobody intervened. So, our American Notary friend set the time dial to 1776 and set the GPS coordinates to Philadelphia. The Notary assigned for the job lived over the river in New Jersey and didn’t find out until the last minute that he couldn’t use his seal to notarize out of his colony. The next problem is that not all of the signers signed on July 2nd. Some signed on the 3rd. Anyway, The Seal Fixer found another Notary who could get the job done correctly and didn’t mind going back a second time. But, the Notary put up quite a fuss and wanted to know when he would get paid?

“We’ll cut a check out the minute the declaration funds.” was the answer.

In any case, our Seal Fixing friend decided to lighten the mood and crack a joke.

SEAL FIXER: Hey guys, do you like jokes?

COLONIAL GUYS: Sure, why not.

SEAL FIXER: So, anyway, this is a great crowd. In any case, I’m from the future… Or the present I guess, but the future from your point of view. I came here in my time machine.

COLONIAL GUYS: We’ve never heard of such a thing as a time machine. But, we can tell by your clothes that you are a futuristic being of some sort.

SEAL FIXER: Anyway. I was standing outside of my house and then walked into my huge backyard which is more of a meadow than anything else. Then all of a sudden this huge flying object came out of the air. It was so futuristic,that even by my standards it was futuristic. It was a circular flying craft and it landed in the meadow. Then some little green men from another planet got out. I asked, “Are you going to abduct me?” They replied, “NO, but can you LIKE US ON FACEBOOK? So, what did you think of this joke?

COLONIAL GUY: They joke was good, but your timing was off.

2nd COLONIAL GUY: Yes, about 240 years off if you counted them.

3rd COLONIAL GUY: What is this thing Facebook you speak of. Is it like town hall in any way?

SEAL FIXER: It is probably the closest equivalent. Just think of it like town hall with everyone in the world connected to it on a futuristic device where you can see their photos and comments.

COLONIAL GUY: Wow, that sounds like fun.

2nd COLONIAL GUY: I bet the Tories would like it. Burn him at the stake!!!

3rd COLONIAL GUY: Run!!!!

So, our seal fixing friend ran for his life as he was mistaken for a futuristic Tory by an antiquated Whig. He ran for his time machine and got away just in the nick of time. Our Seal Fixer’s only regret was that he didn’t have time to bring back an authentic colonial Notary Seal as a souvenir. Oh well, maybe next time once those Whigs calm themselves down.

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September 22, 2016

A Notary country

I wrote a piece about a Notary planet, but what about a Notary country? A Notary country would need to have border crossings. That would be the highlight of a Notary country as you would be forced to show your ID and give a digital signature every time you crossed. There would have to be a Notary president, congress, and representatives. But, how would the country function and what would be unique about it?

Roads & Dining
Roads would be a lot better in a Notary country since everybody would be a traveling Notary and would need to get around. To fund the better roads, there might be toll booths, or if Carmen Towles (pronounced “tolls” were running them then “Towles” booths. You would have to pay at Towles booths, but also sign a digital signature. To go to a restaurant, you would have to book a seat by signing a digital signature as well. Every action of every day would revolve around digital signatures to the point that you would have to sign a digital signature to get a digital signature.

The Capitol
The capitol of the country would have a capitol building shaped like a giant Notary seal. Inside instead of an oval office, there would be the oval embosser office. Perhaps they might use gold plating on the dome of the top of the Notary seal. Then, next to the capitol building, the next most important bulding would be the national clerk where all notarial records would be held. It would be a building the size of several football fields. Airport terminals would be the shape of Notary seals.

Armed Forces
The military would have special weapons of mass destruction — instead of stink bombs, ink bombs! Instead of Atom bombs, Affiant bombs. Instead of Navy Seals — okay, bad example, we’ll keep the Navy Seals, and have Air Seals (air-tight air seals) as well.

Rail would be the primary form of transportation around the Notary Country. You’d have to swear an Oath to get on the train though. Each car of the train would look like a giant Notary stamp.

Children would go to school to learn to read and write. There would be some music and physical education as well. But, the most important task they would learn would be learning how to notarize documents and identify people. Of course in a country dedicated to Notary work, the identification process would be much more evolved and probably involve retinal scans, checking ID serial numbers in Federal databases, thumbprint scanning and more.

After the residents of this great nation died, they would be buried in a notary cemetery with Notary stamp shaped gravestones that would have their commission number and two expiration dates — one for their commission and the other for their life!

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September 21, 2016



For those who don’t know that “phat” is a funky way of saying “excellent,” now you do. Phat! (Next time your girlfriend asks, “Do I look phat in this?” tell her yes!) And geeks are excellent too. We’re all computer geeks now. Those of us who aren’t need a computer geek. This is the short story of the marriage of two very specific subsets of geeks – Notary geeks.

Notary geeks live and breathe all things notaries. And when two such geeks find each other, it could be time to relay each other’s seals of approval, whose terms expire when death do they part. Plus they’ll never cheat on each other, because rather than swear at meddling relatives, these two swear to take an oath. When your promise to be faithful is under oath, it makes for a lot less cheating later on. In “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” breaking plates created pandemonium. In “My Big Phat Geek Wedding,” it’s breaking oaths.

Rather than look forward to the “deed” come the honeymoon night, our geeks look forward to overseeing a document by which a relative transfers property… the “deed.” Rather than using Windex on every ill from psoriasis to poison ivy, our geeks consider such a thing “malfeasance.”

Finally, unlike “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” our geeks aren’t planning a lame sequel, “My Big Phat Geek Wedding 2.” Unless you call an “attested copy,” a copy of an original document, lame. Or a sequel.

Phat chance!

Short of a sequel, our story took a dramatic turn when, at the Big Fat Greek wedding when Sheldon and Raj from “Big Bang Theory” showed up…

Sheldon: “We’re here!”

Raj: “What’s with all the souvlaki?”

Sheldon: “I thought this was a geek wedding, not a Greek wedding.”

Raj: “I guess we misread the invitation.”

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September 20, 2016

Their Signature

Their Signature

Let’s use, as a working definition of Their Signature; “somebody’s name written by him or her in a characteristic way”. Long ago, about a decade, I was often asked to provide “legible” signatures that matched the name signing. I tried that a few times, mostly with dismal failure. More often than not, the signature was totally illegible – more like artwork than written script handwriting.

Now let’s go back a lot further in the past, about two thousand years. Commercial transactions were common then as they are now. Most did not read or write, they made their mark. It was the seal of the Notary, who knew the affiant that validated the “mark”. Nothing has really changed. It is still the Notary who is supporting the validity of the signature.

They can sign many ways, with a pen, with a brush (artsy?), using their hands, feet, knees or mouth to hold the instrument of signing. Keep in mind the Americans with Disabilities Act. We must make reasonable accommodation to all who qualify for our seal. The signature does not have to be the same as, or even similar to the one on their ie: driver license. A lost limb or even both arms does not preclude notarization. Pen held in mouth is fine, the signature will be vastly different – but that really does not matter. Many elderly people have hands that shake, but their minds remain crystal clear.

Their “signature”, however written is the second aspect of accepting the Notary Oath. The first part is communicating a “yes” to the Oath; the signature is the written agreement. As mentioned – often the signature does not match the ID. Of course the picture must. There is one signature that (at least in NY State) must match – and that one is mine. My signature is recorded with the county clerk and for it to be authenticated; my signature on the document must be the same as my officially recorded one. Thus my signature cannot change.

To me what really counts is their printed name somewhere to indicate exactly who is being notarized. If it’s in my “loose ack” – I get to print the name. Sometimes it’s not that clear on the document, that is when I ask them to print their name under their signature. Notaries must take care to delimit their notarization to those actually given the oath and ID checked. When there are “other” places for signature, I often add “by affiant name” to the “sworn to and subscribed”.

Signatures vary greatly. I have seen perfectly formed cursive handwriting, squiggles and minor works of art with flourishes. Many bear no relation whatsoever to the name. Sometimes the same thing is on the ID, sometimes not. It’s my job to determine who they are, not to critique how they write their name. It would be so much more “absolute” if a DNA sample were to be added. Some think a thumbprint would be best; but not everyone has a thumb.

So, I am not a handwriting nanny. When the instructions mandate “clearly written” I tell the affiant what they “require” – and accept what they do. Usually I ask for their routine, standard signature “the way you would sign a check”. In my experience people object to being told “how to sign”. The signature, stamp and seal of the Notary makes whatever it is “Kosher”.

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September 19, 2016

Do you negotiate fees correctly over the phone?

Filed under: Marketing Articles — Tags: , , — admin @ 8:54 pm

Most Notaries study from loan signing classes, but never study the art of negotiation. Negotiating is not hard, but it is an art. Turks, Persians and Indians seem to excel at this while Americans haven’t a clue. In negotiating Notary fees, the secret is to make sure the other person makes an offer first. If you offer first, it might be too low in which case you’ll lose money. Or it might be too high in which case they’ll think you are too expensive and might not want to bargain. If they offer first, you can raise the price by $15 or $20 and still be in their ballpark or just agree if they are being reasonable.

On the other hand, if you want a reputation of charging fair fees for solid work, you can have a pricing formula based on time spent or even have fixed fees, or mileage fees. If you charge $110 per signing, that seems reasonable. They can always bargain you down to $85, and if it’s not too far, you might say yes and make some fast money.

I remember talking to a sub teacher who made $90 per day. Making $85 in two hours including driving and printing is better than $90 in a day. So, you are making more than teachers who are supposed to be the pillars of education in society today.

The other thing to remember is that you have to get your facts and terms straight before you quote a realistic price. If you don’t know how many pages, fax backs, signers, and notarizations there are, you might not give a true price. If you don’t know if the company is fibbing about the # of pages you’re in trouble too. If you don’t know if you get paid if the loan doesn’t fund, you’re in trouble too. Terms are as important as price or anything else. You can negotiate a $500 price, but if the loan doesn’t fund, you might get zilch.

So, put all the cards on the table before you quote your rate. You can quote first, or wait for them to make an offer. Additionally, most Notaries prefer phone offers to emails or texts because they can bargain more easily. You can bargain in any medium. Just state your rate and state your terms by text, email or phone. It is the same — just more delays in feedback.

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September 18, 2016

He, She, or They?

He She or They

Jeremy and others have often mentioned the “requirement” (in quotes because the laws regarding this issue probably vary by state) to cross out the irrelevant sections in a notary section. They reason that the notary is responsible to redact entries that do not “match” the person being notarized. I disagree.

In the thousands of notary sections that have my signature and seal, over a decade of doing this; not a single one has had the redactions. Not one. And, I have never been “called to task” for not completing the section properly. There is no mention in New York State law requiring such action. The model for the Acknowledgement that I use has both “he she they” and “his her their”; and is taken directly from the handbook for NY notaries. My Jurat is even simpler: Sworn to and subscribed before me by _____.

Long before “gender identity” was a news topic I concluded that I was not the person to determine the gender of affiants. If I am not the one, who is? Well, the best answer is probably the affiant. However, some may consider a medical doctor more appropriate. It could also be a Judge. I do not see it as my function, in MY statement, to declare the gender of the affiant. Now the gender identity issue has become a hot topic in the media. To me it’s a personal issue, one for the affiant to declare or not declare as they see fit. Whatever gender identity THEY say, outside of the notary section; is fine with me.

My sharp eyed critics, and they are legion; will have noticed I included “they and their” as items that I do not redact. They are thinking “surely you should delimit the notary section to one individual when multiple names are not being notarized”. Perhaps, but I offer two defenses to leaving it as is. First, the sole name, when there is only one affiant signing, is clearly entered in the notarization. Secondly, and admittedly this is a bit of a “reach” – the affiant might identify as being of dual identity. One ID, but they consider themselves two persons. Possibly one gender sometimes, different other times. Technically it’s proper for me to enter two names in the notary section when only one person is before me and taking the oath. This comes directly from the NY County Clerk office. If the affiant has two passports with a different name on each document – they have “proved” both names and “they” have the option of having each name entered on the notary section.

With the rampant rise of identity theft and similar crimes; the role of the notary has become more, not less, important in commerce. More important yes, but not of greater scope in our basic function. Many are the “notary signature only” documents I have seen included with the packages. Fortunately for me it is illegal in NY as a notary; to make statements of fact. The most common being for me to state that I have determined the identity of the affiant(s) to an absolute certainty. The State standard is to view “adequate proof” – not absolute proof. These statements by the notary will only admit you to the litigation chain if, in fact, you were conned by a good looking forgery of the ID.

But, let’s get back to the gender issue. A person is a person, nobody will refute that. We notarize people, they come in a wide variety – and it’s our job to accommodate all of them; within the bounds of our respective state codes. I leave my notarizations “open” to be all inclusive. It’s for others to decide issues of gender. It’s so easy to make false assumptions. I have asked the Sister of the affiant to sign on the Spouse line. Ouch, that was awkward for a moment. Clearly including the name, as taken from the ID is what works for me. Of course care should be taken to not provide an “open ended” notarization to which some additional name(s) can be added at a later date. As the County Clerk told me: “You notarize the name as on the ID, nothing else”. Thus, I make no determination as to he, she, or they, and leave the form alone.

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September 16, 2016

Notary in Vegas: Notary Buffet

I just talked to a Notary in Las Vegas. I asked her if she had ever thought of having a Notary buffet.

The Notary Buffet — All you can sign for $30
Visit table A for Acknowledgments
Visit table J for Jurats
You can swear all you want at our Oath table.
Get legal advice at table L from a real Attorney.

And if you do thumbprinting we have a choice of wipes that Tony Roma’s just gave us as a courtesy after we notarized a truckload of ribs for

We also have a table filled with standardized Power of Attorney forms. You can get permission to travel for minor forms, Limited Powers of Attorney, Medical Powers of Attorney and 20 minutes free Attorney
consulting at table L.

Play the Notary Wheel
If you’re not sure what type of notarization to get, we are not legally allowed to make recommendations, but you can spin the wheel to help make up your mind. Just throw the ball on the wheel and see where
it lands! It might land on Jurat, Acknowledgment, Protest, or Proof of Execution. If it lands on Certified Copy by Document Custodian you might be in trouble though. I had bad luck when I played the Notary
wheel. It landed on “lose a turn” after I had bet $10. Next time I’ll be more intelligent — after all, with the Jurat sale down the street
I could have gotten three jurats for $10.

Supplies & Snacks
Although pads of Acknowledgments are not for free, you can get a single certificate if you need one at the Notary Buffet. You can get notarized snacks as well. I got a Notary ink filled donut. The insides were filled with thin chocolate sauce that looked like seal ink. After that I went to the Chinese Boba Bar and got a Jackfruit Jurat Smoothie and some Affidavit-Ade which contains electrolites. I asked for a Dr. Pepper, but was told that they had to revoke that item as Dr. Pepper was practicing without a license.

Mortgage Rates
Poor Sally didn’t do a good job shopping around for her Mortgage. So, she played the Notary Buffet’s Interest Rate Wheel game. You spin the wheel and get a rate from a random lender rather than comparing rates at a dozen or so institutions. Sally lucked out and got the lowest rate in town. Perhaps not a learning experience, but at least she will be able to afford her payments.

As I was learning about the Notary Buffet, I spotted a guy with a stack of documents up to the ceiling. He was hogging table J to the point where after each document, they made him got back and wait in line. Boy, talk about taking advantage. He was a 400 pound guy too. He got that way from taking advantage at other Vegas buffets and eating up all of their profits. That’ll teach those buffet guys not to have a weight limit!

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September 15, 2016

One signing — two venues?

Filed under: Technical & Legal — Tags: , — admin @ 11:27 am

It happened many years ago. I had to do a split signing, but not for a split level building thank God. The husband was in Orange County, but the wife was in Ventura. Some marriage they must have had — but, I couldn’t say anything because — I’m just the Notary!

I couldn’t figure out what to put in the venue though. The signing was happening all on the same day, so technically, I could use one Acknowledgment. The signing company insisted that I only use one Notary Acknowledgment for both signers even though the law allows for the use of one per person. Legally, it is cleaner, but not necessarily more legal to do the signing using two separate acknowledgments since each signer was in a different county. But, the signing company recommended something completely different.

Put two counties in the venue? What? Yes, this is exactly what the signing company asked me to do after talking to one of their Notary experts on their panel of in-house specialists. I was to put:

State of California
County of Ventura & Orange

The surprising thing is that the county clerk didn’t complain about this. Lucky me. They could have thrown the whole signing back in our face on a whim but they didn’t. Perhaps because my seal was not smudgy. But, this will be a great story to tell my grandchildren if I ever have any. But, you can’t have grandchildren if you don’t have children and you can’t have (legitimate) children without a wife. Boy, I’ve got to get myself a girlfriend and fast!

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