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August 22, 2017

Oaths — how Notaries completely screw them up!

Oaths are an official Notarial act in all states if my memory serves correctly. Oaths unfortunately are very misunderstood and generally poorly administered if administered at all. So, let me straighten out some common problems that I have seen with Oaths.

By definition, all Jurat Notary Acts must include an Oath. A Jurat is a Notary Act with a written statement and an Oath. The documentation of the Oath has verbiage such as, “Subscribed and sworn to before me ______ on this ______ (date) by _____ (name of affiant).” There are various problems that occur here. Oaths also can occur as independent and purely oral acts.

1. Omission of Oath
Most Notaries omit the required Oath for a Jurat. In California, your commission can be suspended, revoked, or terminated by omitting an Oath and you can also be fined $750 per incident. Other states do not teach Oaths, not fine you if you forget to administer it which is exactly why most out of state Notaries simply don’t do the Oath. Nobody is putting a gun to their head, so why should they unless they have integrity which they usually don’t have according to my recent findings. Sad!

2. The word Swear omitted.
When administering an Oath, you must use the word swear, otherwise in my book it is not an Oath. A good Oath requires the signer to raise their right hand, the word solemnly should ideally be used before the word swear (for good form), the phrase, “under the penalty of perjury” could also be used, and the clause, “So help you God” should also be used. Although there is no prescribed Oath verbiage, if you don’t swear, it isn’t an Oath. Some Notaries prefer to affirm, state, acknowledge or attest rather than using the word swear since swearing offends the ultra-religious and ultra-athiest members of the public. So, for those who don’t want to swear, don’t use an Oath — use an affirmation instead which does not mention God or swearing.

3. What if people don’t want to use the word swear?
Some people find it offensive to use the word swear or God in an Oath. For them, you use the sister act which is an Affirmation which is allowed in most if not all states. But, don’t confuse the two acts even though they are interchangeable — they are not the same thing and you can not cross use the verbiage for one act on another. If you Oath you swear and if you do an Affirmation, you Affirm. You do not affirm with an Oath.

4. Using exchangeable verbiage.
Some states allow or prescribe verbiage such as, “Do you solemnly swear or affirm that the contents of this document are true and correct?” That is acceptable to me as an Oath because you used the word Swear even though you had alternate verbiage. But, you did not omit swear to only use the alternate verbiage which would disqualify the act as an Oath.

5. Court Oath vs. Jurat Oath.
There are many types of Oaths out there. You can swear people into court, solemnize a marriage, swear someone into office, or have them swear to a document. Notaries should PRACTICE the various types of Oaths so that they can master each type and not confuse them otherwise the Notary will look like an idiot (this happens a lot with our members.) It is common for me to ask for an Oath for a document and the Notary says, “Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?” I say, “I do, but can we now say an Oath for my document?” That is not a document Oath, that is a swearing you into court Oath.

6. Swearing that I voluntarily signed a document
Many Notaries will have me swear that I voluntarily signed a document. This is required in many instances in Massachusetts, however, swearing that I signed a document is not necessary in most states since the Notary watched the person sign, and making sure you signed voluntarily has never been an issue for anybody I know. If you were under duress, would you suddently tell the Notary simply because he asked or would you get nervous? Hmmm. There is no harm in asking if I signed a document on my own free will, so long as you don’t forget to give Oath verbiage about the document in Jurat Oath where the point of the Oath is to swear to facts contained in the document.

7. Swearing that I am the person in my ID
This is ridiculous. If I were an identity fraud, would I say that the ID was not mine? Many Notaries administer an Oath on my ID when I ask them to do an Oath on my document. The ID is not the document — get it straight.

8. Omitting the word document
If you are doing a Jurat Oath but give an Oath that “the information” is true and correct doesn’t cut it. If you are giving an Oath about a particular document, you must reference the document somehow. “Do you solemnly swear that the contents of the document before you are true and correct to the best of your knowledge, so help you God?” That would be an acceptable Oath because you are swearing, and swearing to a particular document rather than to thin air.

9. Relying on cheat sheets.
Many Notaries can only do an Oath when they have their recommended wording from their state with them. If for any reason they should lose the cheat sheet, they would not be able to lawfully conduct their duties as Notary Public. If you practice giving Oaths, you can give them by heard. Additionally, many Notaries give inapplicable Oaths as I mentioned above, so relying on reading text that you don’t understand the meaning of is useless. You need to understand the meaning and significance of the Oath you are giving otherwise it serves no intrinsic purpose.

10. Subscribed and Sworn.
Many Notaries say, “Subsribed and sworn to this ____ day of ___” when I ask them to deliver an Oath. That is the written documentation that an Oath took place. It is NOT the Oath itself. Oath wording typically starts with, “Do you solemnly swear…” and you should have the person raise their right hand.

11. A Jurat is not an Oath
Oath is to Jurat what Motor is to Automobile. A Jurat has an Oath, but a Jurat is not an Oath. An Oath can be an independent Notarial act which in most states has no written certificate. Florida has a useless certificate which says there was an Oath, but doesn’t give any indication of what was sworn to or the type of Oath. You might as well not have paperwork if it is that lame.

12. Notary Acts
When I ask people to name some Notary acts, most people claim not to know what I am talking about. They commonly mention Acknowledgments and Jurats. Few mention Oaths. Oaths and Affirmations are Official Notarial Acts in all or nearly all states. Notaries are required by law to administer Oaths if the public requests them from you. If you have never been asked to do one, that doesn’t preclude the possibility that you will be asked to do one. You are also not exempt from the responsibility of knowing how to administer one. If you are a commissioned Notary Public, you are responsible to administer Oaths, and correct sounding relevant Oaths, otherwise your state has the right to decommission you — and in my opinion they should.


Here is some standard Oath wording I like for documents.
“Do you solemnly swear under the penalty of perjury that the information in this document is true and correct to the best of your knowledge and that you agree to and will abide by the terms — if any in the document, so help you God?”
Please notice that I mentioned terms. What good is swearing to an agreement if you only agree that the agreement is true? The point of an agreement is that you agree to the agreement and will follow the terms of the agreement. Having a “useful” Oath rather than a correct but “useless” Oath makes a lot of sense. If your Oath serves no purpose, then why give one?

Here are some examples of wrong Oaths for Jurat documents for your reading pleasure.

“Do you acknowledge that this is correct?”
“Do you affirm that the document is correct?”
“Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you God?”
“Subscribed and Sworn to before me.”
“Do you solemnly swear that this is your true ID?”

“Do you swear that the foregoing is correct?”
“Do you solemnly swear that the document in front of you is true and correct to the best of your knowledge?”

Most states do not teach the art of Oath giving, but they should. Notaries are required by law to administer Oaths, yet the majority of Notaries either give no Oath, inapplicable Oaths, or poorly worded Oaths while others rely on cheat sheets which is bad. Using cheat sheets is okay, but relying exclusively on some standardized wording for Jurat Oaths is not acceptable. There are situations where there is REQUIRED prescribed wording where you have to use that particular wording. In such a circumstance it is okay to rely on particular wording. However, for Jurat Oaths, you should be able to make up an Oath, otherwise I will fail you.


August 5, 2017

Oaths and the art of improvisation

Jazz musicians are famous for their ability to improvise. Con-artists know how to ad-lib. Notaries are also required to know a little about improvisation. The problem is that the states require Notaries to know how to administer Oaths when those very same states do not instruct Notaries on the art of Oath giving.

Beginnings and endings
A good Oath begins with some formalities. Remember, that Oaths are by definition formal, and should be formal. Lying to a Notary Public under Oath is an act of perjury and should not be tolerated!

“Please raise your right hand. Do you solemnly swear… (body of Oath) so, help you God?”

There is a beginning of an Oath which must include the word “swear” otherwise in my book it isn’t an Oath. Then, the Oath should ideally end with so, help you God? For those who want to leave God out of it, you can administer an affirmation instead of an Oath which uses the word Affirm and refers to no God. However, you must NOT use the term affirm in an Oath. You cannot mix and match notarial acts and their respective verbiages. Oaths use the term swear, Affirmations use the term affirm, state, or perhaps attest.

Bodies of Oaths
The body of an Oath would really depend on the context. As an Oath creator, you have to create Oaths that are useful, and make sense based on the situation. Sometimes there is some prescribed wording that you must use. Using prescribed wording does not let you off the hook for understanding the Oath. You must understand the Oath and its parts otherwise you won’t know if the prescribed Oath makes sense or not. If there is no prescribed wording, you can ad-lib or use a cheat sheet. But, if you lose your cheat sheet and cannot perform, people will think you are an idiot, and I run into this problem with Notaries a lot. Below are some examples of how I would create an Oath for various purposes.


“Do you solemnly swear to take this man/woman as your lawfully wedded husband/wife for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in smartness and senility (let’s be realistic), until death do you part, so help you God/Godess?”

Oath of Office as a Notary Public.
“Do you solemnly swear that you will uphold all of the laws relating to Notaries Public in the state of California, and faithfully discharge your duties as a Notary Public for the duration of your term, so help you God, the Secretary of State, and perhaps the NNA Hotline (if they still have one?)”

Oath for Military
“Do you solemnly swear to defend the constitution of the United States for the duration of your term as a Military Officer in the United States Army and defend the USA against all enemies foreign and domestic, and not abandon your duties for light and transient causes (or loophole clauses), so help you God?”

Rental Oath for Agnostics
“Do you solemnly swear to be a good tenant in this apartment for the duration of your year lease, and thereafter if you should stay beyond the contracted terms of this agreement, so you help you God… if there is one?”

Jurat Oath
“Do you solemnly swear that the contents of this document are true and correct to the best of your knowledge and that you agree to and will abide by the terms within if any, so help you God?”

ID Oath
“Do you solemnly swear that this is a true identification card for you as an individual and that it was not forged, counterfeited or falsified in any way, shape or form, so help you God (and the DMV?)”

Court Oath
“Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?” (standardized wording here and not ad-libbed in this situation.)

Please notice that my Jurat Oath included the requried word, “swear” and refered to a particular document and not just to thin air. You swear to something particular and not to thin air.

Please also note that my Notary Oath included the term, the state in question, the act of defending the laws of the state and being dutiful in discharging your duties. It is important to mention all of the relevant components of what a person is swearing to. Can you picture a Notary Oath where the new Notary is only asked if they swear they will be a good Notary for an undefined period of time? Ludicrous!


July 26, 2015

10 tight points on Loose certificates

I have not written about this topic for a long time because I take for granted that Notaries are experts on the topic. In real life, it is possible that many Notaries do not know how what to do with a loose certificate. So, here are the correct steps to take.

(1) Purchase Certificate Pads from the NNA
Why the NNA? In my experience, they are the best source of 1-stop shopping for Notary supplies. They have great journals and pads. You cannot attach a loose certificate if you don’t have one, so keep them in stock and guard them with your life. Your career as a Notary rests on having the correct forms. You need Acknolwedgment Forms, Jurat forms, and perhaps Copy Certificate by Document Custodian forms. Make sure the wording is acceptable according to the current laws of your state!

(2) Keep the Pads in your Notary Bag
Having the right forms is no good if you don’t keep them with you. Clients don’t want to hear the old, “I left it at home” routine. It sounds like your dog ate it. We are not in junior high anymore! Keep your law primers, journal, pads, seal, and anything else you need on you at all times and remember to keep your journal and seal under lock and key when not in use!

(3) When to use Loose Acknowledgments
If you need to notarize a document and the document doesn’t have notorial wording, it is time to use a loose certificate! If a document has incorrect notary wording for your state, you need to consult your state laws to see if they will allow out of state wording. Most states will allow out of state wording providing that the wording isn’t substantially different. If the venue or the name of the signer(s) is wrong or has an extra signer, or leaves the name of a signer out — you might want to attach a loose form.

Also See: Do you Notarize loose certificates as a Notary?

(4) Fill Out the Form
Filling out forms is not rocket science, but more than 50% of notaries omit crossing out the he/she/they and the capacity(ies), etc. If Joe signed the document, then cross out the she/they unless you know more about Joe than we do. You might cross ou the (ies) too. Don’t forget to fill out the venue, stamp, and sign the form. If your state doesn’t require a stamp, consider moving to a better state!

(5) If the Glove Don’t Match, you Must Attach!
Certificate forms must be attached to corresponding documents by law in many states. This means by staple, otherwise it will most likely be detached which could lead to a lot of confusion and potentially to law suits. You should also indicate the document name, date and length on the certificate as well as any other pertinent and identifying information about the document just in case the certificate gets separated. Many Title companies detach certificates which is completely illegal, but they don’t care because they are above the law — or think they are — or never got caught — yet…

(6) NEVER Send a Loose Jurat in the Mail
You can go to jail and lose your commission if you send a loose certificate in the mail. Lenders often ask you to just send a loose “Jurat” in the mail if the one you sent is not acceptable for one reason or another. You can request that the original document is sent back to you. That way you can destroy the original Acknowledgment or Jurat and add another one and staple it to the document. If you send a loose one, it could be attached to a different document and used for fraud, and you might end up in court.

(7) Some People Create Their Own
Some notaries who are penny foolish create their own Acknowledgment pads. You could put company branding on it to gain attention for your company. Just make sure you don’t goof as this is a legal document.

(8) Thumbprints?
Most Notaries only put thumbprints in their journals if they thumbprint at all. But, the NNA’s certificates have, or used to have (I’ve been out of the loop for a while) room for thumbprints. It looks more official for really critical documents if you get that extra thumbprint. For documents going overseas, I recommend this as foreigners think you are the best Notary in town if you give thumbprints — and embossing looks really official too!

(9) Two Certificates?
Sometimes you might need to attach multiple certificates for a single document. This is fine. One for his, and one for hers. They might even be notarized at different times. The custodian or recipient of the document might or might not like that, but it is all perfectly legal! You might have a lot of staples if you attach them at different times, but that is how the Notary business works.

(10) Jurats with Oaths
Sometimes if you are administering an Oath on a short statement, you can write the statement right on the Jurat form. In this case, you don’t need to staple the form to a document as the form includes the contents of the document as well as the Notarization. Don’t forget to have them raise their right hands and swear under Oath!

You might also like:

2014 excerpts from great notes sections

Sending loose certificates is illegal

What goes where in your notes section?


January 22, 2014

We caught a bunch of frauds using notary verbiage

For most notaries, Notary verbiage is a cause for annoyance or confusion. Due to the poor quality of notary education in most states, notaries simply don’t know how to cross out the is/are and the unused “s” in signature(s) in the boiler plate notary wording. You can easily catch an amateur notary in the act or after the fact simply by looking at their cross outs. You can look at their journal of notarial acts and see if they are taking liberties or making omissions there too.

My notary seal impression was used fraudulently once. No, the notary seal was not stolen (don’t panic), it was just xeroxed with a high quality xerox machine onto another document that needed to be notarized in a hurry. The crime was actually done by a young lady working at a Title Company who made little circles to dot her i’s. Very post high school and ditsy if you ask me. The signature didn’t look at all like mine. But, besides all of these other stupidities, their fraud was easy to catch because they didn’t do their cross-outs in the Notary verbiage section! Additionally, they didn’t use an embosser to emboss every single page with a raise impression which cannot be xeroxed — which is exactly why I used it. If they had been more sophisticated frauds, my embosser would have been my only recourse to prove them guilty.

To my good fortune (or bad luck) I was never called into court to act as a witness. I don’t believe that the bad guys were seriously punished. Maybe they were reprimanded and promised never to do it again. A Title company could get completely shut down for that type of fraud if the right authorities ever found out. Don’t they value their future? Maybe not!

So, the moral of the story for you guys is to take your Notary verbiage seriously. That is what makes your profession a profession, and your ability to handle Notary wording defines your level of expertise.

(1) Due to the poor quality of notary education, notaries often don’t know how to cross out is/are, (ies), etc.
(2) A young lady who worked in title and made cute circles to dot her i’s Xeroxed my notary seal!
(3) Take your notary verbiage seriously, it might be the only thing that distinguishes you from a fraud!
(4) My notary seal was used fraudulently once! It was Xeroxed!

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The Notary, The Mafia & the FedEx Drop Box

Fraud & Forgery related to the notary profession


November 6, 2013

What is a Venue in a Notary Certificate?

What is a Venue in a Notary Certificate?

Venue is a word more commonly used in England or India. The only situation I hear it used commonly in an American context is in the Notary world. The venue is a section of any type of notary certificate. Notary certificates might include Notary Acknowledgment Certificates, Notary Jurat Certificates, and there are a few other less common or antiquated types of certificates as well.

Here is a sample Venue:

State of California
County of _____________

The name of the county is typically left blank, and up to the notary to fill in. Some lenders pre-fill the name of the county. That can sometimes be a problem if the notary is not going to sign in that particular county. Sometimes signings are moved to alternate locations in other counties.

One bizarre and interesting case happened to me many years ago, where the notary certificate represented a husband and wife signing the same document, on the same day (you can’t use the same certificate if they signed on different days), a few hours apart, but in neighboring counties. I got the husband’s signature, drove an hour, got the wife’s signature, and then made my way to Fedex-Kinkos to drop off the package.

A venue simply means a place, or more specifically, a place where an event is to take place, such as a party, a meeting, or a notary act! To my knowledge, a venue be printed on all notary certificates in all states. The only types of notary acts that don’t use a venue would include Oaths and Affirmations (if done as separate notary acts) since they don’t have any paperwork (unless they are part of a Jurat, or swearing in witnesses, etc.)


October 17, 2013

Jurat Wording Step by Step

Jurat Wording

Wording for Jurat Notarizations can vary from state to state. The main thing to understand in Jurat wording is that it states that the signer appeared before the notary, signed the document before the notary, and swore under oath before the notary.

Additionally, Jurat wording or Jurat verbiage will indicate the date of the notarial act or transaction as well as a venue which indicates the state and county where the notarial act took place!

You can typically use out of state Jurat verbiage so long as the wording is not substantially different from the Jurat wording in your state.

A Jurat form could have room for a hand written statement which the signer swears to under Oath. Or, you can attach a Jurat certificate to a document which is being notarized and stamp the certificate instead of the actual document.

Signers are typically asked to raise their right hand and swear under oath during a Jurat notarization. The notary will ask an Oath question using his/her/its own choice of wording. The signer is asked to give a clear oral affirmation to that question.

Jurats are the 2nd most common type of Notary act, Acknowledgments being the 1st most common.

You might also like:

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September 2, 2013

Notary Perjury and Oaths

Notary Perjury

What is Notary perjury? Is that when a notary lies under Oath or when an Affiant lies under Oath to a Notary Public or other state official? In real life there is no such thing as Notary perjury — there is only regular perjury. Don’t get caught lying under Oath — tell the truth!

Penalty of perjury
If you swear under Oath to a Notary Public, you have made a solemn Oath under the penalty of perjury. Lying under Oath is a serious crime. The problem is that Notary Oaths are not always very clear. The Notary might have you swear to a document, but what are you actually swearing to? Are you swearing that the document is true, or that you will follow the terms in the document, or both?

What types of things do people lie about?
People might lie about what their legal name is. Sometimes people want to use an alias. Sometimes the name a person has on the Title of a property might not exactly match the name on their identification document which could cause a lot of confusion and legal issues. Another common lie that I might have been told for years (no evidence either way) is on the Occupancy Affidavit. Borrowers can get a discounted interest rate if they claim to live in the building (house) they are borrowing on. The Occupancy Affidavit makes that borrowers swear that they are residing in the property as their primary residence. But, it is common for borrowers to lie and be using the property as an investment property or second home — an example of “Notary perjury”.

People don’t always take the Oath seriously
My biggest objection to being a notary was that people didn’t take Oaths seriously. I sometimes had to ask people multiple times to raise their right hand all the way up — no, not two inches up — all the way up. Mumbling an inaudible “yes” just doesn’t cut it with me. I think that as a Notary Public, you should remind your Affiants of how serious and formal the Oath actually is. I would also tend to think that your Oath takers will be more likely to tell the truth if they are aware of how serious an Oath is and if they are aware of how they could be subject to penalties of perjury should they lie. I have never heard of anyone being punished for lying under Oath to a notary. I have only heard of people getting in trouble for fraud. But, keep people honest in any case! Being a Notary Public is a serious profession that protects the integrity of signatures and society!


August 21, 2013

What is a Jurat?

Many people do not fully understand what a Jurat is. The term Jurat is loosely (and incorrectly) used to describe any notarial form. “Just mail me a Jurat” is a common request (that happens to be illegal). Never mail a loose certificate. A Jurat is one of many types of notarial acts. Common notary acts include: Acknowledgments, Jurats, Oaths, Affirmations, Protests, and some states allow witnessing, safety box opening, Proofs of Execution and other notary acts. Notary acts and laws differ from state to state.

A Jurat is a Notary Act that typically requires the signer to be identified, although laws in the past in many states did not require the signer to be identified (believe it or not).

The distinguishing characteristic of a Jurat is that it has an accompanying Oath — AND the signer must sign the document before the Notary Public. An Acknowledged signature may be signed hours, days or years before it is notarized! The wording for the Oath is up to the notary. Unfortunately, many notaries are not very good at administering Oaths and some skip the procedure altogether (which is illegal).

You can attach Jurat wording to a document. Or, just write a quick statement that you intend to swear to on a Jurat form. But, if you need an Acknowledgment certificate, don’t ask for “A Jurat”. It is not the same thing legally. Also, please note that the notary is legally forbidden from deciding what type of notarization you need. So, if your Attorney or document custodian doesn’t tell you what type of notarization you need, please ask them before the notary shows up! Good luck!

(1) The term Jurat is loosely (and incorrectly) used to describe any notarial form.
(2) “Just mail me a Jurat,” is a common, but illegal request!
(3) A #Jurat is a notary act requiring the signer 2sign before the notary, swear & be identified.


July 6, 2013

Notary Verbiage varies from state to state

Filed under: Notary Acts & Certificates — admin @ 9:00 am

Notary verbiage varies from state to state. We have a lot of information about this if you visit the Find a Notary page on, or the state specific pages of our blog.

Basically, each state has various notary acts that they allow. Each notary act has standardized “boiler-plate” notary wording or notary verbiage for each act.

For example, California notary acknowledgment forms have a standardized notary verbiage that they follow. Notaries can buy a pad of acknowledgment forms and attach them to documents that they are notarizing.

Sometimes notaries are given out of state notary verbiage and expected to perform a notary act when the notary wording is not the same as their state’s. What should they do? Most states allow out of state notary wording PROVIDING that the wording is not substantially different from their state’s notary verbiage.

Jurats in each state have particular Jurat notary verbiage or Jurat verbiage as well. The Jurat wording can vary from state to state.

Notary verbiage for Oaths is typically left to the notary which is a mistake, considering that notaries receive no thorough training on administering formal Oaths.

Find a great notary on that can perform any type of notary act allowed in their state. They will know the notary verbiage or notary wording for their state as well!


July 5, 2013

Notarizing a Name Affidavit

Most loan document packages include a name affidavit which could also be called a Signature Affidavit and AKA Statement. There are many variations for what this document is called.

Or, should I say that there are many NAME variations for what this document is called?

In any case, this document is notarized the same way that any other notarized document is notarized, EXCEPT, that the signer is signing more than once.

In the notary verbiage, there will be the word name(s) and signature(s) — typically, for a notarization of a single individual, the (s) will be crossed on in both cases. But, on the Signature Affidavit and AKA Statement, the (s)’s should NOT be crossed out as a single person will have multiple name variations, and multiple signatures — one signature per name.

If the signer is a jazz musician, then the Signature Affidavit and AKA Statement might get really long with all of the name variations.

Here is a sample of some of the interior notary verbiage in a California Notary Acknowledgment Certificate Form..

….. On _________ before me, ________________________________________,
(name of notary public )
personally appeared _____________________________________________
who proved to me on the basis of satisfactory evidence to be the person(s) whose name(s) is/are subscribed to the within instrument and who acknowledged to me that he/she/they executed the same in their authorized capacity(ies), and by his/her/their signature(s) on the instrument the person(s), or entity upon behalf of which the person(s) acted, executed the instrument….

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