November 2011 - Notary Blog - Signing Tips, Marketing Tips, General Notary Advice - 123notary.com
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November 29, 2011

Can a notary perform a wedding or marriage?

Can a notary perform weddings?  Can a notary perform a marriage?
 
There are only three states that allow notaries to perform weddings.  If you are a Florida Notary Public, Maine Notary Public, or a South Carolina Notary Public, you can solemnize a marriage or officiate at a wedding. However, you might need some extra qualifications and authorizations from your state, so please ask your state notary division what you need to do to be able to officiate at weddings.
 
Can an Arizona notary perform a wedding?
No, an Arizona notary may not perform a wedding.
 
Can a California notary perform a wedding?
Sorry, that is not possible. Please find a specialist who is authorized to perform a wedding such as a priest, rabbi, clergy member, magistrate, marriage commissioner, or ask your local county clerk’s office, etc.
 
Can a Florida notary perform a wedding?
Some Florida notaries have the paperwork necessary (and the skill / specialty) to perform marriages.  123notary.com has a handful of Florida notaries who perform marriages as their primary vocation.
 
Can a Maine Notary perform a wedding?
Maine notaries can get licensed to perform marriages.  There are a handful of Maine notaries who perform marriages on a regular basis, and you can find them on the internet.
 
Can  a Maryland Notary perform a wedding?
No, a Maryland Notary may not officiate at a wedding.
 
Can a New Jersey Notary perform a wedding.
No, a New Jersey Notary may not perform a wedding
 
Can a New York Notary perform a wedding?
No, a New York Notary Public may not officiate at a wedding.
 
Can a Pennsylvania Notary perform a wedding?
No, a Pennsylvania notary can not perform a wedding ceremony.
 
Can a South Carolina notary perform a wedding.
With special authorization from the state, a South Carolina notary public may perform marriages.
 
Can a Texas notary peform a wedding?
Sorry, that is not allowed. Please consult a priest, rabbi, clergy member, or your local county clerk’s office.
 
Don’t see your state mentioned?  If you are not in FL, ME, or SC, a notary may not officiate at your wedding!

You might also like:

Links to websites that have information about who can do weddings

How much should a notary charge for swearing in a witness?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2447

Did you know? Random interesting notary facts
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2818

How to get a Birth Certificate with no ID
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=3474

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What is a Magistrate?

Filed under: Legal Issues — Tags: , — admin @ 6:32 am

What is a Magistrate?
 
A Magistrate is an officer of the state that has similar powers to a Judge, Justice of the Peace, or Prosecutor.  Since this blog is written from the perspective of the notary public industry, a Magistrate can often perform the same types of acts that a Notary Public can such as Acknowledgments, Jurats, Oaths, Affirmations, etc.
 
Origins of the term Magistrate
The office of Magistrate originates from ancient Rome, where a Magistrate was one of the highest offices, by definition. These Roman Magistratus were so high in office, that they were only subordinate to the legislature, and they were normally members of that group as well.   These Roman Magistrates had Judicial and Executive powers.
 
Magistrates in the US
In the United States a Magistrate is generally a type of independent judge who is capable of issuing warrants, reviewing arrests, who can do a hearing and make decisions based on a particular matter.  Magistrates on the state level usually handle cases not exceeding a particular dollar amount — hence handling smaller matters.
 
Where can I learn more about Magistrates?
Please contact your Secretary of State in your particular state, or visit your state’s notary division website, as they sometimes have information about this profession.

You might also like:

Read about the office of Justice of the Peace
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=103

Information about various notary procedures
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2268

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November 28, 2011

Florida notaries with complaints

Notary Public Florida: a complaint story
 
Here is a complaint from soneone who used a particular Florida notary:

This is the first time we have used this Florida notary public for a closing. The Notary made a mistake on the documents where she had the borrower date everything 5/7/2011 instead of 7/5/2011 which was a notary mistake that ended up costing the broker $1000.00. Two weeks after the closing the notary called the title company directly demanding her payment of the full signing fee because she had bills to pay. She threatened to sue everyone involved with the transaction even though we were the company that hired her. This Notary was very unprofessional. The Notary was paid at 30 days by our company.
 
The notary claims that the borrower signed the dates incorrectly and that she asked the borrowers to put the correct date, but they refused.  Then, the Florida notary claimed that the borrower wouldn’t sign where it said borrower, because she considered herself to be the co-borrower. Additionally, the notary claims that the borrower was very rude and condescending to her. The notary claims that she spent two hours at the signing and that the borrower couldn’t read the small print and wouldn’t cooperate. It is hard to know who is right or wrong here.  Was this a notary mistake or just the borrower acting crazy — or both?
 
The bigger issue is that the notary threatened to sue everyone before her payment was even late. It is professional to allow people 45 days to make payment before you start making legal threats.  Also, suing someone for $60 doesn’t really make sense in the real world.
 
Another Florida notary public wrote a complaint about 123notary.
The notary was late confirming her listing, and I called the notary to see if she was still alive and in business.  We have notaries move, quit, and end up in the hospital, and die all the time without even informing us. If I ever die, I will have the consideration to inform everyone within (5) business days. In any case, I called this Florida notary’s phone, and her message stated that she was no longer doing loan signings.   I assumed from this message that she was out of business as a mobile notary — boy was I wrong.  Rather than contacting me and politely informing me that she was still in business, she started slandering us on forums telling the world about the horrible crime that we had commited by temporarily removing her listing.    She created all types of drama over nothing.  I think that her MISLEADING phone message should have stated that she is still doing mobile notary work, but not doing loan signings.  That way, anyone calling her about work would have a clear impression that she was still in business. I hate being blamed for other people’s bad communication skills. People need to take responsibility for their own incompetent actions.  In any case, her listing went right back on the minute she asked me to reinstate her.  Unfortunately for her, I documented her zany behavior in the review section.  I stated that she committed no acts of misconduct, but created an unnecessary drama over nothing!  This case was  a business mistake on her part, not a notary mistake, but it is still ridiculous!

You might also like:

California notaries with complaints
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2485

I make mistakes too
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=3639

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How do I find a notary public?

How do I find a notary public?
 
Finding a notary public is easy.  Do you need a notary office where you can go to?  Or, do you want a mobile notary who will travel to you for an extra travel fee?
 
How do  I find a notary office?
Try your local yellow pages and find a local UPS store, mail boxes store, or someone who advertises as a notary public.  Many attorneys, insurance offices, bail bonds offices, and real estate offices will have a notary public on staff.
 
How do I find a mobile notary?
Just use www.123notary.com and look up by zip code or use our  find a notary page. We have thousands of mobile notaries throughout the United States who can help you day or night. They will be happy to come to your home, office, movie set, hospital, jail cell, or meet you at a cafe somewhere.  There are many uses for mobile notaries, so make sure you find someone who is experienced in the particular type of job you have in mind.  Jail, hospital, and power of attorney signings are trickier than normal, so make sure you find someone experienced in those particular types of jobs if you need to hire someone for that type of work. 
 
What if I don’t have current identification?
You need to let the notary public know what type of identification you have before they see you.  If you drivers license is expired, you will generally not be able to use it as identification with a notary public.  Identification acceptable to notaries must be a current government issued photo ID with a physical description, signature, serial number, and expiration date.
 
What if I need help filling the document or drafting the document?
I would advise that you DO NOT bother notaries with questions about documents. That is very far outside what they are authorized to do or advise you about. If you have questions with documentation, ask an attorney, or find someone qualified in whatever the subject matter of the document is.  Notaries notarize signatures on documents and sometimes certify copies of powers of attorneys and give Oaths.  They are not supposed to do much more than that.  Rules differ state by state.

You might also like:

Identification requirements for being notarized
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=4299

All you need to know about notary work
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2354

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November 26, 2011

Notary Certificates, Notary Wording & Notary Verbiage

Notary Certificates,  Notary Verbiage & Notary Wording

Notary terminology is sometimes confusing, so there are a few things to remember.  There are different types of common notarizations.  Acknowledgments and Jurats require certificate wording (notary wording), and Oaths and Affirmations could be purely verbal.  A Jurat requires that an Oath or Affirmation accompany the signing and certificate wording (notary wording, notary verbiage).  An Acknowledgment is purely paperwork in most cases, however, I have seen even an Acknowledged signature have an accompanying Oath.  80% of notarizations are Acknowledged signatures, while roughly 19% are Jurats, and the remaining 1% would be a mixture of other types of less common notary acts.
 
Acknowledged Signatures
The 2011 & 2012 notary certificate for an acknowledged signature includes a venue (documentation of county & state), the name of the notary, the name of the signer, the fact that the signer appeared before the notary and acknowledged signing a particular document.  The current notary verbiage on this form should include the date of the signing, and the signature and official seal of the notary as well.  The actual notary verbiage differs from state to state.  California notary verbiage is a bit different than Ohio notary verbiage.  Also, Ohio has different types of acknowledgments such as corporate acknowledgments and an attorney in fact acknowledgment.  You should ideally research your state’s notary verbiage to see what it is.  If you visit our find a notary page, there are links to states, and on the state pages, you can find a lot of information about acknowledgments and jurats in those states.  We have detailed information for Florida, Illinois, Michigan, California, Arizona, Ohio, and a few other states as well.
 
Jurat Signatures
The notary certificate for a jurat signature / oath has changed in many states. It is/was normal to have a venue, and then say, “Subscribed and sworn to before me (name of notary) by (name of signer) on (date).”  Then there would be a signature of the notary, and a place for the official notary seal.  Jurat verbiage also can differ from state to state so please look it up on google. 
 
Certificate forms.
Notary certificates can be notary wording / notary verbiage that is embedded on the last page of a document, or sometimes within a document if there are intermediary signatures.  If the notarial wording is NOT included, you must add a loose certificate and attach it to the document (by stapling). 
 
Filling out the forms.
Many notaries don’t understand how to fill out notary wording on certificate forms.  Let’s say a guy named Paul Solomon is the signer.  If the form says,
 
(note: this is not real Florida notary wording — I am making it up for educational purposes)
In real life, the Florida notary certificate is much simpler than this, but in other states there are cross outs that the notary needs to make. 
 
State of Florida
County of Brevard
On 8-11-2010 before me John Doe, notary public, the foregoing document was acknowledged before me by Paul Solomon, who acknowledges signing the document in his/her/their capacity(ies).
 
(notary seal)
 
In this example, it is the notary’s job to cross out the “her” and “their”, and the “ies” in capacities.  More than half of notarizations that I have seen were done by notaries who omitted to do the cross-outs.

You might also like:

What information is in the body of an acknowledgment (March Phoninar)
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=4390

Notary boiler plate wording
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2432

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November 25, 2011

Payment terms – set by the Buyer or Seller?

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — Tags: — admin @ 9:11 am

Payment terms – set by the Buyer or Seller?

As often discussed “in the old days” the “Closer” had “pickups” and earned a significantly higher fee than current signing agents. Sure they took risk, but the higher fee (often several hundred dollars) made up for the few that did not fund…..

Fast forward to today. Notaries are the “seller” of their “signing agent services” and the buyers are Signing Services, LO’s, Title companies, Escrow companies, etc.

In every other case that I know of – it is the SELLER who sets the payment terms. The seller / service provider sets how and when they are to be paid. Common sellers are Ebay merchants, Exxon, McDonalds, your dentist, even the babysitter. As the BUYER in almost every case – you make payment “up front” prior to getting the service or merchandise. There are exceptions; when you leave your car for service, you pay when you pick up the car. Or, you don’t get the car and a “mechanics lien” kicks in and the car is either taken or held till payment is made.

What baffles me is the supposed “industry standard” whereby notaries are expected to up front expenses, services, and professional time; in the “hope” of later payment. Some, actually as I read the various posts, many – are never paid.

As mentioned the high fee true “closer” was paid at closing, and “on the HUD” – paid according to law – on time, with other disbursements.

With the proliferation of, to phrase it gently, “problem receivables”; I just don’t understand why so many notaries do not require “up front” payment. Almost all of my individual (non-signing) work is received in advance. My standard answer as to “why in advance” is that it is dangerous for me to go from place to place adding cash – it’s much safer for me to be paid by credit card. “Why in advance?” – because many cards often fail clearance. I tell clients that they receive a nice receipt from PayPal – and I receive a scheduling notification. Simple, clean and effective.

I require the same of all but the highest rated signing related work. Unless they have the best of 123 AND Rotary feedback – it’s in advance or I decline the job. I would not be able to maintain this policy if it was costing me a big chunk of work – but it is NOT. With “pay in advance” I can accept work from the WORST “duds” that most would turn down due to their “no pay / slow pay” reviews. That’s not a problem when the money is already in the account. Why would they do such an about face – because they are desperate to farm out the job to keep THEIR client happy. Soooooo, don’t have a “won’t take work from dud list” – have a PayPal account – and insist the dud’s prepay!

I have brought this subject up in various postings. Again I urge all to open a PayPal account and request/require advance payment. It greatly helps to have a website that provides assurances about your integrity.

It is the seller not the buyer who establishes the terms of the sale. You are selling your services; “they” are buying them. Putting up with the various delays, deductions, and out and out ripoffs makes as much sense as pulling into an Exxon station and asking them to fill the tank and “invoice” you. BTW: using a credit/debit at Exxon is still paying Exxon in advance – just not with cash.

Kenneth A Edelstein
Mobile Notary, Apostille / Legalization Processing & Fingerprinting
http://www.kenneth-a-edelstein.com

Please also see:

Most Active Signing Companies

Protecting yourself with a contract

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November 24, 2011

How do I get an Apostille or Authentication?

Where do I get an Apostille?
Apostilles are usually obtainable from a State Notary Division or a Secretary of State’s Office.  Due to budget cuts, Secretary of State Offices are not always closeby, so it can be labor intensive to get to them.
 
What is an Apostille?
An Apostille CAN BE a document or certificate that is attached to a document notarized by a notary public, that is going to be sent OVERSEAS to a country that are NOT members of the HAGUE Convention. Or it can be an original document such as a Birth Certificate or Marriage Certificate that contains the original seal from the state that it originated from.  In either case, the document is going to be sent overseas to places such as Mexico, Spain, Argentina, or India.
 
Some documents need to be authenticated before you can get an Apostille, while others don’t.
 
How do I get an Apostille?
You might consider contacting an EXPERIENCED notary who has been through the Apostille process many times.  There are many notaries who fit this description, but you need to know how to find them. Or, you could contact your state’s Secretary of State yourself, and drive to them, and go through this process (which is like pulling teeth) yourself.
 
Q. Can you recommend a few notaries who are experts in the Apostille Process?
A.  Yes, below there is list of notaries in various locations who know the process well.
 

San Diego, CA — Joe Ewing

 
Los Angeles, CA — Carmen Towles
 
San Francisco, CA — Glenn Turner


Sergio Musetti — Cotati, CA

 
New York City, NY — Linda Harrison
 

Oradell, NJ — Linda Harrison

 
What is an Authentication?
This certificate accompanies an Apostille.  The Authentication verifies the notary’s official seal and their signature on a notarized certificate section on a document.
 
When do I need an Authentication?
This is a tricky question.  Please contact your local County Clerk’s office, and they will give you a professional answer.

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November 23, 2011

California Acknowledgment and Jurat Information

To see current 2011 & 2012 California Acknowledgment wording  information and California Jurat verbiage  information, just visit:
http://www.123notary.com/California/acknowledgment_jurat.asp

California Acknowledgments & California Jurats

Notary laws are often based on antiquated social customs and laws.  Many notary laws in Louisiana are based on the old Spanish and French laws which make it extremely different from the rest of the United States.  Louisiana is sort of a foreign country controlled by our government.  The language is English, but the laws are not.  California notary law used to have some old rules too for identifying a signer
 
In olden times, people lived in smaller communities, traveled less, and had less access to the outside world.  In those days you knew your neighbors and knew them well.  California notary laws and laws in many states allowed a notary to use personal knowledge of an individual as a way to identify them for a notarization.  But, in 2011 with people flying all around, and nobody really knowing anyone, you can not really use personal knowledge as an identifying technique anymore.  People don’t even know their wives and children that well these days! After 9/11, the laws changed in many states.  It took a few years for the state governments to react, but standards for identification were raised.  You can still identify signers using credible witnesses which I feel is false identification. The credible witnesses don’t really usually know the signer that well, and have to be reminded of the signer’s name in many cases.  The most common form of identification is a driver’s license, state ID card, or password. 
 
In any case, California notary laws for identifying a signer for an acknowledged signature are tougher now that personal knowledge is not allowed.  But, signers also need to be identified for Jurats which never used to be the case.  In the last few years, the California notary wording or California notary Verbiage for Acknowledgment and Jurat forms has changed a little bit as well.
 
Oaths and Affirmations in California have now become a merged act.  You just choose whether you want it to be an affirmation or oath in the paperwork. 
 
 
You might also like: 

Notary Acknowledgment Information
 
Can a California notary be a witness?

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November 22, 2011

Bounced Checks, Collection Agencies, FBI reports: Learn which companies are involved!

Bounced Checks, Collection Agencies, FBI reports…

For some of you, this is old information that you have already been following. However, many notaries do not have time to read everything that goes on on the forum, and this news about signing companies will be of interest and a convenience to them!  It is hard for me to keep up with what is going on on the forums on a daily basis, but I have noticed that a lot of bad things happened in September 2011.  There were a few loan signing companies that had a reasonable reputation that suddenly stopped paying notaries.  One or more companies was reported to be out of business.  I am going to summarize the more important events of the last month or two here. I will only mention the more noteworthy signing companies here.
 
All Service Notary & Signings
Sept 16 – A notary gives up on trying to collect their bill and hands it over to a collection agency. Additionally, this notary reports the signing company to a credit bureau!  Another notary reports trouble getting paid from this company.  A third notary says, that after a long time, they finally received their check — but, that was in early August. The situation looks like it has deteriorated since then.
 
CRES Closers
One notary says that they are the BEST to work for!  Another says they met his fee and that they were great to work for. A third notary claims that they sent payment super fast!  Wow, it is nice to hear good things about a signing company these days!
 
Equifax Settlement Services
One notary got paid, but says the company says that they will take THREE MONTHS to pay for jobs in the future because they have to wait until the loans fund.  Another notary discusses the letter they sent to the BBB about this company. A third notary discusses the difference in what this company offers different notaries for the same work.  One gets $85, while another is offered $125!
 
FASS – First American Signature Services
Notaries are complaining, but not about payment issues.  One notary was taken off the list because FASS found a less expensive notary.  Back in 2010, FASS took over service for a big Title company and dropped the notary who had been servicing the signings for that Title company.  Another notary feels that they were treated rudely after some sort of argument about “quality issues”.  Although there is a lot of complaining going on here, I don’t see any wrongdoing on the part of FASS. They are just shopping around to find the best notaries for them — and trying to get high quality service as well. America is a free country and nobody is obligated to keep the same notary for life.
 
Final Link
Three notaries have complained that this company doesn’t do a good job of getting back to people. Not returning calls, etc.
 
First Preference Signing
Four notaries all claim in unison that this is the best company that they have ever worked for. 
 
Harvard Abstract
Three notaries are claiming that this company is easy to work for and that they pay quickly.
 
HVR Notaries
Two notaries claim that this is a good company to work for.  One says, “They met my fee”, which is a very good sign these days with all the low balling.
 
Insured Closings
Notaries claim that there have been several reports of BOUNCED CHECKS from this company.  Watch out!
 
National Loan Closers
This company is reported to be asking for $25 to keep notaries on their list. This is causing a lot of disturbance in the notary world.  Notaries feel that companies should be paying them, and not vice versa. 
 
Nations Direct
We have gotten many complaints about low-balling and micromanagement. One notary’s signing was interrupted by a phone call, where she was asked if she was using a blue pen.  On the other hand, it is prudent for a signing company who uses many newer notaries to call and check up on people. Obviously, many of the notaries they hired screwed up and ruined many loans which is the reason for all of the babysitting.  Please try to look at things from the signing company’s perspective. They are trying to get the job done.  Also see: Nations Direct has been around for more than a decade!
 
Nowclosings.com
Many notaries are claiming that this is one of the BEST signing companies they have ever worked for.

N3 Notary
A few notaries are complaining that company has badgered them too much during their signings. 

Pacific Document Services
Checks that they sent out have allegedly gotten LOST in the mail. One notary has filed an official complaint with the FBI to try to get this company shut down. Another notary received a check that BOUNCED.  This is one of the most serious cases I have seen all year!  The opinions expressed here are the opinions of particular notaries and not of 123notary.com.
  
Safir Signing Agents
Multiple notaries are complaining about no-pay and SLOW-PAY.
 
Service Link
This company has lowered their fees, and we have had many complaints from notaries about LOW-BALLING from this company.
 
Superior Closings
The people that run this company have been functioning under four different business names over the course of time.  They are reported to be out of business now.
 
The Notary Biz
Many notaries are discussing whether or not this company is still in business.  One notary had a discussion with the owner who claimed that they were no longer in business.
 
The R&R Group
Several notaries are complaining about non-payment, and one is owed $375 by this company
 
Trans State Services
Many notaries are really happy with this company.  Good working conditions and timely pay!
 
Vital Signings
This company has a good payment record, but many notaries are complaining that there are too many steps involved in the signing process and a lot of babysitting.

Tweets:
(1) Here is a list of companies that bounced checks, had FBI reports, or were notorious late payers to notaries!

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Make your own notary certificate forms!

All the right words in all the right places
 
Many notaries call us and can’t find good notary forms.  We say, “You’ve been lookin’ for forms in all the wrong places, lookin for supplies in too many faces, searching the internet and looking for traces….”.  Honestly, we send many people to the NNA.  They make / sell excellent notary forms, supplies, journals, acknowledgment pads, jurat pads, bonds, etc.  But, what about the obvious alternative?  Forms are expensive, and acknowledgment pads and jurat pads are space consuming in your little notary bag, right?
 
Make your own
It’s not hard to typeset an acknowledgment form or Jurat form on your computer.  Just put your state notary verbiage or notary wording in the correct order, a venue, a place to sign and seal, or whatever your state requires.  You can photocopy this very cheaply at Kinko’s or wherever.  Make as many as you want.  Copying someone else’s copyrighted form is not legal, and not worth it.  You can’t copyright notary verbiage, and that works to your advantage!

There are other advantages in creating your own Acknowledgment Pads / Jurat Pads / Notary forms with your state notary verbiage too.
 
Branding?
If you create your own notary forms, and make them attractive, you can also put your notary company information and phone number at the bottom.  This is very smart branding.  Then, whenever anyone looks at how beautiful your notary forms are, they will think of you and call you too.  You could even put a company logo at the bottom of the form under the notary verbiage.   Times are tight these days, so you need every edge you can get, and this is not that much work to coordinate.
 
How much can you save?
Notary pads of professionally made forms can cost you $9 per notary pad more or less, plus tax and shipping.  It adds up.  If you buy in bulk, then you might get a slightly better price.  There are generally 100 certificates per pad.  How much would it cost to have 100 pieces of paper copied at a discount printing place?  If you did 500, you might be able to get away paying $10-15.  Or just print them out on your laserprinter, and print as many as you need, and when you need it.
 
Other forms?
I had a detailed permission to travel form for minors traveling with accompanying adults.  It was easier to do it with a form instead of writing it out for people each time. There is so much content that goes on that form.  BTW, in Florida, notaries should not offer to write documents.  The name of the child, who their parents are, who they are traveling with, when they were going, where they were going, and when they were coming back. I had signature lines for everyone and little places for thumbprints.  The feedback was that the security at the airport appreciated the thoroughness of the forms and my embosser’s impression.  Very professional!  They were probably used to handwritten confused looking letters and sick of it!
 
Designs?
If you have a good designer, you can add designs to the paperwork.  This is for full-time mobile notaries only.  It can get expensive using designers, but you will make a great impression if you have great stationary!  Think of your Jurat pad as a stack of resumes!

Tweets:
(1) You can purchase notary forms from the NNA, but if you make your own you can put your biz name & Phone #.
(2) If you make your own certificate forms, you can put your business name & phone number at the bottom!
(3) I used to make my own permission to travel for minors form with blanks for dates, names & thumbprints!

You might also like:

Everything you need to know about notary journals

Notary Acknowledgment Information

The signing from hell

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