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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 Acknowledgment 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?

What is so critical about crossing out he/she/they?

Can a notary sign on a different day?



  1. “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.”

    Good, but not great. All of the information “might” also apply to a reprint with slightly different numbers. Better is to “overstamp” half on the ack, half on the sig page. Then the ack CANNOT be moved in any manner whatsoever. Of course there is a full stamp on the ack itself.

    Take care to position the loose ack (mine are about 1/4 of a page in size), such that the overstamp goes in a clear area (on the sig page) and does not cover anything. This is exactly the same procedure used by the NY County Clerk office when they authenticate my signature and add their form. Half their stamp goes on the authentication, half on my ack; and if possible their stamp “hits” the sig page under my ack.

    I have actually been asked “Please don’t do that; it makes it impossible to move your notarization to an updated document; without a complete renotarization”. That I take as high praise indeed!

    Comment by Kenneth Edelstein — July 26, 2015 @ 11:51 pm

  2. OOPS, forgot to mention, I also “over emboss” half on sig page, half on loose ack. Thus those with a large supply of WhiteOut and a copier are thwarted too.

    Comment by Kenneth Edelstein — July 26, 2015 @ 11:54 pm

  3. This may be trivial, but on the loose certificate where it asks for number of pages, I always right the number out, rather than using a numeral, which I think can be “doctored” more easily. For example, if the document is 7 pp. long, I write “seven.”

    Comment by Terry — December 14, 2015 @ 8:19 pm

  4. What would you do if you had the docs sent to you by a notary who signed the first person in a dual signing and the notary had made some glaring mistakes – ie notarized the Jurat in the document that did not have required wording for the state (CA – no box at top) and completed 3 loose acknowledgements that weren’t attached to any document (had been included at the end of the documents by lender)
    I left a phone message for signing company (ServiceLink) and sent an email saying I was concerned no response. Notary listed on 123 Notary.

    Comment by Kathleen Andreini — November 12, 2018 @ 6:02 pm

  5. Thanks! Although I have not had to attach very many loose Acknowledgements/loose Jurats I hadn’t thought to have the signed give a thumbprint for that! I will from now on. what is scary is a previous article that you published attesting to how some title companies/lenders will remove the staple that attaches MY loose certificate to the notarized document!! How do you protect yourself against this? Should I scan the document and my certificate and keep it on my computer and/or make a printed copy of it to keep with my records? I would be interested to know your opinion on this. Thanks!

    Comment by betty — March 25, 2019 @ 3:19 pm

  6. I had a ack and jurat stamp made with all of the correct wording and try to stamp it on the page, however sometimes I have to use loose ones. good idea to add thumbprint in addition to all of the information.

    Comment by lupe — November 27, 2019 @ 7:18 pm

  7. IN any Loose certificate, I always print

    Name of Document: the name of the document to which it is attached.
    NEVER without it unless the language on the page says it was for.

    Comment by Ray — April 28, 2020 @ 5:43 am

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