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January 7, 2011

California Acknowledgment Wording Explained

California Acknowledgment Wording Explained

The most common notary act in the United States is the Acknowledgment. Acknowledged signatures represent roughly 80% of notary acts; with Jurats comprising of most of the remainder.

Here is some sample California Acknowledgment Wording.

State of _____________
County of ____________

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.

I certify under PENALTY of PERJURY under the laws of the state of California
that the foregoing paragraph is true and correct.

WITNESS my hand and official seal.

(Signature of Notary)

Please note that the top section of the certificate wording is called the venue which consists of a documentation of the state and the county. Next comes the body of the acknowledgment certification which documents the date, the name of the notary, the name of the signer who personally appeared before the notary, the fact that the signer was identified properly (they use the term satisfactory evidence to mean that the signer had ID, or was identified through the use of credible witnesses).

The most critical part of the California Acknowledgment Verbiage is that the signer acknowledges subscribing to the within instrument. This simply means that the signer claims that they signed the document. They could have signed hours, months, or years before seeing the notary — and it doesn’t matter so long as they appear before the notary to “acknowledge” that they signed the document. Additionally, the signer must sign the California Notary Journal as well.

Witness my hand and official seal is confusing California Acknowledgment verbiage. A seal, in notary verbiage, could refer to a signature or an official notary stamp (confusing). The notary must sign and affix his/her/its notary seal to the California Acknowledgment Certificate. Please note that the stamp may not be placed over any signatures or wording otherwise it voids the seal.

Please also note that there are lots of (s), is/are, he/she/they, within the text. The notary is expected (many do not do this though) to cross out the inappropriate text near the forward slashes. If you are doing a notarization for a single man, then cross out the she and they and (s) in name, unless he has more than one name being used in the notarization (which would be an interesting case).



  1. I have a major issue with this preprinted acknowledgement.

    I certify under PENALTY of PERJURY under the laws of the state of California that the foregoing paragraph is true and correct.

    I am in New York state, and have no knowledge of the Ca. laws; I routinely change California to New York. From my reading in the Forum, others do the same. Being summoned to go cross country to a hearing in California is not for me.

    As to the strikeouts. It is not always possible to determine the gender of the person signing, certainly not here in New York City. Who am I to make that determination? I am not a medical doctor.
    Also, you did not mention that changes to documents require the change to be initialed. The standard NY ack would require about 10 strikeouts and initials – that would look absurd.

    I redact California to New York with strikeout and initials (mine). I leave the he/she/they alone. In well over 10 years I have not had a single complaint about my methodology.

    Comment by Kenneth A Edelstein — November 7, 2013 @ 1:18 pm

  2. Of course, this is no longer a complete California acknowledgment. The disclaimer wording added in January 2015 needs to be added in a text box at the top for both acknowledgments and jurats. See http://notary.cdn.sos.ca.gov/forms/notary-ack.pdf, http://notary.cdn.sos.ca.gov/forms/notary-jurat.pdf.

    Comment by Valerie Watts — November 21, 2016 @ 6:55 pm

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