When do I need to use a California All-Purpose Acknowledgment?
A Notary Public in California only needs to use the notarial language found in an All Purpose Acknowledgment if the document is being filed in California.
California Civil Code Sec 1189 ( c ) allows a Notary to use the preprinted acknowledgment language from another state as long as the Notary is not required to determine or certify in which capacity the signer is signing the document. Certifications are prohibited for Notaries to perform by California law. Notaries are not required to even include the disclaimer at the top of the notarization which essentially states that the Notary Public completing the notarization is only verifying the identity of the signer and not the “truthfulness, accuracy or validity of the document”.
A document that many Notaries see and something that I see brought to my office often at A1 Live Scan Fingerprinting and Notary Services in downtown Los Angeles is Form TSP-70 which is the Thrift and Savings plan Financial Hardship In-Service Withdrawal Request form. This form has preprinted Notarial Language for Acknowledgment and has specific instructions for the Notary that reads in relevant part, “Notary:……No other acknowledgement is acceptable (see instructions)”.
When you see forms such as TSP-70 that is being sent or filed in another state or jurisdiction, use the preprinted form as long as you are not being asked to certify the capacity in which the signer is signing the document.
At our office in Downtown Los Angeles — A1 Live Scan & Notary Services – we get to correctly renotarize many notarized documents that the SOS rejects doing an Apostille because the wrong notarial certificate was used by a Notary.
Let’s first start with what is an Apostille?
An Apostille authenticates the Notary Public as a valid and licensed Notary to a foreign government or agency. The foreign entity relies on the SOS to make sure that the document being sent to them was in fact notarized by a currently licensed notary in good standing.
Next the question is what type of Notarial Certificate do you attach to a document being taken to the SOS for an Apostille?
First and foremost, ask the singer and explain the differences between the 3 commonly used certificates – All Purpose Acknowledgment, Jurat and Copy Certification by Document Custodian.
If the signer is not sure, go over the preprinted language on the document with the signer if there is notarial wording. In most cases even if there is notarial wording, it would not comply with California Notary Laws. So then look at the existing language and if it has “affirmations”, “oaths” or “swearing as to the truth of the contents”, use a Jurat.
If the language does not have an Oath but merely says the person appeared in front of you and acknowledged signing the document, then use a California All-Purpose Acknowledgment.
The third type of Notarization for an Apostille is when a signer brings a document such as College transcripts, Degree Certificates, Passport copy, letters from third parties. These documents are already signed by the issuer and there is no notarial wording. In this case, you use a certificate called, “Copy Certification by Document Custodian” to notarize the document by the person who brings it to you even if it is not that person’s document. Hence the name “…by Document Custodian”.
Hope this clarifies the confusion surrounding certificates used for an Apostille.