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February 7, 2017

Notary Wording

Notary Wording Varies from State to State
There is no official American Notary wording. Notary verbiage differs from state to state, and varies based on what type of Notary act you are having done. There are various common types of notarizations such as Acknowledged signatures, Jurats, Oaths and Affirmations. The vast majority of notarizations are Acknowledgments whose wording states that the signer appeared before the Notary, was positively identified, and signed the document.

Notary Certificates — what type of wording is included.
Your typical Acknowledgment or Jurat Certificate will include several sections with wording.

1. Venue
The venue states the state and county where the notarization is taking place. Please note that the Notary is not always commissioned in the county where the notarization is taking place. So, if you are in Orange county, but the Notary is from San Diego, please make sure they put the venue county based on where the notarization is taking place, and not where they live.

2. Boiler Plate Wording
The main body of the text could be worded in an infinite variety of ways, but normally state the date of the signing, name of the signer, the name of the Notary, the fact that the signer appeared before the Notary, the fact that the signer signed the document, and if an Oath was included (Jurats by definition have Oaths) then the fact that the signer swore before the Notary. The verbiage “subscribed and sworn to before me this (date)” is commonly used in many states especially in New York where the cabbies enjoy the swearing part more than any other part of the Notarization.

3. The Signature Section
The bottom of the notary wording or notary verbiage has room for the Notary’s seal which might mean their signature or their official notary stamp. In most states the Notary signs and stamps, or might even emboss with a non-inked embosser as a secondary form of stamp.

Types of Acknowledgments
Normally, when people want to be Notarized, they ask the Notary if they can notarize a Jurat for them. In actuality, most Notarizations are for Acknowlegments. Normally people can use an All Purpose Acknowledgment, but in Ohio, there is such thing as a Corporate Acknowledgment and Attorney in Fact Acknowledgment.

Where Can You Find Your State’s Wording?
If you visit our find a notary page, you can click on your state and find current notary wording for your state. Or Google your states notary wording. Example: “California Acknowledgment Wording.”

Sample California Jurat Verbiage

State of California
County of Lake

Subscribed and sworn to (or affirmed) before me on this 5th day of January, 2017, by Jedadiah Goldminer, proved to me on the basis of satisfactory evidence to be the person(s) who appeared before me.



Loose Certificates
Many documents have preprinted notary wording on them. However, it is legal to attach a loose certificate form using a staple. NNA is a great source for Notary certificate pads such as Acknowledgment Certificates, Jurat Certificates, and even Copy Certification by Document Custodian if you want to get fancy.

Filling out the Forms
It is common on Notary certificate forms to have sections where there is he/she/they or signature(s). You have to cross out the non-applicable word(s). If you are Notarizing a woman, cross out the he and the they and the (s). If you are notarizing a man and a woman in the same notary act, cross out the he and the she, but keep the (s). If you are notarizing a man who used to be a women — your guess is as good as mine — good luck, you’ll need it.

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August 30, 2016

Self Notarization Landmine

Self Notarization Landmine

I’m referring to the form where you are the only person signing. Ignoring the fact that the form asks you to notarize your own statement, what it says can haunt you later. Yes, I know; you feel the statements are the absolute truth. What harm can it do? It’s not a filed document, nobody will ever see it *except* when it’s not truthful. Then can land on you like a ton of lawsuits.

Typically it has a venue, a statement (more on that later), and a place for Notary Public signature, stamp and commission number / expiration date. Sure seems like a “notary” act. But, as I said; let’s just ignore the illegality and get to the possible later grief.

I, the above described Notary Public, hereby certify that I have checked the identification of those parties who have signed before me and I have attached copies of their driver’s license(s) or other picture identification. I have verified them to be the same parties as those described in the instructions acknowledged by me. Witness my hand and official seal ……………

Lawyers love ambiguous verbiage. Here the two key words are “checked” and “verified”. Really? Just how did you do that? Are you trained in spotting a forgery? I’m not referring to a mess made on a copier. The “bad ones” just Google “fake driver license from china” and order from the site that rhymes with snowflake. I looked at their site – it scared me. For about a hundred dollars one can get a VERY good fake driver license from any state. Perhaps a police officer with real time access to police information can determine the serial number is not appropriate for the issue date or the birthdate on the document. But can you? I certainly cannot.

Thus, how can I make a statement that I certify and verify the identities? I know that is what notaries do – “check ID” – but there is a limit to our ability to detect forgeries. Some states have a specific “proof” list – the only items that can be used by the notary. Here in NY, it’s a bit fuzzy, the law requires the notary view “adequate proof” – seemingly a lower standard than verified.

I have followed articles and reviews of the “snowflake” – they have the technology to fool anybody who does not have police type access to driver license databases. It would easily pass my visual inspection. There are forgery detection manuals that go over “hidden” aspects of the various state issued licenses. I’m sure “snowflake” has a copy!

So, there is a good chance that, over the years; I have notarized by accepting a forgery. To me it was “adequate proof”; to you it was on “the list”. So where are we now? Well, I feel I followed my states laws, and so did you. The real issue is making a statement often entitled “Positive Proof Identification and Notary Signature Affidavit” that goes beyond my state requirements.

Recall the Miranda warning “anything you say can a will be used against you in a court of law”. The same admonition must apply even more strongly to things that you sign and “notarize”. I just return these forms untouched, with the exception of attaching a business card.


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May 9, 2013

What is a notary public?

What is a notary?

A notary is a state appointed public official that is authorized to conduct certain types of official acts such as Acknowledgments, Jurats, Oaths, Affirmations, Protests, and sometimes other notary public acts. Since notaries are appointed by their respective states, the laws for notary conduct and what types of official notary acts a notary can do vary from state to state.

Notary Acknowledgments & Identification Requirements
A notary public can execute acknowledgments. Acknowledgments are the most common notary act representing about 80% of all acts done by notaries! The notary must positively identify a signer as the first step in executing an acknowledgment. Identification requirements vary from state to state, but most states allow state issued identification cards, drivers licenses, and passports. As a general rule, any government issued photo-ID with a serial number, expiration date, and physical description is accepted. Social security cards, credit cards and green cards are not acceptable.

Identification through Credible Witnesses
Some states allow a notary to positively identify a signer through the use of credible witnesses who must be identified by the notary and then swear under Oath as to the identity of the signer. Personal knowledge of the signer used to be allowed in most states, but in recent years, notaries are required to rely on more “hard” forms of identification.

Notary Journals
After the identification process is over, the notary must fill in a journal entry in his/her official journal of notarial acts. Not all states require journals, but they should because the journal is the only record of a transaction that the notary has, and can be used in an investigation or in court after the fact in a few critical cases where fraud is suspected! The signer is required to sign the notary journal which is one of the most important parts of the notary process.

Notary Certificates
The notary must fill out an Acknowledgment Certificate with state specific Acknowledgment verbiage. The Acknowledgment wording can be embedded in the last page of the document, or could be added and stapled as a loose form.

The official notary seal
Notaries typically affix their seal to the notary certificate area in a document or on a loose certificate. This is a very official way that notaries finalize their notary acts. Notaries may use an inked rubber seal. Some states allow a notary public to also use an non-inked embosser which leaves a raised impression in a piece of paper — as a supplemental seal to deter fraud through page swapping.

A Jurat is a notary procedure where the notary administers an Oath. The signer has to raise his/her right hand and swear under Oath to the truthfulness of a document or statement in a Jurat form. Additionally, the signer must sign the document in front of the notary for a Jurat, where they can sign long ahead of time for an Acknowledgment. Identification requirements for Jurats vary from state to state. Jurats represent roughly 18% of all notarial acts!

Oaths and Affirmations
Notaries can perform or administer Oaths or Affirmations for clients. They should record such acts in their bound and sequential journal as well. Wording for Oaths is really up to the notary, but some standardized or formal wording is recommended such as, “Do you solemnly swear that the contents of this document are true and correct to the best of your knowledge?”. Or, “Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?”. The Oath verbiage depends on the situation and the document. However, it should be formal, and the Affiant (Oath taker) must raise their right hand definitively for this type of act. An Affirmation is the same as an Oath except for the fact that the word God is omitted from the Affirmation Verbiage.

This is an antiquated notary act where someone can protest the non-payment of a bill. I have never met a notary who has actually conducted such a notary act, but most states still include this as one of their official acts.

Acts allowed only in specific states
New York allows notaries to do Safety Box Openings as an official notary act while most other states do not. Rhode Island has something called a Marine Protest which is only an official notary act in Rhode Island. Various states allow notaries to act as a Witness as an official notary act as well. Additionally, please consult your state’s notary division for information about Apostilles and Authentications which typically involve either a local county recorder, the Secretary of State’s office, or a local embassy.

Documents that are commonly notarized.
Many notaries notarized Power of Attorney documents frequently. Notaries are advised not to draft such documents as they are legal documents. However, notaries can notarize signatures on such documents.

Affidavits of all sorts are normally notarized with a Jurat since they are to be sworn to (usually). The notary is forbidden from recommending a particular notary act over another, but they are not prohibited from stating what is “usually” done.

Wills can be notarized by a notary, however, it is generally frowned upon unless given written instructions from an Attorney!

Notaries can not notarize vital records such as Birth Certificates or Marriage Certificates.

A Notary Public can notarize Real Estate or Mortgage documents or loan documents except in certain Attorney states such as Massachusetts or Georgia where there are restrictions. Common loan documents that might be notarized could include Deeds of Trust, Signature Affidavits, Grant Deeds, Quit Claim Deeds, Occupancy Affidavits, and many more!

Where can I find a notary?
123notary has thousands of mobile notaries distributed throughout the United States that you can find on our Find a Notary page. They typically charge a travel fee and specialize in loan documents. To find a stationary notary, please consult your local yellow pages, or call pack & ship places in your area.

How can I become a notary?
Each state has a Secretary of State or Notary Division that appoints notaries. Please visit our state contact page, and contact your state’s notary division for details. Typically, you need to be 18 years old, not have a felony on your criminal record, be a citizen (some states require this), or in many states be legally residing in the United States. Most states have a Notary Public Application Form, and a Notary Public handbook for you to study from. You are normally required to pay an Application fee for becoming a notary, and there could be other fees for recording your Notary Oath of Office as well as the fee for your Stamp, Journal, and other related fees.

Is it worth it to become a notary?
It can be very rewarding to be a notary. You can make a lot of extra money in your spare time if you have a way to attract clients. You can meet new people, and learn new things. Mobile notaries who are good at what they do can make a full time living driving around doing loan signings. You can get a job more easily if the boss knows you are a notary, as that is a skill in high demand at many offices.

(1) A notary is a state appointed public official authorized to conduct certain types of official acts such as Jurats …
(2) A notary public can execute Acknowledgments, Jurats, Protests, Oaths, Affirmations…
(3) A quick guide to being a notary including: journals, seals, identification, witnesses, jurats, oaths & more…

I want to learn more!
Visit our GLOSSARY of notary and mortgage terms, and read more articles in our blog!


February 18, 2013

What does a notary charge in 2013?

What does a notary charge 2012?

Notary fees vary across state lines, and vary depending on what type of notary act you are having done. Acknowledgments and Jurats are by far the most common notary acts. Please see our find a notary page and then look up your state to find out the notary prices / notary charge or charges for common services. Prices published are 2012 notary prices.

Please keep in mind that notaries on are normally mobile notaries (traveling notaries) and will want to charge a travel fee for coming to your office, home, hospital room, or jail cell. Travel fees vary person to person, but notary prices per signature or per notary act are set by your state in terms of maximum allowed fees. A notary may not charge more than the maximum state notary fee, otherwise they can get in trouble.

If you need a quote for what a notary charges, just ask particular notaries on our database.


February 15, 2013

How much can a notary charge in 2013?

How much can a notary charge for a …

Q. Witness Signatures: How much can a notary charge for a signature of a witness?
A. The notary can charge whatever their state’s maximum notary fee is if they are notarizing a signature of a witness. Please visit our find a notary page, and then look up your state.

Q. How much can a notary charge for travel in the form of a mobile fee?
A. Most states allow a notary to charge whatever the client is willing to pay for travel, but a handful of states have travel fee restrictions such as New Hampshire, Arizona, and a few other states. Please visit

Q. How much can a notary charge for a copy of a journal entry?
A. In California, 30 cents per journal entry. But, please visit the state notary division website of the state in question for state specific answers. Journal entry copies is a type of notary act that does not have a fixed fee in most states by the way! Californians are lucky that they get to capitalize on this rare opportunity and make 30 whole cents!

Q. How much can I charge to notarize for an inmate? How much to charge for notary services in Jail?
A. The actual fee for the notarizations is whatever your state maximum notary fees are. However, travel fees and waiting time fees are whatever you and your client agree on unless you are in a state that has travel fee restrictions.

Q. How much should a notary charge for swearing in a witness or a signer(s)?
A. Most states have a set fee for administering an Oath… you can charge that set fee.

Q. What is the maximum fee a notary can charge for an Acknowledgment in 2013 or 2012?
A. Please consult our find a notary page and then look up your state

Q. What is the maximum fee a notary can charge for a Jurat in 2013 or 2012?
A. Please consult our find a notary page and then look up your state

Q. What is the maximum charge for a notary in my state?
A. The fee depends on the particular notary act, so please look your state up on our find a notary page for details.

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April 26, 2012

Can a notary also witness documents being signed?

Q. Can a notary also witness documents being signed?
A.  Any individual over the age of 18 can be a witness to a document signing or Will signing.
Q.  Can a notary charge for acting as a witness?
A.  If acting as a witness is an official notary act in the state where the notary is commissioned or acting, then they can charge whatever their state’s maximum appointed fee is.  In all other states where witnessing is not an official notary act, then the notary can charge whatever the client will agree to.
Q.  Should I hire a notary to act as a witness?
A.  You can if you like, but unless you need some special documentation done, that only a notary can perform, there is no real need to have a notary around.
Q. Can you recommend some more detailed reading materials about this topic?
A.  Yes, please read:  Can a notary be a witness?

(1) Any individual over 18 can witness documents being signed, including a Notary Public.
(2) Can a notary charge for acting as a witness? Yes, but your state might have a maximum charge.

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