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May 19, 2011

Finding a notary for a prison signing

Find a notary for a prison, county jail, or penitentiary signing 

You can find a notary who visits prisons on  Just do a search by city or zip code. Once you have gotten to the search results page, you can use the “JAIL” filter near the top of the page to find only notaries who service jails and penitentiaries.  Please keep in mind, that notarizing incarcerated inmates in detention facilities is another ball park. For best results, you need a notary who is familiar and experienced not only with prison signings, but also with the particular detention center that the inmate is being housed in. 
Prison / Jail / Penitentiary Notary Signings FAQ
(1) Lockdowns – what do you do if there is a lockdown?
If an inmate is incarcerated and the notary comes to notarize their signature on a document, if there is a lock down, the notary will not be allowed up to see the inmate.
(2) Identification – what type of  inmate identification is acceptable for notarizations?
Inmates in jails have wristbands as identification.  This is NOT acceptable in most states as identification for being notarized.  You will need to bring someone to meet the notary who has a current government issued photo identiication of the inmate. Check beforehand with the notary to make sure the identification is acceptable. If you don’t have an identification, some states allow the use of (2) credible identifying witnesses who know the inmate.  The guards at the jail will NOT be willing to provide this service since they do not want to get involved.
(3) Waiting time – its common for notaries to be kept waiting anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour in jails, depending on the level of security, and how busy it is.  Many notaries require being paid a waiting fee in addition to trip fees and notarization fees.  This is reasonable if they are being kept waiting more than twenty minutes.
(4) Travel fees to prisons – What is a normal travel fee to a prison or jail?
Notaries all have different mobile fees / travel fees that they charge.  Most notaries charge more to go to a  penetentiary or jail simply because there is a high risk of being kept waiting or not being paid for various reasons.  Certain states such as Arizona, Nevada, and New Hampshire have restrictions on what a notary can charge as a travel fee.
(5) Where should I need the notary if they are doing a jail signing for me?
It’s best to meet them in a place that is clearly marked that is SMALL. Meeting them in a huge room will be very difficult, since they don’t know what you look like.  Meeting them at the front door of a restaurant or where the payment booth of a parking lot is will be less trouble.  Meeting someone at the door to a jail can be a problem since some jails have multiple entrances and long hallways near entrances. Keep your meeting spot a place simple and clear to avoid trouble.  You would be surprised at how many times I could not find my clients at jails do to communiation errors.
(6) How do I confirm with my notary?
Call the notary when you are leaving for the jail, and when you are there. Keep in touch, and always answer your cell phone.  Its easy to not be able to find someone, and if they are not picking up, then the notary might just give up and go home.
(7) What are parking fees at prisons / jails?
Many jails have free parking, but in big cities, you normally have to pay more than $5 to park in a jail’s parking lot.  The notary should work this into their fee, and should be aware of the costs of parking at particular detention facilities.
(8) What types of jails are there?
There are county jails, men’s jails, women’s jails, high security, low security, and everything in between.  Jails are all unique, and the process of checking in to visit an inmate is unique at all jails and their visiting hours are all different too.
(9) How can I make sure the inmate is still in the same place?
Assume nothing.  Inmates get moved around all the time. They could be moved form one cell to another, or even to another jail far away.  You must call the jail before booking your appointment with the notary, and then call the jail before you go to the signing to make sure the inmate has not been moved, and to make sure there is no lock down.  Lockdowns can happen at any time and can last for hours.
(10) Can I go to jail if I do wrong as a notary public?
If you engage in fraudulent notarizations that do financial harm to someone, especially if it involves a document converning real property, you will get into big trouble, and might have to be sentenced to jail time.  Penalties for notary misconduct vary from state to state. Small infractions are usually dealt with by fining the notary public and revoking their commission.  Serious infractions can result in jail time.

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