Frequently Asked Questions About Notary

What is a Notary Public?
A notary public is a public officer constituted by law to serve the public in non-contentious matters typically concerned with powers-of-attorney, estates, foreign and international business and deeds. A notary’s primary duties are to administer oaths and affirmations, take affidavits and statutory declarations, witness and authenticate the execution of certain classes of documents and take acknowledgments of deeds and other conveyances. The term notary public only refers to common-law notaries and should not be confused with civil-law notaries.

Why are documents notarized?
To deter fraud. An impartial witness (the Notary) ensures that the signers of documents are who they say they are and not impostors. The Notary makes sure that signers have entered into agreements knowingly and willingly. In a society in which business dealings between strangers are the norm rather than the exception, Notaries create a trustworthy environment where strangers are able to share documents with full
confidence in their authenticity.

May any document be notarized?
May any document be notarized?  For a document to be notarized, it must contain: 1) text committing the signer in some way, 2) an original signature (not a photocopy) of the document signer, 3) a notarial “certificate” which may appear on the document itself or on an attachment. The Notary fills in the certificate, signs it, then applies his or her seal to complete the notarization.

Is notarization required by law?
For many documents, yes. Certain affidavits, real estate deeds and other documents may not be legally binding unless they are properly notarized.

How does a Notary identify a signer?
Generally, the Notary will ask to see a current identification document that has a photograph, physical description and a signature. A driver’s license, military ID or passport will usually be acceptable.

How much does a notarization cost?
Fees vary — as much as $15 in some states and as little as 50 cents in others — according to state law.

Does notarization mean that a document is “true” or “legal”?
No. Notaries are not responsible for the accuracy or legality of documents they notarize. Notaries certify the identity of signers. The signers are responsible for the content of the documents.

May a Notary give legal advice or draft legal documents?
Absolutely not. A Notary is forbidden from preparing legal documents for others or acting as a legal advisor unless he or she is also an attorney. Violators can be fined or jailed for the unauthorized practice of law

May a Notary notarize immigration forms?
Only a few immigration forms need to be notarized,including the Affidavit of Support (I-134).  May a Notary prepare or offer advice on immigration forms?  U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)  regulations state that no one may help prepare or file another person’s immigration papers unless he or she is an attorney or a U.S. Justice Department-approved “accredited representative.” Nonattorneys may provide
clerical, secretarial or translating assistance with USCIS forms, as long as no advice or interpretation is given.  Courts have held that even a nonattorney’s selection of which legal forms to complete can constitute the unauthorized practice of law.

May a Notary refuse to serve people?
Only if the Notary is uncertain of a signer’s identity, willingness or general competence, or has a good reason to suspect fraud. Notaries should not refuse to serve anyone because of race, religion, nationality, lifestyle, or because the person is not a client or
customer. Discrimination on any basis is not a suitable policy for a public official.

How does a U.S. Notary differ from a Notario Publico ?  A U.S. Notary is not the same as a Latin Notario Publico. In Latin America, a Notario Publico is a high-ranking official like a judge, or an attorney.  Unlike a Notario Publico, a U.S. Notary is forbidden from preparing legal documents or giving advice on immigration or other matters, unless he or she is also an attorney.

What does it mean to have a document notarized?
Having a document notarized means that a Notary Public has identified the validity of a signature on important documents.  For instance, banks, other financial institutions and the court system often require particular documents to be notarized. It’s the Notary Public’s role to verify the identity of the person signing the document. The Notary will also confirm the signatory understands the meaning of what she or he is signing and that the document is not being signed under duress.

What is a Notary Public?
A notary public is a third-party witness to not only the signature on a document but also to the fact that all parties who signed did so willingly and under their own power.

Why do I need to notarize a document?
A document needs to be notarized when it is a requirement by an institution to insure that documents are signed correctly, that the signatory has been properly identified and the signers are entering into agreements knowingly and willingly.

How do you get a notarized letter?
Appear before a Notary Public with proper identification and the document that is to be notarized.  Letter would be signed before the notary.

Why do you need a notary?
A Notary Public The notary must also ascertain whether people are signing the document voluntarily or under duress. This is especially crucial when a senior citizen or someone with limited English skills is signing a document, Reiniger says. In some states, notaries are required to maintain a journal of the documents they notarize.

What is notarization?
Notarization is the official fraud-deterrent process that assures the parties of a transaction that a document is authentic, and can be trusted. It is a three-part process, performed by a Notary Public, that includes of vetting, certifying and record-keeping.

What is a notarized signature?
Notarization is the assurance by a duly appointed and impartial Notary Public that a document is authentic, that its signature is genuine, and that its signer acted without duress or intimidation, and intended the terms of the document to be in full force and effect.