“I need this notarized,” is a universal refrain Notaries nationwide hear from their signers. But what type of notarization? There are a number of different notarial acts, and chances are your signer doesn’t know.
That’s why it’s helpful for Notaries to understand the different types of notarization and what is required for each.
The purpose of an acknowledgment is to ensure that the signer of a document Acknowledgments often are needed for documents concerning valuable assets, such as deeds, mortgages, deeds of trust, and powers of attorney.
To perform an acknowledgment, the signer must appear in person at the time of notarization to be positively identified and to declare — or “acknowledge” — that the signature on the document is his or her own, and that it was signed willingly.
While it is common practice for your client to sign the document in front of you at the time of the notarization, it is not necessary. Your client may sign the document before bringing it to you and declare — or acknowledge — to you that the signature on the document is his or hers.
Jurats, Verifications And Affidavits
These are all different names for the same act. Their purpose is to require a signer to swear or affirm that the contents of a document are true. Depending on the state, this act is known as a jurat, a verification on oath or affirmation or an affidavit.
For jurats, verifications and affidavits, the signer must appear in person before you and sign the document in your presence. You must then administer an oath or affirmation and have the signer speak aloud his or her promise that the statements in the document are true. The choice between an oath or affirmation should be made by the signer.
Administering the oath or affirmation is a vital part of performing a jurat or verification because the signer is affirming that the contents of the document are true, and he or she may be prosecuted for perjury if the contents are not true.
In some cases, a client may simply need you to administer an oath or affirmation orally, rather than as part of a jurat, verification, affidavit or other written document. The purpose of administering a verbal oath or affirmation is, again, to compel a client to truthfulness.
The difference between an oath and an affirmation is the being to whom the pledge is made. An oath is a solemn pledge to a supreme being.An oath is a solemn pledge to a supreme being. An affirmation is a solemn pledge on one’s own personal honor. Again, the choice should be made by the signer.
A copy certification confirms that a reproduction of an original document is a “full, true, and accurate transcription or reproduction” of the original.
Documents requiring copy certification may include: diplomas, driver’s licenses, leases, contracts, vehicle titles, Social Security cards, medical records, and bills of sale. Notaries may not certify copies of recordable documents such as deeds or vital records such as birth certificates, marriage licenses and death certificates.
To perform a copy certification, you either make a photocopy of an original or carefully compare a provided copy to the original to ensure the copy is identical.
While copy certifications are considered a common notarial act, nearly half of U.S. states do not allow Notaries to perform this type of notarization. And many states have limitations. Make sure to check your state’s guidelines in your state’s Notary handbook or the NNA’s Notary Essentials course or Notary Primer to see if you may perform a copy certification and what limitations exist.
Of the states that do authorize this act, some stipulate that you may only certify copies of documents, not images, or other items. Other states allow Notaries to certify copies of both “records” and “items,” such as graphs, maps or images.
Many states also forbid the copy certification of vital, public documents, such as birth and death certificates and deeds.
A number of states authorize Notaries to perform a signature witnessing. With this notarial act, you certify that the individual appearing before you is who he or she claims to be, and the signature on the record is the signature of the individual before you.
The main difference between a signature witnessing and an acknowledgment is that you witness the document being signed. The main difference between a signature witnessing and a jurat, affidavit or verification upon oath or affirmation is that with a signature witnessing you do not administer an oath.
Want to brush up on your knowledge of notarizations and what is expected of you as a Notary Public? Check out the NNA’s Notary Essentials course.
Kelle Clarke is a Contributing Editor with the National Notary Association.