Avoid Common Notary Certificate Mistakes

Avoid Common Notary Certificate Mistakes | NNA


Updated 3-24-17. Minor errors on a notarial certificate can lead to major headaches down the road — including rejection of the documents by the county clerk’s office or other receiving agency. Factor in potential late fees, penalties, and other costly consequences, and you could be dealing with a very angry, and possibly litigious, client.

The good news is that many of the most common errors made on Notary certificates are simple and easily avoided. The key is recognizing — and fixing — the mistake, before it becomes a problem.

Mistake #1: Not carefully reading the certificate wording

Read all notarial certificates carefully to make sure you understand what you are being asked to do, and then enter the information accurately. If you don’t, you won’t know how to complete the certificate. One common mistake occurs when a Notary writes his/her own name in a blank that is meant for the signer’s name.

Avoid Common Notary Certificate Mistakes Infographic


Mistake #2: Not entering the correct venue

The venue space on a certificate refers to where the notarization took place. Always make sure this space is filled in accurately. If the certificate comes to you pre-printed with the wrong location, cross it out and write in the correct location where the notarization occurred.

Mistake #3: Not printing or signing your name as it appears on your Notary commission

The name you write on a notarial certificate must exactly match the name on your official Notary commission. Also, you must sign each notarial certificate with the signature that you filed with your commissioning official. For example, don’t leave out or add an initial to your signature if it doesn’t match your commission name on file.

Mistake #4: Improperly dating a notarial certificate

Mistakenly entering the wrong date or post-dating a certificate is a serious error. Check the calendar and make sure the date is the day you perform the notarization.

Mistake #5: Improper placement of your Notary seal or stamp

Documents containing upside down, blurred, or partial Notary seal or stamp impressions are likely to get rejected.

Mistake #6: Stamping over wording or signatures

In this case, the seal or stamp impression covers other parts of the document, including the notarial wording or signature, making them illegible.

Mistake #7: Crossing out the commission expiration date on the stamp and handwriting in a new commission date

Sometimes Notaries think they can use a seal with an expired Notary commission date. If your state requires your seal to include the expiration date, you must obtain a seal with your current commission expiration date. Even if not required by law, correcting a commission expiration date in a seal impression could cause the document to be rejected. Either way, it’s time to order a new stamp.

Bonus Mistake: Not including your title

California Notaries must include their title in the California acknowledgment form after printing their commission name: “Notary Name, Notary Public.” This problem isn’t unique to California. Notaries in other states may encounter widely circulated Notary certificates that may require them to print their title after their name.

Tips For Avoiding Common Errors On Notarial Certificates


  • Know Your State Requirements: Certificate wording varies from state to state. Stay current with your state-required certificate wording and other Notary laws.
  • Don’t Rush: Take the time to read the certificate to make sure you know what it is asking for. Double-check each entry before you complete the notarization, to catch any issues or errors.
  • Be Prepared: Make sure your notarial tools are current, especially your official notarial seal.

Kelle Clarke is a Contributing Editor with the National Notary Association.

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