Notarize Foreign Language Documents

In our global society, Notaries increasingly are asked to notarize documents written in foreign languages they cannot read. Generally, state laws do not expressly prohibit the Notary from notarizing a document that is not in the English language. However, depending on the circumstances, it may be inadvisable to notarize such foreign-language documents. The danger, of course, is that the document is being misrepresented to the Notary.

For any non-English document, the best option is to refer the signer to a Notary who reads and writes the language of the document. If that is not possible, the Notary should only proceed if the notarial certificate itself is in English or other language the Notary reads and writes. The letters and characters in the document’s signature and in any ID document presented must also be understood by the Notary.

It is important that the signer and the Notary be able to communicate in the same language, without the reliance on a third party who, intentionally or unintentionally, may interpret the conversation incorrectly.

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