For Individuals

What You Should Know before Preparing to Meet the Notary

There are several steps you must complete to ensure the Notary Public can legally handle your request.  If these steps are not followed, a Virginia notary may REFUSE to notarize a document. The information below provides tips to help you prepare your documents for notarization.

Know What Type of Notarization You Need

The most common types of notarizations are acknowledgments, jurats and copy certifications. Notaries cannot advise you on the type of notarization you need.  Please review the different types and be prepared to provide this information.  Your document drafter or receiving agency can provide assistance in making your selection. If in doubt, you may wish to consult an attorney for guidance.  Brief descriptions of these acts are as follows.

  • Acknowledgment: a notarial act whereby the signer of a document admits to a notary public, that he signed the document of his own free will and without coercion; that he understands the contents of the document; and that he is aware of the consequences of executing the document by signing it.
  • Jurat: the written notarial certificate indicating that the signer swore or affirmed to the notary under penalty of perjury that the information in the document is true and correct. It also certifies that the signer signed the document in the presence of the notary on the date indicated in the jurat.
  • Copy Certification: the process in which the notary takes an affidavit from the document custodian stating that the document to which the affidavit is attached is a true and complete copy of a document that is neither a birth, marriage, death certificate, or court issued document.

Make Sure the Document Is Complete

The document must be completed without any blank spaces for a Notary to perform a notarization. Do not sign the document until you meet with the notary.  The notary will instruct you as to how to sign and date each relevant section of the document.

Make Sure All Signers Are Present For the Notarization

All signers must be physically present before a Notary in order to have their signature on a document notarized (traditional notarization). Be sure to coordinate your appointment so that all parties are available.

Clients Must Be Mentally Aware and Alert

One of the basic duties of a Notary is to check the identity of the people involved and makes sure each of them sign the agreement willingly and not under coercion or duress. If you do not know what your transaction is about, or you aren’t sure you want to sign, take steps to address these issues before you go to the Notary.

Valid Identification

The primary duty of a Notary Public is to verify your identity as a document signer. They must verify the identity of the parties involved in a contract by checking identification and also to ensure that the signatories understand the document and its contents.

Why Notarize Documents?

Many of life’s most important transactions must be notarized. More than 1.25 billion documents are notarized per year. While that’s an enormous number of notarizations, some people only notarize a few documents in their lives and are unfamiliar with the purpose… they wonder: why does a stranger need to watch me sign a document?

Notarization serves three purposes:

  1. To ensure the person signing a document is properly identified
  2. To ensure the intended person signs the document under their own free will
  3. And, to ensure the transaction can be independently verified after the fact

Notarization is a system to prevent fraud and notary publics are front line officers in that battle.  Notarization is incredibly important. It is a critical process to prevent fraud, identify a signer, confirm the person is signing under their own free will, and record the transaction.

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