Notary Public 101



What Is a Notary Public?

A Notary Public is an official appointed by the Secretary of State and authorized to serve the public as an unbiased witness when performing many legal formalities relating to the drafting or certifying of contracts, deeds, and other official documents. These official acts are called notarizations or notarial acts.

How to Become a Notary Public

Those interested in becoming a Notary Public must check the requirements designated by their state to see if they meet the eligibility requirements. From there, future Notary’s will follow all of the steps their state requires in their commissioning process.

While this process varies from state-to-state, many processes require an application, a state application fee, a training course, the passing of an exam, the filing of a bond and oath of office, and Notary supplies.

What Does a Notary Public Do?

A Notary Public screens signers of official documents to establish their true identity, their awareness of the contents of the official transaction or document, and their willingness to sign without intimidation. Some notarizations require the Notary Public to place the signer under oath, declaring that under penalty of perjury, all the information listed is valid.

A Notary must remain impartial to gain the public’s trust. Furthermore, they must not act according to their personal interests. When impartiality is established, the public can trust that the Notary’s tasks have not been compromised. A Notary cannot refuse to serve a person due to nationality, religion, race, political preference, sexual orientation, or status as a non-customer.

How Does A Notary Correctly Identify A Signer?

Often, a Notary will ask for a current photo ID of the participant. Also, Notaries will ask for a physical description and signature. Acceptable photo IDs typically include a driver’s license or a valid passport.

Why Are Notaries And Notarizations Needed?

Notaries deter fraud and decipher whether the signer recognizes the document they are signing. They ensure that the signer is a willing participant in the notarization process.


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