What Are The Most Common Types of Notarization


The Basics

The most common notarial acts in California are jurats and acknowledgements.  A mobile notary will verify the signer’s identity, scan the document for completeness, then fill out either the California jurat or acknowledgment certificate before recording the act in their journal. A California notary may also be asked to complete a copy certificate, oath/affirmation or witness a signature, but these notarial acts are much less common than the jurat and acknowledgement.  For simplicity, I will focus on the two most common notary certificates.

Two Most Common Notary Certificates

Jurats and acknowledgements have specific requirements from both the signer and the notary, in order to be valid. Both certificates have specific purposes so It is important to make sure your documents contain the correct one prior to hiring a San Diego mobile notary.  If your document does not contain a certificate, please contact the person who prepared the document and ask them which one is needed.  A California notary public cannot tell a signer which certificate they need for their notarization.  This is considered the unauthorized practice of law and is strictly prohibited.  However, if the document does not contain a certificate but the signer knows which certificate is needed, the notary can supply it for the signer.  Jurats and acknowledgements require the signer to meet face to face with the notary in order to positively identify and record the signers personal information in their notary journal.  

The Acknowledgement

This certificate ensures the person signing a document is who they say they are, and that they are signing voluntarily.  This certificate is often used with documents pertaining to valuable assets, such as a deed or trust document.  To properly complete an acknowledgement, the signer must personally appear before the notary at the time of the notarization, provide acceptable identification and must acknowledge that they signed the document voluntarily. The signer does not have to sign the acknowledgement in front of the notary.  The signer must only acknowledge that they willingly signed the document. An acknowledgment certificate filed in the state of California, must contain the official California Acknowledgment wording. Acknowledgment certificates filed outside the State of California, do not need to contain the specific California wording.

The Jurat

This certificate is used when a signer must swear or affirm that the contents of a document are true.  Documents containing a jurat require the signer to provide the notary with proper identification, just like an acknowledgment. However, unlike acknowledgments, documents containing jurats must be signed in the presence of the notary.  The notary must also administer an oath or affirmation and have the signer swear or affirm that the contents of the document are true.  The signer has the right to choose weather to swear or affirm this oath to the notary. Unlike acknowledgments, any jurat certificate signed in California, must have specific California wording in order to be valid, regardless of what state the jurat will be filed in.

Determining Which Notary Certificate You Need

It is advised that the signer determine which certificate should be used, prior to hiring a San Diego mobile notary.  This will ensure the notarization is smooth and trouble free.  If the signer must determine the proper certificate during the scheduled appointment, this could result in additional fees for wait time. A California notary public cannot advise their clients on which certificate is needed. This is considered the unauthorized practice of law and is strictly forbidden in California. If you have questions about what certificate you need, please consult the person who prepared the documents for you.