What is Notarization?


Fraud Prevention

Notarization helps protect people against fraud by ensuring the authenticity of the signer of a document.  Notaries verify the person signing the document is who they say they are, and that they are doing so willingly.  The notarization, sometimes called a notarial act, is a three-step process involving vetting, certifying and record keeping.  This process ensures that a document is authentic, has a genuine signature, and the person who signed the document did so willingly and was alert and aware when doing so.  This verification process is the responsibility of a notary public, an impartial third party appointed by the secretary of state.  Notaries protect countless Americans against fraud and coercion every day.

Types Of Notary Certificates/Notarial Acts

There are six types of notarial acts:

  • Acknowledgements

  • Jurats

  • Copy certificates

  • Oath or affirmations (as a stand alone act)

  • Protests

  • Witnessing a signature

An acknowledgment is typically used when a document controls or conveys property. Acknowledgments are used with real property deeds, powers of attorney and trusts. Whenever an acknowledgement is used, the signer must be present at the time of the notarization, must be positively identified by the notary, and must acknowledge that they signed the document, that they did so willingly, and that the statements in the document are true.

A jurat is used for evidentiary documents such as affidavits, depositions and interrogatories.  Jurats require the signer to be present, to sign in front of the notary, and to swear or affirm that the information in the document is true.  

A copy certificate is used to confirm that a document is a true copy of the original.  Copy certificates are not allowed in every state.  Some states that allow copy certificates only allow them to be used for certain documents, like powers of attorney.

Notary Laws & The Unauthorized Practice Of Law

Laws vary from state to state, so it’s important that you hire a professional notary who is current with the laws of the state in which they work.  California only allows copy certificates on power of attorney documents and a request for journal entry.

A notary public cannot tell a signer which certificate should be attached to the document they want notarized.  This is considered the unauthorized practice of law and is not allowed.  However, if a signer tells the notary which certificate to use, the notary can provide the certificate.  A signer should make sure the document they need notarized contains the wording of either an acknowledgment, jurat or copy certificate before they hire a mobile notary.  If the document to be notarized does not contain one of these three notary certificates, the notary can not advise which should be used and will not be able to complete the notarization.  This could result in a travel fee paid to the notary, even if the notarization did not take place.  A professional mobile notary will relay this information before the appointment to minimize the chances of a failed notarization.

The Notarization Process

A notarization starts with screening the signer’s identity, verifying they are alert and aware, and making sure the signer isn’t being forced to sign a document by another person.  Once the screening portion is complete, the notary enters the signers information into a notary journal.  After the signer is screened and their information is recorded, the notary completes the notarial certificate and signs and stamps the certificate.

If you have any questions, please call 619 731-0878 or request online for San Diego Mobile Notary Service.