Q: What is a notary public?
A: According to the National Notary Association, a notary public is a public servant appointed by state government to witness the signing of important documents and administer oaths.
Q: What does a notary public notarize?
A: A notary public notarizes any document in which an originator needs to ensure the integrity of the signer. A notary public verifies the identity of the signer, and that they are signing knowingly and willingly. This process helps deter the fraudulent execution of documents.
Q: How does a notary verify the identity of the signer?
A: A notary will ask a signer for a document such as a driver’s license or government-issued identification card that includes a photograph, signature and some information describing the person.
Q: Can a Notary Public prepare or assist in the preparation of any documents?
A: No, a notary public can only witness the signing of the documents, not assist or prepare any documents. To assist or prepare documents would be an unlawful practice of law. This keeps the notary’s position as an impartial witness to the signing.
Q: Can I be refused a notarization?
A: A notary public may refuse to perform a notarization if he or she cannot be certain of a prospective signer’s identity, willingness, or understanding of what is happening at that moment. In addition, a notary may not notarize a document in which he or she has a financial interest.
Q: Can a notary certify a copy of a document?
A: State laws may vary, but in general, no. For vital records documents such as birth certificates and marriage certificates, the requestor should visit the local agency that holds these documents, such as a local county clerk. There are some limited instances when a notary may certify a copy, but it is best to check with the notary of your state.
Q: What about immigration paperwork..can a notary public prepare or notarize immigration papers?
A: A notary may notarized papers those that require notarization such as the Affidavit of Support, but they may not prepare or file another person’s immigration papers unless he or she is an attorney or a US DOJ accredited representative.
(acknowledgment to the National Notary Association for content on this page)