Cities and Towns in the United States > Procedures > How To Notarize A Document In The USA


Over 1 billion documents are notarized in the United States each year, each often representing a noteworthy occasion for the person involved. It could be, for example, when a person purchases a property. Notarizing involves various legal acts, such as witnessing a signature or oath by a licensed notary. These activities are carried out to minimize fraud and other unlawful events. In this article, we'll look at notarizing a document in detail.

Notarizing Documents In The USA

Notarize A Document: What Does It Mean?

A licensed notary is a specialized lawyer who acts as an impartial witness. Their service is important as it prevents fraud, identification theft, and other criminal activities. By notarizing a document, a notary verifies a person's genuineness and signature(s) concerning important documents. Let's look at some of the types of activities a notary carries out.

Types of Notarization

A notary carries a wide range of legal acts. These include:

  • Acknowledgment. Acknowledgments involve verifying the identity of the person signing, confirming they understand the document and are carrying out the procedure voluntarily.
  • Copy certification. It is where the notary certifies that a copy of a document is an accurate and authentic recreation of the original. It could be, for instance, to verify the photocopies of original documents.
  • Jurats. It requires the person signing the document to swear its contents are true and accurate while under penalty of perjury.
  • Oaths and affirmations. They are the promises made by an individual about the truthfulness of a statement. The notary is present to witness the person making the statement.

Procedures That May Require Notarization

There are an endless number of legal documents that need to be notarized. This will include texts such as:

  • Adoption papers,
  • • Affidavits,
  • • Commercial leases,
  • • Court documents,
  • Mortgage and real estate documents,
  • Powers of attorney,
  • • Prenuptial agreements,
  • • Vendor/supplier contracts,
  • • Wills and trusts.

Organizations that may require a person to provide notarized documents include businesses, financial organizations, and governmental agencies. Given that many of these procedures are the start of significant landmarks in a person's life, the notarization process is an important service.

Apostille vs. Notarizing: What's The Difference?

Notarization verifies the identity of the signer and the authenticity of a signature for legal purposes. On the other hand, an Apostille is a certification that authenticates documents and ensures that they can be used internationally. It is something that government agencies carry out.

Documents Required By An Individual Before Visiting A Notary

For the notary to carry out his or her service, the person must bring the documents which require notarization. They must also bring suitable identification to verify who they say they are. Suitable identification includes:

The individual requiring the document to be completed must be present in person.

Some procedures require additional documentation or witnesses. Other witnesses may be required for certain affidavits, power of attorney, or real estate transactions. In recent years, many notary providers have been able to facilitate the service remotely online.

How To Find A Notary?

Notary Public persons are widely available and easy to locate in the USA. Here are some ways of finding a suitable notary:

  • Online. Searching popular search engines will give you an extensive list of notaries. You could also use a website such as the American Association of Notaries.
  • Banks. Some banks provide notary services, often for free. You could reach out to your bank to see if this service is available.
  • FedEx, and UPS: Shipping centers, such as FedEx and UPS, provide notary services. You could contact a store in your locality to see if the notary service you require is offered.
  • Government offices: Courthouses, county clerk offices, and other government buildings usually have notaries as part of their staff. You could call them to find out if the service is available and the associated fees.
  • Financial, legal, and real estate offices: These businesses often have notaries as part of the staff. If you are dealing with an accountant, attorney, or a real estate company, they may be able to assist you.
  • Remote Online Notarization: This has become more common in recent years. A person can have the documents notarized remotely without visiting the notary's offices. Whether a remote service can be used will depend on the legal framework. In some US states, for example, property transactions require notaries to be carried out in person.

What Happens After Visiting A Notary?

The outcome depends on the service provided by the notary. For many notary acts, the notary will provide a certificate. The notarial certificate contains details such as location, date, names, signatures of the people involved, the type of notarial act, and the notary's stamp or seal.

Sometimes the certification is part of the document being notarized. Other times a separate form is attached. Depending on the requirements, the notary will hand the signed paper to the appropriate body or certify the documents, and give it to the person seeking the services.

Legal Services Through A Notary

Notaries provide a vital service to people in the USA. They carry out a wide range of services to validate a person to ensure there is no fraud or other criminal activities. Thanks to notary services, people can complete their business, financial, and legal tasks smoothly.