What is the process of notarizing a document?
The Signer who is signing the must be physically present, if the form requires a whitnesses, they must also be physicall present. The Notary verifies identity of the signer with the photo identification provided by the signer (Driver license, Passport, State ID, or Military ID), a in some cases a credible witness affidavit. The Notary reviews the document, making sure there are no blanks on the document and that there is a notarial certificate on the document.
Documents without a notary certificate cannot be notarized. If there is no certificate the notary will ask you to choose one to attach to the front of the document.
The Notary will ask the signer three questions which is commonly referred to as the "Notarial Ceremony":
1. Verify the signer’s name, buy asking "Are you (the name indicated on your identification) ?
We verify the stated name matches the Photo ID and that the person looks significantly the same as the image contained in the identification.
2. Determine if the signer understands the contents of the document by asking "Do you understand the contents of this document, or are you signing under duress?"
We ask this to determine the Signer’s awareness and understanding of the document. This establishes the “competence” of the signer and it is a critical component of the process. Texas is one of the few states that require the notarty to estiblish competence.
More About Defining Competence: Texas Notaries must be certain of the signer’s ability to understand the document. In most cases, it’s easy to determine competence. The Notary doesn't need to identify the level of understanding, just that the signer understands the implications of signing the document. However, we let our common sense serve as a guide, if we feel that competence is in doubt, the notarization will not be performed, and you will not be charged for the notarial act, but travel and mileage fees still apply.
3. and finally, the notary asks if the signer is being coerced into signing the document or is signing under duress.
If all three questions are answered to the satisfaction of the notary, then the notary will ask the signer to sign the document.
The Signer and the Notary complete the required information for the Record Book, the signer to signs the notary book and then obtain a thumb print if the document requires it.
The Notary signs and stamps the seal on the Notarial Certificate.
Official documents should always contain a Notarial Certificate if the document is an Acknowledgement or a Jurat if the document is an Affidavit. If documents do not contain this information the document signer needs to verify with the issuing agency of that document what type of wording is required.
Acknowledgments contain a "Notary Certificate" (Acknowledged to me to be the…) Are types of documents that do not require an "Oath" because the signer is not swearing to the contents of this document. They are simply asked, "if the document was freely signed for the purposes stated in the document".
Affidavits contain "Jurat" wording: (Subscribed and sworn before me. with this document you must administer an "Oath" to the signer (do you solemnly swear that the contents of this affidavit subscribed by you is correct and true?).
We carry loose Notary Certificates for documents which are handwritten or do not contain a Certificate or Jurat. We will ask the signer which type of Certificate or Jurat they feel is appropriate, without giving any advice. We will explain the difference between them, but you will have to decide which one is best for your situation.
Yes that staple is important!
Your documents will be stapled. Do not remove the staple. If the staple is removed you run the risk of a third party refusing to accept the document as it may appear that the document has been tampered with.
Copying a Notarized Document
If you need a copy of a notarized document, copy the document one page at a time, without removing the staple, flip style. If copies are made be sure to always get the original back.
A certified copy is a copy document, that has a certificate by a notary that it is a true copy of the document. It does not certify that the primary document is genuine, only that it is a true copy of the primary document. Goverment issues documents such as birth certificates cannot not be made a certified copy.