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Nine Essential Elements of a Notarial Certificate

There is a lot more involved in the notarial process than simply signing and stamping a notarial seal on a document. Because of the legal weight attached to a notarized document, the notary public must follow a procedure to deter fraud or ensure the singer is of sound mind. 

The notarial act must be evidenced by a certificate, so notaries must ensure the correct language is on or attached to the document and indicates which notarial ceremony was performed. The secretary of state sets specific requirements on each notarial certificate’s wording, so the language may vary depending on your commissioning state. As more states pass remote online notarization laws, new verbiage to reflect the change is added. 

Here are the typical required elements of a notarial certificate, how remote online notarization law has altered the wording, and where to find the right wording.

 

What information needs to be on a notarial certificate? 

Each state dictates what must details are required on the certificate. Usually, there are nine required elements. They include: 

  1. Venue. The place where the notarization takes place or the location of the notary at the time of remote notarization. 
  2. Type of notarial act – subtle wording like “sworn to” (oath) or “acknowledge” (acknowledgment) will indicate the required notarial ceremony.
  3. In-person or remote. The notary must indicate if there was a traditional in-person ceremony or remote online notarization. 
  4. Date of the notarization.
  5. The name of the principal or person whose signature is being notarized.
  6. The type of identification. The notary marks whether the principal’s identity was confirmed based on personal knowledge or examination of an acceptable form of identification. 
  7. The notary’s signature (exactly as it appears on his or her commission certificate).
  8. The notary’s name is printed, typed, or stamped below the signature. 
  9. The notary’s official seal. The seal must contain the words “Notary Public-State of Florida” and the notary’s name, commission expiration date, and commission number and be affixed in black ink. 

If any of these elements are missing from the notarial certificate, notaries should add the appropriate language to make it fully compliant with state statutes. 

 

Remote Online Notarization and New Certificate Wording

On January 1st, 2020, Florida’s remote online notarization act went into effect. The state made essential updates to the wording of notarial certificates to indicate whether the signer appeared by person or by audiovisual communications. The law now requires that a certificate of acknowledgment or jurat must make this specification. This new wording must be used by all notary publics even if they aren’t certified to perform remote online closings. 

In a traditional notarial act, the certificate is usually already a part of the document or securely attached. With remote online notarization, the certificate is affixed to or logically associated with the electronic document. 

 

Where can I get Notary Certificates? 

If you’re unsure of the wording attached to a document you’re notarizing, you can find compliant certificate wording here: 

  • Your Commissioning Authority website. The Florida Secretary of State has updated their sample notarial statements to reflect the new requirements. 
  • You may also create your owner certificate with the correct wording. 
  • You can obtain certificates from third-party organizations like the National Notary Association. 

 

You’ll find independent vendors online offering stamps or loose certificates with notarial wording, but before purchasing, be sure to review the product and confirm it meets the requirements carefully. If you fail to choose the right certificate or correct the wording on an outdated one, your notarizations may be rejected. 

 

Avoid Mistakes on the Notarial Certificate

Many of the common mistakes that Notary Publics make are due to filling out or mismarking one of the elements of the certificate. Take time to read over the certificate before completing it. One common mistake occurs when the notary fills in their name where the name of the principal should appear. 

If any element of the certificate is pre-filled with inaccurate information, cross it out, write in the correct information and date, and initial the change. 

The name you write on the certificate must match your name exactly as it appears on your commission certificate. Your signature should also match the one filed with your commissioning official. 

Check the date before adding it to the certificate. Entering the wrong date or post-dating a certificate is a serious error. 

Notary seals should also appear clearly on the document. Avoid stamping over other text, which may render it illegible. Improperly placed, upside down, blurred, or partial Notary seals or stamps are likely to be rejected by recording jurisdictions. 

Some states require Notaries to use stamps reflecting their commission expiration date. Some Notaries mistakenly believe they may correct a seal with an old expiration date by crossing it out and adding the new one, but this is likely to cause the document to be rejected. Notaries should update their stamps and seals as soon as possible. 

Avoid these common mistakes by reviewing the elements of a notarial certificate carefully. Review your state’s Notary laws and official certificate wording before booking appoints, ensure all your Notary tools are up-to-date and take your time while filling out the certificate.  

ProperSign offers tools like white-out to make correcting documents easy during a remote closing. Get started with RON with the platform designed for closing and loan signing agents.

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Amanda Farrell

Amanda Farrell is a digital media strategist at PropLogix. She enjoys being a part of a team that gives peace of mind to consumers while making one of the biggest purchases of their lives. She lives in Sarasota with her bunny, Buster, and enjoys painting, playing guitar and mandolin, and yoga.